Senate passes bills on illegal reentry, workers’ comp before end of week

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – With the end of the week in sight, the Missouri Senate churned out and passed several bills Thursday morning.

Following a long night of debating and amendments over HB 130, a bill that would allow transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft to operate throughout the state, the Senate returned to session, passing six bills in just a few hours, ranging from workers’ compensation to boating.

The first bill passed by the Senate was Sen. Dave Schatz’s SB 66 substitute, which changes some of the provisions in relations to workers’ compensation. The bill stops temporary workers’ compensation benefits once an employee reaches maximum medical improvement, established as “the point at which the injured employee’s medical condition has stabilized and can no longer reasonably improve, as determined by the employer’s physician within a reasonable degree of medical certainty.”

That measure was passed 25-8.

The Senate also third read and passed SB 62, which requires the retirement plan for employees of certain higher education institutions to contribute six percent of payroll to the plan. The bill language states that employees hired on or after July 1, 2018, will also contribute two percent of pay. It was unanimously passed by the Senate.

SB 11 was also passed, modifying the definition of “facility” and “project for industrial development” in regards to industrial development projects, with a final vote of 32-1.

Sen. David Sater’s SB 139, which seeks to create the Rx Cares for Missouri Program to promote medication safety and prevent prescription drug abuse, passed 30-3.

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Perhaps the most debated and contentious bill the Senate voted on was Sen. Mike Cunningham’s SB 34, which created the crime of illegal reentry. Under the legislation, any person deported for committing a crime who re-enters Missouri and commits a felony would be guilty of “illegal reentry” and could face class C felony, punishable by three to seven years.

Sen. Jill Schupp argued against the measure, saying that she would rather have a felon deported, rather than using taxpayer money to put them in the penal system. She argued immigration issues are a federal issue.

Cunningham responded, saying that the government’s inaction spurred the bill forward. He referenced the case of Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino, a Mexican citizen who was deported in 2004 but later reentered the country illegally. Serrano-Vitorino was the subject of a manhunt in Mid-Missouri in March 2016 after allegedly killing four men in Kansas City, Kan., and driving to New Florence and killing another man.

Cunningham argued that was the kind of events he hoped the bill would address. It was passed by a vote of 27-6.

The final bill passed in the Senate was SB 65, which prohibits passengers from riding in certain areas of a boat. It was passed 32-0.

All of the bills now head to the House for approval.

  

Benjamin Peters

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.

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