In his inaugural address of April 30, 1789, President George Washington said, “The propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained.” George Washington was not alone among the early presidents and other patriots who recognized a higher source of authority for our country. Too often we look to our government as the initiator and provider of blessings to the People. We breathlessly await an opinion from the Supreme Court, as if Moses himself were delivering news from on high. This should not be. Eternal rules of order and justice are not ordained out of a depraved heart. We must pay attention when “government is in session” to stay alert to what laws and actions are being considered for our good. Our fellow citizens, in both Jefferson City and Washington D.C., require our heartfelt support and prayers as they perform their legislative duties.
Missouri’s 2nd Regular Session of the 99th General Assembly began January 3, 2018. Bills were being pre-filed as early as December 1, 2017, for this legislative session. Once again, the session is very active with many significant pieces of legislation on the topics of life, education, taxation, the Second Amendment and a host of other issues that are being debated.
In spite of the legal issues faced by Missouri’s governor, the work in Jefferson City continues without interruption. Some of the legislation has already been sent to the governor for signature and many more will following after the publication of this edition of FRONT LINE. Highlights of those bills that are Truly Agreed to and Finally Passed will be covered in the fall edition. The current legislative session ends Friday, May 18, 2018.
Citizen input is very effective while the proposed legislation is being debated in committees and before the final votes occur in both chambers. After reading the following, should these proposed bills be of interest, a simple phone call to the state capital (573-751-2000) can put you in touch with your state representative and senator. Or go to www.moga.mo.gov and select “legislator lookup.” It is important to know what you are talking about, so the same website can lead you to finding a full copy of the bill and its latest action.
Following is a brief survey of some of the legislation being considered by the General Assembly.
HB 1266 Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: Sponsor: Donna Lichtenberger (R) District 146. Provides for a definition of “pain capable gestational age” as twenty-two weeks since the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period, generally consistent with the time that is twenty weeks after fertilization. Last Action: 3/1/18 Reported Do Pass Rules-Legislative Oversight Committee by a vote of 7 to 2.
HB 1383 Minors Consent to Obtain Abortion: Sponsor: Rocky Miller (R) District 124. Changes the laws regarding consent for a minor to obtain an abortion. Requires that the consenting parent or guardian of a minor notifies any other custodial parent or guardian in writing before the physician secures the informed written consent of the minor and consenting parent or guardian, … (except in certain circumstances). Third read and passed in House by a vote of 113 to 37. Last Action 2/26/18: Reported to the Senate First Read. Same as HB 326 (2017) and similar to HB 1370 (2016).
HB 1867 Selective Abortions: Sponsor: Shamed Dogan (R) District 98. Prohibits certain selective abortions relating to sex, race, or Down syndrome. Last Action: 2/13/18 Referred: Children and Families (H)
Commentary: The small nation of Iceland is reportedly the first country to “celebrate” the elimination of Down syndrome following the introduction of prenatal screening tests shortly after the dawn of the new Millennium. Nearly all women receiving the positive diagnosis for Down syndrome chose to terminate their pregnancy.1 While people born with Down syndrome can live full, healthy lives, averaging around 60 years, the law in Iceland permits abortion after 16 weeks if the fetus has a deformity (which includes Down syndrome).2
SB 724 Selective Abortion Procedures: Sponsor: David Sater (R) District 29. Prohibits certain selective abortions relating to sex, race, or Down syndrome if it is known that the woman is seeking the abortion solely because of the sex, race or a prenatal diagnosis, test, or screening indicating Down syndrome or the potential of Down syndrome. Last Action: 1/31/18 Voted Do Pass S Seniors, Families and Children Committee. Identical to SB 96 (2017) and similar to SB 802 (2016).
HB 1296 Toby’s Law: Sponsor: Mike Kelley (R) District 127. Requires any person who has pled guilty to or been found guilty of driving while intoxicated to complete a victim impact program approved by the court. Last Action: 3/1/18. Report Do Pass (H) by a vote of 9 to 0.
