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 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