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Public Hearings Guide Senate Appropriations Planning

Pre-filed Bills are Numbered and Available to the Public

The Senate Appropriations Committee marked the official beginning to the budget-planning process this week by holding public hearings. In addition, this was the first week that the public was able to access numbered, pre-filed legislation.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, led by the newly appointed chairman Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), met on Monday (12/3) and Tuesday (12/4) in order to hear public testimony on appropriations concerns. Citizens from throughout Missouri came to Jefferson City to offer both praise and suggestions for the state’s spending plan. While this week marks the official beginning of the planning process, actual discussion and preparation for the Fiscal Year 2009 budget (which begins on July 1, 2008) began before the previous legislative session had even concluded. The public hearings, which were held in December instead of January to allow the testimony to better impact the…

Transportation Funding Looms as Major Issue for Lawmakers

Missouri lawmakers are mulling over the latest report from the director of the Missouri Department of Transportation. The director is required by state law to submit an annual report to the Missouri General Assembly each November.
Director Pete Rahn says Missouri has gone from having the third worst pavement on major roads to the ninth best in the nation, with 74 percent of the state’s major roads in good condition. MoDOT’s annual report finds Missouri recorded the biggest drop in traffic-related fatalities of any state last year, while noting an increase in customer satisfaction with the agency from 75 percent in 2005 to 79 percent in 2006.
Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee and co-chairs the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight, says MoDOT has done a lot of good things with the extra money the department received from Amendment Three, which voters approved in 2004.
“If you look at the work of MoDOT over the last three years since Amen…

Joint Committee on Tax Policy To Review Tax Credits And Property Taxes

The Joint Committee on Tax Policy will hold a public hearing Tuesday, November 13 in House Hearing Room 7 of the Capitol. The ten-member committee, evenly divided between Representatives and Senators, works to ensure Missouri’s taxes are simple, fair, neutral and transparent.
Committee member Brad Lager, R-Maryville, says a cornerstone of responsible government is making sure lawmakers are good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Lager says he does not believe in creating new government programs “just to hand out money,” and says the same philosophy should apply to tax credits. Lager says each tax credit approved by lawmakers is the same as creating a new government program that must be funded each year. However, he says unlike most government programs that are reviewed each year during the appropriations process, tax credits are only reviewed each six years.
Fellow committee member Joan Bray, D-St. Louis, says lawmakers are beginning to review the more than $500 million dollars in tax cr…

Interim Committee Holds Field Hearings on Deputy Sheriffs’ Compensations

Last September, lawmakers on the Senate Interim Committee on Funding for County Sheriffs Offices met in a packed hearing room at the State Capitol in Jefferson City before county law enforcement officers from around the state. They heard testimony on the problem of low pay for many deputies in county sheriff departments. The response was so large that committee members decided a series of field hearings was necessary to gather more information on the issue.
This week, the committee met in Southeast Missouri’s Wayne County, part of the district of committee member Sen. Rob Mayer (R-Dexter). He says too many deputies have to work 50-60 hours a week as deputies and then take another part-time job just to make enough money for their families. Fellow committee member Sen. Ryan McKenna (D-Crystal City) says despite working the multiple jobs, many of those struggling deputies still have to go on food stamps and other public assistance.
Sen. McKenna says it’s really a matter of having the r…

Senate Interim Committees Begin to Wrap Up Work

Joint Education Committee Meets This Week

JEFFERSON CITY — Interim committees appointed by the Senate President Pro Tem typically must report their findings to the full Senate by the first week of the new year, so a number of committees that have been meeting during the summer and fall are trying to wrap up their work for the year.
For example, three subcommittees of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism, chaired by Sen. Scott T. Rupp, R-Wentzville, are meeting this week as the panel finalizes its report to the Senate. The 16-member Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism is comprised of lawmakers, parents, doctors, and health officials and is charged with determining the state of autism in Missouri. Panel members are looking at services, teaching, training and research and will make recommendations for improving the quality of life for those with autism and their families. The panel plans to issue a report to Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, by October 31st.
Next Tuesday, Oct. 30,…

