Legislative Science Outlook: A look at Missouri’s pre-filed bills

Ahead of the 2021 legislative session, Missouri lawmakers began pre-filing legislation on Tuesday, December 1, 2020. To date, 600 bills and resolutions have been pre-filed in the house and senate combined. We expect to see more than 1000 bills pre-filed before the legislative session begins in January 2021. For a comprehensive list of all pre-filed bills, visit http://house.mo.gov/legislation/ or http://senate.mo.gov/legislation/

Data and research can be used to inform policy discussions on many of these bills. The MOST Policy Fellows will be tracking legislation and writing science notes when lawmakers request additional information. We’ve already received around 30 requests for science notes and make all information publicly accessible on our website. During the legislative session, we will also testify for informational purposes on these bills during committee hearings. 

The following topics are likely to be important during the 2021 regular session of the 101st Missouri General Assembly, based on feedback from lawmakers, state agencies, and interest groups, and also based on historical discussions on these topics. We will also be discussing these topics and upcoming legislation at our 2021 Legislative Outlook on January 11, 2021 at 9am. Register to attend at: https://missourilsen.quorum.us/event/2021_legislative_outlook/

Education & Workforce 

Dr. Brittany Whitley – brittany@mostpolicyinitiative.org 

Early childhood, elementary & secondary education

Over seventy bills related to PK-12 education were introduced in the first three days of the pre-filing process. 

Early learners

SB 167 would support pre-kindergarten funding by modifying the calculation of average daily attendance for early childhood education programs. In many ways, this bill aligns with the 2020 legislative priorities of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), which has recently created a dedicated Office of Early Learning. There is also continued interest in requiring school districts to create a policy for reading success plans from kindergarten through grade four (SB 54 & HB312). 

Improving educational quality

Expanding parental/school choice options remains a central goal that is highlighted by bills to modify charter school funding (HB 137 & SB 218), support interdistrict transfers (HB 303), and allow for the development of recovery charter high schools in Kansas City (SB 259). Related to public school funding concerns, bills that address superintendent sharing (HB 151) and salary caps (HB 93; SB 260) were reintroduced this session. Similarly, there are several bills that would provide tax credits or deductions to educators and those who donate to education-related savings and scholarship accounts (SB 25; SB 28; SB 30; SB 152; SB 228). Accentuated by teacher shortages during COVID-19, there is also renewed interest in addressing teacher qualifications, especially for substitute teachers (HB 106, HB 237). 

College & career readiness

As schools look for ways to improve college and career readiness, competency-based education (CBE) has started to gain bipartisan support as a tool to progress students through school based on their mastery of content instead of seat time or pace of learning (SB 33 & SB 35). Other bills specifically address college and career readiness, including provisions modifying workforce development in elementary and secondary education (HB101) and establishing a work group about an eighth grade course on career readiness (HB 112). There are also two proposals for new diploma programs that emphasize skill mastery (SB 34) and employability via career & technical skills (SB 139).

Higher education & workforce development

During the upcoming legislative session, the primary focus of the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development (DHEWD) and several higher education institutions will likely be restoring core funding and continuing support for Missouri’s existing financial aid programs. Senator Hegeman and Representative Smith are scheduled to speak on the higher education budget outlook during the Coordinating Board for Higher Education Meeting on December 9. Additionally, the Informed Student Document Act (HB 233) would require higher education institutions to provide outcomes information to incoming freshmen. SB 125 would extend the Fast Track Workforce Development Program  from 2022 to 2027, consistent with the DHEWD goals of increasing affordability and accessibility of high-demand workforce programs. Professional licensure (HB 273; SB 8; SB 11) has also been an important area targeted to improve workforce options and accessibility. Finally, there may be a renewed push for a right-to-work policy in Missouri (HB 87), which Missourians voted against (Proposition A) on the August 2018 primary ballot. 


Health and Mental Health

Dr. Josh Mueller – josh@mostpolicyinitiative.org 

As of December 3rd, several bills pertaining to health and mental health policy have been pre-filed for consideration during the 2021 Regular Session of the Missouri General Assembly. Categories of proposed legislation and descriptions of select bills are provided below.

Public Health Powers

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, several bills have been introduced that would reduce the authority of county commissions and health boards to issue public health orders relating to infectious disease. HB 75 (Rep. Jim Murphy), SB 12 (Sen. Bob Onder), SB 20 (Sen. Denny Hoskins), and SB 21 (Sen. Andrew Koenig) would all place limits on the cumulative number of days that public health orders may be in effect, while SB 56 (Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin) would remove authority from county health boards to issue public health orders relating to infectious disease altogether. SB 12 would also stipulate that public health orders may not regulate religious and non-religious activities differently. Additionally, SB 21 would prohibit public health orders from placing restrictions on gathering sizes or interfering with religious practice.

