Coleman Legislation Update
My proposed Constitutional amendment, HJR 80, dealing with property tax assessments, was voted out of Rules Administrative Committee this week. HB 2615 (School COVID Mandates) was also voted out of Rules Committee this week. This bill would prohibit school districts (and staff) from mandating mask wearing or a Covid-19 vaccination as a condition to participate in school-sponsored extracurricular activities. It is my hope that these bills will be on the House Floor soon. HB 2906 Assistant Physician bill was voted out of Professional Registration this week. This bill will stop the pipeline of Caribbean medical school physicians who are not actively pursuing residency programs to complete their medical license and education. Our health and the health of our families is of upmost importance. Last but not least I have co-sponsored HB 2853 Tax Exemption for Social Security benefits. This will help so many vulnerable Missourians to stay in their homes, afford groceries and their medication(s), and many other life’s necessities.
House Rejects Senate Version of Proposed Congressional Map (HB 2117)
The members of the Missouri House have rejected a plan proposed by the Missouri Senate to draw Missouri’s new congressional districts. By a vote of 26-129, the House voted down the Senate map and then by a vote of 131-17 once again approved a motion to ask the Senate for further discussion on the bill.
The vote comes more than two months after the House approved its plan for the map and sent the bill to the Senate. The Senate took nine weeks to develop its own map, which it sent back to the House just days before candidate filing closed. On Tuesday, the House had the opportunity to vote on the Senate-proposed map, but members expressed concerns with the changes made by the other body.
The sponsor of HB 2117 noted that the version approved by the Senate was “very different than what we sent over.” He said, “I have a couple issues with the map that came over with the compact and contiguous part that is in the constitution that we must abide by.” He added, “When we went through the committee process we made sure we minimized the community splits and we took care of that. This map has a couple of those that I think need to be addressed and some other things I think would be best served for the House and for the citizens of Missouri to go to conference and try to get the best possible map for the state of Missouri.”
Instead of voting on the Senate’s plan, the House opted to ask the Senate for further conference on the bill. One member who supported the motion said, “This increases the number of county splits. The map that has been sent to us increases the number of voting district splits. The map sent to us does not respect communities of interest to the degree that our map did.”
The House approved the motion with the hope the Senate would grant a conference where the two chambers could iron out their differences. Rather than grant the House conference, the Senate refused the motion and requested the House to take up the Senate version of HB 2117 and pass it.
Before the House voted on the Senate version of HB 2117, the sponsor of the legislation told his colleagues that a vote to reject the proposal would not lead to the map being drawn by the court. He said, “By no means if we do not adopt this does it go directly to court. This is not a vote to go to court. This is a vote to continue the process, to continue the discussion for the best possible map for the state of Missouri, not the best possible map they could vote out, but the best possible map for all of Missouri.”
House leadership issued a statement about the decision to reject the Senate map and seek further conference. They said, “Today’s vote was a vote to continue the process and to continue the discussion so we can reach a compromise that will provide the best possible map for the state of Missouri. From the beginning of this process we have worked in good faith with the Senate to create a map that is compact and contiguous, that preserves communities of interest, and that ensures the conservative values of Missouri families will continue to have strong representation in our nation’s capital. We will continue to work toward a compromise with our Senate colleagues so that we can pass a map that fairly and accurately reflects our state.”
While the House and Senate disagree on the details of the map, both versions give six likely seats to Republicans and two likely seats to Democrats. The House will now await the decision from the Senate to see if discussions will continue so the two chambers can reach a compromise.
The original map approved by the House can be viewed at the following link: https://house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills221/maps/Map.4875H.02P.pdf
The modified map approved by the Senate can be viewed at the following link: https://house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills221/maps/Map.4875S.05F.pdf
House Members Approve Legislation to Protect Life (HB 2012)
House members once again took action to protect the lives of the innocent unborn. The House gave initial approval this week to a measure that contains several provisions to protect the sanctity and dignity of life.
