On the Floor
It was a relatively quiet and productive week in the Missouri Senate this past week, with the body passing numerous bills and resolutions.
- Senate Bill 845 requires second, third and fourth class counties to produce and publish a county annual financial statement in the same manner as counties of the first classification.
- Senate Bill 718 designates the third week of September as “Historically Black College and University Week” in Missouri.
- Senate Bill 908 modifies provisions relating to certain special taxing districts.
- Senate Bill 982 transfers authority over child care facility licensing and subsidies to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
- Senate Bill 886 modifies provisions relating to trusts.
- Senate Concurrent Resolution 24 designates every Nov. 7 as Victims of Communism Memorial Day.
- Senate Concurrent Resolution 27, which I sponsored, recognizes a need for a mental health awareness training for high school pupils in public schools and charter schools. Since being passed by the Senate, this resolution is already moving through the Missouri House of Representing and ready to be referred to a committee.
- Senate Concurrent Resolution 29 designates the last full week of each January as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists Week in Missouri.
- Senate Concurrent Resolution 31 approves the Missouri Water Resources Plan and its implementation.
- Senate Concurrent Resolution 33 designates Campbell, Missouri, as the Peach Capital of Missouri.
- Senate Concurrent Resolution 34 urges the U.S. Congress to include the Newtonia Battlefields in the National Park Service.
- Senate Concurrent Resolution 36 creates the America 250 Missouri Commission.
- Senate Bill 758 modifies various provisions of state law relating to the bidding procedures for certain public projects for facilities.
Additionally, my Senate Bill 685 was recently approved by the Senate’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee, and I hope it will soon be discussed on the Senate floor in the coming weeks. This bill seeks to introduce some much-needed due process into hearings regarding the suspension of a business, occupational, professional or other license for not complying with a child support order.
Bills and Committees
Sen. May’s Legislation:
Several of my bills continue moving through the legislative process.
For instance, the Senate’s Judiciary and Civil & Criminal Jurisprudence Committee recently voted out my Senate Bill 837, which adds to the list of sexual offenses without a statute of limitations. I hope this legislation, which is now heading to the Senate floor, will help promote commonsense sentencing standards, as well as protect victims.
Next week, I plan to present Senate Bill 1057, establishing a mental health awareness training requirement for high school pupils in public schools and charter schools, to the Senate’s Education Committee.
On April 6, the Senate Appropriations Committee heard House Bill 2502 & 2556, relating to gaming. This legislation would allow sport wagering in the state of Missouri.
Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee:
The Senate’s Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee heard three bills on April 4.
- Senate Bill 1093 establishes several criteria to consider when setting bail or conditions for release.
- Senate Bill 1109 modifies provisions relating to civil detention.
- Senate Bill 1201 provides that a person in the custody of, or under the supervision of, the state may raise, and a court may decide, a freestanding claim of actual innocence in any post-conviction proceeding challenging the validity of the judgment.
Commerce Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee:
The Senate’s Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee had a packed agenda on April 6, with the committee hearing five bills.
- Senate Bill 1014 repeals provisions that exempts certain solar energy systems from property taxes.
- Senate Bill 1086, known as a Right-to-Repair bill, allows certain individuals and businesses to have access to information from manufacturers in order to repair certain products such as farm equipment.
- Senate Bill 1073 creates provisions relating to the electric grid.
- Senate Bill 1074 prohibits political subdivisions from using federal funds for the construction of retail broadband internet infrastructure unless the project is in an unserved or underserved area and provides internet services at certain speeds.
- Senate Bill 1075 creates a grant program to provide funding to schools to mitigate lead in drinking water.
Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee
The Senate’s Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee heard several pieces of legislation this week.
- Senate Resolution 702 recognizes famed University of Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel on his achievements in college football.
- Senate Resolution 626 urges the president to take measures and support policies that ensure long-term American energy leadership, security and progress.
- House Bill 2005 modifies provisions for eminent domain for utility purposes.
House Sends $46.52 Billion State Operating Budget to Senate
With just four weeks left until the constitutional deadline for passing the FY 2023 state operating budget, the House of Representatives on April 7 voted to advance the various appropriations bills that make up the state’s nearly $46.52 billion spending plan to the Senate. However, in a move criticized by some members of the House, the spending proposals leave $1.8 billion in general revenue – plus billions more in federal funds – unallocated.
