Thursday, June 28, 2007

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 until 2022. Electric companies are required to report every two years on their progress toward meeting the targets. The PSC is required to report every two years on the progress made by electric companies and give recommendations for legislative action. The director of the Department of Economic Development shall report every two years on the impact of this progress on the state economy and the director of the Department of Natural Resources shall report every two years on the environmental impact of this progress.
Senate Bill 112, sponsored by Sen. Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville), modifies provisions relating to special education in Missouri. The act provides that the Missouri Sunset Act shall not apply to the early intervention program for infants and toddlers with disabilities (the First Steps program).
Also, subject to appropriations, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall implement a pilot program requiring the department to implement a pilot program allowing the Regional Interagency Coordinating Council (RICC) of the Greater St. Louis single point of entry (SPOE) to hire a part-time child-find coordinator to conduct the child-find requirements of the First Steps program. The part-time child-find coordinator shall be hired, selected, and employed by the RICC of the Greater St. Louis SPOE by July 1, 2008. By September 1, 2010, the Greater St. Louis SPOE shall conduct a study on the effect of hiring the child-find coordinator and submit the study to the Department, the State Interagency Coordinating Council and the General Assembly.
This act establishes the "Part C Early Intervention Pilot Program Fund" for implementing the pilot program. The provisions of the pilot program shall expire on September 1, 2011.
This act also combines references to the term "handicapped" in the special education statute with the "children with disabilities" to mean children under the age of twenty-one years who have not completed an approved high school program and who, because of mental, physical or emotional learning problems, require special education services.
Senate Bill 384, sponsored by Senate Minority Floor Leader Maida Coleman (D-St. Louis), easing the procedure for obtaining free replacements of stolen license plate tabs from the Department of Revenue. Under current law, a person replacing stolen license plate tabs may receive two sets of two license plate tabs for free if the person submits a police report with the application. This act, for replacing stolen license plate tabs issued prior to January 1, 2009, allows a notarized affidavit to suffice instead of a police report. Police reports will again be required for replacing stolen license plate tabs issued on or after January 1, 2009.
This act also provides that license plates may be encased in transparent covers so long as the plates are plainly visible and their reflective qualities are not impaired.
Senate Bill 302, sponsored by Sen. John Loudon (R-Chesterfield), modifies the definition of commercial real estate by excluding real estate on which no buildings or structures are located and explicitly provides that commercial real estate shall include any unimproved real estate of any zoning classification, other than agricultural or horticultural real estate, being purchased for development or subdivision.
The act provides that the six month statute of limitations for filing a lien shall apply to the labor portion involved with the use of rental equipment while the 60 day time-frame shall apply to the rental equipment value. The act also provides that the five-day written notice of using rental equipment shall not apply to the labor provided by the persons using the rental equipment.
For more information about this and other legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, dial (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

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 on a trade mission to France. SB 64 was sponsored by Sen. Jack Goodman (R-Mount Vernon) and was born after the devastating winter storms that shut down many Missouri schools this past winter. It authorizes school districts to set their school opening dates up to a certain date prior to Labor Day and provides for exemptions on make-up days due to inclement weather.
Senate Bill 84, sponsored by Sen. Norma Champion (R-Springfield), changes the law to make Amber Alerts only for children under the age of 18 while creating an advisory system to aid in the identification and location of missing endangered adults. Under the new law, a “missing endangered person” is defined as someone whose whereabouts are unknown and who is physically or mentally disabled, missing under circumstances that indicate that person might be in danger, and/or missing under involuntary or unknown circumstances. SB 84 also includes provisions that will include Missouri in interstate compacts with other states dealing with fleeing juveniles and interstate adoptions.
House Bill 181 contains some key provisions of a bill sponsored by Sen. Scott T. Rupp (R-Wentzville) that would require closed or open captioning be used for electronic video instructional materials in any educational institution starting in 2008.
For more information about this and other legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, dial (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

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. 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.
For more information about this and other legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, dial (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.



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Thursday, June 14, 2007

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 broadcasting and mineral recovery operations.
Senate Bill 162, sponsored by Sen. Carl Vogel (R-Jefferson City), modifies the definition of "state agency", as it pertains to income tax set offs. This would include housing authorities as defined under Missouri’s "Housing Authorities Law."
Senate Bill 352 was sponsored by Sen. Dan Clemens (R-Marshfield). It deals with law enforcement issues. This new law will add vehicles driven by law enforcement agents of the Department of Conservation to the list of vehicles considered "emergency vehicles." SB 352 is designed to give those agents greater ability to pursue and apprehend suspects of crime, as well as elevating conservation agents’ lines of duty to more equal that of other law enforcement officials.
Senate Bill 397, sponsored by Sen. Bill Stouffer (R-Napton), modifies provisions relating to applications for long-term care facilities by no longer requiring either affidavits under oath or certified copies of a specified document. Applicants will be able to attest by signature that the statements in the specified documents are true and correct.
Senate Bill 420, sponsored by Sen. Michael Gibbons (R-Kirkwood), makes changes to the possible political makeup of the Clean Water Commission. It provides that no more than four, rather than the current three, members of that commission may be from the same political party.
The effective date of all of these bills is August 28, 2007.
For more information about this and other legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit http://www.senate.mo.gov/. To contact Senate Communications, dial (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.
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Thursday, June 07, 2007

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 meetings will provide more opportunities for public testimony and are tentatively scheduled as follows:
Ø July 20 – Cape Girardeau
Ø August 10 – Springfield
Ø August 31 – St. Louis
Ø September 21 – Kansas City.
After completing the meetings, the panel will issue a report to Sen. Gibbons by October 31st, 2007.
For more information about this and other topics related to the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, dial (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

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 dollars coming in, the fact is everybody knew that some of those expectations were not going to materialize,” Sen. Gross said during a post-budget news conference. “(Now) We don’t need to worry whether gimmicks are going to allow us to somehow escape and not force the governor to withhold or cut part of the budget.”
On the Senate floor, President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons talked about choosing to make Sen. Gross Appropriations chair, “I think that of any decision I’ve had to make in this position, that one was right.”
“Until (Sen. Gross) took the chair, the Senate didn’t listen to the public on the budget,” said fellow Senate Appropriations Committee member Sen. Joan Bray (D-St. Louis). “We have public hearings because of (him).”
Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Graham (D-Columbia) speaking from the floor said, “I know we’re not supposed to call people “gentlemen” in this body (a term reserved for members of the House), but I can’t think of a better term.”
Besides his work on the budget, Sen. Gross has been a tireless lawmaker serving on more than 100 committees since he started in the House in 1993 and filing more than 300 pieces of legislation during his time at the State Capitol.
Sen. Gross is a native of St. Charles, Missouri and is married to Leslie Ann (Goralczyk) Gross. They have two daughters, Megan and Madelyn.
For more information about this and other legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, dial (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.
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