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.