WEEKLY LOBBYIST REPORT
April 17, 2017
Last week the House passed and sent to the Governor legislation regulating transportation networking companies such as Uber and Lyft. The bill, which was passed by a vote of 144-7, was a priority of House Speaker Todd Richardson.
After four grueling hours of debate last week, the Senate passed another version of the prescription drug monitoring program and sent the amended bill back to the House for consideration. Bill sponsor Senator Dave Schatz was forced to include a six year sunset for the program and to limit the personal prescription drug purchase/prescription data to a time limit of 180 days (data to be purged after that time period).
IN THE NEWS…
- The Missouri House voted against an amendment by a vote of 51-103 that would have raised the state’s gas tax by nearly 6 cents per gallon if it were approved by voters in 2018. This is the latest in attempts to address transportation funding needs and another sign that transportation funding will not be addressed this session. The Senate Committee on Transportation, by a tie vote, failed to approve a funding bill put forward by Senator Bill Eigel (R-St. Charles) that proposed a number of funding options for transportation, primarily with use of state general revenue funds. It appears that highway funding solutions will not be found this year.
- Having amassed over $2.8 million in campaign contributions, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-St. Louis County) is considering running against incumbent U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill next year. Noteworthy, however, is a letter sent recently urging to newly elected Attorney General Josh Hawley urging his candidacy for that Senate seat. That letter, addressed to Hawley, urges him to run and was signed by former U.S. Senator Jack Danforth, former Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, former State Senator Jane Cunningham and former Missouri Republican Party Chairman Doug Russell. Senator McCaskill also raised $2.8 million in the last three months and shows a money-on-hand balance of over $3 million.
- Governor Eric Greitens, via executive order, announced the formation of a task force to study the restructuring, consolidation and elimination of Missouri state government’s 221 state boards & commissions. In keeping with his campaign position, Greitens said that “government is too big, too slow, and works too slowly”.
- One of Governor Greitens’ first official acts was to implement enhanced security measures at the state capitol building, including metal detectors and scanners. The Senate Appropriations Committee agreed with the House to deny $750,000 in state funding for continued security. Stay tuned for changes in access to the capitol in the near future.
The Senate Committee on Appropriations began their initial mark-up of the Fiscal Year 2018 state operating budget this week. The committee walked through the House version of the budget, line by line. Minimal changes were made throughout the budget, but numerous line items were left open for further scrutiny during the second round of review that will occur next week. It is expected the committee will finish crafting their version, with language included, by next week. The budget is still facing nearly half a billion dollars in cuts as slow revenue growth and increased healthcare costs are overpowering the state’s budget. In addition to reducing the state’s expenses, a time crunch is also facing budget leaders. The Constitutional deadline of May 5 to pass a balanced budget is only three weeks away. To complicate matters even more, several funding sources that make up the operating budget are still pending in the legislature and may cause delays to meet the constitutional deadline. The elimination of the renter’s portion of the Circuit Breaker Tax Credit has been used in the House version of the budget to replace up to approximately $56 million of General Revenue and several Democratic members of the committee have already expressed their commitment to killing this measure and have stated alternate funding will need to be found.
Some items of interest include the following:
- It should be noted Chairman Brown is extremely unhappy with various professional registration boards and commissions, including our professional design registration board, that refused to voluntarily sweep funds into General Revenue to offset the cost of various collaborative projects throughout the state. He has stated this intention to fund those projects through General Revenue and other sources but has put all boards and commissions on notice that next year there will be a “hostile” fund sweep of funds in the FY 2019 budget.
HOUSE FLOOR ACTION
MOTOR FUEL TAX: The House took up HCS HB 694, sponsored by Rep. Craig Redmon (R-Canton). This bill creates a graduated tax system for propane fueled vehicles. Tax rates are specified in the bill and the taxes are collected and used for the same purposes as the state road tax. Propane fueled vehicles may continue to apply for and use alternative fuel decals in lieu of paying the tax. No fuel decal is required for vehicles that fuel at stations collecting the new propane tax, however, there is no refund policy for vehicles with fuel decals that choose to obtain fuel at unattended stations where tax is automatically collected at the point of sale.
During Perfection the following amendments were adopted:
- Requires owners of new electric hybrid cars with a model year of 2018 or newer to pay one-half of the stated annual alternative fuel decal fee for recharging at electrical power sources.
- Political subdivisions that enact local sales or excise taxes after January 1, 2017, under Article IV, Section 30(a) of the Constitution of Missouri are required to use 90% of such funds on the construction, maintenance, or repair of roads and no more than 10% of the tax for policing, signing, lighting, and cleaning roads or streets.
It is expected this bill will be Third Read when the legislature returns from Easter break tomorrow.
COMMITTEE HEARINGS HELD LAST WEEK
PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS: The House Economic Development Committee met in executive session and voted SB 182, sponsored by Senator Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis) “do pass” 8-3. The bill modifies provisions of law relating to project labor agreements. Current law prohibits the state from requiring or prohibiting bidders from entering into agreements with labor organizations on contracts for the construction of public projects that are funded 50% or more by the state. The bill removes the 50% funding threshold and prohibits the state from requiring bidders to be a part of a labor organization.
WASTEWATER: The House Committee on Conservation and Natural Resources conducted a public hearing on HB 1169, sponsored by Rep. Bart Korman (R-High Hill). This bill exempts all wastewater treatment facilities with a design flow of 22,500 gallons per day or less from anti-degradation review requirements. Testifying for informational purposes was a representative from Department of Natural Resources. There was no testimony in support or opposition and the committee took no further action on the measure.
UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS
WEDNESDAY – 04/19/17
8:00 AM, HR 5
SB 302 – Wieland – Allows a port authority to establish an advanced industrial manufacturing zone in an area within the port authority’s ownership or control, and allows a port authority to expand or contract the area of an AIM zone by resolution.