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 variety of contests each election cycle.

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.

 

MAY 2019 Lobbyist Report

The end of April means that the final weeks of the legislative session are just around the corner. The 2019 legislative session ends on May 17. To date there has been very few pieces of legislation that has made it across the finish line, including many of the Governor’s priorities. We expect to see a flurry of
legislative activity these final couple weeks of the legislative session.

As far as ASA priorities, legislation to fix the Brentwood Glass Supreme Court decision is making its way through the General Assembly. Senate Bill 167, sponsored by Senator Sandy Crawford, seeks to remedy a situation created by the court decision, where a subcontractor or supplier had no recourse for
non-payment on public works contracts for non-governmental purposes.

After months of negotiations between ASA, bond writers, the Surety Association and general
contractors, the legislation is in a good position and stands a good chance of getting across the finish line. The bill has been approved by the Senate and appears poised for approval in the House of Representatives. There were some minor changes made to the bill in the House which means the bill will have to go back to the Senate for a final vote. Since all parties to the bill have agreed with the changes, we don’t anticipate any issues getting the Senate to agree with the changes made.

Highway funding is another item of interest that continues to be discussion point in the General
Assembly. Early in the year, Governor Mike Parson had outlined his vision for a $351 million bonding proposal for bridge repair and replacement throughout the state. Since that time, Legislative leaders have put forth their own ideas. House budget writers have committed to placing $100 million of general revenue
dollars into bridge repair for the 2020 fiscal year, with promises of continuing that funding level for the next four years. Meanwhile, the Senate spent long hours debating their own plan, Senate Joint Resolution 14. The measure was brought before the Senate on the afternoon of April 9, with debate lasting until 2:30 the following morning. In the end, Senators agreed to a plan calling for $301 million in general obligation bonds, to be paid back over seven years. The final Senate vote was cast several days later, with the measure passing by a 26-7 margin. Governor Parson paid close attention to the Senate agreement stating, “We are thrilled to see the Senate take significant action today on our shared priority of infrastructure. Today’s strong bipartisan vote is a result of focused efforts by the legislature as we work together on an infrastructure plan to move Missouri forward”. Differences between the House and Senate plans must still be reconciled, with House Budget Chair Cody Smith stating the Senate action is a “step in the right direction”.

Several other proposals to address highway funding are in various stages of debate, including increases in fuel taxes, but none are poised to cross the finish line at this point.

In other legislative news, the General Assembly continues debate on the merits of a state sales tax on certain internet sales. Several versions of the legislation are in various stages of debate in the Capitol, but they all have met some form of resistance. Sponsors point to the fact that businesses having a physical presence in the state face unfair competition from out-of-state vendors who sell their goods on-line and are not required to remit sales taxes. Also mentioned is the fact that state revenues are lagging this year and the dollars provided by internet sales taxes could help fill that void should the trend continue in coming years. More than half the states have passed legislation to collect internet sales taxes with several more considering doing so.

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

 

JANUARY 2019 LOBBYIST REPORT

With the Holiday Season over, Capitol observers know that the next legislative session is just around the corner. With that, the political activity in Jefferson City has increased dramatically.

December 1st marked the day that members of the General Assembly could begin to pre-file bills for the 2019 Legislative Session which begins on January 9, 2019. Many legislators took advantage of the opportunity with over one hundred bills being filed that day in the Senate alone. As of the writing of this report, more than four hundred bills have been filed and we expect the total amount to reach approximately three thousand once session gets into full swing.

As expected, Right-to-Work legislation was pre-filed by Senator-elect Eric Burlison, (R-Greene County). It is unclear how much traction the bill may get especially given the huge margin by which the issue was defeated at the ballot box recently. Governor Mike Parson has stated publicly that Right-to-Work is not on his radar.

One issue that lost at the ballot on November 6 is Prop D – the funding for roads and bridges. No bill has been filed yet that would deal with that issue. Legislative leaders are still exploring various options after the defeat of Prop D in the November election.

The beginning of session will also mean more than sixty newly elected legislators will descend on the Capitol building. House and Senate staff members spent the early part of December hosting freshman orientation where the new lawmakers were taught everything from hiring office staff to staying compliant with ethics requirements and Sunshine Law basics. Also covered was the process of how to draft new legislation, how the state budget is drafted, and the function of each department in state government.

