WEEKLY LOBBYIST REPORT
April 17, 2018
The Missouri House continued its work to perfect and third read numerous House bills. Of note, the House spent hours debating the tax reform bill sponsored by Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr (Speaker-in-waiting), adopting 12 amendments to the bill and then perfecting the measure. The Senate continued its recent trend of perfecting and third reading Senate bills. The chamber perfected and/or third read 16 measures that will be sent to the House for consideration. The usual tension that occurs about this time every year between the House and Senate relating to how each chamber is moving the other chamber’s bills is notable, but not as serious as in past years.
As you might imagine, the political intrigue and legislative reaction to the release of the House Special Investigative Committee investigating Governor Eric Greitens had a pronounced impact on legislative activity. The 25-page report (over 200 pages with transcripts and supporting materials) features graphic language derived from witnesses who testified before the committee, including the alleged victim who engaged in an extramarital affair with the Governor. The key finding of the report is that the committee found the testimony provided by the alleged victim to be credible and corroborated by testimony from other witnesses. The Missouri House conducted no business on Wednesday and did not meet on Thursday as leaders prepared for the release and aftermath of the report. The Special Committee has indicated that it will continue its investigative work and Speaker Todd Richardson is working to lay the groundwork for a special session to commence impeachment proceedings. The full report may be found HERE. Numerous federal and state officeholders have called for the resignation of Governor Greitens.
IN THE NEWS
- Former Governor Jay Nixon argued before the Missouri Supreme Court on behalf of Clean Line Energy, a company that wants to build the Grain Belt Express project consisting of a massive transmission line to carry wind power through northern Missouri. That project was rejected by the Missouri Public Service Commission. At issue is whether multiple county approvals are needed to permit the project to proceed. Nixon argued that the $2.3 billion project (eight counties) is privately funded would bring essential benefits to Missouri and provide over $7 million in property tax payments to schools in the impacted counties. A decision on the case is expected in the next 6-8 weeks.
- The Senate Appropriations Committee zeroed out a House budget recommendation of $375,000 to begin funding of a state prescription drug monitoring program. Some lawmakers believe that the PDMP program which was created by executive order should be the product of legislation.
- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has proposed spending the $41 million that it received last year from a Volkswagen legal settlement on replacing school buses and other heavy-duty equipment. The automaker last year agreed to provide billions of dollars to settle litigation relating to cheating on emissions standards. Environmental groups are pushing for a share of the money to be used for clean electric vehicles. MDNR will finalize distribution of the funds in June.
- The Missouri Senate passed SJR 27, a constitutional amendment that would alter term limits for state legislators by permitting them to serve 16 years in a single chamber. Currently representatives and senators are termed out after 8 years in a chamber. The amendment, which would be sent to voters for approval if passed by the House, would also ban any lobbyist gifts for legislators, legislative staff, legislative spouses, employees or children.
- The Senate passed SS SB 674. This revenue neutral bill with the Substitute lowers the top corporate income tax rate for 6.25% to 3.5%. The revenue to pay for this reduction comes from requiring single factor sales for C-corporations, which could be a tax increase for some out of state C-corporations. This bill could be an alternative to the big tax cut bills (SB 617 and HB 2450), which are over 400 pages long and are not revenue neutral.
The Senate began crafting their version of $28 billion FY 2019 Missouri budget. The Senate process differs from the house in that the Senate Appropriations Committee has the option to concur with the House, concur with the Governor, or create a Senate position. The committee completed its initial work on the budget. Any item deemed controversial or no agreement could be reached was left open. It is the intention of Chairman Dan Brown to hold a hearing to close any open items and determine language and flexibility. The following items differ from the House version and will be eligible for conference:
- A cut of $375,000 for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program;
- Restoration of the State Health Lab to the Department of Health and Senior Services;
- An additional $500,000 to fund a Medicaid Organization Reform Project;
- Removed the $500,000 to fund an electronic monitoring pilot project with Probation and Parole;
- Removed $700,000 to fund a Lean efficiency and cost reduction program across all sixteen state departments;
- Replacement of aged fleet vehicles across all state departments;
- An additional $73,000 to the Office of Military Advocate for the purpose of hiring an additional staff member;
- An additional $142,000 for the Mainstreet Program;
- An additional $500,000 to tourism for the purpose of funding the Meet Me in Missouri program and an additional $2.5 million for the tourism marketing match; and,
- Higher Education funding was placed back into the Performance Funding model.
