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Government, Politics & Issues

2013 General Assembly scorecard: What's passed and what's passed on

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri General Assembly has ended. The legislature has approved some consequential bills -- and left others unattended. As we count down to the end of the session on Friday, this list will be updated to reflect legislation that’s passed -- or passed on.

Click on the subject to get more information about the bill.

Bills that passed

Agenda 21: State Sen. Brian Nieves' legislation prohibits state or local jurisdictions from "implementing any policy recommendations that infringe on private property rights without due process" and is traceable to the United Nations, among other things. Passed in 1992 as non-binding resolution for sustainable development, Agenda 21 has drawn the ire of conservative groups across the country.

Nieves' bill also bars any state and local agencies from partnering with "any organization accredited and enlisted by the United Nations to assist in the implementation of Agenda 21."

Department of RevenueSen. Will Kraus’ bill, among other things, would bar the Department of Revenue from retaining copies of source documents presented by individuals applying for or holding driver's licenses or non-driver's licenses. 

Doe Run: Legislation that began as a bill renaming a building morphed into a multi-faceted environmental bill. Included in Rep. Robert Ross' bill was language to limit punitive damages to $2.5 million for injuries at mines operated and maintained by the Jefferson County-based Doe Run Co.

Education: State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed's legislation would have St. Louis Public Schools join the rest of the state in being able to dismiss teachers on the basis of incompetence. It also lets districts that takes in students from a failing district not count those students' test scores for three years, and it lets the state step in more quickly to take over districts that, like Kansas City, have lost accreditation.

Elections: House Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick's omnibus legislation includes a provision to make the public administrator for St. Louis an appointed position. Among other things, it would also forgo the need for an election if nobody applies to be a member of a county's 911 board.

Electronic monitoring: Sen. Bob Dixon's bill would allow a person to be placed on electronic monitoring if the person can afford the costs or if a county commission agrees to pay the costs of the monitoring from its general revenue.

Foreclosure mediation repeal: Legislation from state Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, and House Majority Leader John Diehl, R-Town and Country, effectively abolishes foreclosure mediation ordinances in St. Louis and St. Louis County. It would also prevent other jurisdictions from setting up similar programs. Click here to read more about this bill.

Foreign law: Nieves' legislation stipulates that any ruling isn't enforceable if it's based on a foreign law that "is repugnant or inconsistent with the Missouri and United States constitutions." The Associated Press noted that previous versions of the bill specifically went after Islamic Sharia law, while this iteration would affect all foreign legal codes. 

Foster care: Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus' bill would raise the age when a youth can re-enter foster care from 18 to 21 years old.

GunsHouse Rep. Douglas Funderburk's bill declares that "all past, present, or future federal acts, laws, orders, rules, or regulations that infringe on the people's right to keep and bear arms" are "invalid, will not be recognized, are specifically rejected, and will be considered null and void and of no effect in this state."

The legislation would also allow school districts to designate "school protection officers" who can carry concealed weapons and lowers the conceal and carry age from 21 to 19.

Gun education: Sen. Dan Brown's bill allows schools to teach first-grade students the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program developed by the National Rifle Association. It also designates that the conceal and carry permit issued by a county sheriff authorizes a person to carry concealed firearms.

Guns in carsRep. Jeanie Riddle's bill states that Missouri shall not prohibit any state employee from having a firearm in their vehicle on the state’s property, provided that the vehicle is locked and the firearm is not visible.

Heart disease testing: Brown's bill would require newborn screenings for congenital heart disease. The bill contains an exception to testing if it conflicts with a parents' "religious tenets and practices."

Insurance cardRep. Don Gosen's bill would allow an insurance card to be made available electronically. If somebody is pulled over, he or she could show proof of insurance on his or her phone.

Lieutenant governor successionAfter former U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson resigned, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder expressed interest in running for her seat. But it was unclear what would occur if he won and created a vacancy. House Speaker Pro Tem Jason Smith, R-Salem, introduced a bill to change the succession process for the lieutenant governorship.

After Smith received the GOP nomination in the 8th congressional district, interest in the bill waned considerably. But it managed to pass on the final day with several changes from the original version. Among other things, it would stipulate that the office would remain vacant until the next general election.