Infectious Disease

Several pieces of legislation would modify laws relating to infectious disease. SB 64, introduced by Senator-elect Holly Rehder, would legalize needle exchange programs in the state. SB 65, also introduced by Sen. Rehder, would reduce the severity of criminal penalties for knowingly exposing an individual to serious infectious diseases, such as HIV or hepatitis, while also specifying that knowledge of and consent to exposure is an affirmative defense to these charges.

SB 79, proposed by Senator-elect Greg Razer, would allow pharmacists to dispense prophylactic HIV medication upon completion of a training program.

HB 35 and HB 37, introduced by Rep. Suzie Pollock, would prohibit public schools from requiring immunizations not required under state law and remove vaccination requirements for private schools.

MO HealthNet

Two Senate bills would modify provisions regarding MO HealthNet, the state Medicaid program. SB 224, introduced by Sen. Bob Onder, would impose work and community engagement requirements for MO HealthNet eligibility. SB 103, proposed by Sen. Bill Eigel, would modify MO HealthNet reimbursement for outpatient services from 80% of the cost to 50% of the Medicare reimbursement rate.

Prescription Drugs

SB 63, introduced by Sen. Holly Rehder, would require the creation of a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. SB 112, introduced by Sen. Lauren Arthur, would modify insulin pricing rules by requiring that all available rebates are incorporated at the point of sale rather than applied retroactively.

Tobacco and Marijuana

SB 124, introduced by Sen. Lincoln Hough, would regulate electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, extend prohibitions on smoking in public places to electronic cigarettes, and raise the purchase age for tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21. HB 266, proposed by Rep. Peter Meredith, would allow localities to increase taxes on tobacco products subject to majority voter approval.

 HB 263, also proposed by Rep. Meredith, would legalize marijuana possession and sale.

Nursing

Two proposed bills would modify rules relating to collaborative practice agreements between physicians and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). HB 84, proposed by Rep. Mike Stephens, would eliminate requirements for collaborative practice agreements between physicians and APRNs. It would, however, maintain collaborative practice agreements for APRNs wishing to prescribe controlled substances. HB 84 would remove certain restrictions from these agreements, including eliminating geographic proximity requirements (similar to SB 193, introduced by Sen. Bob Onder) and chart review requirements.

SB 223, also introduced by Sen. Onder, would prohibit contracts between healthcare facilities and APRNs (and physicians) from containing clauses that would prevent those individuals from practicing in a geographic area after termination of the contract.

Mental Health

HB 270, introduced by Rep. Crystal Quade, would authorize the Department of Mental Health to establish a behavioral crisis grant program. HB 274, introduced by Rep. Tom Hannegan, would establish review and approval protocols for trauma center closure.


Energy, Environment, Transportation, and Public Safety

Dr. Jenny Bratburd – jenny@mostpolicyinitiative.org 

Energy and Environment

Of the pre-filed bills for the 2021 legislative session, there are currently 16 energy-related bills and 9 environment-related pre-filed bills. Some are targeted towards the Department of Natural Resources to provide more information regarding penalties or assistance during the permitting process (SB 40, HB 138). Of environmental hazards, one bill bans asbestos (SB 200), one regulates anhydrous ammonia (SB 37), and SB 208 restricts the ability of the Hazardous Waste Management Commission to create rules. Regarding energy, several bills affect electrical corporation financing, particularly relevant for closing old plants (SB 202), as well as financing affecting new plants (HB261). Some proposed legislation may impact the Property Assessment Clean Energy (PACE) Act, a program that helps property owners finance energy efficient upgrades (SB 105, HB 145).

Public Safety

While several bills related to public safety were addressed over the summer in the first special session, in the 2021 session 15 bills have been pre-filed related to policing and law enforcement officers. Among the more prominent include SB 60, with several accountability efforts, and many house bills focused on particular aspects of reform, such as provisions for the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) commission (HB 38 and HB 39), and appointment of special prosecutor for officer involved shootings (HB 287). Other bills are aimed at providing special protections to officers such as HB 59 which allows officers to redact personal information from online records, and SB 26 which gives additional right to a hearing for officers who are being demoted or dismissed. Additionally, SB 66 addresses unauthorized protests, changing the offense of rioting from a misdemeanor to a felony and rendering anyone convicted of rioting ineligible for bail. Firearms remain a hot topic in Missouri, with 22 bills touching this topic, addressing how guns are bought, sold, transferred, and transported. 

Technology

Broadband needs have become increasingly acute during the pandemic as many people work and learn remotely. Several bills build on last session’s effort towards expanding broadband access, impacting the ability of municipalities to create broadband improvement districts (SB 108), giving electrical corporations the ability to operate broadband (SB 184), while other bills may limit authority of community improvement districts (SB 99).

