I am pleased to announce my proposed Constitutional amendment, HJR 80, dealing with property tax assessments, has been assigned to the Special Committee on Public Policy. The committee will have a hearing on Monday, March 7th, in which HJR 80 will have its public hearing. This bill has been one of my top priorities this session so it’s rewarding to have a public hearing scheduled for it. With that in mind I encourage everyone to submit their testimony and their support for HJR 80 through the house website, https://house.mo.gov/Bill.aspx?bill=HJR80&year=2022&code=R and select ‘Submit Testimony’. The deadline to submit is 11:59 p.m., Monday, March 7, 2022. I am hopeful that it will move through the process swiftly and get placed on the House calendar. HJR 114 and HB 2307 regarding Stop Human Trafficking have both been placed on the House calendar. I am hopeful that these two pieces of legislation will pass the House soon. On the opposite side of the Capitol, the senate is picking up speed again, after the filibuster of the last couple weeks slowed their process down.
Lastly, on Thursday, March 3rd, the House debated and adopted House Resolution No. 3658, which urges President Biden to take action regarding the Ukraine and Russia conflict. Please continue to pray for those effected by the Russian invasion.
House Passes Resolution to Support Ukraine (HR 3658)
The members of the Missouri House have approved a resolution to express their support for Ukraine and its people, and to condemn Russia’s attack on the sovereign nation.
The resolution calls Russia’s invasion “unprovoked and unjustified” and notes it is the “largest invasion of a sovereign nation in Europe since World War II.” The resolution also notes the combat is directly responsible for massive civilian casualties, including a Russian mortar attack on a children’s hospital that inflicted devastating loss of life.
“We proudly stand alongside Ukraine, its people, and its leaders during this horrific and unnecessary war and vow to support Ukraine and hold Russia accountable for its catastrophic decision to invade this sovereign nation,” said the resolution’s sponsor.
HR 3658 condemns the attack in the strongest possible terms and strongly endorses swift and severe economic sanctions and stringent export controls on Russia. Additionally, the resolution urges Russia to “immediately cease its violent, illegal, and immoral assault upon Ukraine, end the needless bloodshed, and return to diplomacy and the rules-based international order that has ensured peace and prosperity for so many.” The resolution also recommends to the President and Congress to reaffirm the unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine’s freedom, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
State Leaders Announce “Missouri Stands with Ukraine” Initiative (HB 2913)
House Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher has announced the new “Missouri Stands with Ukraine” initiative in response to the Russian invasion of the sovereign nation and unprovoked aggression perpetrated by Vladimir Putin on the people of Ukraine.
Plocher is the sponsor of HB 2913, which targets business transactions with Russia and Russian entities. Plocher was also joined at the announcement by Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe who asked all Missouri retailers to consider voluntarily removing Russian-made or Russian-branded products from store shelves, and encouraged Missouri businesses to identify suitable product alternatives through the State’s “Buy Missouri” program.
“Our message today is clear. Missouri is open for business to those who value democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and self-determination,” said Plocher. He added, “Brave Missourians – our servicemen and women – have served with honor to defend these values for over 160 years. These values made our country great and are the envy of the free world. History calls on every generation to defend freedom when necessary. We will do our small part in Missouri to lead the way.”
HB 2913 directs a complete suspension of Missouri business activities involving state entities and private businesses receiving public funding are not contracting with Russia, Russian entities, or any country that is attacking or occupying a NATO member, Ukraine, Finland, Sweden, or Georgia.
“We in Missouri will do our small part to unite with the international community’s response to Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. We stand by the strong leadership President Zelensky as the Ukrainian people fight fearlessly and heroically against the tyranny of Putin,” Plocher said.
“Missouri will do its part in this critical moment in history,” said Kehoe. “As the Buy Missouri advocate for our state, I always encourage Missourians to purchase locally, and now it is more important than ever to do so. No matter how large the transaction, even if it’s a single product on a store shelf, the amplified effect of these decisions send a direct and meaningful message to the Russian government that Missourians support Ukraine.”
This week, Governor Parson ordered the Missouri State Capitol dome to shine blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian national flag, beginning at sunset March 1, 2022, until sunrise on Friday, March 4, 2022.