There are numerous items that are still open throughout all the budget bills. The following items of interest are still open:
- Prisoner per diem rates;
- State employee pay plan and retirement;
- Federal Reimbursement Rates for providers; and,
- Fee-For-Service and Managed Care funding.
HOUSE FLOOR ACTION
PUNITIVE DAMAGES: The House took up HCS HB 2119, sponsored by Rep. Kirk Mathews (R-). This bill provides that punitive damages shall not be awarded except upon proof by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally caused harm or acted with a conscious disregard for the safety of others. Punitive damages may not be awarded against an employer or principal because of the conduct of an employee or agent unless specified criteria are met. During Perfection the following amendments were adopted:
- HA1, Rep. Corlew – Requires plaintiffs to prove the defendant showed a “deliberate and flagrant” disregard for safety rather than a “conscious” disregard for safety;
- HA2, Rep. White – aligns the medical malpractice provision with the Senate language;
- HA3, Rep. Barnes – creates an exception for lawsuits which invoke privacy rights, property rights, or rights enumerated in the US Constitution; and,
- HA4, Rep. Roberts – Carves out any language which conflicts with current federal law.
It is expected this bill will be Third Read and Passed next week.
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES: The House Committee on Conservation and Natural Resources conducted a hearing on SS/SCS/SB 782. This bill contains numerous provisions relating to the Department of Natural Resources. Major provisions include:
- Fence maintenance along the historic Missouri Rock Island Railroad Corridor;
- Extension of the sunset on the Lead-acid battery fee program;
- Limiting the ability of the Director, the Hazardous Waste Management Commission, the Missouri Mining Commission, and the Clean Water Commission to increase fees by placing on sunset on authority to modify fees (August 24, 2024);
- Establishes the petroleum storage tank insurance fund task force;
- Exempts agricultural storm water discharges and return flows from clean water permitting requirements
The committee took no action on the measure.
CLEAN WATER LAW: The House Third Read and Passed with 105 ayes and 35 noes HCS#2 HB 1973, sponsored by Rep. John Wiemann (R-O’Fallon). This bill removes a temperature change from the definition of a water contaminant for the purposes of the Missouri Clean Water Law and species that agricultural storm water discharges and return flows from irrigated agriculture are exempt from permitting requirements under the Missouri Clean Water Law and should not be considered unlawful unless the discharges have entered the waters of the state and rendered the waters harmful, detrimental, or injurious to public health, safety, or welfare, to industrial or agricultural uses, or to wild animals, birds, or fish. Nothing in this bill should be construed to effect, limit, or supersede any law or regulation of concentrated animal feeding operations.
The bill has been reported to the Senate and First Read.
SENATE FLOOR ACTION
OMNIBUS TORT REFORM: The Senate Government Reform Committee met in Executive Session and voted SB 1102 sponsored by Senator Mike Kehoe (R-Cole) Do Pass. The Senate bill incorporates content of eleven bills that include the following:
- SB 915, sponsored by Senator Sandy Crawford (R-Buffalo) and house companion bill HB 1654, sponsored by Representative Robert Cornejo (R-St. Peters). The bill limits contingency fees a private attorney may receive from contingency fee contracts with the state.
- SB 822, sponsored by Senator Dan Hegeman (R-Cosby). The bill allows evidence of failure to wear a seatbelt to prove comparative negligence or to mitigate damages
- SB 832, sponsored by Senator Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia). The bill modifies provisions relating to tort actions, specifically unlawful merchandising practices and product liability.
- SB 578, sponsored by Senator Gary Romine (R-Farmington). The bill modifies law regarding arbitration agreements between employers and at-will employees.
- SB 546, sponsored by Senator Brian Munzlinger and house companion HB 1578, sponsored by Representative Glen Kolkmeyer (R-Odessa). The bill modifies provisions of civil procedure regarding rejoinder, venue, and personal jurisdiction.
- SB 778, sponsored by Senator Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia). The bill provides that an insurer who deposits the limits of coverage amount with the court shall not be liable for an amount in excess of the insurer’s contractual coverage limits in an interpleader action.
- HB 2119, sponsored by Representative Kirk Mathews (R-Pacific). The bill modifies provisions relating to punitive damages.
- SB 596, sponsored by Senator Jeanie Riddle (R-Fulton). The bill provides that a person who is injured by a product has 10 years after the sale or lease of the product to bring a suit for damages.
