More than 130 bills received Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s written approval by July 14, the final day he could act on legislation delivered to him by the General Assembly.
If no action was taken on legislation, by either receiving his signature or a veto, then the legislation is enacted into law on its effective date.
Four measures will take effect without receiving gubernatorial action and 15 received his veto, including one line-item veto in House Bill 10 and a measure — later overridden by the General Assembly — changing the composition of congressional districts based on the 2010 census.
Among the bills endorsed by Nixon:
Senate Bill 48, sponsored by Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis, prohibits gas, electric, water, heating and sewer companies from requiring a deposit or other guarantee for continued service to any existing customer who has been late in paying the utility at least five times in a 12-month period. A customer would have to have consistently made a monthly payment by the delinquent date during the 12-month period of at least $75 or 25 percent of the total outstanding balance. The measure does not apply to those individuals who owe more than $300 or to customers who are making payments as part of an established pay plan with the utility. The legislation was signed July 1 and, due to an emergency clause, certain provisions took effect immediately. Other provisions in the bill will take effect Aug. 28.
Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, sponsored Senate Bill 351, which was signed on July 5. His legislation changes certain provisions in state law regarding adoption records. More specifically, the bill allows non-identifying information concerning biological parents or siblings to be given to the adopted adult’s lineal descents if the adopted adult is deceased. Currently, the information can only be released by the child placing agency or the juvenile court to the adoptive parents, legal guardians or adopted adult. The act also allows adopted adults to obtain identifying information on adult siblings with the sibling’s consent without the court ruling that the information is necessary for health-related purposes, among other provisions.
Also signed July 5, Senate Bill 180 designates certain state recognized days, weeks and months. Sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, the measure designates the month of October as “Walk and Bike to School Month,” the first Wednesday of October as “Walk and Bike to School Day,” the month of May as “Missouri Bicycle Month,” the third Friday in May as “Bike to Work Day,” and the week of “Bike to Work Day” as “Bike to Work Week.”
A measure signed on July 7 creates the Farm-to-Table Advisory Board and makes changes to a provision in state law regarding certain agricultural commodity fees. Handled by Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, House Bill 344 creates a board designed to provide recommendations for strategies that allow schools and state institutions to more easily incorporate locally grown agricultural products into their cafeteria food plans, salad bars, and vending machines. The panel is also charged with increasing the public’s awareness of local agricultural practices and the role that local agriculture plays in sustaining healthy communities and supporting healthy lifestyles. The board will consist of members from various state departments and the University of Missouri system, and must submit its findings and recommendations to the governor, General Assembly and the director of each agency represented on the board by Aug. 31, 2012.
The legislation also adds rice growers or producers to those who are exempt from the provision allowing an agricultural producer or grower to independently request a refund of the fees paid to the Commodity Merchandising Council Program from the director of the Department of Agriculture. The legislation’s effective date is Aug. 28.
Another measure relating to agriculture signed into law on July 11 was Senate Bill 356, also sponsored by Munzlinger. His legislation changes the name of the Joint Committee on Urban Farming to the Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture; creates a trust fund for the Canine Cruelty Preservation Act and allows individuals and corporations to donate a certain amount to the Puppy Protection Trust Fund; develops specific sales tax exemptions, including the sale of captive wildlife; and creates the Missouri Farmland Trust to accept or acquire farmland in Missouri for the purpose of leasing the land to beginning farmers, among other provisions.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Senate Bill 173, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, was signed into law on July 7. His legislation requires the Joint Committee on Missouri’s Promise to focus on developing long-term strategies and plans relating to creating a modern infrastructure and transportation system in the state.
The Joint Committee on Missouri’s Promise was created in 2010 to examine issues that will impact the future of the state of Missouri and its citizens. The committee was also charged with developing long-term strategies and plans to increase the economic prosperity and opportunities for Missourians by improving the health status of the state’s citizens, preparing graduates for global competition, developing three-, five-, and 10-year plans for the General Assembly to meet these long-term strategies, and implementing a budget forecasting the next 10 years in order to plan for the long-term financial soundness of the state, among other duties.
Senate Bill 173 also addresses the Missouri State Transit Assistance Program, highway and sewer design-build contracts, excavation notification centers, highway naming provisions and Missouri Transportation Development Districts.
