Hello, friends, I hope all had the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful Easter with family and friends. This year our family I visited First Baptist Church in Gainesville for Easter service as our friend and fellow Eslinger, Mason Eslinger, led the service as pastor. Mason delivered a wonderful sermon, and it was so nice to visit with friends and family.
Last week the Capitol was filled with students from local Future Farmers of America clubs as they participated in the Missouri Farm Bureau Youth Leadership Day. I met with students from Gainesville and Ava. Sadly, I missed the opportunity to chat with the Lutie School students. During their visit, all students learned about the agricultural and rural issues impacting our state. Through visiting with their legislators and listening to speakers, I believe the students may gain an awareness of how important it is to be an engaged and informed citizen. I appreciate the Youth Leadership sponsors from all three schools for taking the time to bring the students to the Capitol.
Following are a few summaries of legislation passed to the Senate this week. My report is not a complete list of legislation. For more details regarding the bills I summarize or to access all bills moving through the process please visit https://house.mo.gov/LegislationSP.aspx?focusedID=Bill List.
Legislation to protect land owners from eminent domain abuse (HB 1062) https://house.mo.gov/Bill.aspx?bill=HB1062&year=2019&code=R
Hundreds of concerned land owners gathered in the state Capitol last week to rally in support of their property rights. The Missouri House of Representatives took action to prevent the misuse of the state’s eminent domain law by approving a bill that would specify that a private entity cannot use the power of eminent domain for the purposes of constructing above-ground power lines. It is important to note that the concern was not about the use of wind energy but about landowner rights.
The bill comes in response to the proposed Grain Belt Express transmission line that would carry power generated by wind turbines in Kansas across Missouri to other states in the Midwest and neighboring states. The 750-mile line would run across eight northern Missouri counties - Buchanan, Clinton, Caldwell, Carroll, Chariton, Randolph, Monroe and Ralls.
In March, the Missouri Public Service Commission approved a request made by Grain Belt Express to construct the high-voltage transmission line. As a result of the decision made by the PSC, developers would have the authority to utilize the power of eminent domain to obtain easement rights from landowners who are unwilling to sell.
The legislation approved by the House would prevent the use of eminent domain for the purpose of constructing the Grain Belt Express transmission line. Supporters of the bill said it is important to prohibit private companies from using eminent domain to maximize their profits for a project that will provide little benefit for Missouri consumers. They say less than 12 percent of the electricity carried by the transmission line would be sold to Missouri consumers.
As the sponsor of the bill told his colleagues, “The issue here is, this is a private company wanting to use private property for private profit.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Crackdown on carjackers (HB 966) https://house.mo.gov/LegislationSP.aspx?q=hb966&focusedID=Bill%20Search
Approval was given last week to legislation that would create and define the crime of carjacking. Supporters say the bill would give consistency and clarity to Missouri law.
Proponents of the bill say it is necessary because Missouri does not currently have a law for prosecutors to charge vehicle hijacking under. Instead, prosecutors have to charge under a similar offense, such as robbery or theft. Supporters say carjacking has become an epidemic that needs to be addressed. They note that St. Louis had 350 carjackings in 2018.
The bill creates the offense of “vehicle hijacking.” It would be considered a “dangerous felony,” and would carry a penalty of between five and 15 years. If the crime is committed with the use of a weapon, if a victim is seriously injured or if one of the victims is a child or “special victim,” the crime would be a class A felony with a penalty of 10 to 30 years, or life.
The sponsor said his bill would make the penalty for an armed carjacking very similar to that for first-degree robbery, which is comparable to the charges faced by people who commit carjackings now.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Other bills sent to the Senate
HB 1094 https://house.mo.gov/Bill.aspx?bill=HB1094&year=2019&code=R prevents penalties for delayed payments on outstanding income tax liabilities for the 2018 tax year as long as a taxpayer timely files their return. There may be interest assessed on outstanding income tax liabilities, provided that no interest will be assessed before May 15, 2019, and any interest already paid will be refunded. Supporters say that with the new federal tax laws and Missouri withholding issues, taxpayers' Missouri withholding may have been reduced causing unexpected tax liability due when they file their tax returns. This bill gives a taxpayer more time to pay his or her tax bill, without hurting the fiscal year for the state.