Tom Dempsey Sworn In as 23rd District Senator

JEFFERSON CITY —Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, was sworn-in Wednesday (10/3) to fill the 23rd District Senate seat vacated by Chuck Gross. Gross resigned from the Missouri Senate at the end of the 2007 regular legislative session to take a position in St. Charles County government.
The 23rd Senate District covers the eastern part of St. Charles County. Senator Dempsey will serve the remainder of Gross’s Senate term, which expires in January of 2009. State law allows Sen. Dempsey to subsequently serve up to two full four-year Senate terms.
Senator Dempsey fills the only Senate vacancy in the 94th General Assembly. The regular session begins in January, but the swearing-in ceremony allows Sen. Dempsey to begin serving immediately. When asked about his priorities in the Senate, Sen. Dempsey stated that healthcare reform and immigration would be some of the issues he would like to address.
Previously a state representative, Sen. Dempsey vacated the House seat for the 18th District. The …

Joint Committee on Tax Policy Meets in Kansas City

Senators Join Fellow Lawmakers to Discuss Missouri’s Tax Policies

JEFFERSON CITY — Members of the Joint Committee on Tax Policy met this week to discuss updates, review recommendations, and listen to testimony on Missouri’s current tax policies. The meeting, which took place in Kansas City, focused on a variety of tax credits and property tax practices throughout the state.
The Joint Committee on Tax Policy was established in 2004 to conduct a continuous study and analysis of current and proposed tax policy in Missouri with a special focus on fairness, economic impact, effectiveness, and burden on taxpayers. Since its inception, the committee has issued reports on property taxation and assessment, sales tax on services, income tax, sales and use tax, and tax credits. The committee continues to study these and other issues relating to taxes in the state.
This week, the committee reviewed tax credits for the use of wood energy, the production of charcoal, the recycling of flexible ce…

Blue Ribbon Autism Panel to Hold Final Public Hearing

JEFFERSON CITY — The Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism, chaired by Sen. Scott T. Rupp, R-Wentzville, will hold its final public hearing Friday, September 28 in Kansas City. The hearing will be held in the Plaza Room of the Administrative Center on the UMKC campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The panel will hear expert testimony from insurance representatives, as well as specialists in reimbursement and executives from the Department of Mental Health. The public is invited to testify at the hearing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The 16-member Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism is comprised of lawmakers, parents, doctors, and health officials and is charged with determining the state of autism in Missouri. Panel members have been looking at services, teaching, training and research and will make recommendations for improving the quality of life for those with autism and their families.
After completing the meetings, the panel will issue a report to Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, by Octobe…

Senators Appointed to Chronic Kidney Disease Task Force

JEFFERSON CITY — Two Missouri Senators were appointed to the Chronic Kidney Disease Taskforce this week, which was created through Senate Bill 577, an omnibus healthcare package that went into effect on August 28. Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons (R-Kirkwood) has appointed Sen. Jack Goodman (R-Mt. Vernon) and Sen. Harry Kennedy (D-St. Louis) to fulfill the Senate’s role on the committee.
The taskforce will consist of at least 17 members including lawmakers from both legislative bodies, physicians, healthcare providers, and patients. Additional members of the group can be selected by the chair, who will be chosen by the members of the taskforce.
The group will meet throughout the upcoming months in order to develop an educational plan for highlighting the advantages and methods of early screening for chronic kidney disease. The taskforce will also make recommendations on the implementation of a plan for early screening, diagnosis, and treatment for people in Missouri. A repor…

Senate Committees Meet During Week of Veto Session

Discussions of Consumer Protections, Judicial Selection Process, and Sheriffs’ Compensation among Committee Topics

The Senate convened for a veto session this week, although most work on House Bill 327, the only bill vetoed by the governor, was completed during a special session in August. Since the constitution required the General Assembly to meet, lawmakers seized the opportunity to hold several interim, Senate, and joint committee meetings.
A veto session is constitutionally required to be held on the first Wednesday following the second Monday of September to discuss any bills returned by the governor. A two-thirds majority is required to overturn the governor’s veto. Last month, the General Assembly met in a special session in order to discuss an omnibus economic development package (HB 327) vetoed by the governor due to concerns over cost. The Legislature passed House Bill 1, a less expensive re-work of the vetoed bill, which has since been signed by the governor.
Lawmakers …

