Lobbyist Report – 2019

ACEC Missouri
WEEKLY LOBBYIST REPORT
February 12, 2019

 


WEEKLY OVERVIEW

We have reached the point in session where both chambers will devote more time in floor debate and the calendars will provide a listing of bills in the que for debate. Last Wednesday, the House spent five hours debating and ultimately passing legislation establishing a prescription drug monitoring program. That bill now heads to the Senate where a companion bill was defeated in committee last week.

Last week, some of the numerous bills relating to workforce development progressed out of committee.  These bills are priorities of Governor Mike Parson.

IN THE NEWS

  • Missouri has collected more than $3 million in medical marijuana license fees in the first month of the program. In a news release the Department of Health and Senior Services said that 418 “pre-filed application forms” have been submitted comprised of 226 forms for dispensary facilities, 128 forms for cultivation facilities and 64 forms for infused-product manufacturing facilities.
  • Last week, the Missouri House passed legislation that would subject local elected officials to the same ethics restrictions as those for members of the state legislature. The bill provides that elected officials of cities, counties and school boards cannot receive more than $2,000 in a single campaign contribution per election cycle and are subject to a two-year ban on lobbying after leaving office.  The most controversial portion of the bill deals with which official records are subject to the state’s sunshine law. 
  • The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week on the legality of assessing “board bills” (reimbursement of incarceration costs) as court costs. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the court considered the cases of former St. Clair and Lafayette county inmates Wednesday but didn’t rule on either of them. A bill looking to ban the practice of allowing the “board bills” to be assessed as part of court costs was heard last week in a house committee.
  • The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission on Wednesday picked the design-build team headed by Emery Sapp and Son and Parsons to replace and repair 19 bridges on Interstate 44, with work to begin in late spring or early summer. The $36.1 million project targets bridges in a 30-mile stretch between Mile Marker 29 near Sarcoxie and Lawrence County Route Z near Halltown. According to a news release, many of the structures date back to when I-44 was built in the 1960s and now require “major work” to keep them safe for drivers.
  • Energy company TransCanada has shut down a part of its Keystone oil pipeline to investigate a leak that occurred in St. Charles County. A TransCanada technician discovered crude oil near the Keystone base pipeline covering an area of approximately 4,000 square feet at 7:14 a.m. Wednesday. The leak occurred in north St. Charles County on private property, just southeast of Two Branch Marina, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

 

COMMITTEE ACTION LAST WEEK

ISSUANCE OF BONDS FOR TRANSPORTATION:  The Senate Committee on Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions, and Ethics conducted a public hearing on SCR 14, sponsored by Sen. Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan).  This concurrent resolution expresses support for issuance of bonds by the Highways and Transportation Commission to pay for construction and repair of 250 bridges on the state highway system, as selected by the Commission, not to exceed $351,000,000.

This resolution expresses approval for debt service to be paid from future appropriations by the General Assembly from the General Revenue Fund, not to exceed $30,000,000 per year, and expresses the intent to appropriate funds in the future in an amount sufficient to pay the debt service on the bonds.  The resolution authorizes and directs the Office of Administration, and other offices deemed appropriate by the Office of Administration, to assist the Commission in issuing the bonds, and to execute and deliver a financing agreement for payment of debt service on the bonds.  Sen. Schatz stated there will be a $29.5 million cost to the state every year for 15 years with a low interest rate.  He also noted the smaller cost bridge contracts will be easier to group together by area and allow for maximum investment in the state.

Testifying in support was MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna who stated the benefit is threefold: the benefit to rural Missouri; the flexibility of the spending authority; and, will allow the state to capture state benefits to repair, rehab, or replace all rural bridges.  Also testifying in support were representatives from Associated General Contractors of Missouri, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Associated Industries of Missouri, Missouri Transportation and Development Council, Construction Employer Association, American Council of Engineering Companies, Heavy Constructor Coalition of Kansas City, Missouri Trucking Association, Site Improvement Association, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Limestone Producers Association, Missouri Municipal League, Missouri Corn Growers Association, City of St. Louis, American Concrete Pavement Association (Tom Dempsey), Burns & McDonnell, Missouri State Troopers Association, and Municipal League of Metro St. Louis.  There was no testimony in opposition and the committee took no further action on the measure.