HB 2400 Alcohol Possession by Passenger: Sponsor: Jeffrey Messenger District 130. Prohibits the consumption or possession of open alcoholic beverage containers in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. Last Action: 2/8/18 Read Second Time (H).
HB 1649 Injuring Police Animals:Sponsor: Robert Cornejo (R) District 64. Modifies provisions relation to the injuring or killing of law enforcement animals. Would change penalty from Class E felony to a Class C felony for assaults leading to the death of the animal or its inability to be utilized as a law enforcement animal. Last Action: 2/12/18. Third Read and Defeated by a vote of 73 to 68 with 3 voting present.
CHILDREN AND MINORS
HB 1399 Parental Rights: Sponsor: Bruce DeGroot (R) District 101. Modifies provisions relating to the termination of parental rights of a rapist after a child was conceived and born as a result of rape. Bill does not prohibit court from ordering payment for reasonable medical expenses, child support, rights to inherit under probate code, and other rights which benefit the child or the mother. Last Action: 1/4/18 Referred to Judiciary Committee (H).
HB 1560 Immunization: Sponsor: Lynn Morris (R) District 140. Prohibits an elementary school, secondary school, public institution of higher education, day care, or physician’s office from discriminating against a person with a legal exemption to immunization requirements due to medical contraindications or religious beliefs. Last Action: 1/4/18. Read Second Time (H).
HB 1761 Biometric Data Collection: Sponsor: Jeff Pogue (R) District 143. Prohibits school districts from collecting biometric information on students without the express written consent of parents or legal guardians. Such data includes measurable biological data or behavioral characteristics usable for automated recognition including fingerprints, retina and iris patterns, voiceprints, DNA sequence, newborn screening information, facial characteristics, and handwriting. Last Action: 1/4/18 Read Second Time (H). Same as HB 201 (2017) and HB 1849 (2016).
SB 690 Student Showers, Locker, Rest-rooms: Sponsor: Ed Emery (R) District 31. Requires all school shower rooms, locker rooms, and restrooms accessible for use by multiple students shall be designated for and used by male or female students only. Last Action: 1/10/18 Second Read and Referred to Education Committee. Identical to SCS/SB 98 (2017) and similar to SB 720 (2016).
HB 1512 Uniform Arbitration Act (UAA): Sponsor: Kevin Corlew (R) District 14. Changes the UAA regarding agreements between employers and at-will employees to provide that in arbitration agreements between employers and at-will employees, the arbitrator must make all initial decisions as to arbitrability. Arbitrators will be selected by mutual agreement of the parties. Last Action: Dropped from calendar pursuant to House Rules (H). Prior to being dropped, the matter was voted Do Pass (H) in the Legislative Oversight (H) Committee by a vote of 10 to 3.
Bill is similar to HCS HB 156, SB 45 (2017) and HB 1718 (2016)
Commentary: A funny thing happened on HB 1512’s fastback to passage; the state attorney general weighed in against it. Those is favor of the bill see it as a tried and true alternate means of dispute resolution that cuts costs, provides efficiency, and keeps from getting bogged down in the court system. Opponents contend that such arbitration denies a constitutional right to trial by jury. In the shadow of the recent #MeToo political movement highlighting sexual abuse and harassment, would be Missouri Senator and current Attorney General Josh Hawley seem to agree.3 A key issue is whether the arbitration is forced or voluntary. The question then remains whether arbitration clauses still apply to cases of race, age, religious, or other types of discrimination?
HCR 55 Article V Convention of States: Sponsor: Chuck Bayse (R) District 47. Applies to Congress for the calling of an Article V convention of states to propose an amendment to the United States Constitution regarding term limits for members of Congress. Last Action: 2/27/18 Voted Do Pass (H) in Special Committee on Government Oversight (H).
