Capitol Report | May 5th, 2016

Voter ID, Paycheck Protection, & UM System

The House and Senate reached final agreement this week on legislation designed to require a valid form of photo identification in order to vote. The legislation, which would put a system of voter identification into state law, is a companion piece to a proposed constitutional amendment that would first allow voters to determine if Missouri should require photo identification to vote. The statutory change is now on its way to the governor for his consideration. The constitutional amendment requires a final vote in the Senate and one more vote in the House before going on the November ballot.

Legislation commonly referred to as “paycheck protection” is now just a vote in the Senate away from becoming law despite the governor’s objection. The House approved a motion this week to override the governor’s veto of HB 1891 by a vote of 109-47.

The bill is meant to give public employee union members the right to opt-in annually if they choose to participate in their union. The current system requires a public employee to opt-out, and if they fail to do so their dues are automatically deducted. In effect, the bill would require annual written consent from a public employee before any amount could be withheld from the earnings of the employee for the payment of any portion of dues, agency shop fees, or other fees paid to a public labor organization. The legislation also would require public employee unions to obtain annual written consent in order to spend a portion of the fees on political activities.

The Missouri House approved legislation to create a commission to conduct a thorough review of the University of Missouri system. The move comes in reaction to the campus unrest and turmoil that resulted in the resignation of both the system president and the MU chancellor. Legislators now want to closely evaluate the university’s structure, accountability, and transparency.

The legislation passed this week creates the “University of Missouri System Review Commission.” The commission will be tasked with reviewing the university system’s collected rules and regulations, administrative structure, campus structure, auxiliary enterprise structure, degree programs, research activities, and diversity programs. Following the review, the commission will prepare a report detailing any recommended changes. The MU System will then be expected to adopt and implement any recommended changes. The system’s actions in adopting, or refusing to adopt, the recommendations will then be considered by the General Assembly during the appropriations process.

Bill sponsor Sen. Schaefer said the goal is to provide an objective evaluation of the university system with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival and growth of the institution. The review is also meant to help the system earn back the trust and respect of the legislature and the people of Missouri.

You may read more about what is happening at your Capitol below. As always, I will work diligently and tirelessly for you as your State Representative.

-Jason

 

House and Senate Give Final Approval to Voter ID Measure (HB 1631)

The House and Senate reached final agreement this week on legislation designed to require a valid form of photo identification in order to vote. The legislation, which would put a system of voter identification into state law, is a companion piece to a proposed constitutional amendment that would first allow voters to determine if Missouri should require photo identification to vote. The statutory change is now on its way to the governor for his consideration. The constitutional amendment requires a final vote in the Senate and one more vote in the House before going on the November ballot.

HB 1631 would implement the system of voter identification if the constitutional amendment is approved by voters. The bill would require voters to present a specified form of identification in order to vote in a public election. Valid forms of identification would include photo IDs issued by the state, the federal government or the military. The bill also would require the state to pay for individuals to obtain a valid ID if they do not have one, or to obtain the documents necessary for a government-issued photo ID.

Additionally, the final version of the bill contains a provision that would allow a voter without a valid photo ID to vote with a regular ballot by showing another form of identification and signing a statement stating that the voter is the person he or she claims to be. If no statement is signed the voter could still vote provisionally.

House Overrides Governor’s Veto of “Paycheck Protection” (HB 1891)

Legislation commonly referred to as “paycheck protection” is now just a vote in the Senate away from becoming law despite the governor’s objection. The House approved a motion this week to override the governor’s veto of HB 1891 by a vote of 109-47.

The paycheck protection bill was approved by the House and Senate and sent to the governor in early March. The governor then vetoed the bill two weeks later. With the successful override vote in the House, the Senate will now need to complete the override with at least 23 votes, which the bill received when it was originally passed by the Senate.

The bill is meant to give public employee union members the right to opt-in annually if they choose to participate in their union. The current system requires a public employee to opt-out, and if they fail to do so their dues are automatically deducted. In effect, the bill would require annual written consent from a public employee before any amount could be withheld from the earnings of the employee for the payment of any portion of dues, agency shop fees, or other fees paid to a public labor organization. The legislation also would require public employee unions to obtain annual written consent in order to spend a portion of the fees on political activities.

The bill also is designed to increase transparency by requiring public labor organizations to maintain financial records identical to those required by federal law. The reports must be made available to employees in a searchable electronic format. In addition, the bill exempts unions for first responders, such as police and firefights, from its requirements. If the veto override is completed by the Senate, the bill will then take effect as law on August 28.

