The Capitol Report | August 3rd, 2017

Driving Checkpoints & Foster Care

The state budget that went into effect on July 1st could lead to fewer impaired driving checkpoints but more periods of increased law enforcement presence on Missouri roads. Under language put into the budget by the House, no money controlled by the budget can be used on checkpoints., $20-million available for grants that law enforcement agencies have used to fund various efforts now cannot be used for checkpoints.

Instead of checkpoints, law enforcement may now focus on saturation efforts. Data from the Department of Transportation show that periods of having more officers on the roads, often called “saturation efforts,” get more results for the money invested. The House Budget Committee Chairman said the new language was about making the most effective use of Missouri budget dollars and taking the most effective action toward making roads safer.

Governor Greitens recently announced that he is undoing a 1.5 percent cut to funding for foster care families. The cuts were unintentionally made as part of an overall reduction in Medicaid spending. If the cuts had gone into effect, foster families could have lost between one and six dollars per week in assistance. In undoing the cuts, Greitens said, “Missouri should not take money from them and their families, not even in these tough budget times.” The total amount of funds in question amount to $629,244. The reduction will end within the next month as the administration moves money out of other foster programs that have seen savings in recent months. Foster parents are unlikely to see any change in their reimbursements.

Remember, this weekend is a school sales tax holiday. For more information, visit: http://dor.mo.gov/business/sales/taxholiday/school/

Also, as promised, below is a brief summary of more bills the legislature has passed this regular session. More passed bill summaries will follow in the weeks to come.

SB 52 (Signed by Governor: 7/7) – Creates several provisions relating to suicide awareness and prevention

SB 64 (Signed by Governor: 7/11) – Gives designation to certain infrastructure

SB 65 (Vetoed by Governor: 7/14) – Exempts vessels propelled by outboard jet motors and vessels not originally manufactured with adequate guards or railing from the provisions prohibiting passengers from riding in certain areas of a boat

SB 66 (Signed by Governor: 7/5) – Modifies provisions of law relating to workers’ compensation

SB 88 (Signed by Governor: 6/30) – Establishes a two year statute of limitation for claims of malpractice or negligence against veterinarians

SB 95 (Signed by Governor: 7/7) – Extends the expiration dates on certain provisions relating to public funds

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

 

Changes in State Budget Places Emphasis on Saturation Patrols

The state budget that went into effect on July 1st could lead to fewer impaired driving checkpoints but more periods of increased law enforcement presence on Missouri roads. Under language put into the budget by the House, no money controlled by the budget can be used on checkpoints., $20-million available for grants that law enforcement agencies have used to fund various efforts now cannot be used for checkpoints.

Instead of checkpoints, law enforcement may now focus on saturation efforts. Data from the Department of Transportation show that periods of having more officers on the roads, often called “saturation efforts,” get more results for the money invested. MoDOT reported that in the year that ended July 1, 2016, saturation efforts resulted in 3,055 arrests at a cost of $704 per arrest, compared to 1,201 arrests at checkpoints at a cost of $1,047 per arrest. Over the three years through July 1, 2016, saturation periods yielded 9,288 arrests at $704 apiece compared to 4,152 arrests at checkpoints costing $919 each.

A comparison by House staff of states in which checkpoints are legal with states in which they are not found that the latter had a slightly lower number of drunken driving fatalities per capita. The House Budget Committee Chairman said the new language was about making the most effective use of Missouri budget dollars and taking the most effective action toward making roads safer.

Supporters say the change is a better use of tax dollars as it gets more drunk drivers off the road at a lower cost. They say it is more effective for law enforcement officials to actively seek out impaired drivers rather than have numerous officers wait at a checkpoint hoping to catch someone driving under the influence.

Opponents say it’s misleading to say saturation patrols yield more arrests. They say saturation efforts and checkpoints work together. When a checkpoint is announced the saturation patrols can then catch those on the perimeters who try to avoid the checkpoint.

From now through June 30, 2018, Missouri law enforcement agencies can still conduct checkpoints, but would have to pay for them through means other than grants authorized under the state budget.

Governor Reverses Unintended Cuts to Foster Care

Governor Greitens recently announced that he is undoing a 1.5 percent cut to funding for foster care families. The cuts were unintentionally made as part of an overall reduction in Medicaid spending.

If the cuts had gone into effect, foster families could have lost between one and six dollars per week in assistance. Because Missouri already has a very low rate of foster reimbursements at just about one-third of what it costs to take in a child, these additional cuts would have been very difficult on foster families.

In undoing the cuts, Greitens wrote a letter to foster families letting them know it was “never our intention” to cut aid to families who care for foster children. He said, “Missouri should not take money from them and their families, not even in these tough budget times.”

