Capitol Report | June 2nd, 2016

Missouri Ports, Farmers, & Welfare Reform

As promised, I will continue to summarize bills that have been Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed this legislative session. The Missouri General Assembly gave final approval this session to legislation that will encourage additional investment in Missouri’s system of ports. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Keaveny, includes language to create advanced industrial manufacturing zones for the purpose of establishing a dedicated funding source for port improvement and development. The bill also creates tax incentives for entities that utilize Missouri port authorities.

Legislation is also now on its way to the governor’s desk to allow the state to more efficiently and proficiently verify applicants and recipients of welfare services. The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Sater, will allow the Missouri Department of Social Services to hire an outside vendor to conduct the verification process for applicants for the state’s various welfare programs such as the supplemental nutrition assistance program, temporary assistance for needy families, child care assistance, and MO HealthNet. The bill is meant to help the department ensure accuracy in the welfare rolls, which is a process it has admittedly fallen behind in performing. The bill has the added benefit of possibly saving the state more than $20 million over the next three years by eliminating waste and fraud from the system.

In addition, during the 2016 session the members of the Missouri House and Senate gave final approval to several pieces of legislation meant to support Missouri’s livestock owners and agricultural producers. As it has done several times over the years, the Missouri General Assembly took action to reject a proposed tax increase on Missouri’s agricultural land. The House and Senate gave bipartisan support to Rep. Bill Reiboldt’s HCR 58, which rejected a recommendation made by the Missouri Tax Commission for a five percent tax increase on farm and ranch properties.

Legislators also approved SB 844, sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson, to clarify that an animal owner is liable for damages done by the animal to another’s property only if the owner has been negligent. The change approved by the General Assembly will relieve the animal owner from liability for damages when the animals were released because of the actions or fault of another.

Finally, SB 641, sponsored by Sen. Dave Schatz, 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 will 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. 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

 

This week I will continue to summarize bills that were Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed by the General Assembly. 

Investing in Missouri’s Ports (SB 651)

The Missouri General Assembly gave final approval this session to legislation that will encourage additional investment in Missouri’s system of ports. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Keaveny, includes language to create advanced industrial manufacturing zones for the purpose of establishing a dedicated funding source for port improvement and development. The bill also creates tax incentives for entities that utilize Missouri port authorities. One deduction is designed for existing port users who increase their usage of the facility. A second deduction targets new businesses that build within a port authority’s district. And the third deduction will be for each new job created at an international trade facility.

Welfare Reform (SB 607)

Legislation is now on its way to the governor’s desk to allow the state to more efficiently and proficiently verify applicants and recipients of welfare services. The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Sater, will allow the Missouri Department of Social Services to hire an outside vendor to conduct the verification process for applicants for the state’s various welfare programs such as the supplemental nutrition assistance program, temporary assistance for needy families, child care assistance, and MO HealthNet. The bill is meant to help the department ensure accuracy in the welfare rolls, which is a process it has admittedly fallen behind in performing. The bill has the added benefit of possibly saving the state more than $20 million over the next three years by eliminating waste and fraud from the system.

The legislation also creates the Joint Committee on Public Assistance to study, monitor, and review the efficacy of Missouri’s public assistance programs. The committee will also determine the level and adequacy of resources needed for the state’s programs, and develop recommendations on the public assistance programs and on promoting independence from safety net programs.

Helping Missouri’s Farmers (HCR 58, SB 844 and SB 641)

During the 2016 session the members of the Missouri House and Senate gave final approval to several pieces of legislation meant to support Missouri’s livestock owners and agricultural producers.

As it has done several times over the years, the Missouri General Assembly took action to reject a proposed tax increase on Missouri’s agricultural land. The House and Senate gave bipartisan support to Rep. Bill Reiboldt’s HCR 58, which rejected a recommendation made by the Missouri Tax Commission for a five percent tax increase on farm and ranch properties.

Legislators also approved SB 844, sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson, to 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 will relieve the animal owner from liability for damages when the animals were released because of the actions or fault of another.

SB 641, sponsored by Sen. Dave Schatz, 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 will 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.

Collateral Source Reform Legislation (SB 847)

Legislation approved by the General Assembly would reform Missouri’s legal system to clarify that an injured person involved in a lawsuit can recover only the actual cost incurred for medical treatment. Specifically, the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery, would modify Missouri’s collateral source rule that currently prevents evidence from being admitted to show when a plaintiff’s losses have been compensated from other sources such as insurance or workers’ compensation. The bill is currently awaiting the governor’s consideration.

Expert Witness Legislation (SB 591)

Another bill on the governor’s desk is meant to improve the reliability of expert evidence that is presented to juries in Missouri state courts. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson, would implement an established standard for determining when expert-witness testimony is admissible as evidence at trial. The proposed standard, commonly referred to as the Daubert standard after a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case, is used in federal courts and in more than two-thirds of the states. Under this standard, the trial judge acts as a gatekeeper to ensure that “expert” testimony is based on “sufficient facts or data” and is the product of “reliable principles and methods.” Currently in Missouri, judges admit expert testimony if it is based on facts that are “reasonably relied upon by experts in the field.”

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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