Greiten’s tax commission releases findings

In January of this year, Governor Eric Greitens issued an executive order establishing the Committee on Simple, Fair and Low Taxes.  The mission of the committee was to review the state’s tax code and tax credit system and to produce a report and recommendations by June 30, 2017.

The committee, which was comprised of ten members appointed by the Governor, Speaker of the House and President Pro Tem, began meeting in February and held a series of town halls to gather information and input from Missourians.

The full report can be read here and a summary of the report’s recommendations are below.

Missouri Works

As the state’s number one incentive tool for expansion and retention, this program helps businesses access capital through withholdings or tax credits to embark on facility expansions and create jobs.  This program can also help businesses purchase equipment to maintain its facility in Missouri.

Recommendations:

  • The Committee recommends maintaining current funding levels.  There is no annual limit on the retained withholding taxes.  Tax credits issued for the program are capped at $116 million annually.
  • The Committee recommends removing the distinction within Missouri Works Training between “new” and “retained” jobs.  Incentives would now be considered for all jobs seeking training assistance.
  • The Committee recommends giving the Director of the Department of Economic Development the discretion to deny an application for a project that does not have a positive fiscal return as measured by a REMI analysis.  Discretion would also be granted to deny applications for projects that fail the “but for” test – where the jobs would be created without the incentives.  Finally, discretion would be granted to deny an application for a project that could not reasonably be brought to fruition.
  • The Department would have 5 days to issue a rejection of an application.

Low Income Housing Tax Credit

Missouri’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is designed to supplement the federal LIHTC and provides a state tax credit to investors in affordable housing.  The LIHTC can be used each year for 10 years and is allocated to the owner of an affordable housing development.  Tax credits must be used for new construction, rehabilitation, or acquisition and rehabilitation.

Recommendations:

  • The Committee recommends restructuring the program as a “soft loan” instead of a tax credit. The loans could be repaid, extended, or forgiven as needed to complete a project.
  • The program would have a $50 million annual cap.  The program issued $101 million in tax credits in Fiscal Year 2016.
  • The Committee recommends the creation of a tax credit clearing house to buy up existing tax credits from this program.
  • The Committee recommends that this program’s funding be subject to the annual appropriations process of the General Assembly.

Historic Preservation Tax Credit

This program incentivizes developers to maintain the integrity of Missouri’s historic buildings, giving them new life.

Recommendations:

  • The Committee recommends combining the Historic Preservation tax credit program with the Brownfield Remediation tax credit program.
  • The combined program would have a $50 million annual cap.  The annual cap for the Historic Preservation program is currently $140 million. The Brownfield Remediation program does not currently have a cap.  That program issued approximately $10 million in tax credits in Fiscal Year 2016.
  • The Committee recommends that this program’s funding be subject to the annual appropriations process of the General Assembly.

Greitens OKs budget, withholding $251mm

Late Friday afternoon Governor Eric Greitens signed Missouri’s nearly $28billion fiscal year 2018 budget into law.  At the same time, he announced he would be withholding $251 million to help balance the budget, as revenue has not grown as quickly as expected.  Fiscal Year 2018 begins July 1.

Most of the withholds are from the Department of Social Services and the Department of Higher Education, including an additional withhold from the higher education core funding which brings the core funding for higher education to 9 percent  below FY2017.

He did not withhold any funds from the foundation formula.  As a result, the formula is expected to be fully funded.  He did withhold some funds from K-12 transportation funding.

You can read the withholds here and here.

Governor Greitens Vetoes Fund Sweep Legislation

The governor also announced he was going to veto House Committee Bill 3 which would have directed the Commissioner of Administration to sweep funds from state funds into general revenue to pay for long-term care and nursing homes.

Proponents of the legislation felt it was a necessary to keep vulnerable Missourians in their homes.  Opponents felt it was an unconstitutional one -time fix to a long-term problem.

Governor Greitens Signs Workplace Discrimination Legislation

Governor Greitens also signed Senate Bill 43 (Gary Romine-Farmington).  This legislation will raise the standard of proof for employment discrimination cases under the Missouri Human Rights Act, exempts supervisors and managers who are not employers from being sued for discriminatory conduct, and set caps on damages awarded to successful plaintiffs.