Commentary: In recent years, FRONT LINE has covered the efforts to call a Constitutional Convention for amending the U.S. Constitution. See FRONT LINE, Spring 2015, “Constitutional Crisis,” for more detail or go to https://publiushuldah.wordpress.com/category/constitutional-convention/ for extensive discussion of the pros and cons.
HB 2156 Independent Contractor Classifi-cation: Sponsor: Kurt Bahr (R) District 102. Allows taxpayers to classify individuals as independent contractors under certain circumstances. If a taxpayer has been granted relief from imposition of federal employment taxes under the law for an individual, and the taxpayer is allowed to continue to classify the individual as an independent contractor for purposes of federal employment taxes, the department shall waive any penalties, fees or fines for the period of time covered under Section 530, RSMo. Last Action: 2/7/18 Voted Do Pass in Workforce Development Committee (H) by a vote of 8 Ayes to 2 Noes; on 2/8/18 Referred to Rules-Administrative Oversight (H).
Similar to HB 356 (2017) and HB 1756 (2016).
SB 564 Public Utilities: Sponsor: Ed Emery (R) District 31. This act modifies provisions relating to public utilities. This bill was pre-filed on the first day for such filing, December 1, 2017, and moved through the Senate gaining a Third Read and passing vote on February 15, 2018, by a margin of 25 Yeas and 6 Nays. This act allows for electrical corporations to file application to the Public Service Commission for rate schedule adjustment approval. Currently, gas corporations could make such application for rate schedule adjustments with the Commission. Efforts to include mandatory hardening of the infrastructure (against solar flare, EMPS, etc.) were set aside with suggestions the Public Service Commission be the go-to for action. Last Action: 2/20/18 Second Read (H). Similar to SB 642 (2018).
Commentary: In Missouri, public utilities, including water, electricity, and gas, are given monopoly status allowing them to charge rates that cover expenses and guarantee profit in exchange for safe and reliable service.4 This tension between government, provider, and consumer is front and center again this session with electrical rates and how to upgrade an aging electrical grid without causing unpredictable rates for consumers.5 Those in favor of SB 564 argue it will create higher paying jobs, improve the economy, and provide better service with an upgrade to the electrical grid and more predictable rates through rate hike caps to Ameren’s 1.2 million electricity customers and 127,000 natural gas customers in Missouri.6
HB 1303 Lobbyists Expenditures: Sponsor: Justin Alferman (R) District 61. Bans expenditures made by lobbyists unless expenditure is for an event to which all statewide officials or members of the General Assembly are invited at least 72 hours prior to event. Third Read and passed (H) on 1/17/18 by a vote of 134 Ayes to 12 Noes and 1 Present. Last Action: 2/22/18 Senate Committee Substitute (SCS) Reported Do Pass (S). Similar to HB 60 (2017).
SB 588 Gifts for General Assembly Members: Sponsor: Scott Sifton (D) District 1. Imposes a gift ban for the members of the General Assembly and their candidate committees. Ban includes family, employees, and staff, from receiving any expenditure from lobbyists. Last Action: 1/8/18 Second Read and Referred S Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee.
Substantially similar to SB 59 (2017), SB 202 (2017), SB 632 (2016), and SB 48 (2015) and similar to HB 60 (2017), SB 536 (2014) SB 38 (2013) and HB 1080 (2012).
HJR 49 Impeachment Proceedings: Sponsor: Dan Stacy (R) District 31. Requires the Senate, beginning January 1, 2021, to try all impeachments except for impeachment of the governor, which shall be tried by the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court. This constitutional amendment would require voter approval. Currently, the Supreme Court is authorized to hold most impeachment trials except in the case of the governor or a member of the court itself. Last Action: 1/4/18 Read Second Time (H).
See also SB 566 (2018), SB 143 (2017), SB 718 (2016), SB 66 (2015) and SB 976 (2014).