HB 301 https://house.mo.gov/Bill.aspx?bill=HB301&year=2019&code=R requires certified nursing assistant training programs to be offered at skilled nursing or intermediate care facility units in Missouri veterans’ homes and hospitals. It also requires advanced practice nurses (APRNs) to be licensed by the Missouri Board of Nursing and sets out the requirements for that licensure. Supporters say the bill will allow the Board of Nursing to give APRNs a separate licensure, instead of just a document of recognition, which will allow the board to have better oversight and discipline for APRNs. They say the bill will streamline and simplify APRN licensure.
HB 379 https://house.mo.gov/Bill.aspx?bill=HB379&year=2019&code=R allows the Department of Natural Resources to award grants to preserve, protect or restore historic county courthouses and historic county courthouse grounds. Supporters say that this bill would clarify the use of the Historic Preservation Revolving Fund to specifically allow for the use of the funds to help protect and maintain historic courthouses. The department currently issues grants for this purpose, but this bill would expressly authorize the use of the fund for this purpose.
HB 932 https://house.mo.gov/Bill.aspx?bill=HB932&year=2019&code=R allows prosecuting attorneys to develop multidisciplinary adult protection teams that protect elderly and other dependent persons from abuse. Supporters say that most of the things discussed in this bill are being done, which is why the fiscal note indicates no cost. However, this bill addresses the practices, procedures and coordination of the activities for these teams and all the people and agencies involved. This legislation was modeled on best practices from other states and what we know works well in Missouri. The sponsor is bringing this bill forward to protect our most vulnerable elderly population.
HB 758 https://house.mo.gov/Bill.aspx?bill=HB758&year=2019&code=R adds provisions relating to hospital inspections. Supporters say that this bill will ensure that there are no conflicts of interest between the department and the hospitals they regulate and that the inspections will be unbiased and trustworthy. The bill also establishes the "Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act." Supporters say this provision will give nursing homes the protection they need to begin experimenting with electronic monitoring to give families peace of mind that their loved ones are being appropriately tended in the facility.
HB 930 https://house.mo.gov/Bill.aspx?bill=HB930&year=2019&code=R allows the Commissioner of Administration to hold a reverse auction to procure merchandise, supplies, raw materials or finished goods if price is the primary factor in evaluating bids. Supporters say reverse auctions happen in the private sector and would be a big money saver for the state.
HBs 281 & 570 https://house.mo.gov/Bill.aspx?bill=HB281&year=2019&code=R allows school districts to implement alternative methods of instruction to avoid make-up days. Beginning with the 2020-21 school year, the bill allows a district to use an alternative instruction plan approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for up to 36 hours due to inclement weather.
HB 749 https://house.mo.gov/Bill.aspx?bill=HB749&year=2019&code=R creates the "Towing Task Force" to make recommendations on overcharges, customer complaints and the process for nonconsensual towing used by law enforcement. Supporters say the bill will help regulate overcharging in the towing industry. The task force outlined in the bill will give recommendations and a framework to help eliminate price gouging.
HB 756 https://house.mo.gov/Bill.aspx?bill=HB756&year=2019&code=R requires health care professionals to utilize the process outlined in statute for claims for charges for unanticipated out-of-network care. Supporters say the bill is necessary for transparency purposes. If you go to a hospital that is in your health care plan then everything should be treated like in-network for your health insurance coverage. People often get out-of-network bills from physicians who work in the hospital, and that situation is a lot more expensive.
As always, I appreciate the privilege to be of service to the great folks who live in the 155th District. Thank you for providing me the honor of representing you in Jefferson City.
Please contact me at:
201 W. Capitol Ave., Room 400CB
Jefferson City, MO 65101-6806