Senate Convenes for Ceremonial Veto Session

JEFFERSON CITY — The Senate convened for a constitutionally required veto session today (9/12), although much of the work on House Bill 327, the only vetoed bill, was already completed during a special session last month. The governor vetoed the economic development package, and then called the Legislature into an extraordinary session to craft House Bill 1, a less expensive version of the measure.
The constitution requires the General Assembly to convene on the first Wednesday following the second Monday in September to discuss any bills that have been returned (vetoed). The governor has 45 days from the final day of session to veto, sign, or not sign a bill. During a veto session, both legislative bodies must have a two-thirds majority in order to overturn the governor’s veto.
In August, the General Assembly met for a special session to discuss the omnibus economic development package that included a cap increase for the Quality Jobs Act. The Legislature completed work on the bi…

Senate Committee Discusses State Judicial Commission

JEFFERSON CITY — The Senate Committee on Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics met yesterday (9/11) to discuss the Judicial Appellate Commission. After the retirement of Supreme Court Judge Ronnie White, questions of openness and accountability arose as the commission went about selecting a state of replacements.
The committee meeting included testimony by Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stiff, a member of the commission, who gave a brief history of the Missouri Plan—the system used in the state to select Supreme Court and Appellate Court judges. In 1940, the plan was decided on by the voters, who found fault in the previous purely electoral system, as a non-partisan plan to select and appoint judges. The selection process includes the Judicial Appellate Commission, which is made up of lawyers from each of the state’s three regions, three citizens from those same regions, and the chief justice. The lawyers on the commission are selected by the Missouri Bar Association, and the citi…

Special Session Bills Signed into Law

JEFFERSON CITY — The governor has signed into law the two bills that were the subjects of the recently-completed special legislative session. The legislature came back into special session on August 20th, 2007, to consider a new economic development bill and a measure to move forward the Missouri Department of Transportation’s plan to fix more than 800 of the worst bridges in the state. Lawmakers wrapped up their work on the bills last week.
House Bill 1 is an all-encompassing economic development measure brought about by the veto of HB 327, an economic development bill passed during the regular session. The governor had criticized HB 327 as having grown too large with an anticipated price tag of more than $200 million a year when it reached maturity in a few years and vetoed the bill. House and Senate members worked throughout the summer to craft this new HB 1 with a price tag closer to about $70 million a year. The new economic development measure will increase money to the Qual…

Rep. Tom Dempsey to Fill Senate Seat Vacated By Chuck Gross

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Representative Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, won a special election Tuesday to fill the 23rd District senate seat vacated by Chuck Gross. Gross resigned from the Missouri Senate at the end of the legislative session to take a position in St. Charles County government.
Dempsey prevailed by a 56-44 percent margin over Democrat Ed Applebaum of St. Peters in the Sept. 4th special election called by the governor to fill the 23rd District seat.
Dempsey most recently served the House as majority floor leader, as chairman of the House Ethics Committee and as vice chairman of the House Rules Committee.
The 23rd Senate District covers the eastern part of St. Charles County. Dempsey will serve the remainder of Gross’s Senate term, which expires in January of 2009. State law allows Dempsey to subsequently serve up to two full four-year Senate terms.
Dempsey’s election victory produces a vacancy in his 18th District House seat. The governor will set the date for a special el…

Senate Completes Work on House Bills 1 and 2

Legislation Now Goes to Governor for Approval

Lawmakers have completed their work after passing two bills that address the issues the governor asked the Legislature to address in his call for the special session. Senators were at the Capitol late on Wednesday night completing their work on House Bills 1 and 2.
House Bill 1, an omnibus economic development package, was brought about by the veto of HB 327, an economic development bill passed during the regular session. Lawmakers worked throughout the summer to craft a new economic development bill with a price tag of approximately $70 million a year, deemed to be more fiscally palatable compared to the approximately $200 million cost of the vetoed HB 327.
House Bill 1 includes increases in the amount of credits available for businesses participating in the Quality Jobs Act. Qualifying businesses are those that provide jobs with pay above the county’s average wage and pay 50 percent of health insurance costs for employees. Similar cap inc…

Senate Approves Bridge Building, Economic Development Bills

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate yesterday (8/29) approved two bills addressed by the governor in a call to special session. Debate went into the early morning hours as senators discussed House Bill 1, an economic development package, and House Bill 2, a measure designed to get the Missouri Department of Transportation’s (MoDOT) bridge repair started.
House Bill 1 is an omnibus economic development bill brought about by the veto of HB 327, an economic development bill passed during the regular session and vetoed by the governor due to concerns over cost. Lawmakers worked throughout the summer to craft a new economic development bill with a price tag of approximately $70 million a year, deemed to be more fiscally palatable compared to the approximately $200 million cost of the vetoed HB 327. House Bill 1 includes increases in the amount of credits available for businesses participating in the Quality Jobs Act. Qualifying businesses are those that provide jobs with pay above the coun…