Commentary: FRONT LINE encourages all citizens to keep a close eye on how elected officials are held accountable for their actions. Accountability occurs in the courtroom as well as the court of public opinion. In the former, an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Ethics cannot be created by law or enforced by judicial means. It is the violation of ethical standards that are adjudicated as worthy of censure, removal, or impeachment. These are trying times in our state and it behooves citizens of this state and all others to keep an eye on those that are influencing legislation and what worldview motivates the actions. A recent article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch highlights the subtle way in which outside influences, whether you call it “big money” or “dark money,” impact local politics.
According to reports, George Soros, a progressive, left wing, political activist, billionaire who spent $25 million to support Hillary Clinton’s bid to become president, is also behind attempts to influence Missouri legislation through his Open Society Policy Center.7 According to the Post-Dispatch article, Soros’ Washington based lobbying network gave $300,000 to a St. Louis-based committee, which then moved $250,000 to another group that is trying to get ethics initiatives on the fall ballot in November.8 As a point of reference, there are 31 ethics bills sponsored by members of Missouri’s Senate and House of Representatives as of March 7, 2018.
There are one hundred and sixty-three members of the Missouri House and thirty-three senators. Fifteen ethics bills were filed by democratic representatives. That means that 60% of the ethics bills were sponsored by democrats who constitute 29% of the House members. Ultimately, the number of bills is somewhat irrelevant because nothing improper was done. The most relevant aspect remains the content of the bills being sponsored and the purpose behind the lobbying activity that influences our legislation and our legislators. FRONT LINE intends to keep an eye on this story, as it develops in order to best keep our readers informed and prevent apathy from creating a lack of vigilance.
HB 1936 Concealed Firearms: Sponsor: Jered Taylor (R) District 139. This bill changes the list of locations a concealed firearm can be carried. It also prohibits political subdivisions and public institutions of higher learning from imposing polices that would prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms. (e.g., gun-free zones) Last Action: After passing out of the General Laws Committee by a vote of 8 Ayes to 4 Noes on 2/28/18. Referred: Rules-Legislative Oversight (H) Committee. Similar to HB 630 (2017).
Commentary: Following the most recent schools shooting which occurred February 14, 2018, in Parkland, Florida, the issue of “gun-free zones” is being debated in state legislatures across the country. Those who support bills such as HB 1936 argue that such areas create opportunities for violence, because criminals prefer lack of resistance. They argue that mass shootings have not ended with the concept of “gun-free zones,” and a line of defense pre-police arrival could stem or stop the violence. Proponents point to the natural right of self-defense inherent in every person and maintain that “gun-free zones” deny the right of self-defense at the most crucial point.
Those who oppose the bill say more guns will lead to more violence and less safety. Opponents maintain that college students may not be responsible enough to keep guns safe or use them safely, and that campuses should be allowed to decide for themselves what their policy on the issue should be.9
HB 1242 Bump Stocks: Sponsor: Richard Brown (D) District 27. Creates an offense of possessing, manufacturing, transporting, repairing, or selling a bump stock or trigger crank. Last Action: 1/4/18 Read Second Time (H).
Note: A “bump stock” is a device that increases the rate of fire by using energy from the recoil to generate a reciprocating action. A “trigger crank” is a device attached to a weapon that repeatedly activates the trigger by use of a lever that is turned in a circular motion.
HB 1760 Second Amendment Preservation Act: Sponsor: Jeff Pogue (R) District 143. Declares that laws, rules, orders, or other actions which restrict or prohibit the manufacture, ownership, and use of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition exclusively within this state exceed the powers granted to the federal government and declares that Congress’ power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among testates does not include the power to limit citizens’ right to keep and bear arms. Last Action: 1/24/18 Referred to General Law (H).
This bill is the same as HB 859 (2017) and similar to HB 2196 (2016).
HB 1937 Political Subdivision Prohibitions: Sponsor: Jered Taylor (R) District 139. This bill prohibits any political subdivision from passing any ordinance, which regulates the open carrying of firearms. Reported Do pass General Laws committee by a vote of 7 Ayes to 4 Noes. Last Action: 2/28/18 Referred to Rules-Legislative Oversight (H).