House Completes Veto Override on School Funding Bill (SBs 586 & 651)

Just a day after the governor vetoed a school funding bill, the House took action to complete an override of his veto to enact the legislation into law. Two weeks ago the House and Senate had given final approval to the bill that would reinstitute a cap on the amount the state needs to provide each year to the foundation formula that funds public schools in Missouri. Following the governor’s veto Wednesday, the Senate took immediate action to begin the override process, and the House completed the motion Thursday before finishing work for the week.

The change to Missouri law, which will take effect at the beginning of the new fiscal year in July, will limit the growth of the funding formula. Specifically, it will put a five percent cap in place to control the rate at which the formula increases. Under current law, the funding formula increases each year, and even as the legislature increases school funding, it continues to falls short of the amount called for by the formula. The funding plan previously had the five percent cap, but the cap was removed by the legislature in 2010. Bill sponsors Reps. Wasson & Keaveny said putting the cap back in place would give the legislature a realistic and attainable goal to fully fund the formula in future years.

Despite the fact the legislature has approved an increase of more than $70 million for the foundation formula in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, the formula calls for an another $400 million in funds. Lawmakers who supported the change said the cap will allow a reasonable rate of growth that will prevent unrealistic funding levels for the formula. They said setting an attainable target for funding and hitting that target will have positive results for schools, students, and the state.

House Approves Constitutional Amendment to Protect the Lives of the Unborn (HJR 98)

The Missouri House this week approved a proposed change to the Missouri Constitution that is meant to better protect the health and life of women and unborn children. The constitutional amendment would clarify that unborn children are persons with a constitutional right to life in Missouri.

If approved by the legislature, HJR 98 would put the following question on the November ballot for voter approval: “Should the Missouri Constitution be amended to protect pregnant women and unborn children by recognizing that an unborn child is a person with a right to life which cannot be deprived by state or private action without due process and equal protection of law?”

If then approved by voters, the measure would change the state constitution to make it clear that Missouri “recognizes the right to life of every unborn human child at every stage of biological development and shall protect such life from deprivation by the state or private action to the extent permitted by the federal constitution.”The resolution also would clarify that nothing in the constitution “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.”

Bill sponsor Rep. Moon noted that with the Roe v. Wade decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected personhood for the unborn. However, he also pointed out that the Court conceded that if the unborn were legal persons, the Court would be required to reach the opposite conclusion. The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Lending a Helping Hand to Missouri’s Farmers (SB 844 and SB 641)

This week the members of the Missouri House gave final approval to two pieces of legislation meant to support Missouri’s livestock owners and agricultural producers. Both bills now head to the governor for his consideration.

SB 844 will clarify that an animal owner is liable for damages done by the animal to another’s property only if the owner has been negligent. Currently, if horses, cattle, or other livestock break through a fence and cause damages to another’s property, the owner is strictly liable. Even in cases when the fence is torn down or broken by someone else, the owner of the animals is still liable under current law. The change approved by the General Assembly would relieve the animal owner from liability for damages when the animals were released because of the actions or fault of another.

SB 641 will allow a 100 percent income tax deduction for the amount of any income received as payment from any program that compensates agricultural producers who have suffered a loss as a result of a disaster or emergency. In effect, it would ensure farmers aren’t taxed on any disaster relief assistance they receive. Supporters said the change is necessary to allow farmers to benefit fully from the financial assistance they receive after an emergency or disaster.

Creating a Commission to Review the University of Missouri System (SCR 66)

The Missouri House approved legislation to create a commission to conduct a thorough review of the University of Missouri system. The move comes in reaction to the campus unrest and turmoil that resulted in the resignation of both the system president and the MU chancellor. Legislators now want to closely evaluate the university’s structure, accountability, and transparency.

The legislation passed this week creates the “University of Missouri System Review Commission.” The commission will be tasked with reviewing the university system’s collected rules and regulations, administrative structure, campus structure, auxiliary enterprise structure, degree programs, research activities, and diversity programs. Bill sponsor Sen. Schaefer said the goal is to provide an objective evaluation of the university system with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival and growth of the institution. The review is also meant to help the system earn back the trust and respect of the legislature and the people of Missouri.

Capitol Visit

The Missouri General Assembly welcomed firefighters and emergency personnel from around Missouri to the State Capitol this week.

As part of the day of recognition, firefighters and emergency medical personnel gathered on the south lawn of the state Capitol. Fire trucks hoisted a large American flag as part of the celebration. Legislators joined the crowd to express their appreciation for the dedication and service of the men and women who risk their own safety to protect life and property.

050316firefighters

Rep. Steven Lynch and I were glad to snap a photo with Sparky!

I am committed to serve the constituents of the 120th District, so please feel free to contact my office anytime at 573-751-1688. Your District 120 Capitol office is 201 W Capitol Ave, Rm 115H, Jefferson City, MO 65101. If you wish to unsubscribe from this report, please email Dylan Bryant at dylan.bryant@house.mo.gov

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