We are two months into the legislative session and so far, legislation appears to be moving seamlessly through the legislative process. To date, most Capitol observers are surprised at how well the Senate is functioning compared to the last several years of Republican infighting. Although there have been a few tense moments, Senate members have been able to negotiate through disagreements and keep the legislative process moving forward.
Several bills of interest to our members have garnered attention recently in Jefferson City. One of those is HJR37, a proposal by Representative Don Mayhew (R-Pulaski County), which would change the way MoDOT receives funding. Currently, money for the State Road Fund is automatically appropriated without legislative action. This is similar to the state’s other independent agency, The Department of Conservation, and their use of the Conservation Fund. Mayhew’s legislation would require that funding must be approved through the legislative process, a move he says would give the people a voice in how the State Road Fund is spent. Opponents say this change would be detrimental because transportation funding requires a long-term timeline that the yearly legislative appropriation process does not provide. It also runs the risk of politicizing transportation projects. The measure has passed through the House Transportation Accountability Committee and awaits further action. If approved by the General Assembly, the measure would then need to be approved by voters before taking effect.
The Senate General Laws Committee has recently approved a measure to establish the Office of Mechanical Contractors within the Division of Professional Registration. SB80 would allow mechanical contractors to apply for an optional statewide license, rather than having licenses issued by multiple cities and municipalities. This marks the fifth year that legislators have attempted to pass similar legislation. There are two similar bills in the House, but those have not seen any movement through the legislative process thus far.
Representative Mike Henderson (R-Bonne Terre) has filed HB470 which states that contractors are responsible for the unpaid wages of employees of subcontractors at any tier, and for any debt owed to a third party by a subcontractor. The bill also authorizes the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to institute action against a contractor for any unpaid wages. The measure has been scheduled for a hearing in the House General Laws Committee.
Finally, Governor Mike Parson announced last month that the Department of Economic Development has awarded $30 million to various companies around the state through the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) Workforce Training Grant Program. The program assists with training Missourians to prepare for the workforce in order to combat the shortage of qualified workers in the state. The program was started in August of 2022, and has funded numerous programs including training for construction, utilities, welding, trucking, plumbing, and CDL endorsements.
We will continue to provide updates on legislative and political happenings in Jefferson City and around the state. Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group.