By Eli Yokley
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With just a few weeks left in legislative session, the Senate moved on dozens of bills this past week, all of which focused on a wide assortment of priorities from the various members.
Off the Senate floor, the Senate Appropriations Committee finalized their Fiscal Year 2014 budget, which Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said they plan to work through in its entirety on Monday.
“We’re gonna go till we go,” he said, indicating it might be a long night for the Senators. He added that they will be ordering dinner on Monday.
Here are some highlights from this week in the state Senate:
SB 297: Savannah Republican Sen. Brad Lager’s legislation that would allow Missouri water utilities to seek a maximum of a $50 per year rate increase on consumers failed the Senate 17 to 18. Some observers believe that the vote on extending the infrastructure system replacement surcharges to more water utilities could be a light into the minds of Senators as they mull legislation that could expand the surcharge to publicly owned electric utilities, too — a key priority of Ameren’s legislative agenda this year.
SB 252: Legislation sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, that would ban the Missouri Department of Revenue from scanning and retaining copies of source documents used to obtain drivers’ licenses. The legislation passed out of the Senate just days after Gov. Jay Nixon announced his administration would no longer scan source documents for those applying for conceal carry permits, a growing controversy within the General Assembly.
SB 112: The future of the New Markets Tax Credit program is now in the hands of the Missouri House of Representatives. The upper chamber passed legislation Thursday, sponsored by Sen. Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles, that would cap the program at $15 million per year and sunset the program in six years. The Senate passed the bill with an emergency clause.
SB 29: The labor fight continued in the Senate on Thursday, when the body passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, that would require labor unions to gain annual consent of members before they can use the dues for political purposes. Under his bill, the union is required to keep records of all authorizations for political contributions and submit them to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission.
SJR 16: Jefferson City Republican Sen. Mike Kehoe’s one-cent sales tax to fund transportation infrastructure passed the Senate on Tuesday. The constitutional proposal would go to a vote of Missourians if approved. Five percent of the sales and use tax proceeds, the Senate said, would be deposited into a new Municipal Aid Transportation Fund. Another five percent would be deposited into the new County Aid Transportation Fund. The other 80 percent would be placed in a new trust fund called the “Transportation Safety and Job Creation Fund”. House leadership has not been quick to embrace the proposal — particularly because of the fact that it would not be placed before voters until November 2014, anyway.