Supporters of the bill believe it will improve the state’s economic climate and foster job growth. Opponents of the bill say it guts the Missouri Human Rights Act.

Governor Greitens Announces Plans on Minimum Wage Preemption

Lastly, Governor Eric Greitens announced that he would allow the legislation that will prevent municipalities from raising the minimum wage to become law without his signature.  The law will go into effect on August 28, 2017.  Currently, the City of Saint Louis is the only municipality with a minimum wage higher than the state’s minimum wage.  Therefore, on August 29, the minimum wage in Saint Louis City will go from $10/hour back down to $7.70.

Missouri special session update: what’s passed, what’s signed, and what hasn’t

During the second week of the second special legislative session, the House of Representatives made a few changes to the Senate bill. The most major change is that under the House bill, the Attorney General could prosecute an abortion related offense without notifying the local prosecutor.  Under the Senate version, the local Attorney General could only prosecute an abortion related offense if the local prosecutor failed to do so.

Because the House changed the Senate Bill, the bill must go back to the Senate.  The Senate is expected to reconvene the week of July 3.

Update on Greitens’ Actions on Legislation

The General Assembly sent Governor Greitens seventy-nine substantive bills this legislative session.  To date, he has signed 14.  Any bill he does not sign or veto by July 15 will become law.  Below you will find two lists.  First is a list of legislation that the Governor has already signed and second is a list of bills that were passed and are, so far, unsigned.

Bills the Governor has signed

  • SB 19 – Creates new provisions of law relating to labor organizations
  • SB 108 – Grants reemployment rights to members of the military
  • SB 160 – Modifies provisions relating to child protection
  • SB 161 – Establishes the Ozark Exploration Bicentennial Commission
  • SB 182 – Modifies provisions of law relating to project labor agreements
  • SB 248 – Repeals the expiration date for tax refund contributions to the Organ Donor Program Fund
  • SB 279 – Adds certain forms to the list of documents sufficient to demonstrate eligibility for a veteran designation on an applicant’s driver’s license or non-driver identification card
  • HB 14 – To appropriate money for supplemental purposes for the several departments and offices of state government
  • HB 34 -Changes the laws regarding the Uniform Commercial Code to adopt the current version of Articles 1 and 7
  • HB 130 – Enacts provisions relating to transportation network companies
  • HB 151 – Allows the Department of Revenue to issue REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards
  • HB 153 – Modifies provisions relating to expert witnesses
  • HB 662 – Allows the Department of Agriculture to assess civil penalties for the use of a herbicide for a crop for which the herbicide was not labeled for use
  • HCR 4 – Disapproves the salary recommendations of the Missouri Citizens Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials

 