- SB 809, sponsored by Senator Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester). This legislation requires a defendant served after the statute of limitations has expired for wrongful death or medical negligence claims to be served within 180 days after the petition has been filed.
- SB 678, sponsored by Senator Bill Eigel (R-St. Charles). The bill provides that defendants in tort actions shall only be held severally liable and not jointly.
- HB 2434, sponsored by Representative Bill White (R-Joplin). The bill provides that punitive damages may be awarded against a health care provider in a malpractice action only if the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally caused damage to the plaintiff or demonstrated malicious misconduct.
This bill has been reported to the Senate and is currently on the Senate Calendar – Senate Bills for Perfection.
NATURAL RESOURCE FUNDS: The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food Production, and Outdoor Resources conducted a public hearing on HB 1607, sponsored by Rep. Bart Korman (R-High Hill). This bill extends from December 31, 2018, to December 31, 2023, the $.50 fee that is collected on the retail sale of a lead-acid battery as well as the fees for any hazardous waste generated. Currently, the Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund is set to expire on December 31, 2020, after which claims made prior to such date may continue to be paid. This bill extends the expiration to December 31, 2030.
Testifying in support were representatives from Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, Missouri Petroleum Council, and Department of Natural Resources who all stated they would like to see the sunset extended. There was no testimony in opposition and the committee took no further action on the measure.
OMNIBUS TRANSPORTATION BILL: The Senate Perfected SB 1050, sponsored by Senator Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan). This act modifies provisions of law relating to transportation.
TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE (Sections 108.120 and 137.555) – This act removes requirements that money in the Road Bond Construction Fund and Special Road and Bridge Fund be used only on roads that are continuous through a political subdivision and specifies that counties may contract with political subdivisions to share the bond proceeds for authorized purposes.
MODOT UTILITY CORRIDORS (Section 227.240) – This act allows the Department of Transportation to establish a utility corridor that is up to 12 feet wide when space is reasonably available.
INFRASTRUCTURE DESIGNATIONS (Sections 227.541, 227.542, and 227.544) – This act designates the portion of Interstate 70 from Rangeline Street continuing west to Business Loop 70 in Boone County the “Highway Patrol Sgt. Benjamin Booth Memorial Highway”. (Section 227.541)
BRUSH CONTROL ON COUNTY RIGHTS-OF-WAY (Section 263.245) – This act adds a reference to the existing voter approval requirements for imposing obligations on landowners to control brush on county rights-of-way and easements in certain counties, and specifies that the landowners shall prevent brush from interfering with vehicles traveling on the road.
DISTRIBUTION OF PETROLEUM PRODUCTS (Section 292.606) – Under current law, certain provisions relating to fees collected relating to the transportation and delivery of petroleum products are due to expire on August 28, 2018. This act extends this expiration date to August 28, 2024.
REGISTRATION OF AUTOCYCLES (Sections 301.010, 301.020, 301.055, 301.130, 301.350, and 304.005) – This act creates a registration framework specific to autocycles, as defined in the act, and adds straddle-type seating and handlebar-based controls to the definition of motortricycle.
COMMERCIAL DRIVER’S LICENSES AND MOTORCYCLE ENDORSEMENTS (Sections 302.170, 302.173, and 302.720) – This act specifies that the Department of Revenue may retain documents submitted by a commercial driver’s license applicant who is active duty or retired military if the documents allow for waiver of the commercial driver’s license knowledge test, skills test, or both.
DRIVER’S LICENSES FOR PERSONS WHO ARE DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING (Section 302.174) – This act changes, from “J88” to “DHH”, the notation on a person’s driver’s license that indicates the person has a diminished capacity to discriminate speech when spoken in a normal conversational tone.
USE OF ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION DEVICES WHILE DRIVING (Sections 304.012 and 304.820) – This act repeals provisions of the existing texting while driving statute that relate to noncommercial vehicles, as well as eliminates an exception for the relaying of information between transit or for-hire drivers and their dispatcher when the device used is permanently affixed to the vehicle.
TRANSPORTATION OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS (Section 304.060) – This act states that the Kansas City Public Schools school board may contract with any municipality, bi-state agency, or other governmental entity to transport high school children.
TRANSPORTATION OF CRANES (Section 304.180) – This act provides that the Highways and Transportation Commission shall issue single-use special permits for or upon request of the equipment owner annual permits for the transportation of cranes.