Transportation

Missouri is one of two states where texting while driving is legal (after age 21). This session, there are 5 bills related to handheld communication (like texting) while driving (HB 73, HB 103, HB 110, HB 241, HB 258). Around 30 other bills relate to transportation, ranging from changing licensing requirements to regulations on delivery robots (SB 176).


Children, Families, and Seniors

Dr. Jill Barnas – jill@mostpolicyinitiative.org

Maternal Health disparities

HB 47, introduced by Rep. Sarah Unsicker, adds a new duty to the Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review Board within the Department of Health and Senior Services to consider the roll of race, ethnicity, language, poverty, literacy, and other social determinants of health, including racism at the interpersonal and system levels when conducting multidisciplinary reviews of severe maternal morbidity, mortality, and other clinically important metrics.

Abortion

Six bills were pre-filed pertaining to abortion. Specifically, HB 67, introduced by Rep. Hardy Billington, requires the performance and explanation of an obstetric ultrasound and auscultation of fetal heartbeat prior to an abortion. SJR 18, introduced by Sen. Bill Eigel, prohibits expenditures of public funds to any person or facility, or affiliate of such, performing or inducing an abortion.  SB 101, introduced by Sen. Andrew Koenig, establishes the “Safeguarding All Children’s Remains to Ensure Dignity Act” or the “SACRED Act” which requires physicians or qualified professionals to present options, in person, for final disposition of the remains of an unborn child. HB 155 and SB 168, introduced by Rep. Doug Richey and Sen. Eric Burleson, establishes the “born-alive abortion survivors protection act.” Any baby born alive during or after an abortion or abortion attempt will have the same rights, privileges, and immunities as any other live-born child.

Child welfare  /  Care facilities

In general, there were numerous bills about child welfare, child support payments, child care facilities. However, no bill has been pre-filed on licensure or registration requirements for unlicensed facilities which was the main focus of discussion during the recent Children and Families House Committee hearing in November.

HB  32 and SB 132, introduced by Rep. Sarah Walsh and Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, permits in-house licensed child care facilities to not include children related to the operator when calculating the maximum number allowed under the license. However, SB 132 adds that if more than one operator has children, that only one operator’s children will not be counted towards the maximum. HB 80, introduced by Rep. Jerome Barnes, requires licensed child-care facilities to report their liability insurance to the Department of Health and Senior Services. HJR1, introduced by Rep. Suzie Pollock, makes a constitutional amendment to allow parents exclusive rights to their upbringing with no government interference.

Additionally, two bills were introduced related to conversion therapy for minors. HB 33, introduced by Rep. Pollack, prohibits medical providers from administering any medical or surgical treatment for the purpose of gender reassignment for anyone under the age of 18. SB 207, introduced by Sen. Lauren Arthur, prohibits mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with minors.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefits

HB 217 and SB 138, introduced by Rep. Chad Perkins and Sen. Rick Brattlin, adds work requirements to be eligible to participate in the supplemental nutrition assistance program unless otherwise exempted from such requirements.  Failure to meet requirements will result in a disqualification period; on the third occurrence of non-compliance, the individual will be disqualified permanently.

Seniors

Two bills were pre-filed related to taxation for senior citizens. HJR 4, introduced by Rep. Marlene Terry, reduces property tax assessments on senior citizens and disabled persons by 50% of the value of their property. HJR17, introduced by Rep. Bill Kidd, proposes a constitutional amendment relating to tax exemption for certain senior citizens who are eligible for full Social Security retirement benefits.  


Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Economic Development

Dr. Eleni Bickell – eleni@mostpolicyinitiative.org

Animals, Feral Animals, and Animal Welfare

Several bills we pre-filed referring specifically to animals. HB111 sponsored by Rep. Gretchen Bangert (D) would provide civil immunity to any individual for damage resulting from his or her use of forcible entry to free from a locked vehicle an animal, except livestock, who the individual in good faith believes is in imminent danger of suffering harm if not immediately removed from the vehicle. Sponsored by Tom Hannegan, HB276 establishes an animal abuse registry, while Sen. Elaine Gannon (R) in SB71 outlines adult protection orders and child protection orders, full or ex parte, may be granted to restrain or enjoin an individual from committing or threatening to commit abuse against a pet. Finally, SB107 prohibits villages, towns, and cities from regulating dogs in a breed-specific manner. The bill that is sponsored by Sen. Sandy Crawford (R) introduces that a village, town, city, or county may prohibit dogs from running at large or further control or regulate dogs within its boundaries so long as the ordinance, order, policy, or regulation is not breed specific. The Senator also sponsors SB159, which codifies provisions relating to working animals and says that no law, ordinance, or rule shall be enacted by any political subdivision of the state that terminates, bans, or effectively bans, by creating undue financial hardship, the job or use of working animals or an enterprise employing working animals. Finally, SB236 modifies provisions relating to feral swine and is sponsored by Sen. Lincoln Hough (R). According to the bill, currently, any person who recklessly or knowingly releases any swine to live in a wild state or possesses or transports certain live wild boar without a permit from the Department of Agriculture is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Under this act, any person who recklessly or knowingly releases any swine to live in a wild state or possesses or transports live feral swine is guilty of a Class E felony. 