The total amount of funds in question amount to $629,244. Of that, $371,254 is state money, and the rest is federal matching money. The reduction will end within the next month as the administration moves money out of other foster programs that have seen savings in recent months. Foster parents are unlikely to see any change in their reimbursements.

Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday

As the summer comes to a close, families now turn their attention to the annual tradition of getting their kids ready to go back to school. For parents, this means buying new school supplies, electronic devices, and clothes to get their children ready for the classroom. To help with this process, Missouri has a three-day back-to-school tax holiday that exempts everything from school supplies to computers from sales tax.

Approved by the legislature in 2003, the three-day period allows parents to buy school-related items such as clothing, school supplies and computers without having to pay the state sales tax of 4.225 percent. In some cases, local municipalities have also chosen to honor the holiday, which means parents in these areas will be able to forego local sales tax as well. For a complete list of the cities and counties that have chosen not to participate, please use the following link: http://dor.mo.gov/business/sales/taxholiday/school/

This is a great way for Missourians to stretch their dollars by making the cost of going back to school a little more affordable. Parents are encouraged to take advantage of the holiday that begins Friday, Aug. 4 at 12:01 a.m. and runs through Sunday, Aug. 6. It’s important to note that the school supply tax exemption has a limit of $50 per purchase, while the clothing exemption has a $100 limit and the personal computer tax exemption has a limit of $1,500. For more information, please visit: http://dor.mo.gov/business/sales/taxholiday/school/consumers.php

Truly Agreed To & Finally Passed Bills

Now that both the regular and first special legislative sessions have come to an end, the legislature stands at a little over 75 bills that have been Truly Agreed to and Finally Passed (TAFP). These bills now await the Governor’s approval or veto. These TAFP bills span a variety of topics. Below is a brief summary of a few more TAFP bills. As promised, more TAFP bill summaries will follow in the weeks to come.

SB 52 (Signed by Governor: 7/7) – Creates several provisions relating to suicide awareness and prevention

This act requires each public institution of higher education to develop and implement a policy to advise students and staff on suicide prevention programs available on and off campus that includes, but is not limited to crisis intervention access, mental health program access, multimedia application access, student communication plans, and post intervention plans. Such policy shall also advise students, faculty, and staff of the proper procedures for identifying and addressing the needs of students exhibiting suicidal tendencies or behavior, and shall require training where appropriate.

SB 64 (Signed by Governor: 7/11) – Gives designation to certain infrastructure

This act designates memorial highways and bridges in Missouri.

SB 65 (Vetoed by Governor: 7/14) – Exempts vessels propelled by outboard jet motors and vessels not originally manufactured with adequate guards or railing from the provisions prohibiting passengers from riding in certain areas of a boat

This act exempts vessels propelled by outboard jet motors and vessels not originally manufactured with adequate guards or railing from the provisions prohibiting passengers from riding in certain areas of a boat.

SB 66 (Signed by Governor: 7/5) – Modifies provisions of law relating to workers’ compensation

This act authorizes, beginning January 1, 2018, a shareholder of an S corporation with at least 40% or more interest in the S corporation to individually elect to reject coverage under the workers’ compensation laws by providing a written notice of the rejection to the S corporation and its insurer. Failure to provide notice to the S corporation shall not be grounds for any shareholder to claim that the rejection is not legally effective. The shareholder may rescind the rejection in writing to the S corporation and its insurer. The rescission shall entitle the shareholder only to the benefits which accrue on or after the date of the notice of rescission is received by the insurance company.

Moreover, this act states if an employee voluntarily separates from employment at a time when the employer made work available for the employee which was in compliance with any medical restriction imposed upon the employee as a result of an injury that is the subject of a claim for benefits under workers’ compensation, neither temporary total disability nor temporary partial disability benefits shall be payable to the employee. Among other provisions, SB 66 also, changes laws regarding discharge and discrimination. Under current law, no employer or agent shall discharge or in any way discriminate against any employee for exercising any of his or her rights under workers’ compensation statutes. This act modifies that provision so that no employer or agent shall discharge or discriminate against any employee when the exercising of such rights is the motivating factor in the discharge or discrimination.

SB 88 (Signed by Governor: 6/30) – Establishes a two year statute of limitation for claims of malpractice or negligence against veterinarians

This act provides that malpractice actions against veterinarians or entities providing veterinary services for damages shall be brought within two years from the date of the occurrence of the act.

SB 95 (Signed by Governor: 7/7) – Extends the expiration dates on certain provisions relating to public funds

Under current law, a provision allowing counties to decrease their annual budgets expired on July 1, 2016. This act extends the expiration date to July 1, 2027. Also, under current law, provisions allowing the Secretary of State to collect an additional $5 fee credited to the State’s technology trust fund for filings relating to business organizations, commercial transactions, and trademarks, names, and private emblems are set to expire on December 31, 2017. This act extends these expiration dates to December 31, 2021.

 

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 415-B, 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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