The Capitol Report | April 26th, 2018

Veteran Homes Receive New Grants

Earlier this week, it was announced that the Missouri Veterans Commission has secured a total of over $25 million from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for construction projects and improvements at the veterans homes in Cape Girardeau, St. James, and St. Louis. These grants will accelerate improvements already underway with the Missouri Veterans Home system. Construction projects are currently ongoing with exclusively state funds at homes in Cape Girardeau, Mexico, St. Louis, and Warrensburg.

Also, the House and Senate took major steps this week toward the completion of the Fiscal Year 2019 state operating budget. Both chambers must reach an agreement on the spending plan by May 11. The House sent its version of the budget to the Senate at the end of March. The Senate then approved its version of the budget and sent it to the House this week. On Thursday, the House approved motions to send the majority of the appropriations bills to conference committees where lead negotiators from both sides will meet to iron out differences between the two chambers.

As the bills head to conference, one of the primary differences each side will work through concerns funding for K-12 education. The version of the budget approved by the House provided full funding for the school foundation formula. The House plan boosted funding for the formula by $98.9 million. The Senate’s version of the spending plan reduces that funding by $50 million and redirects some of the savings to other areas of the budgets. The Senate plan would instead increase K-12 transportation funding by $25 million, as well as provide additional funding for nursing home services.

Once the Senate agrees to meet in conference with the House, members will work through their differences to reach a compromise version of the budget that can receive final approval from both chambers.

Last week, the House approved an important piece of legislation that would provide additional support to members of the National Guard and the state’s veterans. While the bill started as an expansion of the military income tax deduction, House members added a few amendments that expanded the scope of the bill.

One of the amendments added to the bill would allow veteran-owned small businesses to participate in the Missouri Linked Deposit Program. It would also require eligible lending institutions to give priority to veteran-owned small businesses when considering which eligible small businesses should receive reduced-rate loans. The change is meant to provide veterans with an opportunity to start their own business and contribute to the state’s economy.

The numerous changes made by the House were then sent back to the Senate, which promptly moved to agree to all of the changes and give the bill final passage. With the Senate’s approval, the bill now awaits the signatures of both the House Speaker and the Senate President Pro Tem before moving to the governor for his consideration.

If you ever have questions, comments, or concerns, please call my office at 573-751-1688 or email me at: jason.chipman@house.mo.gov

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

 

 

 

House Approves Legislation to Improve Well-Being of Foster Care Children (HCB 11)

This week the House approved a wide-ranging bill meant to make life better for children who are in, and who leave, foster care in the state.

House Speaker Todd Richardson in January created the Special Committee to Improve the Care and Well-Being of Young People, to focus on improving the state’s child welfare system. The Department of Social Services is responsible for nearly 13,000 children this year.

The legislation approved by the House is a combination of provisions originally found in 11 separate bills. Several of the things in the bill are fixes that could have significant, positive impacts on foster children who have been described as “falling through the cracks.”

One portion of the bill would enable investigations of abuse of children in foster care in Missouri when it happens outside of the state. Current law prevents Missouri Social Services workers from investigating reports of abuse of children in foster care in Missouri if it doesn’t happen in Missouri, and prevents them from communicating with counterparts in other states about abuse or potential abuse. The sponsor of the provision said it would remove those barriers and fix what he called a “bureaucratic technicality.”

Another portion of HCB 11 would update background checks on foster families so that the Children’s Division would know immediately if a foster parent is charged with a crime that would disqualify him or her from being a foster parent. Current law only allows checks every two years. The bill would allow the Department of Social Services to utilize the RAPBACK program. Use of the program would provide a faster update if a foster care parent or someone who resides in the home has been charged with a crime. The sponsor of the provision said it’s important to make sure that foster children are in the safest environment possible.

Among several other provisions, the legislation would also expand assessment and treatment services for children in foster care. It would require such services for all children in foster care – currently it is required only for those under the age of ten – and would require that those services be completed in accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ periodicity schedule. Currently children are screened every two years. The goal with the provision is to ensure that children in foster care receive more appropriate care and comprehensive screenings that will in turn save the state money by catching medical conditions earlier and aiding in preventative care.