HB 2302 Blair’s Law: Sponsor: DaRon McGee (D) District 36. This bill specifies that a person commits the crime of unlawful use of a weapon if, with criminal negligence, he discharges a firearm within or into the limits of any municipality. Last Action: 2/21/18 Referred: General Assembly (H).
SB 635 Illegal Firearm Possession: Sponsor: Maria Chappell-Nadal (D) District 14. Creates the crime of failing to stop illegal firearm possession, negligent storage of a firearm, and failure to notify a school of firearm ownership. Last Action: 1/9/18 Second Read and Referred S Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee.
This act is identical to SB 89 (2017), substantially similar to SB 739 (2016), SB 23 (2015), SB 548 (2014) and SB 124 (2013), and similar to SB 469 (2013).
Commentary: This bill or a similar bill has been around the legislature since 2013 and is unique in that it creates criminal offense for failing to actively stop a passive action; specifically, for “failing to stop illegal firearm possess”. This proposed legislation applies to parents and guardians of a person under the age of eighteen. The law would also apply to negligent storage of a firearm. This law would apply conditionally when a firearm is left in a manner that is “likely to result in” the child accessing it “if the child obtains access and unlawfully carries it to school, kills or injures another or commits a crime with it.”
The language and potential application of such a law is chilling. It looks backwards to determine if a firearm was recklessly stored and provides the definition in the actions that result. If a person under eighteen years of age commits a crime with a gun that was “stored” in his home, was it not, therefore, recklessly stored if access was gained and a crime committed? Legislative good intentions are not enough when creating laws that carry potential felony convictions. In this time of heightened scrutiny with regard to the Second Amendment, citizens must take care to be vigilant, not only with their rights, but also with the creation of laws that defy reason, even if well intended.
SB 711 Unlawful Trans-fer of a Firearm: Sponsor: Jill Schupp (D) District 24. Creates a Class C felony of unlawful transfer of weapons when a licensed firearm dealer delivers a handgun to a purchaser without waiting at least 24 hours or upon receipt of the purchaser’s criminal background check, whichever occurs first. Last Action: 1/16/18 Second Read and Referred S Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee.
This act is identical to SB 152 (2017) and SB 1122 (2016).
SB 1026 Purchasing Firearms Require-ments: Sponsor: Jamilah Nasheed (D) District 5. Requires purchaser of firearms to have informed consent and be of sound mental state. The decision to purchase a firearm shall not be considered unless extensive information regarding the dangers of potential effects of firearms is provided 72 hours in advance of the purchase. The information shall include the geographical locations where firearms have contributed to loss of life or any harm to any person. If the buyer is unable to read the information provided or needs an interpreter, the materials shall be read and/or interpreted to the purchaser. The buyer must also complete a checklist certifying that the required information and materials have been provide no less than 72 hours prior to purchase and that they are buying the firearm “freely, voluntarily, and of an informed and sound mental state.” Failure to abide by the procedures and requirements by the seller is a Class D felony. Last Action: 3/1/18 Second Read and Referred S Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee.
Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiatives: The push to make medical marijuana legalized in states across the country is in full swing this “off-election” cycle and Missouri is no exception. Currently there are three on-going ballot initiatives operating separately to get this issue in front of the voters this November 6, 2018. Missourians for Patient Care Ballot Committee, Find the Cures Constitutional Mandate, and New Approach Missouri Constitutional Mandate10 are each raising funds to support medial marijuana in Missouri. While the goal is the same (legalize medical marijuana in Missouri), the strategies used by each are different. One, in particular, the Missouri Patient Care Act, asks voters to create a new state law to license and regulate medical marijuana. Rather than amending the state constitution, these proponents are seeking a state statute by ballot initiative, which has a lower threshold for signatures and is easier to amend through subsequent legislation.11
Currently, the DEA still identifies marijuana as a Schedule I Drug.12 Ultimately, what Missouri voters will be asked to decide if one or more of these initiatives gets on the ballot this November, is whether Missouri should go down the path being forged by states such as California and Colorado when it comes to drug policy and the use of marijuana as a form of treatment.