Concealed Carry and Firearms Regulations
Legislation changing the laws regarding firearms, ammunition and concealed carry licenses in Missouri was signed by the governor on July 8. House Bill 294, carried through the Senate by Munzlinger, will take effect Aug. 28. Main provisions in the legislation change the age a person can obtain a concealed carry endorsement from 23 to 21 and prohibit the sales tax on any firearms or ammunition from being higher than the sales tax for sporting goods and equipment or hunting equipment.
Signed on July 8, Senate Bill 57 requires courts to transfer certain cases upon the request of the public administrator. More specifically, the act allows a public administrator to request the court to transfer any guardianship or conservatorship case to another county. If the other county meets the venue requirements and the public administrator of the other county consents to the transfer, the court is required to transfer the case. The court with jurisdiction over the other county is required to appoint the public administrator of that county as the person’s new guardian or conservator without holding a hearing. The bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Floor Leader Victor Callahan, D-Independence, will take effect Aug. 28.
Another bill relating to the courts, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Keaveny, D-St. Louis, modifies the Uniform Trust Code, among other provisions. Senate Bill 59 also changes the type of information that is required to include in a petition for guardianship for a minor or an incapacitated person, and adopts the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act, which brings the state statute in line with the act and addresses all aspects of guardianship and protective proceedings for both minors and adults. The measure, which was signed by the governor on July 11, will become law Aug. 28.
Senate Bill 320, sponsored by Lamping, changes various provisions in state law regarding domestic violence. Signed July 12 and taking effect Aug. 28, the measure creates one definition of domestic violence in law, eliminates conflicts between child and adult protection orders, and gives judges more discretion regarding what they can include in these protection orders. The bill also makes changes to batterer intervention programs, requires certain information pertaining to orders of protection to be entered into the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (MULES) within 24 hours, and repeals the sunset on the Safe at Home confidentiality program, which provides victims of sexual assault, rape, stalking and domestic violence a substitute mailing address through the Missouri secretary of state’s office.
Rights for Individuals with Disabilities
House Bill 604 and 648, both handled in the upper chamber by Sen. Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville, change the laws regarding individuals with disabilities. House Bill 604, signed July 12, creates the Foster Care and Adoptive Parents Recruitment and Retention Fund; establishes a task force on foster care recruitment, licensing and retention; changes the laws regarding the rights of individuals with disabilities, foster care provider investigation reports, and foster care and sibling placements; and establishes the Missouri State Foster Care and Adoption Board. More specifically, the measure does not allow the state to remove a child from his or her parent on the grounds that the parent has a disability.
House Bill 648, also signed by the governor on July 12, changes the references of “mentally retarded,” “mental retardation,” or “handicapped” in state law to “intellectually disabled,” or “developmentally disabled,” “intellectual disability” or “developmental disability,” or “disabled,” respectively.
Both measures will take effect Aug. 28.
Carried through the Senate by Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mt. Vernon, House Bill 214 changes state law regarding human trafficking. Taking effect Aug. 28, the legislation adds definitions for certain terms relating to human trafficking, including “blackmail,” “coercion,” and “victim of trafficking”; increases the penalties and adds a monetary fine (not to exceed $250,000) for all human trafficking crimes (except for sexual trafficking of a child under the age of 12); and strengthens the penalty for the crimes of abuse through forced labor and trafficking. The bill was signed July 12.
Drug Testing for Certain Individuals Receiving Welfare Benefits
Also signed by the governor July 12, House Bill 73, handled by Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, requires Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants and recipients to submit to a drug test when a case worker has a reasonable suspicion of illegal drug use. If individuals fail or refuse to take the drug test, they can only receive benefits as long as they participate and complete a drug treatment program and do not test positive again. If they do not complete the program, they would lose their benefits under the TANF program for three years. However, the state would choose a third party to receive the share of benefits that would have gone to the individual’s children.
Traumatic Brain Injury Prevention
House Bill 300, carried through the Legislature by Senate Leader Robert N. Mayer, R-Dexter, establishes the “Interscholastic Youth Sports Brain Injury Prevention Act,” which requires the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to develop guidelines on the risk of concussion and brain injuries in students. By Dec. 31, DHSS will work with various organizations to create information to educate coaches, student athletes and their parents or guardians regarding the risk of concussions and brain injury, especially when athletes continue playing sports after these types of injuries.
The legislation also bans student athletes suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury from participating in sports for at least 24 hours and cannot return until they receive written permission from a medical professional trained to evaluate and manage concussions. Also, the parent or guardian is required to sign a concussion and brain injury information sheet prior to that student participating in practice or competition. The bill was signed July 13 and will take effect Aug. 28.