House Pushes for Changes to Ballot Measures
On April 6, the House of Representatives granted first-round approval to legislation aimed at changing the requirements to enact proposed amendments to the Missouri Constitution.
At present, a simple majority of the votes cast statewide is needed to ratify a proposed constitutional amendment. Under House Joint Resolution 132, ratification would require both a simple majority of the statewide vote and majority approval in at least 82 of Missouri’s 163 state House of Representatives districts. As a result, even if an amendment passed by a wide margin in the statewide vote, ratification could still fail if voters in a majority of House districts rejected it.
The same day, the House also granted first-round passage to another version of legislation it previously approved to raise the threshold to ratify proposed constitutional amendments placed on the ballot via the initiative petition process. Under House Joint Resolution 133, ratification would require approval from a simple majority of all registered voters, instead of the traditional simple majority of votes cast.
If approved by the Legislature, both HJR 132 and HJR 133 would go on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot and require simple majorities of the votes cast to be ratified.
House Votes to Reduce Unemployment Benefits
On April 6, the House granted preliminary approval to legislation cutting the maximum number of weeks of benefits from the current 20 weeks to as low as eight weeks depending on the state’s unemployment rate. House Bill 1860 would allow for 20 weeks of unemployment benefits if the state’s unemployment rate is higher than 9% and scales down to eight weeks if the unemployment rate is at or below 3.5%. A second vote is required to advance the bill to the Senate.
House Passes Utilities Bill
On April 6, the House of Representatives voted to advance legislation to the Senate that would authorize investor-owned electric utilities to charge customers upfront for the cost of planning or constructing a nuclear power plant. Supporters of the bill, House Bill 1684, say the change will encourage Ameren Missouri to build a second nuclear plant in the state. Opponents say utility investors should bear the upfront costs and associated risks and noted situations in other states in which customers were charged billions of dollars for plants that were never built.
Secretary of State Sued Over Congressional Redistricting
Several lawsuits have been filed against Missouri’s secretary of state, seeking to block him from using the state’s decade-old congressional districts for the 2022 elections and asking a judge to draw new districts given the General Assembly’s failure to do so. The House of Representatives and Senate remain deadlocked over redrawing Missouri’s eight congressional districts to reflect population shifts under the 2020 U.S. Census.
In the absence of new districts, the secretary of state allowed candidates for the Aug. 2 congressional primaries to file under the state’s current congressional map enacted in 2011. Several of the lawsuits contend the current districts are unconstitutional and can’t be used since they aren’t based on the most recent Census. As of April 6, no action had been taken in these cases.
Net General Revenue Up 5.6% Compared To Last Year
Net state general revenue collections for the first nine months of the 2022 fiscal year were up 5.6% compared to the same period in FY 2021, going from $7.85 billion last year to $8.29 billion this year, according the Missouri Division of Budget and Planning. Year-to-date net general revenue had been up just 2.2% through the first eight months of the fiscal year.
The big jump in year-to-date revenue in just one month was due to strong collections in March, which saw net collections rise by a 42.6% compared to March 2021, going from $650.2 million last year to $926.9 million this year.
Department of Economic Development Now Hiring for ARPA-Funded Positions
The Department of Economic Development (DED) is now hiring for grant-funded positions to support initiatives through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
New staff members are needed for the operation of several initiatives, including grant programs for businesses, nonprofits, community development, broadband infrastructure and more. DED expects to hire more than a dozen ARPA-funded roles throughout the rest of Fiscal Year 2022 and additional roles in Fiscal Year 2023. These positions will assist in building programs, providing technical assistance and ensuring efficient deployment of funds. Positions will be located in Jefferson City, with potential for other locations across the state for some roles.
All who are interested are encouraged to view available positions and apply online at mocareers.mo.gov. Details on planned investments using ARPA funds are available at ded.mo.gov/arpa. For more information on DED, visit ded.mo.gov.
Find Employment with the State of Missouri
Interested in working for the state? Missouri has numerous career opportunities available for those interested. By visiting mocareers.mo.gov, interested applicants can search by agency or position or location. This week, I would like to highlight opportunities with the Missouri Department of Mental (DMH). Previously, I worked with individuals with disabilities as a DMH employee for six years, and it was rewarding work. If you enjoy working with others, this may be a good fit for you. To learn more about the department, please visit dmh.mo.gov.