On the Floor
This week, the Missouri Senate debated yet another tort reform bill. Senate Bill 7 establishes a time frame to sue a manufacturer for unsafe or defective products they may have created. Under the legislation, individuals are only able to bring a suit within 15 years of the sale or lease of the product. As I have said before when other tort reform bills have come before the Senate, I believe the General Assembly should tread carefully when trying to limit Missourians’ right to sue and to have their day in court. After several hours’ worth of debate, SB 7 was laid over.
Bills and Committees
Senator May’s Legislation:
Two of my bills have made it out of committee and are now heading to the Senate floor. Senate Bill 57 creates the Economic Distress Fund to support nonprofits working to combat crime in troubled areas, and includes a film tax credit program to incentivize movie production in the state. The bill was recently approved by the Economic Development Committee. Meanwhile, Senate Bill 318 was approved by the Senate’s General Laws Committee and seeks to crack down on the theft and sale of illegally obtained scrap metal, such as copper catalytic converters and HVAC components. This bill makes it a crime for any person to sell scrap metal unless they can provide proof of ownership or purchased from a legally licensed business.
Next week, I will be presenting several of my sponsored bills in committee, including Senate Bill 317 to the Senate’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee. This bill seeks to introduce due process into hearings regarding the suspension of a business, occupational, professional or other license for not complying with a child support order. In the Education Committee, I will present Senate Bill 323, which allows school districts to offer elective social studies courses on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. In the Senate’s General Laws Committee, I will be presenting Senate Bill 488, which establishes the Economic Distress Zone Fund, and Senate Bill 551, which creates mental health programs for law enforcement officers.
Two bills were presented in the Senate’s Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee this week.
Senate Bill 295 creates the Missouri Statutory Thresholds for Settlements Involving Minors Act. Current law requires court approval for settlement agreements involving minors regardless of the settlement amount. Under SB 295, however, settlements involving minors may be agreed to without court approval if certain conditions are met and if the settlement is no more than $25,000. Supporters argue this change will promote efficiency in the settlement process and empower parents in decisions involving their children. Others raised concerns about the bill reducing safeguards for children in often complex legal matters.
Senate Bill 169 states that a food or merchandise container will not be considered misleading or unfairly marketed, if it is filled to less than capacity for reasons like product protection, product settling and others.
The Rules Committee heard two resolutions this week calling on Congress to take certain actions. Senate Concurrent Resolution 5 strongly urges Congress to propose the State Powers Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in order for states to repeal federal laws and regulations. Senate Concurrent Resolution 6 urges Congress to resist any attempt to increase the number of Justices on the United States Supreme Court.
The Senate’s Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee discussed three pieces of energy legislation this week. Senate Bill 230 prevents political subdivisions from restricting utility service based on the type or source of the energy being delivered. Senate Bill 178 modifies provisions relating to net metering, a billing practice that allows consumers who generate some or all of their own electricity to use that electricity anytime, instead of when it is generated. Senate Bill 334 deals with service territories of retail electric service providers.
The Appropriations Committee continues to hear from state departments on their funding requests for the upcoming fiscal year. This week, the committee heard from the Department of Economic Development, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Conservation, the Department of Commerce and Insurance, the Public Defender’s Office, as well as the Judiciary.
Assistance is Available for COVID-19 Vaccine Registration:
As COVID-19 vaccines become available to Missourians, individuals who wish to be vaccinated are encouraged to register online at covidvaccine.mo.gov/navigator. To ensure that the vaccine is available to all Missourians, regardless of internet and computer access, a COVID-19 hotline is also available to help individuals register by calling 877-435-8411.
As of March 4, 2021, the Missouri COVID-19 Dashboard reports an average of 330 new COVID-19 cases per day over the past week.
As of March 3, the City of St. Louis Health Department has reported a total of 19,934 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the City of St. Louis.