Bills awaiting the governor’s signature

  • SB 8 – Modifies the law relating to flashing lights on motor vehicles and equipment
  • SB 16 – Exempts delivery charges from sales and use taxes
  • SB 31 – Modifies provisions relating to the collateral source rule and provides that parties may introduce evidence of the actual cost, rather than the value, of the medical care rendered
  • SB 34 – Modifies and creates new provisions relating to criminal offenses
  • SB 35 – Modifies public notice and hearing requirements for certain land purchases made by the Department of Natural Resources or the Commissioner of Administration on behalf of state departments
  •  SB 43 – Modifies the law relating to unlawful discrimination
  • SB 49 – Modifies several provisions relating to local sales taxes
  • SB 50 – Modifies several provisions relating to health care
  • SB 52 – Creates several provisions relating to suicide awareness and prevention
  • SB 62 – Modifies provisions regarding various pension systems and forfeiture of a pension benefit due to a felony conviction
  • SB 64 – Gives designation to certain infrastructure
  • SB 65 – Exempts vessels propelled by outboard jet motors and vessels not originally manufactured with adequate guards or railing from the provisions prohibiting passengers from riding in certain areas of a boat
  •  SB 66 – Modifies provisions of law relating to workers’ compensation
  • SB 88 – Establishes a two year statute of limitation for claims of malpractice or negligence against veterinarians
  • SB 95 – Extends the expiration dates on certain provisions relating to public funds
  • SB 111 – Modifies various provisions regarding bonds issued by a political subdivision, qualifications for candidates of public office, limited liability companies who own property in certain cities, public administrators, and guardianships
  • SB 112 – Modifies provisions relating to political subdivisions
  • SB 128 – Modifies various provisions regarding criminal offenses, the Attorney General, the Department of Revenue, child support and custody, trusts and estates, guardianships, judges, court surcharges, court reporter fees, and victims of crime
  •  SB 139 – Modifies provisions relating to health care
  •  SB 222 – Modifies provisions relating to vehicle lighting equipment
  • SB 225 – Modifies provisions relating to transportation
  • SB 240 – Creates a statewide license for electrical contractors
  • SB 283 – Enacts provisions relating to political subdivisions
  • SB 322 – Designates certain memorial infrastructure
  • SB 329 – Modifies provisions relating to motor vehicle franchise practices
  • SB 376 – Designates “Old Drum” as the historical dog of the state of Missouri and “Jim the Wonder Dog” as Missouri’s wonder dog
  •  SB 395 – Modifies provisions relating to the practice of public accounting
  •  SB 421 – Modifies provisions relating to the conveyance of state property
  • SB 486 – Authorizes the conveyance of a certain state property located in Cole County to the City of Jefferson
  •  SB 501 – Modifies provisions relating to health care
  •  SB 503 – Requires the Committee for 911 Oversight to designate a state 911 coordinator
  •  SCR 1 – Appoints members of the General Assembly to the Inauguration Committee
  •  SCR 4 – Applies to Congress for the calling of an Article V convention of states to propose certain amendments to the United States Constitution which place limits on the federal government
  •  SCR 26 – Authorizes independent certified public accountant or certified public accounting firm to conduct an audit of State Auditor’s office
  •  HB 1 – Appropriates money to the Board of Fund Commissioners
  • HB 2 – Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the State Board of Education and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • HB 3 – Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Higher Education
  • HB 4 – Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Revenue and Department of Transportation
  • HB 5 – Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Office of Administration, Department of Transportation, and Department of Public Safety
  • HB 6 – Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Conservation
  • HB 7 – Appropriates money for the departments of Economic Development; Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration; and Labor and Industrial Relations
  • HB 8 – Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Public Safety
  • HB 9 – Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Corrections
  • HB 10 – Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Mental Health, Board of Public Buildings, and Department of Health and Senior Services
  • HB 11 – Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, and distributions of the Department of Social Services
  • HB 12 – Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of statewide elected officials, the Judiciary, Office of the State Public Defender, and General Assembly
  • HB 13 – Appropriates money for real property leases and related services
  • HB 17 – To appropriate money for capital improvement and other purposes for the several departments of state government
  • HB 18 – To appropriate money for purposes for the several departments and offices of state government; for projects involving the maintenance, repair, replacement, and improvement of state buildings and facilities
  • HB 50 – Provides that Division Twelve of the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit shall sit at the City of Independence
  • HB 51 – Authorizes county commissions that are trustees for a cemetery trust fund to utilize investment managers to invest, reinvest, and manage fund assets
  • HB 93 – Modifies several provisions relating to job training
  • HB 115 – Modifies provisions relating to intoxicating liquor
  • HB 190 – Allows community college police officers to establish regulations to control vehicular traffic on any thoroughfare owned or maintained by the college
  • HB 292 – Modifies provisions relating to banks, trust companies, and other financial institutions
  • HB 336 – Provides that life insurance providers may exclude coverage for suicides occurring within one year of issuance of the coverage
  • HB 339 – Modifies provisions relating to settlement agreements in tort claims
  • HB 451 – Provides that a change in population shall not remove a city, county, or political subdivision from the operation of a law
  • HB 452 – Modifies provisions regarding the liability of a health care provider for the actions of an employee
  • HB 850 – Modifies the complaint process for members of the state military forces
  • HB 1194 – Prohibits political subdivisions from requiring a minimum wage that exceeds the requirements of state law
  • HCB 3 – Fitzpatrick – Modifies provisions relating to funds for vulnerable senior citizens
  • HCR 19 – Authorizes the issuance of public bonds for half of the financing of a new conservatory building at UMKC
  • HCR 28 – Reaffirms Missouri’s support of the services of the sheltered workshops of our state
  • HCR 47 – Establishes the 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force

