The Capitol Report | December 28th, 2017

2017 Year In Review

As Missourians prepare to welcome in the New Year, the General Assembly is gearing up for the start of the 2018 legislative session. While the new session will bring with it a number of legislative priorities that are important to Missouri families and businesses, it’s important to remember the 2017 session was a highly productive one with several major wins for the state.

One of the biggest highlights of the 2017 session is a fiscally responsible state spending plan that makes a record level of investment in K-12 education by fully funding the Foundation Formula for the first time. The legislature was also able to get a Right-to-Work bill to the governor that is meant to protect the rights of workers and encourage job creators to set up shop in the state. The new law is currently on hold because of a ballot initiative that voters will have the opportunity to vote on in 2018 to determine if Right-to-Work is right for Missouri.

Also during the 2017 session, the legislature approved tort reform bills to put an end to frivolous lawsuits by putting new expert witness standards in place, and strengthening Missouri’s workplace discrimination standards. Another major accomplishment for the legislature in 2017 was the passage of legislation that establishes a regulatory framework for ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft so they can expand and create jobs throughout Missouri. Also, Missourians will now show a valid photo ID at the polling place to ensure they are who they say they are when voting.

The 2017 session also saw lawmakers approve legislation to allow Missourians to obtain a photo ID that is compliant with the federal REAL ID Act. And while the regular legislative session ended in May, several pressing issues brought legislators back for additional work during the summer months. The governor called lawmakers in for not one, but two, extraordinary sessions to consider policy changes that needed attention.

After successfully wrapping up the extraordinary sessions, lawmakers transitioned their efforts to the committee work that is a normal part of the interim period. In an effort to address Missouri’s crumbling roads and bridges, a group of lawmakers and civilians worked together to develop recommendations to repair the state’s aging transportation infrastructure. In 2017 the House Speaker also formed a group of lawmakers to look at the direction health care should take in Missouri.

New Year2017 brought with it many important moments for the legislature and for the people of Missouri. Lawmakers now turn their attention to the 2018 session, which promises to have several big ticket issues on the agenda. In the months to come legislators will look to pass substantive ethics reform, approve measures to cut bureaucratic red tape and lessen the regulatory burden on families and businesses, and advance policy changes that will provide more educational opportunities to young people in all parts of the state. The 2018 legislative session begins Jan. 3.

Have a happy and safe New Year!

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

 

 

 

2017 Year In Review

As Missourians prepare to welcome in the New Year, the General Assembly is gearing up for the start of the 2018 legislative session. While the new session will bring with it a number of legislative priorities that are important to Missouri families and businesses, it’s important to remember the 2017 session was a highly productive one with several major wins for the state.

One of the biggest highlights of the 2017 session is a fiscally responsible state spending plan that makes a record level of investment in K-12 education by fully funding the Foundation Formula for the first time. The legislature was also able to get a Right-to-Work bill to the governor that is meant to protect the rights of workers and encourage job creators to set up shop in the state. The new law is currently on hold because of a ballot initiative that voters will have the opportunity to vote on in 2018 to determine if Right-to-Work is right for Missouri.

Also during the 2017 session, the legislature approved tort reform bills to put an end to frivolous lawsuits by putting new expert witness standards in place, and strengthening Missouri’s workplace discrimination standards. Another major accomplishment for the legislature in 2017 was the passage of legislation that establishes a regulatory framework for ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft so they can expand and create jobs throughout Missouri.

Another major development in 2017 was the institution of a photo ID requirement for voting in Missouri. It was in November of 2016 that Missouri voters overwhelmingly supported a system of photo Voter ID meant to protect the integrity of the elections process. The legislation approved by the General Assembly, which serves as a companion piece to the voter-approved constitutional change, officially went into effect June 1. Now, Missourians will show a valid photo ID at the polling place to ensure they are who they say they are when voting.

The 2017 session also saw lawmakers approve legislation to allow Missourians to obtain a photo ID that is compliant with the federal REAL ID Act. Missourians were in danger of being unable to fly domestically or visit federal facilities with their current IDs because they are not compliant. However, with the passage of the bill, the federal government has now granted the state a waiver that will allow Missourians to travel with their existing IDs until Oct. 10 of 2018. The state will not have the new compliant IDs available until March of 2019, which means Missouri will eventually seek another waiver to allow residents to use their existing IDs to fly or visit military bases until the new IDs are in place.

While the regular legislative session ended in May, several pressing issues brought legislators back for additional work during the summer months. The governor called lawmakers in for not one, but two, extraordinary sessions to consider policy changes that needed attention.