Those in favor of legalization say that the benefits for those suffering AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, and other diseases far outweigh the risks.13 Proponents also say that cannabis, because it is natural, is safer than pharmaceuticals, which carry side effects, addictions, and potential overdose.14 Finally, those who advocate for medical marijuana say it has societal benefits, such as allowing the government to regulate its growth, sale, and taxation. This, they say, is preferable to forcing users to face the dangers of finding their marijuana on the streets.15
Opponents of legalization reject the equivocation between marijuana and alcohol citing the many known harmful risks of using cannabis even in moderation. Risks such as impaired memory loss, inhibited learning ability, and potential addiction. They also note the negative physical effects from toxins such as ammonia and hydrogen cyanide and damage to the lungs not unlike that caused by smoking cigarettes.16 Opponents also point to the negative social effects like drug-related crime that accompanies legalization and the damage to social norms when the stigma of drug usage is removed from societal expectations.17
Millions of dollars will be poured into radio, television, and print advertising campaigns over this highly controversial issue. Tens of thousands of signatures will be collected on petitions and other voter-driven initiatives. Many well-crafted medical, legal, and moral arguments will be directed at persuading voters to buy-into the trend toward legalization of medical marijuana. Emotional pleas based on individual liberty or medical necessity promise a quick fix for those seeking a natural remedy outside of Big Parma and the healthcare industry. What is the cost that comes with this magic bullet? Are Missourians willing to pay that cost for the sake of keeping up with trailblazing states like California or Colorado on this issue?
HB 2105 Opioid Addiction Prevention and Treatment Act of 2018: Sponsor: Keith Frederick (R) District 121. This bill contains multiple provisions and designations intended to address the opioid crisis in Missouri. It designates the next ten years as the “Show Me Freedom From Opioid Addition Decade” and gives the Board of Pharmacy authority to develop a drug take-back program for certain controlled substances. The bill requires the Department of Mental Health to provide an information form disclosing risks, benefits, and side effects of opioid medication. It creates the Improved Access to Treatment for Opioid Addictions Act (IATOA) to develop dissemination of information and best practices regarding addiction. Last Action: 2/27/18 Reported Do Pass by Rules-Administrative Oversight (H); 13 Ayes to 0 Noes.
This bill is similar to HCS HB 1197 (2017).
HB 1478 Work Authorization Participation: Sponsor: Rick Brattin (R) District 55. Requires employers to enroll and participate in a federal work authorization program and imposes stricter penalties for employing an unauthorized alien. Last Action: 1/4/18 read Second Time (H). Bill is similar to HB 264 (2017) and HB 1741 (2016).
HB 2375 “Make America Great Again Act”: Sponsor: Brandon Ellington (D) District 22. Repeals provisions that prohibit persons who are unlawfully present in the United States from receiving certain benefits including post-secondary public education and A+ program benefits. The bill would also repeal provisions of law that currently prohibit unlawfully present aliens from receiving state or local public benefits. Last Action: 2/6/18 Read Second Time (H).
Commentary: Sponsoring Representative Ellington gets a hat tip for creatively titling his bill in a distinctly “Trumpian” manner so as to draw attention from both the right and the left to its contents. As bills are read multiple times before receiving a vote, the legislature will have plenty of time to decide if this will truly make America great again or not.
INTERNET AND EMAIL
HB 2422 Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Act: Sponsor: Jim Neely (R) District 8. This bill puts a duty on distributors of certain obscene material to provide specific blocking software to restrict access to certain material. Any distributor that allows access shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. A fund is created by the bill, which shall include appropriated money, gifts, grants, donations, bequests, and money collected under the provision of the bill for the prevention of human trafficking and child exploitation. Last Action: Special Committee to Improve the Care and Well-being of Young People.