House completes work on budget

The Missouri House passed the state’s $28 billion budget this week.  This budget marks the first time the House has fully funded the K-12 foundation formula since this formula was passed in 2005.  The House also restored the K-12 transportation budget to last year’s level.  The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin working on its changes to the budget next week.  The Senate budget chair, Dan Brown (R-Rolla), has said he does not think the Senate will maintain the House’s education funding level, which means an agreement on funding will have to be worked out in a conference committee in early May.

Governor Greitens Prioritizes Rural Broadband

Governor Greitens announced a $6 million program to cover gaps between what schools could afford and a federal matching grant.  There are roughly 100 school districts in Missouri that currently lack high speed internet connections.  Governor Greitens has announced that with this state fund and the federal fund,  every school in Missouri that wants to access high speed internet will now have the resources to do so.

Tort Reform Measures Continue Advancing

Each chamber sent legislation that would ensure insurance companies have adequate time to review claims before deciding to settle to the other chamber.  Additionally,  a House Bill that contains the same provision and a tort reform measure that is referred to as reservation of rights was voted out of committee and could be debated on the Senate Floor soon.

Bill Proposing Changes to Bonding has Hearing

Representative Rob Vescovo’s (R-Jefferson County) bill that changes the law regarding the sale of public bonds to require some political subdivisions to issue debt at public sale was heard in in the House Ways and Means Committee early this week.   Additionally Representative Vescovo added this language as an amendment on a Senate Bill in the House.

Senator Schaaf Makes Major Announcement on Prescription Drug Monitoring

This week took an unexpected turn when Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) announced he was ending his nearly decade long opposition to a bill that would make Missouri the 50th state to adopt a prescription drug monitoring program.  Schaaf stipulated that in order for the bill to keep his support there would have to be an amendment added that mandated utilization of the PDMP by doctors.  This amendment will likely be fought by several physician groups.

Education Savings Accounts Get Senate Floor Time

Senator Andrew Koenig’s (R-Manchester) education savings account bill was debated on the Senate floor for about 90 minutes Tuesday morning.  The bill was laid over when Senator Scott Sifton (D-Affton) attempted to add a 100 page amendment that was nearly identical to the transfer bill vetoed by Governor Nixon in 2014.

REAL ID One Step Closer

The Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee heard the House version of Real ID this week.  Missouri is one of a handful of states that has not complied with the Federal Real ID law.  If Missouri does not come into compliance before January, 2018, Missourians will not be able to fly domestically without a passport or enter military bases and other federal facilities without alternative forms of ID.

Governor Greitens’ Appointments

After three weeks of delay and a private meeting with Governor Greitens, the Senate confirmed several of the Governor’s appointments.  The Senate Republicans held the appointments up because they were upset about the Governor’s executive order on paid family leave.  Governor Greitens met with the Caucus on Wednesday to discuss they executive order, and as a result the following appointments were confirmed on Thursday:

  • Darryl Chapman, Jeff Layman and Jamie Farmer to the University of Missouri Board of Curators
  • James Bean as State Fire Marshall
  • Craig Frazier and Carol Silvey to the Missouri State Board of Governors

Additionally the Senate Committee on Gubernatorial Appointments held a confirmation hearing on Governor Greitens’ nominee to run the Missouri Department of Insurance, Chlora Lindley-Myers, who was previously the deputy commissioner of the same department in Tennessee.

Lastly, Governor Greitens appointed Anna Hui as the Director of the Department of Labor.  Hui is currently Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Labor.

Budget advances in Missouri

The state’s $27billion budget was advanced out of the House Budget committee this week. While few changes were made, there was a bit of surprise when Kirkwood Democrat Deb Lavender offered an amendment, which was approved, that took more than $6million from Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office and gave it to the state’s Public Defenders. It is expected that there will be an effort to move the money back to the Attorney General’s office.