The bill now heads to the Senate for discussion.

House Works for Compromise with Senate on State Operating Budget

The House and Senate took major steps this week toward the completion of the Fiscal Year 2019 state operating budget. Both chambers must reach an agreement on the spending plan by May 11. The House sent its version of the budget to the Senate at the end of March. The Senate then approved its version of the budget and sent it to the House this week. On Thursday, the House approved motions to send the majority of the appropriations bills to conference committees where lead negotiators from both sides will meet to iron out differences between the two chambers.

As the bills head to conference, one of the primary differences each side will work through concerns funding for K-12 education. The version of the budget approved by the House provided full funding for the school foundation formula. The House plan boosted funding for the formula by $98.9 million. The Senate’s version of the spending plan reduces that funding by $50 million and redirects some of the savings to other areas of the budgets. The Senate plan would instead increase K-12 transportation funding by $25 million, as well as provide additional funding for nursing home services.

Once the Senate agrees to meet in conference with the House, members will work through their differences to reach a compromise version of the budget that can receive final approval from both chambers.

General Assembly Gives Final Approval to Legislation to Support Veterans (SB 573)

Last week the House approved an important piece of legislation that would provide additional support to members of the National Guard and the state’s veterans. While the bill started as an expansion of the military income tax deduction, House members added several amendments during floor debate that greatly expanded the scope of the bill.

The original intent of the legislation was to allow members of the National Guard or reserve components of the Armed Forces of the United States to deduct their military income from their Missouri adjusted gross income to determine their Missouri taxable income. Supporters said the expansion shows support for members of the National Guard and for the military installations and operations in the state.

One of the amendments added on the House floor would allow private nonpublic employers to grant preference to a veteran, the spouse of a disabled veteran with a service-connected disability, or a surviving spouse of a deceased veteran, when hiring and promoting employees. The goal of the change is to make it clear that private businesses can give preferential hiring treatment to veterans in the same way that both the state and federal government do. This will make things easier for businesses that want to give a hiring preference to veterans but are worried about violating employment laws. The bill would not require private businesses to do anything, and would simply clarify that they can legally give a preference to veterans should they want to.

Another amendment added on the House floor would require all state buildings to display the POW/MIA flag. The act would also require the Board of Public Buildings to reach out to local veterans organizations to obtain a donated flag if a state building does not possess a flag. Supporters say the change is an inexpensive and easy way for the state to show its appreciation for those who fought for freedom and remind citizens that they cannot forget the service members who are prisoners of war or missing in action.

Also added to the bill was an amendment that would allow veteran-owned small businesses to participate in the Missouri Linked Deposit Program. It would also require eligible lending institutions to give priority to veteran-owned small businesses when considering which eligible small businesses should receive reduced-rate loans. The change is meant to provide veterans with an opportunity to start their own business and contribute to the state’s economy.

Other changes made in the House would extend the period of assistance in the Show-Me Heroes Program from one year to five years following discharge; establish the Veterans’ Bill of Rights; and establish the Missouri Military Community Reinvestment Program Act to assist military communities in supporting and sustaining their installations.

The numerous changes made by the House were then sent back to the Senate, which promptly moved to agree to all of the changes and give the bill final passage. With the Senate’s approval, the bill now awaits the signatures of both the House Speaker and the Senate President Pro Tem before moving to the governor for his consideration.

Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed Bills

SB 593 would require insurers to provide the Director of the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration with a Corporate Governance Annual Disclosure (CGAD). The summary would contain an insurer or insurance group’s corporate governance structure, policies, and practices so that the director can gain an understanding of the corporate governance framework. Supporters say that the bill is a model act from the NAIC and will make reporting consistent across the board and is needed for company accreditation in this state. They say the bill is needed to be compliant with the act.

SB 594 would exempt certain lines and endorsements of commercial insurance from requirements to file rates, rate plans, modifications, and manuals with the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions, and Professional Registration, and specifies that filings for other commercial lines and endorsements shall be filed for informational purposes within 10 days of their use. Supporters say the policies are larger premium, highly complex commercial insurance policies and the regulations need to be updated and modernized.

