Capitol Report | July 14th, 2016

Adoptees, Insurance, & Accountability

Today is the final day for the governor to sign, veto, or simply allow a bill to become law.

One particular piece of legislation that the governor just signed will strengthen the rights of adoptees in Missouri. The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act, sponsored by Rep. Don Phillips, is meant provide an easier process for an adopted individual to obtain a copy of his or her original birth certificate.

Under current law, files and records that provide identifying information about an adoptee’s biological parents are closed except by order of the court or by mutual decision of the birth parents and the adoptee. The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act will allow an adoptee who is at least 18 years of age and born in Missouri to file a written application to the state registrar to obtain the original certificate of birth.

Another bill signed into law will give Missourians true transparency when it comes to the premiums being charged by health insurance companies. Legislators approved the Missouri Health Insurance Rate Transparency Act, sponsored by Sen. David Sater, for consumers who deserve to know the premium rates being charged by the insurance companies that operate in Missouri.

SB 865 will require health carriers to file premium rates with the director of the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration for any health benefit plans sold in the state. The rates may be used after the director determines the rates to be reasonable, after the health carrier notifies the director of its intent to use rates that the director deems unreasonable, or 60 days after the filing date.

The governor also recently signed two pieces of legislation designed to protect taxpayer dollars from being misused by local taxing districts.

HB 1418, sponsored by Rep. Donna Pfautsch, deals with non-compliance on the part of Transportation Development Districts (TDDs), and imposes a fine on them should they refuse to comply with reporting standards called for by the Department of Revenue and the State Auditor’s Office.

SB 1002, sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman, focuses on audits of Community Improvement Districts (CIDs), which are local taxing entities designed to help improve a community by bettering conditions for existing businesses, and attracting new growth.

You may read in more detail about what is happening at your State Capitol below.

As always, I will work diligently for you as your State Representative.

-Jason

 

Today is the final day for the governor to sign, veto, or simply allow a bill to become law. Below are several bills that have recently been acted on by the governor.

Adoptee Rights Act Signed into Law (HB 1599)

The governor recently signed into law a piece of legislation that will strengthen the rights of adoptees in Missouri. The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act, sponsored by Rep. Don Phillips, is meant provide an easier process for an adopted individual to obtain a copy of his or her original birth certificate.

Under current law, files and records that provide identifying information about an adoptee’s biological parents are closed except by order of the court or by mutual decision of the birth parents and the adoptee.

The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act will allow an adoptee who is at least 18 years of age and born in Missouri to file a written application to the state registrar to obtain the original certificate of birth. The bill also gives the birth parents the right to file statements indicating they do not want to be contacted by the adoptee. If both parents indicate they would prefer not to be contacted, a copy of the original birth certificate will not be released. If just one parent wishes to not be contacted, his or her identifying information will be redacted from the copy of the birth certificate before it is released.

Health Insurance Rate Review Legislation Signed into Law (SB 865)

Another bill signed into law will give Missourians true transparency when it comes to the premiums being charged by health insurance companies. Legislators approved the Missouri Health Insurance Rate Transparency Act, sponsored by Sen. David Sater, for consumers who deserve to know the premium rates being charged by the insurance companies that operate in Missouri. SB 865 will require health carriers to file premium rates with the director of the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration for any health benefit plans sold in the state. The rates may be used after the director determines the rates to be reasonable, after the health carrier notifies the director of its intent to use rates that the director deems unreasonable, or 60 days after the filing date. Final rates will then be published on the department’s website, which will also allow the public to comment on any proposed rate increases.

Missouri is currently the only state in the nation without a rate review system in place. Proponents of the change say it will lead to better regulation of the health insurance industry, and allow Missouri families to know if the rates they are paying are fair. Without transparency, Missouri’s rates have increased at a rate above the national average, and the state has seen significant disparities in what is paid by consumers in various parts of the state. With rate review in place, proponents hope to reduce health care costs for Missourians.

Improving Campus Safety (SB 921)

Also set to become law is a piece of legislation that will improve the way colleges and universities respond to and handle incidents of sexual violence on campus. SB 921, sponsored by Sen. Jeanie Riddle, is in part a response to a national survey that found 73 percent of institutions of higher learning have no protocols in place to work with law enforcement to respond to incidents of sexual assault. The legislation approved by the General Assembly will require public institutions of higher education in Missouri to put such plans in place. The new law will require schools and law enforcement to create a memorandum of understanding that will contain detailed policies and protocols regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

Important Economic Development Legislation Now Set to Become Law (SB 861)

Now set to become law with the governor’s signature is legislation meant to bring businesses that have moved out of the state back home to Missouri, as well as invest in the Missouri Port System.

SB 861, sponsored by Sen. Paul Wieland, creates the Bring Jobs Home Act to authorize a tax deduction for out-of-state businesses that relocate to Missouri. Specifically, the act will provide a tax deduction of up to 50 percent of the eligible expenses associated with eliminating a business located outside of the state and reestablishing it in Missouri. Under the act, the business will have to stay in the state for at least ten years, or pay back the state the entire amount of the deduction. The bill also caps maximum annual amount of deductions at $5 million. The sponsor of the legislation called the act a powerful tool to help bring businesses back to the state along with the family-supporting jobs they provide.

The legislation approved by the General Assembly also includes language to create new investment in Missouri’s system of ports. The bill creates advanced industrial manufacturing zones for the purpose of establishing a dedicated funding source for port improvement and development. In addition, it 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.

Government Accountability Bills Signed into Law (HB 1418 and SB 1002)

The governor recently signed two pieces of legislation designed to protect taxpayer dollars from being misused by local taxing districts.

HB 1418, sponsored by Rep. Donna Pfautsch, deals with non-compliance on the part of Transportation Development Districts (TDDs), and imposes a fine on them should they refuse to comply with reporting standards called for by the Department of Revenue and the State Auditor’s Office. A TDD is a political subdivision formed by a vote of qualified voters to collect taxes and borrow funds to facilitate specific public transportation improvements. In 2014, nearly one quarter of TDDs in the state failed to file financial statements on time with the State Auditor’s Office.

The bill now set to become law requires the State Auditor’s office to report any transportation development district failing to submit its annual financial statement to the Department of Revenue. The department will notify the non-compliant district by certified mail that it has 30 days from the postmarked date to submit the required statement to the State Auditor’s office. If the statement is not received the district will be fined $500 per day beginning on the 31st day from the postmarked date.

SB 1002, sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman, focuses on audits of Community Improvement Districts (CIDs), which are local taxing entities designed to help improve a community by bettering conditions for existing businesses, and attracting new growth. Previously, many of these districts were not open to audit because a request had to be made by a resident of the CID itself. However, several CIDs have no residents living inside their boundaries. HB 1002 allows for audits of CIDs by the state auditor in the same manner as audits for any state agency.

Supporters of the bills said greater accountability and transparency for the local taxing districts is necessary because taxpayers typically pay higher sales tax rates within these districts to fund infrastructure or transportation improvements. Ultimately, they will save taxpayer dollars and ensure the funds are spent appropriately.

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2 thoughts on “Capitol Report | July 14th, 2016

  1. Jim Tyler

    Good job Jason now I need to keep you off the Write to Work.look at the wage rates in the states that have it. Thanks again

    Like

    Reply

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