PUBLIC WORKS CONSTRUCTION BONDS:  The Senate Committee on Insurance and Banking conducted a public hearing on SB 167, sponsored by Sen. Sandy Crawford (R-Buffalo).  This act modifies the definition of “contractor”, for purposes of public works construction bonds, to include persons and business entities that arrange for construction services, rather than only those persons and entities that provide the services directly.  The sponsor stated this legislation would close a loophole requiring consultants to provide surety bonds when conducting business on public works projects.

Testifying in support were representatives from Missouri Insurance Coalition, Construction Employers Coalition, American Sub-Contractors Association, and Property Casualty Insurance of America.  Proponents stated this would ensure those who work on public works projects receive compensation and all stakeholders were working together to add the language from HB 791.  There was no testimony in opposition and the committee took no further action on the measure.

GEOLOGICAL RESOURCE FEES:  The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food Production, and Outdoor Resources conducted a public hearing on SB 84, sponsored by Sen. Mike Cunningham (R-Rogersville).  This act extends the sunset date on certain geologic resources fees from December 31, 2020, to December 31, 2025. 

Testifying in support were representatives from Department of Revenue and Missouri Limestone Producers Association.  There was no testimony in opposition and the committee took no further action on the measure.

ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS:  The Senate Committee on Small Business and Industry conducted a public hearing on SB 154, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville).  This act provides that in an arbitration agreement between an employer and an employee the arbitrator shall make all initial decisions as to arbitrability, which includes deciding whether the parties have agreed to arbitrate, whether the arbitration agreement is enforceable, and whether specific claims are arbitrable. The arbitrator must be selected by mutual agreement of the parties or using a strike and ranking process when the parties cannot agree. The act establishes certain criteria for when the arbitrator shall determine that the arbitration agreement is valid. On motion by a party showing that the arbitration agreement does not expressly delegate the issue of arbitrability to the court, the court shall stay the action and order the parties to proceed to arbitration.  Any clause in an arbitration agreement between an employer and an at-will employee that requires arbitration proceedings to be confidential and non-disclosable shall not be enforceable as to claims of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or claims of discrimination based on certain protected statuses.

The sponsor stated the purpose of the legislation is to ease the current burden on Missouri’s court system, protect confidentiality for plaintiffs and defendants, and provide a more efficient resolution to any employment disputes that arise.

Testifying in support were representatives from Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Missouri Civil Justice Reform Association, Associated Industries of Missouri, Missouri Retailers Association, Missouri Grocers Association, and JE Dunn Construction.  Testifying in opposition were representatives from United Steel Workers, Missouri AFL-CIO, and Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys. 

JOINDER AND VENUE:  The Senate Committee on Government Reform met in Executive Session and voted SB 7, sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery (R-Lamar) Do Pass by a vote of 5 yeas and 2 noes.  This act modifies provisions of civil procedure regarding joinder and venue. The bill makes changes to venue for lawsuits relating to insurance companies, other venue statutory changes and joinder (civil actions where the plaintiff is injured outside of Missouri).

This bill is currently on the Senate Perfection Calendar.

PUNITIVE DAMAGES:  Last week the Senate Committee on Government Reform held a hearing on SB 65 sponsored by Senator White (R-Jasper). This act modifies provisions relating to punitive damages.

PUNITIVE DAMAGES – GENERAL

The act provides that punitive damages shall only be awarded if the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally harmed the plaintiff without just cause or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others, and the plaintiff is awarded more than nominal damages. Punitive damages may only be awarded against an employer due to an employee’s conduct in certain situations, as provided in the act.

A claim for punitive damages shall not be contained in the initial pleading and may only be filed as a written motion with permission of the court no later than 120 days prior to the final pretrial conference or trial date. The written motion for punitive damages must be supported by evidence. A pleading seeking a punitive damages award may be filed only after the court determines that the trier of fact is likely to conclude that the standards, as provided in the act, for punitive damages have been met.

Currently, in jury trials involving a claim for punitive damages there is a bifurcated trial. In the first stage, the jury determines liability and amount for compensatory damages and the liability for punitive damages, and the amount of punitive damages is determined in the second stage. This act provides that after an award of compensatory damages has been made in the first stage, then the court shall determine whether punitive damages may be considered by the jury. After the court’s determination, the jury will determine whether to award punitive damages and the amount.