HB 2012 would make it a felony offense to use or donate fetal tissue from an abortion for any purpose other than to diagnose anomalies, determine paternity, or for law enforcement purposes. The bill also makes it a felony offense to hoard aborted human remains.
The bill’s sponsor told her colleagues, “This is about what Missourians want us to be about – protecting the integrity and value of life, and making sure that those with evil intentions don’t prevail.”
An amendment added to the bill during floor discussion would enact the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which mandates that a child born alive during or after an abortion or attempted abortion will have the same rights, privileges, and immunities as any other person, citizen, and resident of Missouri, including any other live-born child.
The original sponsor of the act said, “What this language says is that any child who is born alive during or after an attempted abortion, that child shall have all the same rights and privileges as any other child that is born at that same stage of development, and that they should be provided care from medical staff.”
Another amendment added to the bill aims to protect the lives of the unborn by making it a felony offense to traffic abortion-inducing drugs. The measure would make it a class B felony if a person or entity knowingly imports, exports, distributes, delivers, manufactures, produces, prescribes, administers, or dispenses, or attempts to do so, any medicine, drug, or other means or substance to be used to induce an abortion on another person in violation of state or federal law. The provision makes it clear the woman using the drug cannot be prosecuted for trafficking.
The sponsor of the amendment said it “very clearly protects the woman and it protects the infant in the womb and that’s the primary purpose of this amendment.”
Other provisions added to the bill would ensure taxpayer funds do not go to abortion providers or their affiliates and clarify that federal laws cannot affect the decisions made by the state to prevent funds from going to abortion providers. The bill also contains language to ensure victims of domestic or sexual assault cannot be sued by their perpetrators, or the perpetrator’s family members, for violating provisions of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
The actions of the House build on measures approved in years past that were designed to reduce the number of abortions in the state. Figures released by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services show that 151 abortions occurred in Missouri in 2021. That number is down significantly from 2019 when 1,471 abortions took place in the state. As recently as 2010, the state saw more than 6,000 abortions take place within its borders.
The bill now requires another positive vote in the House before moving to the Senate.
Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence (HB 1699)
The House has voted to make several changes in state law meant to make victims of domestic violence safer.
The bill’s sponsor told his colleagues, “This bill seeks to plug some of the gaps in our laws that allow abusers to circumvent the system and continue to use the system actually to further abuse their victims.”
A key provision of HB 1699 would specify that a defendant in an abuse case will be considered to have been notified of an order of protection if they are notified in any reasonable way. In effect, this would make clear that orders of protection remain in place until otherwise ordered by a court.
The sponsor explained, “What happens today is that when somebody files for an ex parte order and then a hearing is scheduled, the temporary order stays in effect until the hearing. If the abuser chooses not to show up in court and later pleads ignorance, he didn’t know what went on in court, there have been some successful defenses to violating the order because of this so-called ignorance.”
He added, “What this bill does is say that when you get served that temporary, those provisions are going to remain in effect and they don’t expire simply because the hearing is being held. Those protections go on and the individual can’t plead ignorance.”
Another measure in the bill would allow victims in domestic violence cases to testify via video conference. The sponsor said that domestic cases are often dismissed because victims refuse to testify.
“It’s not because the victim doesn’t want to be there. The truth of the matter is in many cases the victim is simply afraid to be in the same room. The victim does not want the abuser to know where they’re going to be at a particular time, and so it’s important that we give this person some kind of security if we possibly can,” said the sponsor.
HB 1699 would also specify that courts cannot make a victim or their family reveal in court the victim’s current address or workplace unless necessary. The bill would also specify that when a defendant is ordered to pay the victim’s attorney fees, that order covers the entire proceeding; and that a person convicted of domestic assault who is ordered to attend a batterer-intervention program will be responsible for paying for that program.