SB 579 Crimes Against Emergency Service Providers: Sponsor: Doug Libla (R) District 25. Provides that persons convicted of certain offenses against law enforcement officers, firefighters, or emergency medical service providers are ineligible for bail, continuation of bail, probation, or parole. Certain persons convicted of resisting or interfering with arrest or detention are also ineligible for probation or parole. Last Action: 3/12/18 Formal Calendar S Bills for Third Reading. Similar to SCS/SB 46 (2017) and SS#2/SCS/HCS/HBs 302 & 228 (2017).
HB 1259 Unlawful Traffic Interfer-ence: Sponsor: Nick Schroer (R) District 107. Creates the offense of unlawful traffic interference if, with intention to impede vehicular traffic, a person walks, stands, sits, lies, or places an object in such a manner as to block passage by a vehicle on any public street, highway, or interstate highway. Last Action: 1/4/18 Read Second Time (H).
Commentary: Over the past few years the practice of activist protesting has led to frequent blockage of roads, on-ramps, and highways both in the St. Louis metropolitan area as well as across other mostly urban areas. These dangerous and often tense stand-offs between drivers and protestors has caused chaotic scenes of a modified game of chicken. Does your right to peacefully gather or protest take precedent over my ability to use pubic roads and highways to get from point “A” to point “B”? A common sense solution should be presented that protects the rights of citizens on both sides of the issue.
Meanwhile, there is an interesting contrast that is occurring at the City Hall in St. Louis over First Amendment rights. For the past two years, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen has considered legislation that would create an eight-foot buffer zone around public sidewalks and driveways around facilities providing abortions. This year Board Bill 34, aimed at pro-life protestors who talk with and distribute literature to those entering and leaving the Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis, would stifle the ability to freely discuss and hand out information to those considering an abortion. Currently, there is not a bill being considered in the City of St. Louis that would prevent protestors from blocking cars, trucks, ambulances or other emergency vehicles from freely using the highway. The difference is striking and those who follow city and state government may want to follow this issue closely to understand what motivates each piece of legislation.
HB 1355 Return to Duty in Cases of Emergency or Disaster: Sponsor: Don Phillips (R) District 138. Allows retired police officers to return to work when a disaster or emergency has been proclaimed by the governor or there is a national disaster. 2/21/18 Third Read and Passed (H) 134 to 2. Last Action: 3/1/18 Second Read and referred to Senate Transportation, Infrastructure, and Public Safety (S).
HB 2310 Notice of Intent to Arrest: Sponsor: Peter Merideth (D) District 80. This bill would repeal a provision of law stating that an officer may use all necessary means to effect an arrest when a defendant flees or forcibly resists arrest after he has been given notice of the officer’s intent to arrest. Last Action: 1/31/18 Read Second Time (H).
Commentary: Does this bill encourage detained persons to take a shot at resisting arrest knowing that the officer is limited in response? This could unnecessarily put law enforcement in jeopardy of injury or harm.
HB 2507 Dispossession of Seized Property: Sponsor: Shamed Dogan (R) District 98. Prohibits law enforcement agencies from transferring seized property to a federal agency in forfeiture litigation except if the seized property is $50,000 or more in currency. Last Action: 3/5/18 Referred: Special Committee on Government Oversight (H). Similar to HB 1501 (2018) and HB 231 (2017).
SB 1022 Religious Acts and Beliefs: Sponsor: Bob Dixon (R) District 30. Prohibits the state or any political subdivision from imposing a penalty on individuals or entities on the basis that such individual or entity believes or acts in accordance with a sincere religious belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual intimacy is properly reserved to such a marriage. The act also prohibits adverse decisions relating to accreditation, certification, or licensing of an individual or entity based on such individual or entity’s religious beliefs regarding marriage, family, or sexuality. Last Action: 3/1/18 Second Read and Referred S Small Business and Industry Committee.
