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Final Week in the House: Tuesday, May 11

  

During the last week of the session, The Missouri Times will bring you updates of floor activity for each chamber. Below is all the activity in the House from Tuesday, May 11. For live updates on the Senate, click here


The House adjourns

The House adjourned at 11:10 p.m.


SB 262, gas tax, TAFP

The controversial measure from Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz would increase Missouri’s fuel tax by 2.5 cents annually for the next four years — bumping it up to 29.5 cents from 17 cents by 2025. The funds would go toward maintaining the state’s roads and bridges, a major focus for both Schatz and Gov. Mike Parson.

The legislation includes a rebate program: Drivers would be required to apply with the Department of Revenue (DOR) once a year to receive a refund for the tax, supplying data on the number of gallons purchased, information on the seller and purchaser, and more.

Similar attempts were proposed on the ballot in 2014 and 2018, but neither passed. The fuel tax rate has not increased since 1996. 

The measure passed the House Fiscal Review Committee Monday.

Capitol Briefs: Schatz gas tax bill clears Fiscal Review Committee

Rep. Jason Chipman spoke against the increase in taxes, proposing an amendment to put the bill to a vote of the people if it were to pass. Handler Rep. Becky Ruth said the people would essentially vote on the increase through their participation — or lack thereof — in the rebate program. She noted gas taxes have not increased since 1996.

Rep. Hannah Kelly passionately voiced her support for the amendment, citing her hometown’s gas shortage and calling for a vote of the people.

“I ask you to join me in putting this amendment through — I’m letting the people decide,” Kelly said. “Tonight, I’m saying no to growing government on this floor. If we grow government in this fashion, I say we send it to the people — I say we not sell this on the backs of rural Missourians who will never see the money at the end of the day.”

Republican members spoke on both sides of the issue, with some supporting the funding of Missouri’s infrastructure while others discussed expanding government and rising tax rates. Rep. Don Mayhew said the amendment was the only way he would vote in favor of the tax increase.

After more than three hours on the bill, members on both sides of the aisle continued to discuss the conditions of roads and bridges in their districts, in addition to prior attempts to pass a tax increase at the ballot.

Rep. Raychel Proudie raised the question of rebates for compensated mileage, using the example of a legislator compensated for their fuel expenses. Ruth said it was a question that had not been raised before.

Rep. Jered Taylor said Senate leadership threatened his Second Amendment Preservation Act — which is due to come up in the upper chamber — if he did not vote in favor of the bill. He called on his colleagues to check the power of the Senate with the amendment.

After more than three hours, the amendment failed 48-102.

Rep. Tony Lovasco moved to divide the measure, splitting it into parts. Part 1 was adopted 111-46, and Part 2 was adopted 109-48. 

With both parts adopted, the bill was passed 104-52.

The emergency clause was voted down 9-141.


SB 520, memorial highway bill, third read and passed

The bill would name several highways, including one in honor of retired Officer David Dorn, who was fatally shot while providing security for a local pawn and jewelry store in the city during the protests brought on by the murder of George Floyd last year.

Capitol Briefs: Roberts, Dogan file bills to rename highway after David Dorn

Amendments included naming a street named in honor of World War II Veteran Alex Cortez and a portion of Highway C after firefighter Tyler H. Casey.

An amendment from Rep. John Simmons would name part of Interstate 55 after Rush Limbaugh; the attempt drew the ire of Rep. Steve Butz, ranking minority member of the House Transportation Committee, who said it was disrespectful to other honorees for the name to be considered.

Rep. Raychel Proudie passionately spoke against the amendment, citing controversies over the course of Limbaugh’s career, saying “David Dorn deserves better than this.”

Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove read quotes from Limbaugh on African Americans on the floor and continued to discuss the issue with members of her party.

Rep. Shamed Dogan is directing the conversation, speaking with members on both sides of the aisle and pointing to other controversial figures honored in the Hall of Famous Missourians. He said he supports the amendment despite acknowledging the controversy.

The motion was PQ’d and went to a vote, adopted 88-48.


HB 734, finance energy transition costs, to conference 

Rep. Michael O’Donnell requested a conference on his HB 734 to strip away amendments added by the upper chamber.


SB 9, licensed professionals, third read and passed

Handler Rep. Travis Fitzwater moved tongue-in-cheek for the adoption of the House committee substitute, opting for a cleaner version of the bill. A titling amendment from Rep. Kurtis Gregory opened the title to “the regulation of certain professionals” to allow other items to be attached.

The underlying bill would allow psychologists working under the Department of Corrections to appeal complaints against their license from prisoners.

An amendment from Gregory would allow college athletes to be compensated for the use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL). The idea has seen play in both chambers and recently passed the House as an amendment.

Missouri college athletes could get paid for their likeness under bipartisan plan

An emergency clause for the amendment was removed through another motion from Fitzwater, and the NIL language was adopted.

Other amendments on health care providers and physical therapy licensure were also adopted.

The bill as amended passed 150-1.


Rule 22 waived

The House waived Rule 22, allowing conference committees on SBs 141 and 226 to meet while the body remains in session.


SB 333, nonprofit organizations, third read and passed

The bill would create the Personal Privacy Protection Act, prohibiting public agencies from disclosing personal information of individuals involved with the organization. Other provisions would allow rural electric cooperatives to continue remote annual meetings and restricting the state from imposing annual fees for charitable organizations.

Capitol Briefs: Senate committee considers tax exemption protections

An amendment from Rep. Ben Baker would disallow individuals and groups from contributing to election authorities or state entities for use in elections.