The House appropriations staff has announced the budget bills will be heard on the House Floor next Tuesday and third read and sent to the Senate on Thursday.

House Passes Bill Repealing Prevailing Wage

On Thursday, the Missouri House sent Warren Love’s (R-Osceola) bill that repeals Missouri’s prevailing wage law to the Senate. While House and Senate leadership have pledged to pass several bills that are viewed by democrats as anti-labor, the repeal of prevailing wage is widely viewed as the most contentious because repealing prevailing wage will directly impact the salaries of union members. Under current law, contractors and subcontractors working on public works projects are required to pay employees the prevailing wage for the particular locality in which the project is being completed. This bill changes the law to require contractors and subcontractors to pay employees state or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher. Contractors and subcontractors would be permitted to pay higher than the minimum wage, but that would not be a requirement.

The bill is expected to move through the Senate Committee process quickly, but will likely face a filibuster from pro-labor Senators.

House Sends Real ID Legislation to the Senate

After giving Congress and the President a month to repeal the Federal Real ID requirements, the House voted to send a bill that would give Missourians the option to choose a Real ID to the Senate. Missouri is one of a handful of states that has yet to comply with the Federal law. If the legislature does not approve this bill, Missourians will need a passport to fly domestically and will be unable to use their Missouri driver’s licenses to enter federal facilities.

Course Access is One Step Closer to the Governor’s Desk

This week the Senate Education Committee heard Representative Bryan Spencer’s (R-St. Charles) course access bill. This legislation would ensure that Missouri’s students would have access to the courses they need to be successful in college and career. This bill is a priority of both Governor Eric Greitens and Speaker Richardson. No action was taken on the bill.

Economic Development Legislation on the Move

The House committee on Local Government heard Senator Wasson’s (R-Christian County) bill that will modify the language relating to agreements that may be entered into by municipalities who participate in industrial development projects. The bill easily passed the Senate. No action was taken on the bill.

Additionally, the Senate Education Committee heard Representative Jeanie Lauer’s (R-Jackson County) legislation that will allow students to take the ACT WorkKeys assessments instead of the ACT Plus Writing Assessment. While no action was taken on the bill this week though the Senate Education Committee is expected to vote on it next week.

House and Senate Both Perfect Legislation Dealing with Time Limited Demands

Both House and Senate leadership pledged to pass significant tort reform legislation this year, and this week another part of the tort reform agenda advanced. Each chamber passed legislation that would ensure insurance companies have adequate time to review claims before deciding to settle. Both bills will now work their way through the committee process in the other chamber.

Electric and Water Utilities Infrastructure Bills Stalled

This week Senator Ed Emery (R-Barton County) presented two utilities bills on the Senate Floor, one dealing with rate stabilization for water and sewer corporations and another dealing with ratemaking for electric utilities. Much like similar bills in the past, a handful of Senators launched a filibuster and forced Senator Emery to lay the bills over. It is possible the Senate will give these bills some additional floor-time, but they both continue to face significant opposition.

Missouri momentum: tort reform, labor reform, and ed. reform

When the House and Senate return on March 27, there will be seven weeks left before the legislature adjourns for the year. In the first half of session, before spring break, there were 1,238 House Bills filed and 544 Senate Bills filed. Two House Bills, one relating to agriculture and one changing who can be certified as an expert witness in a jury trial have been sent to the Governor and are awaiting his signature. Additionally, one Senate Bill, Right to Work, has been sent to and signed by the Governor.

Traditionally, eighty percent or more of the bills that become law are sent to the Governor in the final two weeks of session. As such there is still time for legislative leaders to accomplish their priorities. Below is a recap of where the bills with the most momentum addressing those priorities currently stand.

Tort Reform

Several tort reform measures are moving through the process. As mentioned above, the first tort measure sent to the Governor was expert witness. Several others are moving through the process including:

Collateral Source, sponsored by Senator Ed Emery (R-Barton County), has been approved by the Senate and is currently awaiting a hearing in the House Committee on Special Litigation. This bill would allow parties involved in litigation to reveal the actual cost, rather than the actual value, of medical services rendered.