Following the in-house orientation, the newly elected lawmakers hit the road for a week-long bus tour of the state. The tour provided the opportunity for legislators to learn about the way of life and economic factors in areas of the state other than their home districts. The stops along the way included manufacturing plants, senior citizen housing centers, energy production facilities, sports venues, military installations, and agricultural facilities, among others.

Also during December, members and staff of the General Assembly have been learning the steps they must take to comply with the recent passage of Amendment 1 or more commonly known as “Clean Missouri. The measure places many new restrictions on lawmakers and staff. Of particular concern is the portion of the amendment that potentially opens all lines of communication going in and out of the Capitol to Sunshine requests. This could include email or text messages between an elected official and a constituent which might contain personal information such as a health care concern. It is not clear yet how or if legislators will attempt a fix on this part of the new amendment. Also included in Amendment 1 is a ban on gifts to legislators which exceed $5.00 in value, a two-year waiting period before a legislator or staff member may become a lobbyist, campaign contribution limits, and a new method to draw legislative district boundaries after each census.

As always, we will monitor all legislation filed that may impact ASA and the construction industry. In addition, we will be preparing weekly legislative updates about the general happenings in the Capitol and to update you on ASA’s priority legislation. These reports will begin the end of the first full week of the 2019 Legislative Session. Please feel free to contact us any time with questions or concerns about the 2019 Legislative Session. Nikki Strong, Strong Consultants.

 

ASA MIDWEST COUNCIL NOVEMBER 2018 LOBBYIST REPORT

After the dust settled from the annual veto session and subsequent special legislative session, things in Jefferson City have been relatively quiet. Candidates and legislators have spent their time since mid-September campaigning for various races and ballot initiatives across the state.

There are several hot issues that will be on the ballot in November. Leading these issues is Proposition D.  Prop D, if passed, would raise fuel taxes in the state by ten cents per gallon phased in over a four-year period. Money raised will help to fund desperately needed road and bridge projects. Governor Mike Parson and Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe have been leading an aggressive campaign across the state to boost support for the initiative. Six state senators and over forty state representatives have also publicly signaled their endorsement.

During October, SaferMO, which is the organization advocating passage of Prop D, has held multiple events in Kansas City, Springfield, Joplin, Hannibal, Columbia, Kirksville, Sedalia, Chillicothe, and Odessa, as well as stops at numerous other locations across the state. These meetings have been held in conjunction with MoDOT.  Local community leaders, local Chambers of Commerce, as well as members of the public have shown up in large number to support Prop D at these events.

SaferMO also has an aggressive fundraising effort in place to secure the dollars needed to raise public awareness for Prop D through television, radio, newspaper and other media. Over $2.5 million has been raised thus far.

Several other items of interest are on the November ballot as well. Proposition B would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.85 per hour to $12 per hour once fully implemented. If passed, there would be an immediate increase of nearly ten percent followed by an automatic escalation raising it approximately ten percent per year for the next four years. Several statewide organizations have signaled their opposition to Prop B including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and the Missouri Farm Bureau.

Amendment 1, or the so-called “Clean Missouri” ballot initiative, will also be before voters in November. The measure covers many topics. Such topics include:  new restrictions on lobbyist gifts to legislators mandating that any employee of the General Assembly, not just legislators, must wait two years after leaving employment before becoming a lobbyist; establishes new limits on campaign donations; and expands the realm of legislative records covered under the Sunshine Law.

Additionally, the way district boundaries are drawn for congressional seats, state Senate and state House seats would drastically change under Amendment 1. District boundaries are redrawn after each census to reflect shifts in population. Currently maps are drawn by a bi-partisan panel appointed by the Governor. If passed, the new proposal would put the responsibility on a new state demographer selected by the State Auditor.

The final item of interest deals with medical marijuana. Three separate proposals, Amendment 2, Amendment 3, and Proposition C will all appear on the ballot and all three seek to legalize the use of medical marijuana in Missouri. Each is slightly different in how marijuana would be regulated.

One of the most closely watched political races across the country is located here in Missouri us the US Senate race between Attorney General Josh Hawley and incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill. Polling throughout the race shows neither candidate has ever held more than a four-point lead. The pair continue to slug it out with hard hitting commercials and contentious debates. All political observers are putting this race in the “too close to call” category.