The first extraordinary session moved quickly and efficiently as the House and Senate worked to get a jobs bill across the legislative finish line in a matter of days. The General Assembly approved legislation meant to bring 500 good-paying jobs to Southeast Missouri.The legislation approved by the General Assembly allows the Missouri Public Service Commission to consider lower utility rates for a longer contract of service for companies that use tremendous amounts of electricity.

The second extraordinary session called by the governor saw legislators work to better ensure the health and safety of women by putting common sense safety requirements in place for abortion clinics. The bill approved by the House and Senate also protects pregnancy resource centers from a city ordinance the governor says has made St. Louis an abortion sanctuary city.

After successfully wrapping up the extraordinary sessions, lawmakers transitioned their efforts to the committee work that is a normal part of the interim period. In an effort to address Missouri’s crumbling roads and bridges, a group of lawmakers and civilians worked together to develop recommendations to repair the state’s aging transportation infrastructure. The 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force was created by HCR 47 that was passed during the 2017 legislative session. The task force is set to reveal its recommendations as the 2018 session begins. The transportation funding issue was also considered by the House Policy Development Caucus, which also has a series of recommendations for adequately funding Missouri’s roads and bridges.

In 2017 the House Speaker also formed a group of lawmakers to look at the direction health care should take in Missouri.The Interim Committee on Stabilizing Missouri’s Health Insurance Markets was created for the purpose of gaining a better understanding of what changes at the federal level will mean to markets in the state. The committee has looked at how the rollback of the Affordable Care Act will alter the health insurance climate in Missouri, and worked to determine if Missouri should pursue a federal waiver to sidestep requirements of the ACA and allow the state to have greater flexibility and stability for the health insurance market.

A Task Force on Dyslexia completed its work in 2017 and released recommendations for having Missouri public school students screened for dyslexia. The task force’s report to legislative leaders and the governor recommends that all students in kindergarten through grade three be screened for dyslexia and related disorders beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

2017 brought with it many important moments for the legislature and for the people of Missouri. Lawmakers now turn their attention to the 2018 session, which promises to have several big ticket issues on the agenda. In the months to come legislators will look to pass substantive ethics reform, approve measures to cut bureaucratic red tape and lessen the regulatory burden on families and businesses, and advance policy changes that will provide more educational opportunities to young people in all parts of the state. The 2018 legislative session begins Jan. 3.

Missouri is Modernizing its Foster Care System

Last Friday, First Lady Sheena Greitens announced that Missouri is modernizing its foster care system by joining the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE). NEICE allows child welfare agencies to share Interstate Compact and the Placement of Children (ICPC) forms and information electronically.

“Red tape and bureaucracy shouldn’t keep kids in foster care from finding their “forever families.”

The first lady stated that, “If a family in Iowa or Illinois wants to adopt a child from Missouri foster care, or an aunt in Arkansas wants to become their guardian, the child shouldn’t have to wait in limbo for six months or a year until the paperwork gets done. But all too often, that’s exactly what happens. That’s why I’m delighted today to announce that Missouri is joining the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE). It’s designed to expedite the placement of children in safe, permanent families across state lines, and to reduce administrative paperwork and costs.”

NEICE takes a system that currently relies on photocopying and snail mail and puts that process online, cutting out unnecessary red tape and bureaucratic delays. A pilot study found that NEICE cut the time spent on paperwork for an interstate placement by 20% to 45%. As a result, children got to their forever families over a month faster.

Eventually, NEICE could also be used to facilitate inter-state cooperation on issues like child abuse investigations and combating human trafficking.

Treasurer Schmitt Asks Legislators to Allow Tax Relief in Upcoming Session

Last week, Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt sent a letter to all members of the Missouri General Assembly urging them to allow tax relief to take effect by not decoupling Missouri’s standard deduction from its federal counterpart.

The standard deduction, which makes a portion of a taxpayer’s income exempt from taxation, will nearly double under the federal tax reform bill passed by Congress yesterday. Since Missouri’s standard deduction is linked to the federal figure those changes will automatically carry through to the state tax code, barring legislative action.

“I sincerely believe letting Missourians keep more of their hard-earned money is always the right thing to do,” wrote Schmitt. “Allowing Missouri’s standard deduction to be nearly doubled is one way to achieve that goal, and I encourage you to remain steadfast in your opposition to any measure that would reverse or prevent that automatic change.”

The full text of the letter is available at: https://treasurer.mo.gov/docs/default-source/default-document-library/schmitt_letter_dec21.pdf

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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