Senate’s School Funding Bill Upheld by Circuit Court

JEFFERSON CITY — A state circuit court judge yesterday (8/29) upheld the equity, adequacy and constitutionality of Missouri’s school funding “foundation formula,” which is used to appropriate state money to Missouri’s 524 public school districts.
The ruling came some three years after more than 200 of these districts together launched a suit against the state contesting how — and how much — state money flows to districts via the funding formula.
In 2005, after the suit was filed, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 287, revising the foundation formula to where it now keys off of the needs of a district’s students — rather then the old model based on the taxes a district’s properties could generate.
As now written, the formula applies a universal minimum per-pupil dollar figure and adjusts this base to account for aspects like each district’s property values and living costs. The revised foundation formula has an increase phase-in schedule that eventually infuses an added $800 million…

Senate Committees Move Special Session Bills on to Full Senate

JEFFERSON CITY — The two bills regarding the subjects of the special legislative session have been approved today by their respective committees and have been sent to the full State Senate for debate and possible votes. The Senate Economic Development, Tourism & Local Government Committee has approved House Bill 1, the omnibus economic development bill, while the Senate Transportation Committee has approved House Bill 2, a measure to move forward the Missouri Department of Transportation’s plan to fix more than 800 of the worst bridges in the state.
House Bill 1 is an all-encompassing economic development bill brought about by the veto of HB 327, an economic development bill passed during the regular session. In his veto message, the governor said HB 327 had grown too large with an anticipated price tag of more than $200 million a year when it reached maturity in a few years. Lawmakers worked throughout the summer to craft a new economic development bill with a price tag close…

Most Senate Bills Take Effect on Aug. 28

Healthcare Reform, Higher Education Package, and Tax Incentives Among New Laws

JEFFERSON CITY — Most of the legislation passed during the regular session that ended in May will take effect on August 28. Among the new laws becoming effective are senate bills making changes to heath care, higher education, and tax incentives.
Senate Bill 577 makes several reforms to Missouri’s state-sponsored medical insurance, now called MO HeathNet. The new program focuses on preventative measures, rather than the more expensive reactive care by encouraging patients to take steps toward a healthy lifestyle such as losing weight or quitting smoking. In order to better combat fraud in the system, the program asks providers to keep stricter records and creates protections for “whistleblowers.” Programs to benefit the working disabled and low-income women are also contained in the legislation.
An extensive higher education package will also go into effect on Aug. 28. Senate Bill 389 calls for several constru…

Senate Convenes for Special Session

Lawmakers returned to Jefferson City this week to begin a special session meant to address two issues. The gavel calling the Senate into an extraordinary session fell on Monday at 1 p.m.
During the regular session, which ended in May, the General Assembly passed an omnibus economic development package. House Bill 327, a bill created to increase caps on the Quality Jobs Act, passed the Senate and House, but was vetoed by the governor due to concerns over the cumulative cost of the various tax breaks contained in the bill. House Bill 1, a slimmed down version of HB 327, was introduced this week.House Bill 1 provides for a series of tax credits meant to stimulate economic development in the state. It includes increases in the amount of credits available for businesses participating in the Quality Jobs Act. Qualifying businesses are those that provide jobs with pay above the county’s overage wage and pay 50 percent of health insurance costs for employees. Similar cap increases are co…

Judicial Commission Invited to Meet With Senate Committee

JEFFERSON CITY — Senator Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, today extended an invitation to the members of the Appellate Judicial Commission to meet with the Senate Committee on Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics next month to discuss the process used to select candidates for the Missouri Supreme Court.
“As a member of the Commission you will have the opportunity to explain to the committee as well as other interested Missourians how the process was used to select the panel and why you believe the work of the Commission is not covered under the State’s open meetings law,” Shields wrote in a letter dated and sent to each commissioner today, August 23, 2007.
The seven-member Appellate Judicial Commission is comprised of four lawyers including Supreme Court Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith and three commissioners appointed by governors. The commission met earlier this summer without publicly posting the times or locations of their meetings, which Shields contends violates state “Sunsh…

