Several of Governor Eric Greitens’ appointments were confirmed by the Senate this week marking an important milestone for the new governor as he builds his cabinet. The following positions were confirmed by the Senate on Thursday:
- Chris Chinn-Director of the Department of Agriculture
- Sarah Steelman- Director of the Office of Administration
- Drew Juden-Director of Public Safety
- Anne Precythe- Director of the Department of Corrections
- Carol Comer-Director of the Department of Natural Resources
Additionally, on Thursday Governor Eric Greitens announced that he was appointing Dr. Randall Williams as the Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services. Dr. Williams is an obstetrician and gynecologist who served as North Carolina public health director.
The House Committee on Government Efficiency approved Kevin Corlew’s (R-Kansas City) bill that would allow Missouri to implement the federally mandated Real-ID. This bill, like the bill approved by the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs committee two weeks ago, gives Missourians the opportunity to choose whether they want to get the Real ID or continue using the non-compliant ID currently issued by Missouri’s Department of Revenue. If Missouri does not approve a Real-ID bill during this legislative session, Missourians will have to use their passports to travel domestically starting in 2018.
Right to Work
On Monday, Governor Eric Greitens was joined by many long-time advocates of Right to Work at several bill signing ceremonies across the state. This marks the first bill signed into law from the 2017 Legislative session and is a major victory for the Republican leadership in both chambers and for Governor Greitens.
The House third read Representative Jered Taylor’s (R-Springfield) bill that is commonly referred to as paycheck protection. The bill requires authorization for labor unions to use dues and fees to make political contributions and requires consent for withholding earnings from members’ paychecks. Paycheck protection is part of the labor reform package that has long been a priority of Republican leadership.
Project Labor Agreements
The Missouri Senate spent much of this week perfecting Senator Onder’s (R-St. Charles) bill dealing with project labor agreements. Senator Onder’s bill would repeal a provision in current law that prohibits the state, or any agency or instrument of the state, from requiring, or prohibiting, bidders from entering into agreements with labor organizations for the construction of public projects that are 50% or more state funded. The bill is expected to be third read and sent to the House next week.
The Senate Committee on Commerce Energy and the Environment voted to advance Senator Ed Emery’s (R-Barton County) legislation that would modify how rates are set for public electric utilities. Similar legislation has stalled in the past as ratepayers, the utility companies and the Public Service Commission have disagreed on whether changes were necessary and how to balance necessary modernization with protecting ratepayers.
The House Committee on Utilities began its hearing process on Chairman Rocky Miller’s (R-Camdenton) bill that would modernize the ratemaking process for public gas utilities. The committee ran out of time and was unable to hear from all the witnesses. The hearing will be continued next week.
Time Limited Demands
The Senate Committee on Government Reform heard Senator Caleb Rowden’s (R-Columbia) bill that sets a time limit for accepting settlement offers of some tort claims. You can read the current version of the legislation here.
Tax Credit Commission
Late last week, Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) appointed Representatives Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield), Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston) and Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) to the Governor’s Commission on Simple Fair and Low Taxes. The Commission is tasked with studying the state’s tax credit programs and offering recommendations to the Governor on improving the programs.
Sales and Use Tax
On Thursday the Senate third read and passed Senator Will Kraus’ (R-Lees Summit) legislation that makes clear that delivery charges shall not be subject to sales and use taxes. Senator Kraus filed the bill following a 2015 state Supreme Court ruling that allowed the state to impose a tax on deliveries and a subsequent letter from the Department of Revenue in July of 2016 indicating businesses could be subject to the tax.