Rep. Tracy McCreery said the provision could have unintended consequences, with communities not getting the funding they need and pushing for equitable funding.

Legislators continued to discuss the proposal across the aisle. Baker and Rep. Joe Adams discussed the proposal, with Adams pushing for adequate funding for election authorities from the state to keep their systems updated.

The amendment was adopted via a voice vote.

Another amendment from Rep. Bill Hardwick concerning contract language and allowing organizations to retain trade secrets was also adopted. Rep. Kurtis Gregory proposed another amendment to allow child care facilities to meet the minimum health and safety standards without needing licensure.

Other amendments included:

  • Rep. Jered Taylor: Technical tweaks to what reports go to the Secretary of State
  • Rep. Bruce DeGroot: A provision allowing private businesses to disclose information to banking institutions
  • Rep. Peter Merideth: A provision allowing the Department of  Health and Senior Services to provide data on medical marijuana licensure to legislative committees
  • Rep. Rodger Reedy: A provision allowing the Department of Natural Resources to purchase a historic cemetery in Clinton

The bill was third read 100-49.


The House recesses 

The House went into recess at 12:40 p.m. and reconvened shortly after 2:30.


SB 63, PDMP, TAFP’d

Sen. Holly Rehder’s SB 63 would establish the Joint Oversight Task Force of Prescription Drug Monitoring within the Office of Administration, creating a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). The task force would work with a vendor after a competitive bid to collect and maintain patient data — which would be deleted after three years.

The bill would also restrict the database from being used by agencies that could prevent Missourians from owning firearms or to establish probable cause for a criminal investigation. Individuals disclosing information for illegal purposes would face a class E felony charge.

Missouri is the only state not to have a statewide PDMP; St. Louis County has its own version, which covers nearly 85 percent of the state.

The measure almost made it to the finish line last year but fell victim to a breakdown in trust between chambers at the very end of session after compromise language was stripped back. Senators debated the legislation for a few hours on the final day before it was eventually laid over — with only a few hours left in the legislative session. It was not brought back up before the legislative session came to a close.

Rep. Justin Hill spoke against the measure as soon as it hit the floor Tuesday, saying it would be a mistake to give that power to the state and saying the bill would hurt Missouri’s Second Amendment rights. He said he would fight the bill in the future if it were to pass and is expected to be a massive player on the opposition side of the debate.

The bill came to a vote after a PQ, passing 91-64.


SB 86, school districts, third read and passed 

The bill, handled by Rep. Phil Christofanelli, would prevent school districts from using public funds for political uses. Communities would also be able to file a petition to bring an item on local school boards’ agendas.

An amendment from Christofanelli would amend his education savings account (ESA) bill passed by the Senate last week. The amendment would halve the number of available credits to $25 million for the first year — with a total maximum for the program at $50 million — and cap the number of organizations that can offer the program at 10. Christofanelli said he worked on the amendment after discussions with the other chamber last week.

His other bill would establish the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program, allowing taxpayers to claim a credit of up to 50 percent of their liability for contributions to educational assistance programs. The funds would be pooled in ESAs for use on tuition, textbooks, tutoring services, and other costs. The program would apply to taxpayers in areas with populations at or exceeding 30,000.

The program sitting on the governor’s desk would cap the program at $50 million for the first year with an overall limit of $75 million. 

ESA bill heads to governor’s desk

Rep. Barbara Phifer voiced her concerns about the amendment, calling for more safeguards to ensure the money is used in the way it was intended. Rep. Bill Kidd voiced his support for the amendment, noting free and reduced lunch students would benefit from it.

Rep. Raychel Proudie also voiced her support, saying she would vote yes to reduce the cap before Gov. Mike Parson signed off on the current amounts.

Christofanelli noted the number of compromises he had already made and said he hoped to see increased school choice for all Missouri students.

The amendment succeeded 79-72.

Another amendment would allow those paying taxes in a school district other than their own may send their children to that district; it was also approved by the body.

Rep. Maggie Nurrenbern, an educator herself, said the underlying bill was “searching for a problem to fix” and would tie the hands of districts and employees.

The bill was third read and passed 84-67.


SB 262, gas tax increase, placed on informal calendar

The bill was quickly laid over after the title was agreed to. The measure passed a House committee Monday.

Sen. Dave Schatz’s bill would increase Missouri’s fuel tax by 2.5 cents annually for the next four years — bumping it up to 29.5 cents from 17 cents by 2025. The funds would go toward maintaining the state’s roads and bridges, a major focus for both Schatz and Gov. Mike Parson.

Capitol Briefs: Schatz gas tax bill clears Fiscal Review Committee


National Police Week

The body stood for a moment of silence to remember fallen law enforcement officers after a passionate motion from Rep. Ron Copeland in recognition of National Police Week.


House gavels in

The legislative day began at 10:18 a.m.


Rep. Jim Murphy threw his hat in the ring for Speaker Pro Tem; Rep. Ben Baker announced his own bid for the role Monday, while Rep. Mike Haffner is vying for floor leader.

Jim Murphy announces bid for House Speaker Pro Tem

“I believe a Pro Tem should be someone who is not afraid to stand up for what is right, and I have never been afraid to take on tough issues,” Murphy said.


Senate police reform package stonewalled in conference committee

The Senate and House went to conference over SBs 53 & 60, a massive police reform legislation, Tuesday morning. But negotiations quickly stalled over a controversial House provision. Another conference committee is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Police reform package stonewalled in conference over House provision