Bills Headed to the Senate

HB 2017 would appropriate money for capital improvement and other purposes for several departments of state government.

HB 2018 would appropriate money for purposes for several departments and offices of state government; for projects involving the maintenance, repair, replacement, and improvement of state buildings and facilities.

HB 1999 would enable water corporations with more than 8,000 Missouri customers to apply to the Public Service Commission for an interim rate change outside of a general rate proceeding to ensure that revenue requirements are met. The bill would also require water corporations with more than 1,000 Missouri customers to develop a qualification process for the competitive bidding of contractors seeking construction contracts for distribution system projects. Supporters say the bill would enable water companies to be more flexible in their rate making by pursuing rate decoupling, while maintaining Public Service Commission oversight. They say annual true-up review of water rates will support infrastructure development and deployment.

HB 1289 would modify provisions for ballot initiatives and referendums. It would require an initial $500 filing fee for each referendum petition sample sheet with an additional $10 fee for each page over a 10 page limit. It would also authorize the Secretary of State’s office and the office of the Attorney General to reject petitions on the basis of noncompliance with the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of Missouri. Supporters say Missouri is one of the few states that allow initiative petitions and we have to get them under control. They say the bill is trying to stop frivolous petitions.

HCB 16 would change the laws relating to agriculture. Some of the provisions in the bill would change the property tax assessment value of reliever airports to equal the value such land has for agricultural or horticultural use and exempts reliever airports from the allocation of classifications when the property has multiple uses; prohibit the State Tax Commission from promulgating a rule that increases agricultural land productive values more than 2% over the current values in effect prior to the rule promulgation or 8% above the lowest value in effect in any of the 10 years prior to the rule promulgation; and prohibit any political subdivision from adopting or enforcing any ordinance, rule, or regulation relating to the labeling cultivation, or other use of seed or fertilizers.

HCB 14 would designate highway names for portions of several highways in Missouri. It would designate the portion of U.S. Highway 63 from March Road in Adair County continuing north to State Highway Y in Schuyler County as the “Bluegrass Queen Rhonda Vincent Highway;” the portion of State Highway 45 Spur from State Highway 45 continuing north to State Highway 92 in Platte County as the “Deputy Edward Culver Memorial Highway;” the portion of State Highway 30 from State Highway 21 continuing east to State Highway P in St. Louis County as the “Officer Blake Snyder Memorial Highway;” the portion of Interstate 44 from State Highway 360 west to State Highway PP in Greene County as the “Captain Aaron J. Eidem Memorial Highway;” the portion of State Highway P from Dove Nest Lane continuing east to State Highway M in St. Charles County as the “Waylon Jennings Memorial Highway;” the portion of U.S. Highway 61 from State Highway Z continuing south to Grant City Drive in Scott County as the “Otto Lee Porter Highway;” the portion of U.S. Highway 61 from County Road 428 continuing south to State Highway Z in Scott County as the “Elnora Timmons Porter Highway;” a portion of Interstate 70 in Boone County as the “Highway Patrol Sgt. Benjamin Booth Memorial Highway;” a portion of Interstate 70 in Boone County as the “Sheriff Roger I. Wilson Memorial Highway;” and a portion of State Highway 42 in Maries County and the city of Vienna as the “PFC Ralph A. Branson, Jr. Memorial Highway.”

HCR 96 would designate May as “Move Over and Slow Down Awareness Month.” The awareness month would encourage the citizens of this state to remember the “Move Over or Slow Down” law when approaching a Missouri State Highway Patrol and other law enforcement vehicles, emergency vehicles, and Department of Transportation and Department of Public Safety emergency response or motorist assist vehicles when displaying emergency lights or flashing amber and white lights and parked or stopped on the side of the road.

Capitol Visit

MO Head Start Jaclyn Brown Lesley DeasonI enjoyed visiting with Jaclyn Brown and my cousin Lesley Deason who were at the Capitol this week with the Missouri Head Start Association. Head Start is a national child development program for children from birth to age 5, which provides services to promote academic, social and emotional development, as well as providing social, health and nutrition services for income-eligible families.

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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