The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Other Bills Sent to the Senate
HB 2005 specifies that any electrical corporation that proposes building a transmission line must provide a minimum 50% of its electrical load to Missouri consumers to be considered a public service and to be allowed to condemn property to construct the transmission. The provisions of the bill do not apply to electrical corporations operating under a cooperative business plan. The bill also specifies that in condemnation proceedings, just compensation for agricultural or horticultural land shall be 150% of fair market value, which will be determined by the court. The sponsor said the bill is a response to the land owners who are pleading with the legislature for help. He said the bill, “ensures utility projects in Missouri actually benefit the state of Missouri. It provides just compensation for land owners when their land is being taken from them and it’s being condemned. It also incentivizes negotiations outside the court process.”
HB 1734 seeks to modify three parts of the Smart Energy Plan legislation passed by the legislature in 2018. The law established a new accounting methodology for utilities called Plant-In-Service Accounting (PISA) that encouraged increased investment in new electric grid technologies, which support improved reliability and resiliency in the grid. The 2018 law also created an economic development incentive rate to encourage expansion and growth of companies already located in Missouri, and to attract new companies to the state. HB 1734 will extend and enhance these provisions of the law, which are set to expire next year. Supporters say that this bill will help utilities with grid modernization and resiliency. The bill will also boost economic incentives for commercial users, which leads to economic development in the state.
HB 1677 provides that beginning on March 1, 2024, and annually thereafter, a pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) utilized by the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan shall file a report with the Plan for the immediately preceding calendar year regarding rebates, as defined in the bill. The report shall include: the aggregate dollar amount of rebates collected from pharmaceutical manufacturers; the aggregate dollar amount of the rebates that were not passed on to the Plan, and the aggregate dollar amount of all fees and payments received from pharmaceutical manufacturers. Supporters say the bill will lower costs of prescription drugs for patients and increase transparency for the pricing practices of PBMs. The bill takes significant steps to restore balance in the health care system and ensure Missourians have sustainable access to medications and choice in where they receive pharmacy services. The bill’s sponsor said, “This is the bill that will show transparency for prescription drugs. It will drive costs down for all of our constituents.”
HB 1656 specifies that no political subdivision can require its employees to reside within a jurisdiction and changes the law regarding fire marshal employees. The bill repeals existing residency requirements for commissioned and civilian personnel of a municipal police force; repeals existing residency requirements for any public safety employee of a city not within a county; specifies that no employee of a political subdivision can be required to reside within a particular jurisdiction as a condition of employment; repeals existing residency requirements for a fire department employee; repeals certain employment requirements for an investigator for the State Fire Marshal; and requires that a prospective investigator for the State Fire Marshall be a resident of Missouri at the time of appointment and prohibits an investigator from accepting other employment that would pose a conflict of interest The sponsor said the bill is meant to “give the freedom of movement to some of our most valuable in our state that really come out and protect us in our times of need.”
HB 1750 specifies that school districts and charter schools must adopt a community engagement policy based on community input that provides residents a method of communicating with the governing board of the school district or charter school. The policy creates a process for items related to educational matters to be added to the board agenda. Supporters say school boards are too often unresponsive to the concerns of parents and that having an opportunity to directly communicate concerns and have action taken on those concerns is vitally important. This bill is designed to give people the opportunity to express concerns and that there should also be an initiative petition process to change policy not just have it added to an agenda. The bill includes additional provisions related to gifted children, substitute teacher certification, child abuse investigations, and the Extended Learning Opportunities Act.
HB 2455 requires the Missouri Veterans Commission to review the provisions of the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019, and any related regulations. After review, the Commission, in collaboration with the Department of Mental Health, will provide recommendations and make efforts to adopt procedures, programs, treatment options, additional aid, and any other assistance deemed necessary by the Commission to assist in the efforts to prevent veteran suicide. Supporters say the bill brings awareness to the issue of mental health and attempts to bring an end to veteran suicide. Through the report, this bill will provide data on how to prevent veteran suicide.
Please let me know If you have other concerns and suggestions. If you would like to schedule a specific time to meet locally, please call my office at 573-751-1487, or email my office at email@example.com.