The bill also bars the governor from making any interim appointments to the St. Louis County Election Board. The amendment was written so that it does not apply to any other gubernatorial-appointed election boards. The provision had been sought by some county Republicans, including House Majority Leader John Diehl, who are still angry with Nixon over some actions taken by the county election board, including last summer's removal of the GOP elections director, Joseph Goeke, a retired judge.

Linn State name: State Rep. Dave Schatz's bill would change the name of Linn State Technical College to State Technical College of Missouri.

Motorcycle awarenessSen. Kurt Schaefer's bill designates May as "Motorcycle Awareness Month." Sen. Kurt Schaefer's bill encourages people to "observe the month with appropriate activities and events."

Motorcycle check points: Schaefer's legislation would prohibit law enforcement agencies from establishing roadside checkpoints based upon a particular vehicle type, including the establishment of motorcycle-only checkpoints.

Parking: State Rep. Karla May's bill would combine the parking enforcement division and the parking meter division in St. Louis into the parking division. May's bill also replaces the director of parking meter operations on the city's parking commission with the director of parking operations.

Pharmacies: State Sen. David Sater's legislation allows pharmacies to refuse to carry a specific drug or device. The Associated Press noted earlier this year that this bill would allow pharmacists to refuse to carry emergency contraception if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Prevailing wage: State Rep. Casey Guernsey's legislation would eliminate prevailing wage requirements for school construction and public works projects in third- and fourth-class counties. Guernsey, R-Bethany, told St. Louis Public Radio that his legislation was necessary to spur school construction in rural counties. 

Public assistance: Sen. Will Kraus' bill would bar welfare recipients from using EBT funds at any liquor store, gambling casino or gaming establishment, or adult-oriented establishment. 

Public Service Commission documents: State Sen. John Lamping's legislation would allow the Missouri Public Service Commission to publish a range of studies, reports, decisions and orders electronically.

"Right to Farm": Lawmakers placed on the 2014 ballot a constitutional amendment that "no state law which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology and modern and traditional livestock production and ranching practices may be enacted, unless enacted by the General Assembly."

Supporters see the measure as a reaction against a 2010 ballot initiative that imposed restrictions on dog breeders. Click here to read more about the proposal.

Roll callsSen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal's bill would allow members of a public governmental body to cast roll call votes if that person is participating through videoconferencing in such meetings.

RU 486: This legislation sponsored by Riddle, R-Mokane, would require a doctor to be present when somebody takes RU-486, a drug that induces abortion. Click here to read more about this bill.

Safe Place for Newborns ActSen. Ryan Silvey's bill would expand the Safe Place for Newborns Act, which prevents somebody from being prosecuted if they leave an infant at specific facilities. Silvey's bill would increase the time  someone could relinquish a child from five days to 45 days after birth. And it adds maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers as permissible places to leave a child.

Second Injury Fund: For years, lawmakers have been trying to change the Second Injury Fund, which was set up in the 1940s to protect businesses that hire people -- notably World War II veterans – with pre-existing injuries. This year, the legislature finally came to a compromise on the issue -- including placing occupational disease back into the workers' compensation system. Click here to read more about the bill going to the governor's desk.

Sexual offender prosecutionsRep. John McCahetry's constitutional amendment would allow prosecutors to introduce evidence of past wrongdoing by an alleged sex offender in cases of child sexual abuse. McCahetry's measure would need to be approved by voters.

Sexually violent predators: Legislation sponsored by state Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, would require that a local prosecutor receive a copy of a petition for conditional release for sexually violent predators.

Tax cuts: State Rep. T.J. Berry and State Sen. Eric Schmitt's legislation would cut the state's personal income, business and corporate taxes over a period of time. It also contains "triggers" to delay cuts in tax rates if general revenue doesn't go up by a certain amount. Read more about the legislation by clicking here.

Training: Rep. Jeanie Lauer's bill requires the Department of Economic Development to establish a program to assist qualified companies with the training of employees in new or retained jobs.

Unemployment benefits: Kraus' bill changes the definition of "misconduct" and "good cause" for people seeking unemployment compensation.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce argued that the current definition for misconduct makes it "extremely difficult" to deny unemployment benefits. Opponents see the bill as a way to deny benefits for minor offenses. 

