By Collin Reischman
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House moved through their bill calendar this week, as its leader, House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, focused on targeting the Missouri Department of Revenue for their controversial document scanning process.
Speaking with reporters Thursday afternoon, Jones called on Attorney General Chris Koster to respond to a number of concerns voiced by the legislature and the people of Missouri this year with the Department. Jones has tasked state Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, with carrying the DOR fight in the House, and Jones said he was encouraged by Barnes’ progress so far.
“If there’s anyone who can dig for answers, it’s Representative Barnes,” he said.
Jones also indicated his interest in campaigning for either attorney general or secretary of state during 2016.
Next week, Jones said the body will continue to focus on eduaction bills — including teacher evaluations, along with income tax legislation from Sen. Will Kraus, R-Kansas City, which he said would be the “big thing” next week.
Here are some highlights from this week in the state House:
HB 400 — The first bill to make significant progress during this session dealing with the ever-controversial topic of abortion, HB400 deals with the administration of “abortion-inducing drugs.” The measure requires women to take the medication in the physical presence of the doctor who prescribed the medication. The bill passed after some graphic discussion on the floor about the specific physical side-effects of chemical abortion. It passed with 10 Democrats voting with the majority, a veto proof majority of 119-41. (See our story from this week.)
HB 698 — A broad-based reform for tax credit and tax incentive programs sponsored by Rep. Anne Zerr, R-St. Charles, took a lot of time on the House floor. It wasn’t until well after 9 p.m and nine amendments later that it was finally given preliminary approval. The bill modifies the requirements and restrictions for the land assemblage tax credit, historic preservation tax credit and the neighborhood assistance act. The bill also features the Missouri Angel Investor Tax Incentive program, a credit debated at length in the House and Senate already this session.
HB 170/436 — Bills that earned a lot of attention early during the session were given preliminary approval this week. Both bills prohibits the enforcement of any federal firearm regulation if the firearm in question was manufactured in and remains in the state of Missouri as well as declaring that any new federal ban on semi-automatic weapons would be unenforceable. While both passed with a wide margin, many, including the Democrats debating the issue on the floor, have suggested the laws are in violation of the supremacy clause. Several Democrats said they believed the courts would strike the bills down. A successful amendment offered on the floor to HB170 lowered the age Missouri citizens may attain a concealed weapon permit to 19.
HB 335 — A bill combining a number of public safety issues for the Kansas City area moved rapidly through the House despite a large number of amendments. While the bill was supported by some Kansas City area Democrats early on and received little opposition in committee, an amendment added by Rep. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, earned plenty of attention. The amendment forbids the payment of union dues and fees, as well as membership of said union, as a condition of employment for law enforcement officers.