Student Protection Act
Also known as the “Amy Hestir Student Protection Act,” Senate Bill 54 is aimed at preventing the sexual abuse of children in the classroom. Sponsored by Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, and signed into law July 14, the legislation requires Missourians who apply for a teaching certificate to complete a criminal background check. The applicant cannot have been listed under the state sexual offender registry or the state child abuse registry. The legislation also allows school districts in Missouri to discuss information about their employees with other school districts. The school district would be liable for damages if it fails to disclose to another school district (upon request) that an employee was dismissed or allowed to resign for reasons of sexual misconduct.
Senate Bill 54 also establishes the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children. The legislation will take effect Aug. 28.
Banning the Marketing of Controlled Substances
Signed by the governor on July 14, House Bill 641 changes the state’s laws regarding controlled substances. More specifically, the legislation, handled by Sen. Goodman, adds to the state’s list of Schedule I controlled substances several forms of stimulants, including synthetic “bath salts,” which are considered to have similar effects to that of cocaine, and hallucinogenic synthetic cannabinoids, also known as K2 alternatives. Last year, the General Assembly banned a type of synthetic marijuana, known by the name K2. The measure will take effect Aug. 28.
Several bills passed by the General Assembly during the 2011 regular session are allowed to go into effect pursuant to the Missouri Constitution, which states “…any bill shall not be returned by the governor” within 45 days after the constitutional last day of session, May 30, “shall become law in a manner as if the governor had signed it.”
Senate Bill 65 and a similar measure, House Bill 213, both sponsored and handled by Mayer, respectively, will take effect Aug. 28. Both measures pertain to abortion with respect to viability by preventing the abortion of unborn babies of the gestational age of 20 weeks or more that are determined by a physician to be viable outside of the womb. With the exception of an emergency, the legislation requires the physician to determine the gestational age of the baby before performing an abortion. If the doctor determines the baby is 20 weeks or more, the physician would test for viability. If viable, no abortion could be performed, unless it is necessary to preserve the life of the mother. If the baby is 20 weeks or more, not determined viable, and an abortion is performed, the legislation requires the doctor to submit a report to the Department of Health and Senior Services.
Penalties for violating the new law include a Class C felony, and physicians who plead guilty to or are convicted of performing or inducing an abortion in violation of this act could be subject to having their license to practice medicine in Missouri suspended for three years. Hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers that knowingly violate this act could also be subject to suspension or revocation of their license.
Another bill allowed to take effect on Aug. 28 is House Bill 423, handled in the Senate by Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, authorizes Missouri to adopt the provisions of the Health Care Compact to improve health care policy by returning the authority to regulate health care to the state Legislatures.
Legislation that would have pushed back the installation date for sprinkler systems in long-term care facilities was vetoed by the governor in early July. Senator Bill 118, sponsored by Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, would have delayed the date for installation of sprinkler systems until Dec. 31, 2014. Lawmakers passed sprinkler system requirements in 2007 after 11 individuals died in a fire at the Anderson Guest House in Anderson, Mo.
House Bill 465, ushered through the upper chamber by Sen. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, would have changed laws regarding the Division of Credit Unions within the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration. More specifically, the legislation addressed the process of appointing the director of the Division of Credit Unions. Because another measure, Senate Bill 306, sponsored by Sen. Wasson, passed during the 2011 regular session that contained similar but not identical legislation, the governor vetoed the nearly duplicative bill.
Sponsored by Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, Senate Bill 163 would have changed the composition of the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri and the governing board of Missouri State University. The governor had previously signed a companion bill with identical language (House Bill 174, handled in the Senate by Pearce). Currently, the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, the University of Missouri Board of Curators, and the Missouri State University Board of Governors have nine voting members, with no more than one person appointed from the same congressional district. To reflect Missouri’s recent change in the number of congressional districts — from nine to eight — House Bill 174 requires at least one voting member, but no more than two, to be appointed from each congressional district. A member who is in office on the effective date of the legislation (Aug. 28) may complete his or her term.
Senate Bill 282, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, was also vetoed by the governor. His legislation would have changed numerous laws relating to elections, including requiring the governor to fill all vacated statewide offices and the office of U.S. senator by special election for the remainder of each respective term. In addition, the measure would have changed the presidential primary date from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February, to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March, among other provisions.