Uninsured driversState Rep. Paul Wieland's bill would prohibit an uninsured driver from collecting non-economic damages in a civil action against an insured motorist alleged to be at fault for an accident.

Union dues: State Sen. Dan Brown's legislation would require public-employee unions to get approval of members annually before dues could be automatically deducted. Separate approval would be needed for any union political contributions. Click here to read more about this bill. 

Vehicle tax: The governor has vetoed two bills aimed at allowing some counties and municipalities to collect sales tax on certain vehicle purchases. But a new version of that plan -- long sought by car dealers and local governments -- was placed onto two bills that are now on the governor's desk. 

Veterans courts: Kraus' bill would authorize circuit courts or a combination of circuits to create veterans treatment courts. According to a bill summary, these courts would handle cases involving substance abuse or mental illness of current or former military personnel.

William Lacy Clay, Sr. Bridge: This bill would rename the Poplar Street Bridge for former U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, Sr. It would also name the Missouri portion of the new Mississippi River Bridge after Cardinals great Stan Musial.

Workers' Compensation database: State Sen. Mike Cunningham's legislation would require the Division of Workers' Compensation to develop and maintain a database of workers' compensation claims.

Bills that failed

Campaign finance limits: During his State of the State address, Nixon called for implementing caps on political donations. So far, the legislature hasn't listened.

Circuit BreakerSenate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey's bill would end the  circuit breaker tax credit, used by low-income seniors and disabled individuals, to subsidize their rent. The bill got caught up in a budget dispute between the GOP-controlled legislature and Gov. Jay Nixon, who vetoed the bill on Tuesday. There will likely not be enough votes in the House for an overide.

Death penalty studyState Sen. Joe Keaveny's bill would require the state auditor to compile a one-time report on the costs of administering the death penalty. It would have to be provided to the governor, General Assembly, and the Missouri Supreme Court by June 30, 2015.

Gun notification: Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, proposed legislation to require parents to notify schools if they possess firearms. It also would have made crimes out of negligent storage of a firearm and failure to stop illegal firearms possession. While Chappelle-Nadal succeeded in getting her bill a hearing, it did not get out of Nieves' general laws committee.

June primary: State Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, wanted to move the state's primary from August to June, arguing that an earlier primary would give voters more time to scrutinize statewide candidates. Some objected to the move, arguing it could make it harder for incumbents to compete in districts where winning the primary amounts to election.

Liquor franchising: Legislation to redefine the word “franchise’’ when it comes to alcohol distributors and suppliers produced a whirlwind of activity this session. It's become sort of a cottage industry for lobbyists and attracted attention of political figures political figures such as St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. While the bill was brought up again on Friday, it didn't come up for a vote. Click here to read more about the issue.

LobbyingLamping also put forth a bill that would have barred members of the General Assembly from becoming lobbyists for 10 years. The bill was shelved after Democrats tried to amend the bill to include campaign contribution limits.

Medicaid expansion: Several Democratic lawmakers put forth proposals to expand the state's Medicaid program under the auspices of the Affordable Care Act. But efforts to increase eligibility up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level went nowhere in the GOP-controlled General Assembly.

Prevailing wage: State Rep. Warren Love's bill would have eliminated prevailing wage requirements in most of rural Missouri. Senate Democrats filibustered the bill, which ended discussion of the issue for the rest of the session.

"Right to work": The Missouri Chamber of Commerce had made a priority of this legislation barring unions and employers from requiring workers to pay union dues. But the bill's prospects were always dicey, especially since several Republican lawmakers received labor endorsements in last year's election campaign.

Tax credits: Both chambers have also struggled in recent years to amend the state's tax credit programs, but the House and the Senate have been unable to agree on caps for popular historic preservation and low-income housing tax credits. An effort to revive the issue faltered on the last day of session.

Transportation tax: State Sens. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, and Ryan McKenna, R-Jefferson County, put forward a one-cent sales tax increase that the voters would take up next year. The measure was shelved on Tuesday after several senators filibustered, including Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue. While Kehoe vowed to bring the issue back up for consideration, he essentially gave up on Friday.

Tenure: Several times during the session, the Missouri House attempted to pass legislation to change teacher tenure and evaluation. Those efforts faltered, but they may be revived through an initiative petition. 

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