BOAT PASSENGERS (Section 306.126) – This act specifies that the requirement for boat passengers to ride only within adequate guards or railing when underway shall not apply to vessels propelled by propellers or jet motors when such vessels are operating on a stretch of waterway not created or widened by impoundment.
DISPLAY OF FIXED, FLASHING, OR ROTATING LIGHTS (Section 307.175) – Currently, vehicles owned by a utility or by an entity performing work for the department of transportation may display fixed, flashing, or rotating lights under certain circumstances.
FUEL STANDARDS (Section 414.032) – Currently, all fuels shall meet American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards, in addition to rules promulgated by the Director of the Department of Agriculture.
This bill was Perfected on a voice vote. The bill is currently on the Senate Calendar – Senate Bills for Third Reading.
COMMITTEE ACTION LAST WEEK
CIVIL PROCEDURE: The Senate Government Reform Committee held a hearing on HB 1578, sponsored by Representative Glen Kolkmeyer (R-Odessa). This bill amends the law regarding joinder of parties in civil proceedings by stating that out-of-state injury claims arising out of separate incidents or purchases of the same product or service will not justify joinder of two or more parties in one action. In addition, in any tort civil action, two or more plaintiffs may be joined in a single action only if each plaintiff is able to independently establish venue, except that plaintiffs may be joined in actions pending in counties with a population below certain specified threshold. Two or more defendants may be joined in a single action only if personal jurisdiction and venue is established as to each defendant. If two or more plaintiffs are injured outside of Missouri because of a single occurrence, they may be joined in one action in Cole County. Mis-joined parties shall be transferred to a county with proper venue or dismissed if no such county exists in Missouri.
Representatives from Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Doctors Group, Associated Industries of Missouri, Missouri Insurance Coalition, American Insurance Association, State Farm, MO Railroad Association, Shelter Insurance, US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, MO Retailers Association, MO Grocers Association, NFIB, MO Organization of Defense Lawyers and BJC provided supporting testimony. A representative from MO Association of Trial Attorneys spoke in opposition to the bill. Immediately following the hearing, the committee went into Executive Session and voted HB 1578 Do Pass by a vote of 5 yeas and 2 noes. This bill is currently on the Senate Calendar – House Bills for Third Reading.
MOTOR FUEL TAX: The Senate Transportation Committee voted “do pass 6-0” SCS/SB 734, sponsored by Sen. Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan). The bill would increase the rate of tax on motor fuel from 17 cents to 27 cents beginning on January 1, 2020. The substitute would include a referendum clause that would require a vote of the people.
UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS
WEDNESDAY – 04/18/18
8:00 AM, HR 6
SB 598 – Riddle, Jeanie – Allows the Department of Transportation to establish a utility corridor.
SB 705 – Riddle, Jeanie – Modifies provisions relating to rate adjustments outside of general rate proceedings for certain public utilities.
SB 727 – Emery, Ed – Requires that the comprehensive state energy plan be reviewed by the Division of Energy by January 1, 2019, and biennially thereafter, and updated if necessary.
SB 705 – Riddle, Jeanie – Modifies provisions relating to rate adjustments outside of general rate proceedings for certain public utilities.
HOUSE BILLS FOR PERFECTION
HB 1999 – Bondon, Jack – Modifies provisions for public utility rate adjustment.
HB 2352 – Fraker, Lyndall – Changes the law regarding county revenues dedicated to roads by expanding the purposes for which such revenues may be used.
SENATE BILLS FOR PERFECTION
SJR 36(S) – Schatz, Dave – Authorizes a sales tax for law enforcement on state highways.
SB 678 – Eigel, Bill – Provides that defendants in tort actions shall only be held severally liable and not jointly.
INFORMAL CALENDAR – SENATE BILLS FOR PERFECTION
SB 546 – Munzlinger, Brian – Modifies provisions of civil procedure regarding joinder and venue.
SB 578 – Romine, Gary – Modifies laws regarding arbitration agreements between employers and at-will employees.
SB 596(S) – Riddle, Jeanie – Provides that a person who is injured by a product has 10 years after the sale or lease of the product to bring a suit for damages.
SB 730(S) – Wallingford, Wayne – Establishes the Rate Case Modernization Act.
SB 832(S) – Rowden, Caleb – Modifies provisions relating to tort actions, specifically unlawful merchandising practices, products liability claims, and venue requirements.
MAJOR DATES OF INTEREST
11 – Last Day for Floor Action on Appropriation Bills
18 – Last Day of Session (Article III, Section 20(a), Const.)