Time Limited Demand and Reservation of Rights, sponsored by Representative Bruce DeGroot (R-St. Louis County), has been approved by the House and is awaiting a vote in the Senate General Laws committee. This bill will ensure insurance providers have adequate time and information when making decisions about settling claims.

Venue and Joinder is a series of bills sponsored by Representative Glen Kolkmeyer (R-Lafayette County) that have been approved by the House and are awaiting a vote in the Senate. These bills attempt to prevent plaintiffs in a lawsuit from “venue shopping” and also require that some separate complaints against the same company not be allowed to join together in one lawsuit.

Labor Reform

The GOP majority has made no secret of its desire to enact wide ranging labor reform. As mentioned above, Right to Work was the first bill sent to and signed by the Governor. Republicans have tried for several years to pass right to work but were unable to come up with enough votes to over-ride a veto from former Governor Nixon. While Right to Work is perhaps the highest profile labor reform bill, there are several other labor reform bills moving through the legislature. Some of those include:

Paycheck Protection is sponsored by Representative Jered Taylor (R-Springfield) and being handled in the Senate by Senator Bob Onder (R-St. Charles). Representative Taylor’s bill has crossed chambers and has been debated on the Senate Floor for several hours though no compromise has been reached yet. The bill would change some reporting requirements for labor organizations and employees and change the way unions are certified and decertified.

Project Labor Agreements sponsored by Senator Onder (R-St. Charles) has passed the Senate and is awaiting a hearing in the House Economic Development Committee. This bill would change the law regarding how and when municipalities had to enter into project labor agreements.

Prevailing Wage is sponsored by Senator Dan Brown (R-Rolla) and is on the Senate informal calendar. It is widely expected that this will be the most contentious of the labor reform bills and it is likely that Senate leadership will tackle this priority after most other priorities have made it out of the Senate. There is also a House prevailing wage bill sponsored by Representative Warren Love (R-Osceola) that is on the House informal calendar with an amendment pending.

Education Reform

Charter expansion is sponsored by Rebecca Roeber (R-Lee’s Summitt) and has been approved by the House and is waiting to be referred to a Senate Committee. The version the House passed expands charter schools to all school districts that have one school building with an annual performance report of 60% or less and increases accountability requirements for charter schools.

Education Savings Accounts is sponsored by both Senator Ed Emery (R-Barton County) and Senator Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester). Both of these bills have been approved by committee and are on the Senate Calendar. Senator Emery’s bill provides an education savings account to any student in Missouri who has been enrolled in a public school for one semester in the previous twelve months. Senator Koenig’s bill provides an education savings account to any student who is in foster care or has special needs.

Economic Development

Several bills attempting to cut the state’s tax credit programs have been filed and received hearings. However, Governor Greitens has appointed a committee to study the state’s tax credits and make recommendations for the programs. As such, it is unclear whether any of the measures related to the state’s existing tax credit programs will advance.
Some of the other economic development ideas that are moving include:

Missouri Works and Missouri Works Job Training Program changes which was sponsored by Senator Jay Wasson (R-Christian County) and has been approved by the Senate and is waiting to be referred to a House Committee.

Tax Increment Finance Allocation Senator Wasson is also sponsoring a bill that is on the Senate calendar that would exclude any annual amount generated by a single plan or project which is estimated to create in excess of fifteen thousand new jobs with an average annual wage of more than $75,000 from the super TIF cap.

Budget

The Governor was forced to cut $580 million from the budget request he sent the legislature in February. As a result many existing programs saw the Governor’s request cut their line item completely out of the budget while other saw drastic cuts. There were also very few new budget items included in the Governor’s request.