Senate Interim Committee Formed to Protect Consumers

JEFFERSON CITY—Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, this week created a five-member Senate Interim Committee on Consumer and Financial Protection. The committee will be examining opportunities for the Legislature to protect consumers from dishonesty and fraud.
The committee is charged with examining ways to prevent consumer fraud in investing, real estate, and insurance. Examples of issues being examined by the committee will include Stranger-Owned Life Insurance (STOLI) schemes that take advantage of seniors by promising “free life insurance,” mortgage fraud that employs dishonest real estate practices, and the practice of “naked short selling” where investors profit off of shares they have never possessed. The committee will hear from experts on these and other matters to make legislative recommendations to the General Assembly by Jan. 31, 2008.
The bipartisan committee will include Senators Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, (Chair); Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City; Carl Vogel,…

Special Session Officially Called For August 20th; Majority of Senate’s Work Expected Week of August 27th

JEFFERSON CITY — The governor has officially called lawmakers back into special session this coming Monday, August 20th at 1:00 p.m. to consider legislation to speed up the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Plan, a strategy to fix 800 of Missouri’s worst bridges and keep them maintained for 25 years after, and to work out a new economic development bill and funding. The recent tragedy of the bridge collapse in Minnesota and the veto of House Bill 327, an omnibus economic development bill, have precipitated the call.
While the official start of the session is set for Monday with all Senators and Representatives asked to be present, the bulk of the Senate’s work won’t begin until a week later. The Senate will have two technical sessions that only a few senators would need to attend next week. On Monday, August 27th, the Senate will hold hearings on the bills considered by the House, and debate before the full Senate is expected on August 29th.
T…

Senators Prepare to Come Back Into Session

JEFFERSON CITY — Lawmakers will come back to Jefferson City on August 20th as part of a special legislative session. The governor is calling the session to speed up the fixing of the state’s bridges and to address issues with a new economic development bill and funding. The recent tragedy of the bridge collapse in Minnesota and the veto of House Bill 327, an omnibus economic development bill, have precipitated the call.
The collapse of the Minneapolis-St. Paul bridge last week has prompted the Missouri Department of Transportation to re-examine other bridges of similar designs in this state to make sure there are no problems. In addition, MoDOT has been working to implement the Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program to fix about 800 of the worst bridges in Missouri in the next few years. Transportation officials say the amount of funding to fix roads and bridges in Missouri drops off dramatically from about $1.2 billion a year now, to just $569 million in 2010. Legislation to b…

Transportation Panel Considers Options

JEFFERSON CITY — The Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight met Tuesday at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City to discuss funding options for transportation infrastructure in Missouri. The meeting featured presentations by MoDOT Director Pete Rahn and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation David Horner.
The meeting was billed as the 2007 Transportation Funding Summit, and attendees reviewed what other states are doing regarding transportation infrastructure funding.
“Today we want to take a look at where Missouri is as far as funding for transportation is concerned, then we want to go to a national panel that will help us learn what’s coming down from the federal level, and hear what other states are doing and how other people are addressing the issue,” said Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, co-chair of the Joint Committee.
The other co-chair of the Joint Committee is Rep. Neal St. Onge, R-Ellisville.
“The needs are very real for Missouri a…

Transportation Panel to Meet

JEFFERSON CITY — The Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight will meet Tuesday, July 31 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City. The meeting will feature presentations by MoDOT Director Pete Rahn and Assistant Secretary of Transportation Tyler Duvall.
The meeting is being billed as the 2007 Transportation Funding Summit, and attendees will review what other states are doing regarding transportation infrastructure funding.
The committee is required by statute to meet at least twice a year, and the agenda must include but may not be limited to the following:
(1) Presentation of a prioritized plan for all modes of transportation;
(2) Discussion of department efficiencies and expenditure of cost- savings within the department;
(3) Presentation of a status report on department of transportation revenues and expenditures, including a detailed summary of projects funded by new state revenue as provided in paragraph (a) of subdivision (1) of subsection 3 of this section;
(4) Review of an…

Senate Interim Committee to Review Funding for County Sheriff Offices

JEFFERSON CITY — Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, has created an interim committee to study current funding levels for county sheriff offices across Missouri. The five-member Senate Interim Committee on Funding for County Sheriff Offices will:
Ø Review current court costs, fees and other funding mechanisms relating to the operation of law enforcement or civil justice-related activities of county Sheriff departments;
Ø Study the current compensation formulas for deputy sheriffs in Missouri counties;
Ø Compare compensation of deputy sheriffs across different county classifications in Missouri and neighboring states.
Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington, has been named chairman of the interim committee.
“Our county sheriffs and their deputies play a crucial role in law enforcement in this state, particularly in rural areas of Missouri,” Sen. Griesheimer said. “We will help make sure they are fairly compensated for the job they…