Currently, if a defendant has previously paid punitive damages in another state for the same conduct, following a hearing the court may credit the jury award of punitive damages by the amount previously paid. This act provides that the defendant may be credited for punitive damages also paid in federal court.  These provisions do not apply to claims for unlawful housing practices under the Missouri Human Rights Act.

GUARANTEED ENERGY COSTS SAVIINGS CONTRACTS:  The Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and Environment Committee conducted a hearing on SB 126 sponsored by Senator Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield). This act modifies provisions relating to guaranteed energy costs savings contracts. Under current law, a governmental unit is required to award a contract to a qualified provider if, among other things, it finds that the amount it would spend on the energy cost savings measures recommended in the proposal would not exceed the amount of energy or operational savings, or both, within a 15 year period from the date installation is complete, if the recommendations in the proposal are followed. This act extends the time frame to a 25-year period.

The act further modifies the definition of “energy cost savings measure” to include a training program or facility improvement, modernization, system replacement, or building replacement, including any of the following:

  • Roofing, exterior building, envelope, and piping;
  • Domestic water, sewer, and domestic hot water system improvements;
  • Indoor swimming pool improvements;
  • Renewable energy systems; and
  • Any security or safety improvement that provide long term operating cost reduction and improve the safety of the building occupants.

Senator Hough told the committee that this bill updates current law relating to energy efficiency upgrades and would benefit public entities who wish to leverage energy cost savings. Speaking in favor of the bill were representatives from CPS Group (a group of manufacturing and design companies that provide solutions to energy-related construction projects), Missouri State University, Johnson Controls, the Missouri Association of Counties and a retired school superintendent and consultant.  Supporting witnesses told the committee that this bill would allow public entities to engage in a variety of guaranteed energy costs saving projects not currently permitted under the statutes.

Speaking in opposition to the bill was Chris Ball, AIA – MO, who said that the architects have concerns regarding the expansion of work permitted under the bill and how the bidding mechanism undermines the Quality Based Selection process authorized for public entities in awarding architectural and engineering contracts. Mr. Ball said that the increase from 15 to 25 years is misleading in that some equipment will never last beyond the current 15-year provision. He objected to allowing new construction and questioned how a public entity could leverage energy-related costs since new construction would necessarily include the most recent energy efficient construction. Also testifying in opposition was Bruce Wylie, American Council of Engineering Companies of Missouri and Mark Rhoads, Missouri Society of Professional Engineers.

Speaking for informational purposes only was a representative of the Missouri Municipal League who said that they need additional time to review this bill with its members.  David Klarich, a former state senator who was involved with the legislation in previous years attempted to give the committee a history lesson on why this legislation was first passed.  His presentation resulted in confusion. Mark Hill of the Missouri Division of Facilities Management spoke informationally about the state’s experience with guaranteed energy cost savings program and told the committee that the state previously engaged in $67.9 million in debt for 25 energy cost savings programs and is still paying on that debt.  He told the committee that some of the contracts did not save the State money from the very start and that it is very difficult to monitor the savings that are guaranteed by firms.  The committee took no action on the measure.

BILLS FILED OF INTEREST

HB 801Kidd, Bill(R) – Establishes provisions relating to public water systems safety and security.

HB 822Butz, Steve(D) – Authorizes an increase in the tax on motor fuel.

COMMITTEE HEARINGS OF INTEREST

Senate-Education
TUESDAY – 02/12/19
12:00 PM, Senate Lounge
SB 206Arthur, Lauren – Modifies provisions relating to bidding on construction projects authorized by school districts.

DATES OF INTEREST

February 2019
13 – Legislative Day for Mercury Alliance and ACEC/MO

March 2019
1 – Last Day to File Senate Bills (Rule 48)

14 – Last Day to Place Senate Consent Bills on the Senate Calendar (Rule 45)
14 – Spring Break Begins Upon Adjournment
25 – Senate Will Reconvene
27 – Legislative Day for Mercury Alliance and ACEC/MO

April 2019
16 – Legislative Day for Mercury Alliance and ACEC/MO
22 – Easter Holiday — No Session

May 2019
10 – Last Day for Floor Action on Appropriation Bills

14 – Legislative Day for Mercury Alliance and ACEC/MO
17 – Last Day of Session (Article III, Section 20(a), Const.)

September 2019
11 – Veto Session