Missouri State Representative Kevin Corlew represents Missouri House district 14. Most of Representative Corlew’s district is in Platte County, but a small portion of it extends into Clay County. This is his October 6 newsletter. In it he discusses ports in Missouri and a rundown of the 2015 Missouri veto session. For more information on our Opinion Section please click here.
Ports Development Committee
This summer, I was selected by Speaker Todd Richardson to serve on the Interim Ports Committee, which is being chaired by Representative Becky Ruth. The ports along Missouri waterways are valuable resources with large economic-development potential. In August, the Kansas City Port re-opened to barge traffic for the first time in over 7 years. As we approach 2016, commercial barge traffic is expected to increase with the expansion of the Panama Canal and possible trade with Cuba. The Ports Committee is working on developing a strategic plan for our ports.
The committee met once in August and again in September. We then participated in a Ports Summit in St. Louis this past Thursday and Friday. The committee brought together stakeholders to make sure we have the most relevant and current information.
Eleven Bills Enacted into Law over Governor Veto
The annual Veto Session began on Wednesday, September 16. This year, the House and Senate combined to override the governor’s vetoes on 11 pieces of legislation. Heading into the day, the legislature had successfully completed 94 veto overrides in the history of the state. Seventy-two of those overrides had occurred under the watch of the current governor. With Wednesday’s total added to the tally, the legislature has now successfully approved 104 overrides, and Gov. Nixon has seen 82 of his vetoes overridden.
The annual Veto Session is required by the Missouri Constitution, which calls for the General Assembly to convene each September to consider vetoed bills. Overrides have typically been rare in the state’s history because a successful motion requires two-thirds majorities in both legislative chambers—23 votes in the Senate and 109 in the House of Representatives. Override efforts begin in a given bill’s chamber of origin. If the originating chamber fails to override, the other chamber can take no action on it. When the legislators’ work was done shortly after midnight on September 17, the two chambers had combined to override vetoes on six House bills and four Senate bills. A summary of the actions follows.
Uniform Minimum Wage (HB 722). The House and Senate collaborated to overturn the governor’s veto of legislation meant to keep minimum wages in municipalities throughout Missouri at a rate that does not exceed the state standard. A uniform minimum wage is important to provide a level playing field for employers and employees around the state. The bill is simply a clarification of existing law, which prohibits cities from raising the minimum wage above the state level. In addition, the law ensures that Missourians will continue to have the choice of paper or plastic bags at the grocery store. The measure establishes that a political subdivision cannot impose any ban, fee, or tax upon the use of paper or plastic bags.
Authorization for Return of Insurance Premiums (HB 1022). This bill allows a casualty insurer to return or refund a portion of its expense savings to an insured if the insured makes no reportable claim under specified coverages within a prescribed period of time established by the insurer, regardless of whether the claim is due to the fault of the insured. The return of savings may be represented as a predetermined portion of the premium and must not constitute a rebate or an unfair trade practice under state law.
Unemployment Reform Bill (HB 150). During the 2015 regular session the Missouri House approved an override motion on the governor’s veto of legislation that will link unemployment benefits to the rate of unemployment and attempt to keep more money in the unemployment trust fund. During Veto Session, members of the Senate completed the override to enact the bill into law.
Undocumented Immigrants Prevented from Receiving A+ Scholarships (SB 224). As a result of the General Assembly’s veto override, this bill is now set to become law. It is meant to ensure scholarship benefits through the state’s A+ Schools Program are received only by young people who are legal residents of the United States.
Disposition of Human Remains (HB 618). The General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto on this measure that changes the laws regarding the disposition of human remains. The law expands the types of medical professionals who can attest to a cause of death, to include physicians’ assistants, assistant physicians and advance practice registered nurses.
Corporate Security Advisors (HB 878). Set to become law after the veto override, this bill specifies that the Missouri Department of Public Safety has the authority to commission corporate security advisors and establishes procedures to do so.
Trust Companies (HB 1098). This bill now set to become law changes the laws regarding trust companies. This bill modifies the definition of “out-of-state bank or trust company” to reflect the name change of the Office of Thrift Supervision to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The bill specifies that if an out-of-state bank or trust company has established a physical location in the state, it may also be served legal process at the location by service upon any officer, agent, or employee at that location. The division director has the discretion to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the bank or state regulator of another state to adjust the minimum capital requirement or other terms to obtain reciprocity for Missouri chartered banks or trust companies in that jurisdiction.
Sales Tax Exemption for Commercial Laundries (SB 20). This bill now set to become law creates a state and local sales and use tax exemption for material, machinery, and energy used by commercial laundries in treating or cleaning textiles.
MDNR State Implementation Plans (SB 142). This bill set to become law requires the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, when developing a state implementation plan, state plan, or non-point source management plan for submission to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to prepare an implementation impact report in lieu of a regulatory impact report in collaboration with certain other state entities. The report will be delivered to the Governor, Joint Committee on Government Accountability, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives along with the proposed plan 45 calendar days prior to submission to the EPA.
Increase in Fee Ceiling for Certain Consumer Loans (SB 345). This bill set to become law increases the maximum fee that banks can charge consumers for loans of 30 days or more, from the current limit of $75 to a new maximum of $100.
Welfare Reform Bill (SB 24). The General Assembly overrode the governor’s veto of this legislation during the regular legislative session. The law is meant to reform Missouri’s welfare system so that it does a better job of moving folks out of poverty and toward self-sufficiency. The legislation will lower the lifetime benefits for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients to 45 months from the current limit of 60 months. In addition, it will add Missouri to the list of 37 other states that require welfare recipients to take immediate steps to seek employment in order to receive benefits. The legislation then takes the savings generated by the reforms and invests them in child care, education, transportation and job training assistance for participants in the TANF program.
Vetoed Bills Not Overridden
Labor Bill (HB 116). The House considered a motion to override a veto on HB 116, often referred to as the private-sector “right to work” bill. The measure would have made it a crime for businesses to enter into labor agreements that require the payment of union dues as a condition of employment. The bill also would’ve made employers criminally and civilly liable for basing employment decisions on an employee’s union or non-union involvement. By a vote of 96-63, the House did not approve the override motion. This was 13 votes short of the number needed to override. Because the bill had begun in the House, the Senate didn’t consider override motion; however, during the regular session, the Senate’s vote tally on the bill was below the threshold needed to override a veto.
Judicial Circuits (HB 799). The Senate failed to override the governor’s veto of this bill. The bill had various provisions related to specific circuit courts around the state. Of interest to the Kansas City area, the bill would have moved moved one of the judicial divisions in the Jackson County Circuit Court from Kansas City to Independence.