Farms, Land and Equipment

Sponsored by Rep. Ron Done (R), HB153 requires the department of revenue to establish a system in which persons who own multiple farm vehicles can elect to have the vehicles placed on the same registration renewal schedule. Rep. Mark Ellebracht (D) sponsored two bills regarding value and land ownership: HB169 would change the laws regarding sales of land so that a sale of 10 or more acres requires a survey, while HB181 would modify the computation of heritage value in condemnation proceedings. 

The ownership and restrictions on the redistribution process of Missouri farmland is another major focus of legislation in 2021. Senator Doug Beck sponsored SB 243, which will prevent any alien or foreign business from acquiring agricultural land in the state and would be in effect on August 28, 2021. The bill, which is re-introduced from last year, would require the Department of Agriculture to determine whether the transfer of agricultural land is in accordance to the prohibition on alien and foreign ownership of agricultural land under the act. Second, legislation regarding eminent domain, which has been discussed in previous years, is expected to be introduced again this year. The bill on eminent domain and public utilities is likely to impose restrictions for private and for-profit companies from receiving eminent domain authority to build merchant electricity transmission lines in the state.

Natural Resources & Conservation

Sponsored by Rep. Adam Schnelting (R), HB54 establishes the “Protection of Missouri Farms and Private Property Act”, which specifies that no person or entity shall have standing to sue or intervene in any manner in a civil action on behalf of nature or the ecosystem. Any plaintiff bringing a civil action must be human and not represent nonhuman entities. Rep. Randy Pietzman (R) sponsors HB138, which specifies that it is the policy of the Department of Natural Resources to assist applicants throughout the application and permitting process by designating one or more people who are trained in the process to assist applicants. The Department must maintain a permit assistance portal on its website and must provide a link to the portal to all permit applicants. The Department must track that number of requests for assistance submitted through the portal and the timeliness of responses provided to applicants. Rep. Randy Pietzman (R) also sponsors HB140, which requires the Department of Conservation, for the first two years after the effective date of any new administrative penalty imposed by rule, to provide at least one warning before imposing the penalty on an individual or entity. The requirement to issue a warning does not apply to modifications of a rule or regulation that only establishes seasons or limits and does not modify an administrative penalty.

Energy & Fueling

As in the past session, laws and incentives for alternative fuel refueling options within the state is a major topic for the 2021 legislative session regarding Agriculture. Senators Dan Hegeman and Jason Bean pre-filed tax credit bills to allow certain alternative fuel refueling properties and tax credits for the sale of ethanol fuel within the state. Also, SB 96 will create the Missouri-Made Fuels Act, which proposes a statewide biodiesel fuels standard. The bill is sponsored by Senator Denny Hoskins and will require that all diesel fuel sold or offered for sale in Missouri to contain at least 5% biodiesel fuel oil by volume (starting April 1, 2022, until March 31, 2023), leading to 10% (from April 1, 2023, until March 31, 2024), and 20% (after April 1, 2024). The minimum content levels will go into effect after the Department of Agriculture submits notice that the requirements have been met and the state is prepared to move to the next scheduled minimum content level.

Food

Two bills are addressing problems related to food deserts in the state of Missouri. SB82 is re-introduced from last year and it authorizes a tax credit for urban farms located in a food desert. It is sponsored by Sen. Barbara Washington (D) and it specifically provides tax credits to urban farms that are located in food deserts in Missouri. Also, SB188, which establishes a tax credit for grocery stores in a food desert. Sponsored by Sen. Doug Beck (D) the bill would authorize a tax credit up to $2.5 million per tax year.

Economic Development

SB57, which establishes the Economic Distress Zone Fund, is sponsored by Sen. Karla May (D). According to the bill, the Fund shall be a fund used solely by the Department of Public Safety to provide funding to organizations registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) corporation that provide services to residents of Missouri in areas of high incidents of crime and deteriorating infrastructure for the purpose of deterring criminal behavior in such areas. 

Finally, sponsored by Rep. Brad Hudson (R), HB139 would change the laws regarding requirements of lodging establishments. In specific, the bill states that the hotel may use a safe or safe deposit boxes located behind the registration desk. The bill also specifies that any lodging establishment that publishes current rates electronically on a public Internet platform does not have to post a written copy of the rates charged for each guest room.

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