Flurry of Senate Bill Signings

JEFFERSON CITY — More than a third of all the senate bills approved by the legislature this year were signed by the governor on the next to last day that he could affix his signature to a bill. Under the state constitution, the governor has 45 days from the official last day of the 94th General Assembly’s First Regular Session to either sign a bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. The last 21 of the 57 senate bills that received the governor’s approval did so on July 13th. Some of the highlights included reforms to the state’s mental health system, unemployment compensation for veterans, and making more severe the punishment for dealing drugs in and around state parks.
Senate Bill 3 reforms Missouri’s mental health system and was a priority for sponsor Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons (R-Kirkwood). The new law is aimed at better protecting the safety and quality of life of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens served by both private and state-run car…

Bill Creating Protections for Crime Victims Signed into Law

JEFFERSON CITY — Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Michael Gibbons, Gov. Matt Blunt, and other state legislators traveled to Columbia Thursday (July 12) for the signing of House Bill 583. The bill, which Sen. Gibbons made a priority in the Senate over the past session, protects the rights of victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child exploitation.
Experts estimate that only 1 out of 10 sexual assaults are reported and only half of domestic abuse cases are reported. House Bill 583 has been hailed as a way to encourage victims of violent crimes to report the incidents through increased confidentiality and protections.
The bill includes provisions requiring the Department of Health and Senior Services to pay for examinations for victims of sexual offenses and the State Highway Patrol to distribute free evidence collection kits to medical providers. Rape crisis centers must maintain the confidentiality of their victims and cannot release information relating to the identity of t…

Senate Bill Signings Continue

Bills Modifying Special Education, Expanding Renewable Energy And Helping Victims of Theft Among Those Signed

JEFFERSON CITY — Governor Matt Blunt signed a number of Senate bills into law this week, including legislation to encourage power companies to increase their use of renewable sources of energy in power generation.
Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Sen. Chris Koster (R-Cass), creates the Green Power Initiative, which encourages electric companies to make good-faith efforts toward meeting the following renewable energy targets:
• 4% of total retail electric sales come from certain renewable energy technologies by 2012;
• 8% of total retail electric sales come from certain renewable energy technologies by 2015; and
• 11% of total retail electric sales come from certain renewable energy technologies by 2020.
Electricity generation from renewable sources prior to August 28, 2007, may be counted toward the targets, provided they continue to be used.
The act establishes reporting requirements un…

More Senate Bills Signed Into Law

Senate’s Priorities of Protecting and Educating Children, Providing Educational Opportunities for the Hearing Impaired, and Conducting Children’s Eye Exams Among Those Signed

JEFFERSON CITY — More legislation sponsored by several different senators has gained the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s signatures this week. Senate Bill 16, SB 64, SB 84, and House Bill 181 – which contains some key senatorial provisions - will take effect on August 28th, 2007.
Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Sen. Delbert Scott (R-Lowry City), requires comprehensive eye examinations for children entering kindergarten or first grade. It also requires vision screenings for students beginning first and third grades. Sen. Scott has a personal connection to this measure as he had a lazy eye that went undiagnosed as a child, which has led to a lifetime of wearing glasses for him.
Senate Bill 64 was signed into law by Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, who was acting in Gov. Matt Blunt’s place while the governor was …

Corrections Committee, Autism Panel to Hold Hearings

The Joint Committee on Corrections holds a hearing Wednesday, June 27 at 1 p.m. in House Hearing Room 1. The panel will elect officers and hear a presentation from officials with the Missouri Department of Corrections.
A spokesman for the Department of Corrections says officials likely will discuss death penalty protocols the department has developed in the wake of the court-ordered suspension of the death penalty in Missouri. Last year a federal judge ordered the state to reform its protocols and to retain a doctor with expertise in anesthesia, though the state has been unable to find a doctor willing to serve. Earlier this month, a federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled the state’s method of execution - lethal injection – did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Days later, the state attorney general asked the state supreme court to set execution dates for 10 condemned inmates.
The Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism holds the first in a series of five meetings next week. Sen.

