On the Floor
On March 21, the Missouri Senate started the second half of the legislative session on a productive note, sending several pieces of legislation over to the Missouri House of Representatives for further consideration.
- Senate Bill 820 prevents homeowners’ associations from limiting or prohibiting the installation of rooftop solar panels.
- Senate Joint Resolution 38 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would modify the funding requirements for the Kansas City Police Department if approved by voters.
- Senate Bill 745 modifies provisions relating to utilities.
- Senate Bill 743 authorizes a sales tax exemption for the sale of tickets to matches of the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament held in Jackson County, among other tax-related provisions.
- Senate Bill 724 modifies provisions relating to financial statements of political subdivisions.
The Senate was also able to make headway on Senate Bill 775, which had stalled earlier in session. The legislation modifies provisions relating to sexual offenses and makes several changes to the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights. While the Senate gave initial approval to SB 775, the legislation still requires one more round of approval before it can move to the Missouri House.
On March 23, the Senate began debate on Senate Bill 758, dealing with the bidding procedures for certain public projects for facilities. The debate became at times heated as some senators tried to attach amendments preventing employers from enacting COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Eventually, the bill was laid over and the Senate moved onto the issue of congressional redistricting.
As I have mentioned in previous updates, the redistricting process is something which only occurs once every 10 years and involves redrawing congressional district boundaries to reflect the state’s current population layout. The Missouri House of Representatives passed House Bill 2117, its version of a new congressional map, several months ago, but the Senate has largely been unable to find a compromise on the issue. This week, HB 2117 faced similar opposition initially, but with a series of changes, the bill was allowed to pass. Due to the Senate’s changes, however, HB 2117 now returns to the Missouri House for further consideration.
Bills and Committees
This week, the Appropriations Committee heard testimony on House Joint Resolution 117, a proposed constitutional amendment dealing with MO HealthNet, the state’s Medicaid program. If approved by voters, this proposal would allow the Legislature to determine eligibility for MO HealthNet services and make funding for Medicaid expansion (which was passed by Missouri voters in 2020) subject to appropriations. House Joint Resolution 117 would also require individuals participating in MO HealthNet to work, train or volunteer at least 80 hours each month. The committee has not yet taken any action on the bill.
The committee also discussed tax credit programs administered by the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health & Senior Services, the Department of Commerce & Insurance, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Revenue, the Department of Social Services, the state treasurer’s office and the Department of Economic Development. A committee hearing scheduled for Thursday morning was canceled due to prolonged floor action.
The Senate’s Judiciary and Civil & Criminal Jurisprudence Committee heard three bills on March 21
- Senate Bill 1039 creates the “Public Defender – Federal and Other Fund” in the state treasury and provides that funding from any government grants, donations or other sources made to the Office of the Public Defender will be deposited into the fund.
- Senate Bill 1094 allows any individual who was later determined to be innocent due to evidentiary method other than DNA evidence to be paid restitution for their wrongful conviction.
- Senate Bill 1130 modifies provisions relating to earned compliance credits for probation.
The Senate’s Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee heard four resolutions this week
- Senate Resolution 593 condemns the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia and urges the U.S. federal government to provide support to Ukraine.
- Senate Resolution 594 states that the Missouri Senate proudly stands alongside Ukraine and its people during this horrific and unnecessary war and condemns Russia’s violent attack on the people of Ukraine.
- Senate Concurrent Resolution 24 designates every November 7th as Victims of Communism Memorial Day.
- Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 calls for a constitutional convention led by the states to propose term limits for members of Congress.
The Senate’s Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee met on March 23 to discuss four pieces of legislation
- House Bill 1686 creates provisions in state law relating to the right to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine and other medical treatment.
- House Bills 2358 & 1485 modifies provisions relating to vaccine discrimination, employee misconduct, and workers’ compensation.
- Senate Bill 1007 creates provisions relating to reorganized common sewer districts.
- Senate Bill 953 modifies the civil penalty for violating federally mandated natural gas safety standards.
Gubernatorial Appointments Committee
On March 23, I had the honor to present Ms. Samantha Knight to the Senate’s Gubernatorial Appointment Committee to be considered for a position on the Missouri Community Service Commission. The commission is tasked with strengthening Missouri communities through volunteerism and service, and I’m confident Ms. Knight will make a great addition to this important organization.
Scam Alert: New Utility Scam Targeting Seniors in Missouri and Illinois
Ameren is alerting its customers to a new utility scam that is currently targeting seniors in Missouri and Illinois.
Customers are contacted primarily on the phone by scammers offering a special discounted rate of $29.99, which is sometimes called a “senior discount.” The scammers pose as Ameren representatives, often suggesting a special rate in lieu of paying a customer’s full monthly statement amount.
If a customer receives a suspected scam call, they should hang up immediately and call Ameren Missouri at 1.800.552.7583 or Ameren Illinois at 1.800.755.5000 to report it. Ameren is also encouraging family and friends that have seniors in their lives to share the information in an effort to protect them if they do receive a call.
How to spot a utility scam
- The caller asks for immediate payment and may offer a special discounted rate. This immediate payment request by the scammer will often include a suggested way to pay through cash apps, which Ameren representatives will never do.
- Scammers may also ask for immediate payment by requesting the customer to provide a credit card, debit card or a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection.
- Legitimate utility companies do not specify how customers should make a bill payment and always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill. Ameren customers can make payments online, by phone, electronic check, by mail or at in-person pay locations.
Increasing EV Charging Stations Throughout Missouri
Ameren Missouri continues to offer up to a 50% incentive on the total project cost for business customers to install EV charging stations through our Charge Ahead incentive program. Businesses can attract customers, tenants and personnel by installing electric vehicle charging stations at their locations. This financial incentive is designed to offset costs and help spur even more charging infrastructure across the region. More information can be found by visiting Ameren’s website.
Ameren Missouri Community Solar Facility in Montgomery County Nears Completion
The new Ameren Missouri Community Solar project that’s being constructed near New Florence on the north side of I-70 in Montgomery County is on track to be completed near the end of March. The Montgomery County Community Solar Center will be Ameren Missouri’s largest solar facility to date. The six-megawatt site is being constructed on Ameren Missouri-owned land and will provide enough energy to meet the needs of the customers who signed up to participate in the Community Solar program. This program provides customers the ability to take part in clean energy without installing solar panels on their own property, homes or businesses. More information can be found on Ameren’s website.
Find Employment with the State of Missouri
Interested in working for the state? Missouri has numerous career opportunities available throughout the state. 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.