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2016 Legislative Session Comes to a Close

 

 

Productive 2016 Legislative Session Comes to a Close

After more than four months of hard work, late nights and lengthy discussions, the Missouri House of Representatives concluded the 2016 legislative session with a long list of accomplishments. The session began with a focus on substantive ethics reform, and the legislature pushed several measures across the legislative finish line that will help to improve the culture at the State Capitol. The House and Senate also worked together to approve a fiscally responsible spending plan that makes a record investment in K-12 education, significantly boosts funding for Missouri’s colleges and universities, and provides new spending to help improve and repair the state’s transportation infrastructure.

 

In addition to ethics reform and the state spending plan, the legislature moved to protect the integrity of the elections process by implementing a system of voter identification, and approved legislation to root out waste, fraud, and abuse in the state’s welfare programs. Lawmakers also adopted several economic development measures to reduce bureaucratic red tape for Missouri’s small businesses, and invest in Missouri’s system of ports. Additionally, the legislature passed bills addressing issues ranging from suicide prevention to CPR instruction to tax relief for active duty members of the military.

 

With the completion of the regular session, the many bills passed by the General Assembly now head to the governor for his consideration. Legislators will next return to the State Capitol in September for the annual Veto Session when they will have the opportunity to consider overriding any vetoes made by the governor.

I've listed several below but will send out an "End of Session" report that you will receive via mail.  Too many to list in this report!

 

Strengthening Second Amendment Rights (SB 656)

The Missouri General Assembly advanced legislation this session to strengthen the gun rights of law-abiding Missourians. The bill will allow Missourians to carry a concealed weapon without the need for a permit. Commonly referred to as constitutional carry, the bill would allow any person to carry a concealed firearm anywhere that isn’t expressly prohibited by law. The bill is meant to build on the constitutional change made by Missouri citizens in 2014 that allows Missourians the right to permit-less carry.

 

The bill also ensures that individuals who do want to obtain a five-year concealed carry permit will not be charged a fee in excess of $100. The bill specifically prohibits additional fees that may be charged, including any fee for fingerprinting or criminal background check. Additionally, the bill will allow Missouri citizens to obtain 10-year, 25-year, or lifetime permits for $200, $250, and $500 respectively.

 

The legislation also contains a provision commonly referred to as “Stand Your Ground” law. The measure removes the requirement that a person who is any place they are legally allowed to be can use force without retreating first. The bill also expands the state’s castle doctrine law. Current statute allows individuals to use deadly force to defend themselves and their property against intruders. The bill approved by lawmakers will extend the protection against lawsuits to house guests who use deadly force. 

 Famous end of session paper toss!  2016

 

This is the famous end of session paper toss!  I didn't get to participate this year, as I had to leave a couple hours early due to family duties.  Fun photo showing the beauty of the House chamber and the end of the legislative session.

 

Ethics Reform - Changing the Culture in Jefferson City

  • HB 1979 – Revolving Door Ban.  Requires a waiting period for elected officials seeking to become lobbyists after leaving office.
  • HB 1983 – Ban on Elected Paid Political Consultants. Prevents elected officials from working as paid political consultants.
  • HB 2203 – Limits the investment of campaign funds and prohibits anyone from working as a lobbyist while they have an active campaign account.

 

Voter ID (HB 1631 and HJR 53)

 

The House and Senate reached final agreement on two measures designed to require a valid form of photo identification in order to vote. One is a proposed constitutional amendment that will go on the November ballot for voter approval. The other is a statutory change that is now on the governor’s desk for his consideration.

 

HJR 53 will allow voters to decide if the Missouri Constitution should be changed to allow a system of voter identification. If approved by voters, HB 1631 would then implement the system of voter identification. The bill would require voters to present a specified form of identification in order to vote in a public election. Valid forms of identification would include photo IDs issued by the state, the federal government or the military. The bill also would require the state to pay for individuals to obtain a valid ID if they do not have one, or to obtain documents necessary for an ID. Additionally, the final version of the HB 1631 contains a provision that would allow a voter without a valid photo ID to vote with a regular ballot by showing another form of identification.

Big Government Get Off My Back Act (HB 1870)

The General Assembly approved legislation meant to cut the bureaucratic red tape that too often stifles the growth of small businesses in Missouri. The bill revives the Big Government Get Off My Back Act for tax years 2016 through 2021.