Finally, making news this month is a ruling by Cole County Judge Richard Callahan on Missouri’s Voter ID law. Priorities USA, a group which advocates for voting rights, had sued the state claiming the law passed in 2016 placed an undue burden on voters. Callahan found that the law is constitutional, with one exception. That exception hinged on voters being required to present a photo identification card, as opposed to other forms of identification. In his ruling, Callahan wrote, “No compelling state interest is severed by misleading local election authorities and voters into believing a photo ID card is a requirement for voting. As desirable as a Missouri-issued photo ID might be, unlike an American Express Card, you may leave home without it, at least on Election Day.” Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has signaled he will appeal the ruling by Callahan.

As the November 6 election is quickly approaching, senators and representatives, along with hopeful first-timers, are back at home actively campaigning to earn the right to represent their respective districts. Half of the 34 Senate seats are up for election, as are all of the 163 seats in the House of Representatives. Term limits will impact many of these seats, meaning a number of newcomers will be seated in the House and Senate chambers when session begins again in January.

We will continue to keep you updated on political happenings in Jefferson City and across the state. Nikki Strong, Strong Consultants

ASA MIDWEST COUNCIL SEPTEMBER 2018 LOBBYIST REPORT

The month of September was full of activity on the political front as legislators returned to Jefferson City for the annual constitutionally mandated veto session. In addition, Governor Parson called his first Special Session.

Each year in mid-September, lawmakers are given the opportunity to attempt an override of any vetoes issued by the Governor on legislation passed the previous session. The House voted to override four of Gov. Parson’s budget vetoes. Of concern to some House members, was a veto of the funding stream for inspections of designated stroke centers and other time-critical emergency diagnoses at healthcare facilities. The Executive Branch believes the inspections can still be accomplished by using federal grants to cover the cost of the inspections, but House members don’t agree with that assessment. The Senate did not agree with the House and believes the differences between the House and the Governor can be fixed or taken care of in a Supplemental Budget bill when the 2019 Legislative Session begins in January.

Veto session also had a different twist this year, as Governor Parson called a special session to run concurrently with the veto session. The special session was called to specifically address two of the bills which he had vetoed. Those bills dealt with a modification of education curriculum as well as one dealing with drug treatment courts. The education bill was focused on creating an online curriculum of science, technology, engineering, and math courses, also known as the STEM bill. Legislators state the measure will assist with job creation in the state by helping to provide a well trained and educated workforce.

The second bill considered by lawmakers was one dealing with the expansion of treatment courts throughout the state. While not a new concept, the courts have only been used in limited geographic areas throughout Missouri. By allowing more access to substance abuse treatment, models have shown that recidivism is dramatically reduced. Also included in the expansion of the courts is a provision allowing a defendant in a county without a treatment court, to have their case transferred to one that does.

Governor Parson did not disagree with the intent of the bills and vetoed them merely over concerns with some of the language in the bills passed by the General Assembly. Those issues were fixed in the Special Session. Both bills passed quickly through the House and Senate and now head to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

One final item considered by lawmakers during their return to Jefferson City was Senate consideration of 44 appointments by Governor Parson to various Boards and Commissions. Many gubernatorial appointments must be approved by the Senate before the appointees can officially be seated in their position. One of the key nominees was Sandy Karsten as the Director of the Department of Public Safety. Karsten had been tapped by Governor Parson to head up the agency after he recently removed former Director Drew Juden. Karsten has just recently retired from her position as Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Former State Representative Robert Cornejo was also up for approval as a member of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission. Both Karsten and Cornejo were easily approved.

One appointee was not approved however, as objections were raised by Senator Jamilah Nasheed regarding the appointment of Peter Herschend to the Board of Education. After Nasheed voiced her concerns on the Senate floor, signaling that she may hold up approval of the entire slate of appointees, Governor Parson rescinded his nomination of Herschend, thus allowing the remainder to move forward.

Finally, Proposition D continues to gain steam as proponents recently traveled to all corners of the state holding rallies and informational seminars, with Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe leading the charge. The measure, which will appear on the November ballot, will increase the motor fuel tax by ten cents per gallon when fully phased-in and will generate over $400 million annually for road and bridge construction throughout the state. 70% of the total amount will be earmarked for state use, with the remaining 30% going to cities and counties for road construction and maintenance. A more in-depth explanation of the proposition may be found at safermo.com.

We will continue to keep you updated on political happenings in Jefferson City and across the state. Remember, the November General Election is quickly approaching and will be held on Tuesday November 6.

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