Hello Friends and Family,
As the State began to open for business, we returned to the State Capitol building to finish work for the 2020 legislative session. While the normal schedule of session was disrupted for several weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to get several bills across the finish line including a fiscally responsible state operating budget, important workforce development legislation, much-needed reforms for the State’s foster care system, protections for victims of sexual assault, and new tools to combat drug trafficking.
Some of the key pieces of legislation given final approval by the General Assembly include:
Universal License Recognition (HB 2046) – The legislation will allow professionals moving to Missouri to continue working in their professions without delay. Currently, individuals licensed in other states must get relicensed in order to work in Missouri, which requires additional tests, training, and a long wait for approval. This provision will allow professionals already licensed in other states to come to Missouri and enter the workforce. The bill also includes the most expansive license reciprocity in the country for military families.
Expanded Workforce Act (HB 2046) – The act will expand Missouri’s recognition of apprenticeships as a path to licensure and work. It will allow apprentices to obtain industry licenses as part of an apprenticeship.
Protecting Children (HB 1414) – The General Assembly passed legislation to make much-needed improvements to the state’s foster care system. The legislation puts in place a comprehensive risk-assessment tool for social workers that will help them determine whether children should stay in the home or be removed. It also works to spare foster children from the hardship of having to appear in court unless the judge and family support team feel it is in the best interests of the child.
Combating Drug Trafficking (HB 1896) – The bill would increase penalties for trafficking the dangerous drug fentanyl. The bill would make it a Class B felony to knowingly distribute, make or attempt to distribute or make, more than 10 milligrams of fentanyl or its derivatives. Making or distributing 20 or more milligrams would be a Class A felony. The legislation increases penalties for trafficking one gram or more of Rohypnol or any amount of GHB. The bill includes offenses for possessing and purchasing the drugs.
Vaping Ban for Schools (HB 1682) – The General Assembly approved legislation to ban vaping in public schools.
Mail-In Voting (SB 631) – General Assembly approved legislation that allows voting by mail for the 2020 elections. The bill expands the absentee ballot system to allow absentee ballots for those who are in an at-risk category for contracting or transmitting COVID-19. The bill also allows any registered voter to cast a mail-in ballot during 2020. Voters would request a mail-in ballot from their local election authority. Voters using the mail-in ballot option would need to have their ballot notarized.
Property Tax Fairness (SB 676) – The legislation would protect Missourians from being blindsided with dramatic property assessment increases. The bill is meant to provide citizens with a reasonable timetable to appeal increases in assessed value. The bill requires county assessors to conduct a physical inspection of real estate prior to increasing a property’s assessment more than 15 percent. It also shifts the burden of establishing higher property values to assessors.
Income Tax Exemption for Stimulus Payments (SB 676) – Legislation meant to protect Missourians’ stimulus payments from state income tax. The change would enact a similar policy for Missouri tax law.
Ethics and Redistricting Reform (SJR 38) – This proposed constitutional amendment will allow voters to decide if they want to strengthen ethics reforms that were passed in 2018, and create a redistricting plan that is designed to keep communities intact. The change to the state constitution would ban all lobbyist gifts and create stricter campaign contribution limits for state Senate candidates. The plan would authorize the existing Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commissions to prepare new redistricting plans for the state Senate and House.
Expanding Access to Broadband (HB 1768) – A bill approved during the 2020 legislative session is meant to bring access to broadband internet to the nearly 1 million Missourians who do not have it. Additionally, it expands the sunset on the Missouri broadband fund until 2027, and the sunset for deploying 5G until 2025.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me. As always it is a pleasure and honor to be of service to you. Please contact me at: 201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 118CA, Jefferson City, MO 65101-6806; phone 573-751-2042 email: [email protected]