 

The act originally ran from 2009 to 2014 and was instrumental in prohibiting new rules and regulations on small businesses, as well as unnecessary fee increases. The act also gives a $10,000 tax deduction for any small business, with 50 employees or less, that hires additional employees and pays them at least the average county wage. A business can claim a $20,000 deduction if it also pays for at least half of its employees’ health insurance premiums.

 

In its final year in 2014, the act provided tax relief to 196 small businesses throughout Missouri. Supporters hope to provide assistance to even more businesses by reviving the program.

Welfare Reform (SB 607)

As you know welfare reform is one of the things in government that I'm quite passionate about.  I feel we must continually work on this program to ensure that we are helping those who truly need it, but by helping I mean to get to a point of standing on your own two feet through education and job training.  Simple hand-outs only prevent recipients from being able to see and obtain their true potential.  Over the years government has actually hurt people with the way they have tried to help.  

Legislation is now on its way to the governor’s desk to allow the state to more efficiently and proficiently verify applicants and recipients of welfare services. The bill will allow the Missouri Department of Social Services to hire an outside vendor to conduct the verification process for applicants for the state’s various welfare programs such as the supplemental nutrition assistance program, temporary assistance for needy families, child care assistance, and MO HealthNet. The bill is meant to help the department ensure accuracy in the welfare rolls, which is a process it has admittedly fallen behind in performing. The bill has the added benefit of possibly saving the state more than $20 million over the next three years by eliminating waste and fraud from the system.

 

The legislation also creates the Joint Committee on Public Assistance to study, monitor, and review the efficacy of Missouri’s public assistance programs. The committee will also determine the level and adequacy of resources needed for the state’s programs, and develop recommendations on the public assistance programs and on promoting independence from safety net programs.

 

 

Suffering Some Set-Backs

Two of the pieces of legislation that I sponsored, and you heard the most about, were Paycheck Protection and The Narcotics Control Act.  Both died the second to the last day of session.

Paycheck Protection was veto'd by the Governor and returned for an in-session over-ride.  This bill is vehemently opposed by the unions as it would make the union bosses work to provide a service to their members.  The House successfully completed the over-ride with no room to spare.  The Senate went to it Wednesday night and after a few hours voted around 12:30 am and came up one vote short of the number needed.  

We will continue to work to revamp Missouri's antiquated labor laws.  We lost this battle, but it is too important to give-up on.  Unions continue to shrink in Missouri and they don't seem to understand when you do the same thing over and over you cannot expect different results.  In the meantime our factories will continue to close and our jobs will continue to go to states with better labor laws.  What you can do right now is help me work to get a governor that will sign labor law reform bills.  An over-ride isn't necessary when you have a governor that will work with the legislature and pass laws that increase business in the state - union and non-union jobs.  We need them all.  Right now we get neither.

The Narcotics Control Act as you know would implement a prescription monitoring program in Missouri as in all the other states.  Right now Missouri medical professionals cannot see what medications another doctor has their patient taking.  We have forced our doctors to be investigators, therefore those with chronic pain have a harder time obtaining their medication and those with addictions are not noticed until social services, law enforcement or desperate family members get involved. I was very hopeful this would be the session that we would get this life-saving piece of legislation over the finish line.  I'm so very disappointed that is not the case.  However, giving up is not within me.  

I am so pleased that St. Louis County has passed an ordinance to have a prescription drug monitoring program within their county and other surrounding counties are working to join in.  We will have prescription drug monitoring programs in Missouri.     

 

 

One thing is always certain, God's love for us.  He knows our hearts and is always present.  With The Narcotics Control Act dying on Thursday, and Paycheck Protection, I woke up Friday morning with a heavy heart.

However, it was Kayden's first time to come to the Capitol!  He has waited patiently for years now to see where I worked.  In this photo Kayden is standing with me during our opening prayer.  He was a bit overwhelmed at first but it certainly made my heart smile to have him next to me.

 

Thank you for allowing me to represent you.  Always know I don't take it lightly and I put my whole heart into it.      

Please share with your friends and encourage them to sign up for our reports.  Stop by or contact us anytime by calling (573) 751-5471 or via email at holly.rehder@house.mo.gov or lynn.overton@house.mo.gov.   

Kindest regards,

 

 

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