The month of November has ended and December is finally here. The countdown to the start of the 2014 Legislative session has begun. Typically a November in off election year is typically a slow on the political front. This November was no exception to the norm and has been rather quiet.

December 2 marked the beginning of bill pre-filing for the 2014 legislative session. Typically, a couple hundred bills will be pre-filed; however, once session begins and before bill filing is finished there will likely be close to 2000 bills filed.

The 2014 Legislative Session is less than a month away. Session convenes on Wednesday, January 8, 2014. It is predicted that this year will be a slow year relating to legislative movement and few bills are predicted to pass. The reason for this prediction is typically there are far fewer pieces of legislation passed in an election year. In addition, many of the legislative topics which have been discussed in the off session are extremely controversial including Medicaid transformation and Medicaid expansion.

The Senate Republican Caucus met in mid-November to try to determine what their upcoming legislative priorities would be. Many topics were brought up during the republican caucus including education reform, gun laws, Medicaid reform and expansion, ethics reform, tax credit reform, and transportation tax/bond initiatives just to name a few. At this juncture, there is still no clear consensus on what the Senate Republicans will publicly determine to be their priorities.

We have been working hard on your behalf to prepare for the upcoming legislative session. We have worked with our bill sponsor and legislative research and developed better language for our additional insured or “risk transfer” bill. We should be in a position to file the bill during bill pre-filing in December.

In addition our bill is ready to be filed relating to retention laws on public projects. The bill will be similar to the final version of the bill last year which would limit retention on public projects over $50,000 to 5% when a bond is required. Public projects below $50,000 would allow retention to be held up to 10% without a bond.

Upon substantial completion an owner must release all but 2% of retention, unless substantial completion is disputed in writing to the subcontractor within 15 days of request for payment.

Finally, we should have language finalized soon and ready to file that would state in statute what constitutes a final lien waiver. Other issues receiving a lot of attention in November were several initiative petitions filed with the Secretary of State’s Office this fall. Once language is approved by the Secretary of State for an initiative petition it must receive certain number of signatures statewide before being put on the ballot at the next General Election. This fall there were two initiative petitions worth mentioning.

The first would put to the vote of the people of Missouri whether or not to increase the state sales tax for the next 10 years to rebuild a 200 mile stretch of I-70 and fix hundreds of bridges, off-ramps and smaller highways around the state. If passed the measure is estimated to bring over $8 billion in additional infrastructure funding and approximately 270,000 construction jobs over the next decade. The second is an ethics reform initiative. The legislature has been unable to reform the State’s ethics laws. Some of the changes being proposed in the initiative petitions are campaign contribution limits, gifts to legislators, restrictions on who can contribute to certain PAC’s and places a “cooling off” period before a legislator can lobby after ending his or her service as a legislator. Again, these initiative petitions must receive enough signatures supporting the initiative statewide before it can be placed on the November 2014 ballot.

As always please contact me if you have any questions regarding anything happening in the political world. As a reminder, my weekly legislative reports will begin again after the start of the 2014 legislative session. Please contact Susan Winkelmann to make sure you are on the e-mail list to receive these weekly updates which will begin the second Friday in January. I would like to wish everyone a safe and Happy Holiday season!

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