When House Budget Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob) presented his changes to the Governor’s recommendations, he included several changes. The most notable change was that he used cost savings from a bill being considered now that would remove senior citizens who are renting from a tax credit program to fully fund the foundation formula. The budget must be completed by May 5, as such the expected timeline for the budget is as follows:

Week of March 27 – House Budget Committee makes changes and votes on each budget bill

Week of April 3- Budget is debated by the full House and sent to the Senate

Week of April 10- Senate Appropriations committee has hearings on the House budget

Week of April 17- Senate Appropriations committee makes final changes and votes on its version of the budget bills

Week of April 24- Full Senate debates Senate Committee version of each budget bill

Week of May 1- House and Senate appoint conferees and reconcile differences and vote to send final budget to Governor Eric Greitens

Missouri supreme court, House spar over minimum wage preemption

Last week Missouri’s Supreme Court threw out a 2015 law that preempted Missouri’s cities from raising the minimum wage. This week, in an effort to prevent Saint Louis from raising its minimum wage, the House fast-tracked legislation that, once again, aims to preempt municipalities that wish to raise their minimum wage. The measure was approved by the House by a vote of 112-46 and will now be sent to the Senate.

HOUSE APPROVES TIME LIMITED DEMAND AND RESERVATION OF RIGHTS

On Thursday the House approved Rep. Bruce DeGroot’s (R-Chesterfield) measure that deals with settling tort claims. DeGroot’s legislation, which will now be sent to the Senate, includes two important provisions referred to as Time Limited Demand and Reservation of Rights which will ensure insurance providers have adequate time and information when making decisions about settling claims.

RIDE SHARING DEBATED IN SENATE

The Senate spent several hours debating a bill that would have created a statewide framework for ride sharing which would allow companies like Lyft to operate in all corners of Missouri. Proponents of the bill, including House Speaker Todd Richardson and Senate Assistant Floor Leader Bob Onder, are supportive because ride sharing will create thousands of jobs across the state and send a clear message that Missouri welcomes innovation. However, after several hours of debate, largely unrelated to ride sharing, the bill was laid over.

HOUSE SENDS VENUE/JOINDER LEGISLATION TO THE SENATE

The House approved several pieces of legislation that would limit a plaintiff’s ability to combine lawsuits and require plaintiffs to individually establish the county or district where a case is held. The controversial measure was approved by a vote of 100-54. Supporters of the measure claim that current law allows too many suits to be brought to Saint Louis while opponents of the legislation say the measure will prohibit Missourians from working together to fight deceptive practices.

HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE APPROVES BILL REMOVING RENTERS FROM THE CIRCUIT BREAKER TAX CREDIT

Amid a $580 million budget deficit, the House budget committee voted to save more than $60 million by repealing the “circuit breaker” credit for seniors and disabled renters. The legislators who support the repeal claim the tax credit was intended to offset property taxes paid by seniors who own their homes. Opponents of the repeal claim landlords pass the property tax on their rental property on to their senior residents. Budget chair, Scott Fitzpatrick, wants to use the money keep people in nursing homes or for meal programs for senior citizens.

HOUSE LITIGATION REFORM COMMITTEE ADVANCES SENATE BILL DEALING WITH ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS

A measure that provides that in an arbitration agreement between an employer and an at-will employee the arbitrator shall make all initial decisions was advanced from a House committee. The bill also establishes criteria for when the arbitrator shall determine that the arbitration agreement is valid, and that the arbitrator must be mutually agreed on by both parties. The bill will now be sent to the House Rules Committee where it must be voted on before it can be sent to the House Floor for debate.

THE COMMITTEE FOR SIMPLE, FAIR AND LOW TAXES HOLDS FIRST MEETING

Gov. Eric Greitens’ Committee for Simple, Fair, and Low Taxes met in Jefferson City yesterday. At this first organizational meeting, the committee defined its goal and outlined the structure they will use to achieve it. The committee aims to create a tax structure that is more business friendly and conducive to job creation. They will be organized into three subcommittees: tax credits, income tax, and sales/consumption tax. The committee will host four town hall style meetings across Missouri to gather public input. The committee has not released the date or location of its next meeting.

THE SENATE CONFIRMED THE FOLLOWING APPOINTMENTS FROM GOVERNOR GREITENS:

• Darryl M. Chatman, Democrat, as a member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators
• Jamie L. Farmer, Republican, as a member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators
• Jeffrey L. Layman, Republican, as a member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators
• Col. Sandra Karsten, as Superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol