Due to the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19 we have cancelled all in person ASA Midwest Council events thru July 31, 2020.
Click Here to Access Member Resources to help your company and family Stay Safe, During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

ASA Midwest Council is a construction trade association of specialty contractors and suppliers serving the construction industry and the community. Our purpose is to improve the construction process through education, advocacy, and collaboration.

Advocacy The ASA-PAC is the political action committee for the American Subcontractors Association. Its purpose is to raise funds to support candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives who are supportive of the interests of subcontractors. ASA-PAC provides an effective way for the members of ASA to leverage their resources and participate in a […]

June 2020 Lobbyist Report

The legislative session came to an end at 6:00 pm on May 15 and the halls of the Capitol are quiet again. In what was an historic session, the state Capitol sat empty for over a month due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The shortened session left little time for priority bills to work their way through the legislative process. Well over 2,000 bills and resolutions were filed by Senators and Representatives this year, but only 31 policy related bills were truly agreed and finally passed.

Once lawmakers returned to Jefferson City after the coronavirus shutdown, they had only three weeks to pass the budget and other priorities. Budget writers had to rethink their proposed spending plan for FY2021 because of the ongoing financial impact of COVID-19. They trimmed $700 million from their original proposal and warned that spending restrictions and withholds could be necessary as revenue numbers unfold throughout the year. The total of the spending plan for next year amounts to $35,291,459,657. General Revenue accounts for $10,011,743,473 of that amount, while $14,757,315,949 comes from Federal funds, and $10,522,400,235 comes from other funding sources.

Legislation that passed this year is now being reviewed by the Governor and his staff. Budget related bills must be signed or vetoed by June 30. He must take action on other legislation by July 14. Any bill signed into law will become effective on August 28 unless the measure contained a specific effective date or an emergency clause. Any bills vetoed by the Governor will be considered for an override by the legislature at the annual veto session in September.

Bills of interest to ASA that passed this session include HB2046 which deals with professional licensing in Missouri. The bill creates the “Expanded Workforce Access Act of 2020”, where licensing authorities are required to grant a license to any applicant that has completed the 8th grade, completed a federally approved apprenticeship program, and passed any necessary examination. The bill also establishes a procedure for professional licensing reciprocity for certain professionals licensed in other states.

SB591 also crossed the finish line. This legislation deals with civil actions and states that states that an unlawful merchandising practice shall not include any advertisement, merchandise, or transaction in which the merchandise consists of a new residence in a transaction in which the buyer is offered and accepts an express warranty in the sale contract by the builder or by a third party warranty paid for by the builder and the sale contract includes a disclaimer. The act defines “residence” as a single-family house, duplex, triplex, quadruplex, or unit in a multiunit residential structure in which the title to each individual unit is transferred to an owner under a condominium or cooperative system and includes common areas and common elements.

Now that the legislative session has ended, lawmakers will hit the campaign trail in full force. All 163 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election as are 17 of the 34 state Senate seats. The Primary Election will be held on August 4, with the winners squaring off in the General Election on November 3.

In the meantime, House and Senate leadership will be in discussions with the Governor regarding a possible special session(s). It is likely that the Governor will call lawmakers back to Jefferson City to address several policy issues such as the Wayfair tax and other economic development issues in addition to addressing the ongoing budget shortfall.

 

 

 

May 2020 Lobbyist Report

Just like the rest of the state and country, all the news coming out of Jefferson City in the past month has been COVID-19 related. The Capitol has been shut down except for the Governor’s daily coronavirus updates and the General Assembly’s brief return to approve the supplemental budget.

The approval of the supplemental budget was necessary to cover shortfalls in the current fiscal year as well as give spending authority to the Governor for expenditures related to the COVID-19 relief package. Most of the nearly $6.3 billion of coronavirus expense package comes from federal dollars, with the remainder made up of primarily state general revenue funds. The funding covers many areas, including assistance to cities and counties, personal protective equipment for first responders and healthcare workers, emergency food assistance, and mobilization of the National Guard.

The fallout from the pandemic has reached far and wide. Governor Mike Parson recently announced an additional $47 million in budget withholds for the current fiscal year. This is in addition to nearly $180 million in budget restrictions announced on April 1. Businesses are suffering, unemployment claims continue to roll in, and state, city and county governments are seeing budget shortfalls which may last for months or years to come.

There is, however, an end in sight to some of the COVID-19 related shut-down. The General Assembly has made tentative plans to return to Jefferson City on April 27 to complete the final three weeks of the legislative session. The only thing certain on the agenda will be to pass the FY2021 budget. It is unclear what other legislative priorities could be debated. Possibilities include an internet sales tax plan and a prescription drug monitoring database. Other bills could be brought to the House and Senate floor, but many details need to be worked out as debate time will be very limited due to the constitutionally mandated end of session date of May 15. There will likely be many restrictions in place as far as visitors entering the
Capitol, as legislators try to balance their legislative duties with public health concerns.

Governor Parson has also announced plans to work with local leaders in an effort to re-open businesses across the state. The Governor’s stay at home order expires on May 3, and he has stated that most service businesses will be allowed to open once again with certain guidelines. Parson spoke about giving beauticians and barbershops, restaurants and box stores “an opportunity to open.” He announced the “Show Me Strong” recovery plan and said the phased-in reopening of businesses would be decided by Missouri-specific public health data.

In non-legislative news, Attorney General Eric Schmitt is pointing a finger at China for their role in the COVID-19 pandemic. Schmitt is suing China, several Chinese government entities, the Chinese Communist Party, and two Chinese laboratories in U.S. District Court. Missouri becomes the first state to sue China, in what Schmitt says is a “campaign of deceit” in how the communist county has handled the virus. In a press release, Schmitt stated “the Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistle blowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease. They must be held accountable for their actions.” Some legal scholars say China is protected by sovereign immunity and Missouri will have a difficult time moving the lawsuit forward.

We will continue to provide legislative and political updates as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold. Thank you and stay safe and healthy! Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group.

 

April 2020 Lobbyist Report

The month of March has been unprecedented not only around the globe, but also in Missouri and within the halls of the Capitol. As everyone is now very aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually all aspects of everyday life. In Jefferson City, we have seen the legislative session come to a halt and the Capitol itself has been closed to all but essential employees. Multiple members of the House of Representatives and staff members are now in self-quarantine after the news that Representative Joe Runions (D-Jackson County), had been hospitalized in Kansas City and tested positive for the virus. Runions tested positive for coronavirus on March 20, and thus far is the only lawmaker to have fallen ill to the virus. His last day in the Capitol was March 12, and those who came into contact with him have been urged to take all necessary precautions. At last word, Runions was no longer on a ventilator, but remains hospitalized. In a statement released to media outlets, Runions said, “Although I remain hospitalized, I am getting better, but it will be a long recovery. The most important thing to me right now is for the doctors, nurses and hospitals in our state to get all of the support and supplies they need as they work to treat this illness. My doctors are deeply concerned that they could run out of vital supplies, especially the equipment they need to keep themselves safe while caring for patients. They also say expanded testing is needed to more quickly identify and treat those who have contracted COVID-19.”

Governor Mike Parson has been briefing reporters daily on the progression of the disease within the state, including the number of tests being done, and the distribution of supplies and equipment to health care workers and first responders. Thus far, Parson has enacted a “social distancing order”, which requires Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams to require social distancing statewide. The order prohibits gatherings of more than 10 persons and requires distancing of at least six feet between people. It was set to take effect Monday, March 23 and last until April 6.

Before the onset of the coronavirus, the legislature had been making slow, but steady progress on several bills of interest to ASA. HB1804, which streamlines the permitting process within the Department of Natural Resources has cleared the House and awaits consideration in the Senate. SB906 changes the structure of vehicle registration fees and would add nearly $47 million to the state road fund is set to be voted on in the Senate Transportation Committee. HB2550 and SB991, which are ASA’s priority bills dealing with the right to stop work for lack of payment are awaiting committee hearings. Other bills of interest including roofing contractor licensure, modifications to the amount paid by employers to unemployment compensation, and the right for an employer to refuse to accommodate medical marijuana in the workplace have also all made progress. However, the status of all legislation is now in question with the closure of the Capitol.

Although the legislative process has come to a halt, lawmakers must still formulate a plan on how they will pass a budget for fiscal year 2021. The General Assembly is mandated by the state constitution to pass a spending plan and the executive branch may not expend funds without authority from the legislature. As of the writing of this report, the budget has cleared the committee process in the House, but still faces debate on both the House and Senate floor before heading to the Governor. It is not clear if, when, or how leadership in the House and Senate plan to accommodate debate and voting on the state budget. It is also not clear what the General Assembly or the Governor intend to do with all other legislative agenda items. With no announced plan for the General Assembly to reconvene after their scheduled spring break, the possibility certainly exists for nothing but the budget to pass this year. However, as we have seen since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation changes daily.

We will continue to keep you informed on the status of the legislative session and politics in general in Jefferson City and around the state.  We appreciate the opportunity to represent you.
Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group.


 

March 2020 Lobbyist Report

The threat of winter storms shortened the legislative session several days in February; however, despite those unplanned days off, the 2020 legislative session is in full swing and about to reach its halfway point. Later this month, the legislature will break for its annual spring break upon adjournment March 19 and will resume on Monday, March 30.

ASA’s legislative priority has been filed by Senator Gina Walsh. SB991 allows for contractors, subcontractors and suppliers, upon seven days’ notice, the right to suspend work on a project if agreed upon payment terms are not met.  It also allows for work to be stopped without the danger of being held liable for breach of contract. Additionally, if work is stopped for non-payment, the bill provides for contracts affected by the stoppage to be extended equitably, and the contracted amount increased for the costs of demobilization, delay, and remobilization. Also, if payment is not received within 60 days of notice to suspend work on a project, a company shall have the right to terminate its contract after providing 3 business days’ notice to the party failing to make payment. As of the newsletter deadline, Representative Aaron Griesheimer was drafting a companion bill in the House of Representatives.  We expect that his bill should be filed by the time this newsletter reaches you.  While getting any bill to the Governor’s desk is challenging, we are hopeful to make good progress with our legislation this session and educate House and Senate members to the challenges our members face.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recently announced they intend to raise fees on hazardous waste generators by a significant amount. In their recommendation, the Hazardous Waste Management Commission signaled their intent to raise registration fees for large quantity generators to $1,150.00. The current fee is $500.00. Fees for small quantity generators will go from $150.00 to $360.00, and the fee for “conditionally exempt small quantity generators” will jump from $150.00 to $175.00. DNR says the increases are needed in years 2021 and 2022 in order to offset a shortfall that is anticipated because of a decrease in federal grant money. The increases will go into effect on January 1, 2021 unless the General Assembly takes action to block the proposal. That is what Senator Cindy O’Laughlin intends to do with Senate Concurrent Resolution 38. The resolution recently received a passing vote in the Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee. O’Laughlin’s resolution calls the fee increase “beyond the level which the General Assembly considers to be fair and reasonable.” The measure will likely see floor time before the full Senate in the coming weeks.

The Senate passed SJR38 last month after the first lengthy filibuster of the year. This resolution could change portions of the so-called “Clean Missouri” constitutional amendment passed by voters in November of 2018. The effect of the amendment was to limit lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, reduce campaign contributions, and create a new process when it comes to redistricting. The redistricting portion has been the subject of much discussion, as it requires a non-partisan state demographer. According to the original amendment passed in 2018, the demographer is selected by the State Auditor to redraw district lines, determining how the state is divided into legislative districts.  Many have argued that although the demographer is supposed to be non-partisan, appointing them via nomination by the state auditor is not.

Hegeman’s proposal makes several changes to Clean Missouri, including a complete ban on all lobbyist gifts (current law allows gifts no greater than $5.00), reducing the amount House and Senate candidates may receive in campaign contributions, and eliminating the state demographer position in lieu of independent bipartisan citizens commissions. Opposition to Hegeman’s proposal came from Senate democrats who argued the measure changes the will of the voters who overwhelmingly voted in favor of the Clean Missouri ballot initiative. Hegeman countered that even if the legislature passed his resolution, it still must be approved by the voters, therefore their will would be upheld. The bill passed the Senate along party lines, except for Republican Senator Lincoln Hough who voted no.

As the question of how the state is going to pay for its infrastructure needs continues to loom, the Senate brought up SB539 for debate last month. The bill, sponsored by Senator Doug Libla, would increase the tax on gasoline from 17 cents to 19 cents per gallon, and the tax on diesel from 17 cents to 23 cents per gallon. The measure also calls for the tax rate to be adjusted annually for inflation. It was clear that the bill does not have a path forward unless concessions are made to meet the demands of the conservative caucus. As in years past, we don’t see this bill getting past the conservative caucus unless there is a tax offset included.  We expect it will be brought up again for debate.

The Missouri House recently passed bills dealing with professional licensing reciprocity. House Bills 1511 and 1452 will allow for relocating military spouses to apply for an occupational license in Missouri, provided they hold a valid license in another state. The legislation is a priority for Governor Mike Parson who recently praised the action of the House. Recognizing the fact that military families face tremendous burdens, Parson said, “Military spouses face considerable challenges when they relocate with their active duty partner, and finding a job in their licensed profession should not be one of them.” Professions affected in the bill include architects, landscape architects, land surveyors, professional engineers and numerous health related professions. The measures passed through the House on a vote of 151-2 will now head to the Senate for additional consideration.

As a member of ASA, you should be receiving weekly legislative updates that include updates on ASA’s legislative agenda along with other legislative news from the week. If you are not receiving these important updates, please reach out to Susan Winkelman to let her know. Thank you, Nikki Strong.

February 2020 Lobbyist Report

The Capitol is busy again as lawmakers returned to Jefferson City on January 8 for the start of the 2020 legislative session. Senators and Representatives hit the ground running, filing over 1500 bills and resolutions thus far.

Funding for transportation infrastructure remains a high priority again this session. There have been many bills filed taking many different approaches and filed by many different legislators in the House and Senate.  One of the bills filed which started out moving quickly was SB539, which increases the gas tax from 17 cents to 19 cents per gallon, and the tax on diesel from 17 cents to 23 cents per. After implementation, the tax rate will be adjusted annually for inflation. The bill made quick progress initially, being heard by the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee and voted out the same day. We expect the bill to slow to a snail’s pace now because of opposition by a handful of senators. It remains to be seen how which bill will advance on this topic.

Governor Mike Parson appeared before a joint session of the Missouri House and Senate on Wednesday, January 15 to deliver the annual State of the State address to lawmakers. Parson took the opportunity to talk about accomplishments since taking office, along with laying out his legislative agenda and budget for the next year. In his speech, the governor spoke at length about transportation and workforce development – which continue to be items he has focused on since taking office. The governor also spent time talking about the ongoing rise in violent crime in the major cities across the state. His proposal focused on increased protection for witness and victims of violent crime, tougher penalties for those crimes and an increase in available mental health services.

Parson’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2021 includes $50 million to continue the transportation cost-share program, a $5 million increase for rural broadband development, and $10.1 million to continue the port capital improvement program. There was also $4.4 million allocated to continue the Fast Track program, which is designed to encourage adults to pursue certificates, degrees, or industry-recognized credentials in high-demand occupations. K-12 education also saw a $12 million increase for the Foundation Formula in the governor’s proposal, as well as a $10 million increase in student transportation funding.

Democrats in the legislature were not totally enamored with Parson’s proposals. In their response to the State of the State address, Senate Minority Floor Leader Gina Walsh said, “This was a disappointing and, frankly, troubling speech. More than 100,000 kids have had their health care taken away by Governor Parson’s administration, and today, he continued to ignore this crisis. Meanwhile, his party continues to stand in the way of common-sense changes to prevent gun violence, address the opioid epidemic, and make college more affordable. The biggest issues facing Missouri were essentially ignored by Governor Parson today, and that is incredibly unfortunate for middle-class families.”

As the legislative session continues, House and Senate priorities, along with Governor Parson’s initiatives, will begin to sort their way through the process. Of the many bills that are filed, very few will make it across the finish line as was evidenced last year when only 102 bills and resolutions were passed. The session runs through May 15.

We will continue to keep you updated on issues and happenings in Jefferson City and around the state that impact ASA and the construction industry. We appreciate the opportunity to represent you. Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group LLC

January 2020 Lobbyist Report

Capitol staffers have been busy this month as legislative pre-filing has begun in preparation of the next legislative session which begins on January 8 at noon. Legislators began the bill prefiling process on December 1 with nearly 850 bills and resolutions having been filed as of the writing of this newsletter. Senate and House members will continue filing bills until midway through the session where nearly 2,000 bills are expected to be filed once the deadline for filing closes.

Several bills have already been filed that would raise the state fuel tax in order to fund road and bridge construction. In addition, there is a proposed constitutional amendment filed which would allow MoDOT to establish toll roads in the state. Another proposal would put a portion of increased motor vehicle registration fees into the state road fund. These initiatives have a tough road ahead of them and only time will tell whether they land on the governor’s desk. Similar legislation has been met with stiff opposition from many conservative legislators in recent years and they have signaled their intent to block any proposed tax increases once again this session.

The Senate Interim Committee on Tax Credit Efficiency and Reform has held four hearings since late summer to examine the many tax credit programs in the state. Many view the tax credits as a necessary trigger for economic development, construction, and job creation, while others say the process is inefficient and lacks accountability. The committee was slated to wrap-up their review of the many programs in early December, but it was recently announced they will continue to hold hearings throughout the legislative session. Senator Cindy O’Laughlin, chairwoman of the committee, said she wants the committee to continue their work looking into how tax credits are processed and how their value is determined.

In other political news, a recent report by State Auditor Nicole Galloway has found that the Black Mountain Community Improvement District (CID) violated state law with their expenditure of $296,937 of taxpayer money. The CID funds were intended to be spent on infrastructure, storm water controls and related construction. The audit showed several violations of state law, but the most glaring was an expense of more than $100,000 for equipment purchases, repairs and operational expenses to a convenience store owned by three members of the CID board. Restrooms were remodeled, new fuel pumps were purchased, and a new walk-in beer cave was installed at the store. Six months after the work was completed, the convenience store was sold to new owners. The taxpayer dollars used for the work were not reimbursed. Current board members are working with law enforcement on the findings of the audit. The Black Mountain CID is near Van Buren, in Carter County, Missouri.

Repairs and renovations on the exterior of the state Capitol continue to progress with an anticipated completion date near the end of 2020. However, the refurbished statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, whose likeness sat atop the Capitol for 94 years is causing some controversy. The statue was removed last year and sent to Chicago for repairs and is now back in Jefferson City where it is slated to be placed on top of the dome once again. Representative Mike Moon didn’t want to see Ceres returned to the dome due to religious reasons and has asked Governor Mike Parson to intervene. Moon sent a letter to the governor calling the statue a “pagan god” and wanted Parson to direct the Capitol Commission to not return the statue to the dome. Despite Rep. Moon’s request Ceres was returned to the dome of the Capitol on December 17.

As mentioned earlier, the legislative session is slated to begin on Wednesday, January 8 and will run through May 15. Once the legislative session starts and legislation begins to move, weekly legislative updates will be sent to the ASA members updating you weekly on ASA’s legislative priorities.

Nikki R. Strong
STRONG CONSULTING GROUP, L.L.C.

 

December 2019 Lobbyist Report

Election night on November 5th turned into an upset victory for Democrat Trish Gunby in House District 99 which covers portions of St. Louis County. Gunby garnered 3,357 votes to defeat Republican Lee Ann Pitman who came in with 2,855 votes. The seat had been held by Republicans in recent years, and the final tally left Democrats across the state hopeful for more victories in the 2020 election cycle. The closely watched race was held to fill a vacancy created with the resignation last year of Republican Jean Evans.

Governor Mike Parson recently announced that nearly $8 million has been awarded to companies around the state under Missouri’s new One Start Program. The incentive was passed during the 2019 legislative session and was put in place to make sure that businesses have workers with the necessary skills for their jobs. “Helping employers train new and existing workers helps them stay competitive, and that means growth for the business and for our state’s economy,” said Parson. Around 80 companies in the greater St. Louis region were recipients of the funding, which will allow them to provide training for new and existing employees, according to their specific workforce needs.

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Hyperloop released a nearly 200-page report this month, leaving supporters of the futuristic high-speed transportation system very hopeful for its development in Missouri. Proponents of Hyperloop envision the system running parallel to Interstate 70, connecting St. Louis and Kansas City, with a stop in Columbia. The total travel time across the state would be 30 minutes. Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe chaired the Panel and stressed that Hyperloop will not take away from the fact that the road and bridge system in the state is still in desperate need of additional funding.

Former state representative Bruce Franks of St. Louis was recently fined $89,105 by the Missouri Ethics Commission for a litany of campaign violations. Numerous transactions from his campaign account went unreported and “appeared to be for personal use”, according to the consent order posted online by the Ethics commission. Franks failed to report tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and expenditures over the course of several years. Multiple checks were written to Franks himself and other expenditures included payments to a pet hospital, a photography studio and the Hollywood Casino Hotel. In an agreement Franks signed with the Commission, he will be allowed to pay only a percentage of the original fine, provided no other violations are found. The agreement requires Franks to pay monthly installments of $250 to the Attorney General’s Office until the amount of $14,169 is paid off. If other violations are found, or if he does not make the required payments, he will be forced to pay the entire $89,105. Franks resigned from the House in May saying he needed to focus on his mental health and his family.

Pre-filing of bills for the 2020 legislative session will begin on December 1. We will continue to monitor all pre-filed bills, legislative action, and other political happenings in Jefferson City and around the state. Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group.

November 2019 Lobbyist Report

The halls of the Capitol have been quiet since the close of veto session last month, but legislators and staff members are busy behind the scenes drafting legislation and gearing up for the next legislative session. There have also been several committee hearings in Jefferson City and other areas of the state, most notably the House Special Committee on Oversight of Local Taxation.

The committee was formed to study the marked increases recently in property value assessments, particularly in St. Louis County and Jackson County. The committee was also tasked with looking at local sales tax rates as well as the potential implementation of internet sales taxes. Many residents and businesses have seen their property assessments skyrocket, leading to thousands of appeals on both sides of the state. Testimony was heard during the hearings from property owners, as well as the St. Louis and Jackson County Assessors. While no clear-cut solutions were discussed during the hearings, we expect several bills to be filed next session dealing with the above issues.

General Assembly members and Executive branch office holders are also busy in campaign mode, holding fundraisers in hopes of showing strong financial numbers to ward off potential challengers when filing for office begins early next year. According to the latest Missouri Ethics Commission filings, Governor Mike Parson continues to hold a commanding lead in cash on hand over Auditor Nicole Galloway, his Democrat challenger. Galloway reported $540,315 cash on hand, compared to $1,256,703 for Parson. Galloway however, outraised Parson in the last quarter as she attempts to close the gap.

Two other candidates have announced their intention to replace Parson as well. Fellow Republican Jim Neely, who is a current state representative from Clinton county, has thrown his hat in the ring setting up a primary showdown between the two. It doesn’t appear as though Neely is a serious threat to Parson as he only raised $96 last quarter. Libertarian Rik Combs has also started his campaign for the top spot on the ticket. Combs is from Jefferson City and had previously run unsuccessfully for the District 59 state representative seat, running then as a Republican.

In a closely watched race in House District 99, Republican Lee Ann Pitman is squaring off against Democrat Trish Gunby. The outcome will be decided in a special election to be held on November 5. Jean Evans held the seat previously but resigned after being named Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party. Most observers think the race is a toss-up at this point, as neither candidate has emerged as the clear frontrunner. The district is in the Manchester area of St. Louis County.

In other news, the unemployment rate in Missouri continues to drop as reflected in the most recent numbers from the Department of Economic Development. Key industries in the state showed a 1.1 percent growth in overall job gains in the last year. The September unemployment report shows the rate at 3.1 percent, which continues to be slightly lower than the national average. The low rate, however, brings the added challenge of employers struggling to find qualified workers. A recent survey showed that 47 percent of employers say there is a shortage of skilled workers. This has led to nearly 90 percent of employers hiring less experienced applicants and then having to bear the added cost to train them once hired. Even with the challenges, one-third of employers say they are planning on adding more jobs in the near future.

We will continue to monitor and keep you updated on political news and happenings in Jefferson City and around the state. We appreciate the opportunity to represent you. Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group.

October 2019 Lobbyist Report

It was a hectic pace in the Capitol building during the month of September as lawmakers returned to Jefferson City for the annual veto session held on September 11. The constitutionally mandated veto session is an opportunity for members of the General Assembly to override any vetoes issued by the Governor on bills from the previous legislative session. Making the veto session even more interesting was the call for a special session to run concurrent with the veto session.

Of the six bills vetoed by Governor Mike Parson, only one was brought up for a possible override motion. Representative Deb Lavender put forth a motion to override HB399, a health care related bill, which she believes would help provide needed services in rural areas of the state where eight hospitals have closed recently as they struggled financially. Representative Chuck Basye, the original sponsor of the bill, spoke in opposition of an override attempt, and Lavender’s motion eventually failed on a vote of 105-37.

There were no override attempts made in the Missouri Senate, but two lawmakers took the opportunity to engage in a lengthy discussion on the Senate floor regarding gun violence. During their exchange, Senator Kiki Curls of Kansas City and Senator Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis called on Senate leadership to establish an interim committee to find reasons for and solutions to the increasing gun violence and murder rate in the Missouri’s two largest cities.

In addition to the veto session, the General Assembly convened in a special session called by Governor Parson to address a recent Supreme Court ruling on sales taxes for vehicle purchases. The court had said that if a person trades in more than one vehicle when purchasing a different vehicle, the sales tax offset is only available on one of the trade-ins. House and Senate members crafted legislation to allow multiple vehicle trade-ins to be calculated when determining a purchasers sales tax liability. The measure easily passed both chambers and the special session ended as planned on Friday, September 13.

House Republicans held caucus meetings during their return to Jefferson City the week of September 9. During the caucus meeting, they selected Rob Vescovo as Speaker-elect for the 2021 legislative session. Vescovo is from Arnold and represents the 112th district comprised of parts of Jefferson County. He currently serves as majority floor leader and will continue that role through the end of 2020. Vescovo was first elected in 2014, and successfully ran for reelection in 2016 and 2018.

Earlier in September, MoDOT issued a press release regarding Governor Mike Parson’s Focus on Bridges program. The release stated that construction contracts have been awarded to replace or rehabilitate 14 of the state’s bridges that are in need of repair. Most projects on the list include bridges in the Northeast and Northwest MODOT districts. Parson’s program provides $50 million in state general revenue for repair or replacement of 45 bridges in the state. MoDOT says all 45 bridges will be under contract by the end of 2019 and completed in 2020. This is in addition to the $301 million bonding program approved by the General Assembly during the last session which is slated for the repair or replacement of an additional 215 bridges across the state.

We will continue to keep you updated on issues and events in Jefferson City that impact ASA and the construction industry. Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group.

August 2019 Lobbyist Report

The month of July was relatively quiet on the legislative front; however, the Executive branch was busy completing bill reviews so that the Governor could make his final decision whether or not to sign or veto the bills passed by the General Assembly during the 2019 legislative session. In addition, Jefferson City is beginning to return to some degree of normalcy as the recovery from the tornado and prolonged flooding continues.

Pursuant to the Constitution, all non-budget related legislation had to be signed or vetoed by the Governor by July 14. If the Governor neither signed or vetoed a bill, the bill simply becomes law. The Governor’s bill focus in June was mainly on the budget, small non-controversial pieces of legislation (i.e. highway naming) and his legislative priorities such as the bill
authorizing the $300 million bonding package for the construction and repair of roads and bridges across Missouri. The majority of the bills passed by the legislature were signed the week of July 8th. Only six bills were vetoed by Governor Parson. All other bills passed by the General Assembly were signed into law, including all of the appropriations bills which required action by June 30.

The biggest news for ASA members was the signing of SB167 on July 11. SB167 was ASA’s priority legislation which provides payment recourse for subcontractors and suppliers working on public works projects designed to be used for non-government purposes. Governor Mike Parson held a public signing ceremony for SB167 in his office July 11. Walt Bazan and Tim Thomas attended the bill signing ceremony on behalf of ASA, as well as the bill sponsors, Senator Sandy Crawford and Rep. Aaron Griesheimer. We are truly thankful to Sen. Crawford and Rep. Griesheimer for their dedication and assistance in getting this
important bill across the finish line.

Of the six bills rejected by Parson, two were House bills and four were Senate bills. These bills are outlined below. The bills not vetoed by the Governor will not become law until August 28, unless the bill contained an emergency clause indicating a specific start date.

HB399, which was a healthcare related bill, was vetoed by the Governor due to a provision which specified that the Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services must hold a Ph.D. in a health-related field, or be a M.D. or D.O., or hold an
equivalent degree. Parson disagreed with limiting the Governor’s ability to appoint other qualified individuals to the position, such as an attorney who has spent a career practicing health care law.

HB447, a bill dealing with the regulation of coroners, and SB282, dealing with human remains and organ donation, were both vetoed by Governor Parson due to a provision in each bill which allowed for the outdoor cremation of a deceased person.
Parson noted he was uncomfortable with the idea without more discussion of the health and safety concerns of the cremation as well as respect of the deceased.

SB147, a wide-ranging motor vehicle bill which also included an increase in some license fees, and repealed the motorcycle helmet law, was vetoed because of two separate provisions opposed by Parson. First was a section that singled out St. Louis City and St. Louis County as areas where minor traffic violations would be exempt from a driver possibly having their license
suspended. The Governor’s veto letter stated this was likely unconstitutional to make a special law just for a certain geographic area. The second provision unfavorable to Parson was the creation of a statewide towing task force relating to consumer
complaints on nonconsensual tow charges. Parson stated the Attorney General’s Consumer Complaint Division already handles these issues.

Also vetoed by the Governor was SB202, dealing with the distribution to counties of mining royalties on federally owned land in Missouri. While Parson stated he agreed with the premise of the bill, he noted that such decisions are based in federal law and cannot be changed in state statute.

The final veto issued by Parson was on SB414. The bill sought the creation of a Health Insurance Innovation Task Force that would deal with certain waivers under the Affordable Care Act. Governor Parson’s veto letter was in agreement with the substance of the legislation, but he stated there were several unrealistic timelines set forth in the bill and felt the task force would not have adequate time to develop and consider recommendations. That task force was created by the Governor shortly after the veto by executive order.

Capitol observers will now look ahead to the annual veto session to be held on September 11, where lawmakers may consider overriding of any bills vetoed by the Governor. In the meantime, Senators and Representatives continue to work in their home districts, holding fundraisers and other events in preparation for the 2020 election cycle.

We will continue to keep you updated on issues in Jefferson City and around the state that impact ASA and the construction
industry. Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group.

 

American Subcontractors Association - Midwest Council

whistle-blower policy | conflict of interest policies for board of directors | dues and collections policy
antitrust policy | code of conduct policy | equal employment opportunity and anti-discrimination policy

Register For Events

Upcoming Events