Recent Senate Bill Signings

Five Senate Bills Gain Governor’s Signature

New Laws Include Measures Dealing with Tax Cuts, State Agency Designations, Law Enforcement, Long-term Care, and a Commission Makeup

JEFFERSON CITY — Several key pieces of legislation sponsored by a variety of State Senators will become law now that Governor Blunt has signed those bills. Senate Bill 30, SB 162, SB 352, SB 397, and SB 420 all gained the governor’s signature yesterday (June 13th).
Senate Bill 30, sponsored by Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), creates several tax cuts and exemptions for businesses in Missouri, encouraging economic growth throughout the state. It expands tax exemptions for common carriers to cover those who only conduct business within the state. SB 30 will also give tax credits for homes inherited by a person whose spouse was a public safety officer killed in the line of duty. State and local sales tax exemptions for expenditures on utilities, chemicals, machinery, and equipment will apply to television or radio broadc…

First Meeting of Senate-Initiated Autism Panel Set for June

JEFFERSON CITY — A new Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism will gather in a series of five meetings this summer across the state. Sen. Scott T. Rupp, R-Wentzville, will chair the 16-member committee consisting of lawmakers, parents, doctors and health officials that is charged with determining the state of autism in Missouri. Panel members will look at services, teaching, training and research and then make recommendations for improving the quality of life for those with autism and their families. Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, created the Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism to guide lawmakers during the Second Regular Session of the 94th Missouri General Assembly, which convenes in January.
The first meeting of the panel will be held at the State Capitol in the Senate Lounge on Friday, June 29th from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. This gathering will organize the group, and there will be testimony from experts in the field as well as opportunities for the public to testify. Additional mee…

Senate Says Goodbye to Sen. Gross

Architect of State Budget Wraps Up 15 years of Service to the State

JEFFERSON CITY — After a 15-year career in the State House and Senate, Sen. Chuck Gross (R-St. Charles) has resigned from the state legislature’s upper chamber. Sen. Gross was first elected to the House in 1992, where he served until 2000 when he won a seat for the State Senate’s 23rd District. He’s leaving the Senate to become the St. Charles County director of administration.
Among his numerous committee assignments, Sen. Gross has served on the Senate Appropriations Committee since he arrived in the upper chamber in 2001. By 2003 he was elevated to Vice Chair of the committee and has served as the Chair for the last three years. His leadership on the budget work has produced spending plans the last three years that ended years of turmoil and garnered him praise from leaders and members from both sides of the political aisle.
“We are so far gone now from the days when even though we said we had a certain number of …

Bills Clear Final Legislative Hurdle

105 Bills Create MO HealthNet, Improve Patient Safety, Protect Crime Victims,
Set Aside More Education Money, and Reduce Taxes


JEFFERSON CITY — A flurry of activity last week that saw lawmakers and their staff rush from the two chambers, to hearing rooms, to their offices, and back to the House and Senate chambers for last-minute votes and debates has given way to calmer hallways this week. But important work still needed to be finished as Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons and Speaker of the House Rod Jetton affixed their signatures to 54 Senate and 51 House bills, today (May 25th), sending them on to the governor.
Among these are two priority initiatives advanced by Senator Gibbons: SB 3, improving safeguards for mental health care facilities and clients; and SB 429/HB 583, strengthening protections and expanding resources for victims of domestic violence and sexual assaults.
Several other bills such as the governor’s Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative were already given to Go…

Lawmakers Approve MO HealthNet, Castle Doctrine in Final Week

General Column - Week of May 14 - 18, 2007

Fifty Seven Senate Bills Become Law

During the final week of session, legislators worked quickly to complete several key legislative issues. The deadline for completing legislation was 6 p.m. on Friday, May 18.
A late night of negotiations and a morning of debate led to the passage of Senate Bill 577, which changes the name of Missouri’s state sponsored healthcare to MO HealthNet. The new plan focuses on proactive care rather than reactive treatment. The bill also includes provisions to prevent and punish fraud in the healthcare program and asks healthcare providers to keep records tracking accountability.
The state’s Ticket to Work Program will continue under the bill, allowing disabled workers to qualify for MO HealthNet benefits and raising provider reimbursements. The bill also expands coverage for women’s health services, allowing more women to qualify for cancer screenings and counseling for family planning issues. The legislation w…