SCS/SBs 617, 611 (Andrew Koenig), & 667 (Bob Onder)/Modifies Provisions Relating to Taxation: Sponsor: Bill Eigel (R) District 23. Tax reform legislation that proposes a reduction in both the personal income and corporate income tax rate. In addition to reducing the tax rates, there are proposed changes to personal and business tax credits and incentives. See also HB 2540 Sponsored by Elijah Haahr (R) District 134 and Governor Greitens Tax Reform Plan.18 Last Action: 3/12/18 Informal Calendar S Bills for Perfection, SBs 617, 611, & 667.
Commentary: On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law a major overhaul of the federal tax code. Missouri likewise is considering an overhaul of the state’s tax laws including the tax brackets, which have not changed since 1931.19 Versions of tax reform have originated in the House, Senate, and Governor’s office. Missouri has an income tax unlike several other states, also vying to business growth and those seeking a more business friendly environment to work and live. Lowering tax rates while increasing general revenues would arguably make Missouri more competitive and successful, which is what proponents of tax reform want to achieve.
The legislation being considered in Jefferson City would eliminate the top and bottom income brackets, raise fuel tax, and cap the amount of tax credits available.20 The legislation, if passed, could also move Missouri toward collecting online sales tax along with 24 other states that adopt the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement.21, 22
1 Quinones, Julia and Arijeta Lajka, “What kind of society do you want to live in?: Inside the country where Down Syndrome is disappearing,” 8/14/17, https://www.cbsnews.com. (accessed 3/12/18)
3 Peters, Benjamin, “Forced Arbitration? Not for sexual harassment claims, Hawley says,” February 20, 2018. The Missouri Times, https://the missouritimes.com.
4 Erickson, Kurt, “Lawmakers reopen discussions on utility rate hikes,” St. Louis Today, 8/23/16, https://www.stltoday.com. (accessed 3/5/18)
5 Erickson, Kurt, “After 24 hour filibuster, Missouri Senate endorses electricity rate deal sought by Ameren,” St. Louis Today, 2/28/18 http://www.stltoday.com. (accessed 3/5/18)
7 McDermott, Kevin, “Progressive mega-donor George Soros bigfoots into Missouri ballot fight over redistricting, ethics,” 1/29/2018, St. Louis Today, http://www.stltoday.com. (accessed 3/7/18)
9 For further reading on pro and con positions, see HB 1936C bill summary at www.house.mo.gov. (accessed 3/8/18)
10 Striker, Ben, “Legalizing medical marijuana in Missouri could boost real estate market, according to advocacy group” 2/22/18, Clayton Times, www.claytontimes.com. (accessed 3/10/18)
11 Wicentowski, Danny, “Rex Sinquefield’s Lobbyists Want to Legalize Medical Marijuana in Missouri,” 2/19/18. River Front Times, https://riverfronttimes.com. (accessed 3/10/18)
12 Schedule I drugs are classified as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and a lack of accepted safety for use. See https://calca.org (accessed 3/10/18).
13 Administrator, “3 Reasons Why Medical Cannabis Should Be Legalized,” Medicinal Marijuana Association, 10/20/14, www.medicalmarijuanaassociation.com. (accessed 3/10/18)
16 Stimson, Charles “Cully,” “The Case Against Legalizing Marijuana in California,” 10/3/10, The Heritage Foundation, www.heritage.org. (accessed 3/10/18)
18 Greitens, Governor Eric, “Governor Greitens Outlines Principles for Tax Reform, January 18, 2018, https://governor.mo.gov/news. (accessed 3/11/18)
19 Jones, Philip, “Missouri lawmakers announce plans for tax legislation in 2018,” Fulton Sun, 12/14/17, www.fultonsun.com. (accessed 3/11/18)
22 The Streamlined Sales Tax Project (SSTP) dates back to 2000 in response to Congressional effort to prohibit state from collecting sales tax on online commerce. It is intended to simplify and modernize sales and use tax collection. https://en.wikipedia.org. (accessed 3/11/18)