"We join the rest of the nation and the world in expressing our condemnation of the attacks on Ukraine and this Russian assault on democracy," said Plocher. "We are proud that the Capitol dome will shine blue and yellow, showing that Missourians stand in solidarity with the freedom-loving people of Ukraine as they fight against Putin's tyranny."
Strengthening the Second Amendment Rights of Missouri Citizens (HB 1462)
The House has given initial approval to legislation that will expand and strengthen the rights of law-abiding gun owners in Missouri.
The core provision of the bill would allow a concealed carry permit holder to lawfully carry firearms on public transportation. It would also allow anyone with a permit to carry a firearm while traveling by bus. This bill would not apply to property of Amtrak or any partnership in which Amtrak engages.
The bill’s sponsor said, “It ensures the right of self-defense. It allows those who’ve undergone CCW firearms training to carry while aboard our public transportation systems that they fund with their own tax dollars.”
During the committee process, a provision known as Blair’s Law was added to the bill. Blair’s Law is meant to criminalize in state statute what’s known as “celebratory gunfire.” It’s named for Blair Shanahan Lane, who was struck in the neck by a bullet fired from more than a half-mile away.
The provision’s sponsor said, “I don’t think that anybody goes out there with the intention of hoping that one of these bullets hurts someone or damages property … but I think we just have to educate people that these bullets do come down.”
During discussion on the House floor, lawmakers added an amendment to lower the age requirement from 19 to 18 years of age or older for a concealed carry permit. The amendment’s sponsor noted that 18 year olds are able to serve in the military and said, “The thought is that if you can die for your country, you ought to be able to – if you meet all the requirements, the training, the application, pay the fee – you ought to be able to have a conceal and carry permit in the state of Missouri.”
Another amendment added to the bill would remove the prohibition on the carrying of firearms in churches and other places of worship by a person with a valid concealed carry permit. The amendment’s sponsor told his colleagues that 40 other states have passed similar laws. The sponsor said, “This does make churches safer.” He added, “This would give protections to those people to defend themselves who have the training and have a CCW.”
The bill now needs a final vote in the House before heading to the Senate.
House Moves to Protect Funding for the Kansas City Police Department (HB 1986)
House members passed a bill this week designed to ensure the Kansas City Police Department receives the funding it needs. The House approved the bill in response to efforts by the city to remove $42 million from a previously-agreed-upon budget for the department.
The bill’s sponsor pointed out that existing state law makes it clear the department will receive 20 percent of the city’s general revenue, but Kansas City’s mayor and some city council members earmarked city revenues into other funds so that the general revenue fund would contain less funding than it should. While a Jackson County judge ruled the effort to defund the police department violated state law, the bill’s sponsor said it is important to improve existing statute to make certain similar attempts don’t occur in the future.
The sponsor said the goal of the bill is to ensure the city is not able to “artificially manipulate the general fund to manipulate therefore the budget for the Kansas City Police Department.”
HB 1986 clarifies state law to say that, for the purpose of cities calculating one-fifth of general revenue that must be allocated to funding a police department, general revenue of the cities that is devoted to special purposes or allocated to special funds by the cities' charter and ordinances must be included in the calculation. The bill does exempt any tax or appropriation for funding first responders from the calculation.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
House Gives Initial Approval to Workforce Diploma Program (HB 2325)
This week the House gave preliminary approval to legislation meant to help the thousands of Missourians who do not have a high school degree. The bill establishes the Workforce Diploma Program under the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The program is designed to assist Missourians in obtaining a high school diploma and developing employability and career technical skills. Supporters say there are currently more than 445,000 adults in the state who don’t have a diploma.
The bill’s sponsor said the program will help Missourians “attain that high school diploma so that they can have a chance at having a better job or getting a raise, maybe even getting employer-sponsored health care and just improving their work prospects.”
Under the program, the department would contract with providers that can administer the program. The bill’s sponsor told his colleagues it’s a “pay-for-performance” system so providers would only be paid if they are successful in helping Missourians obtain credits toward a diploma.
During discussion on the House floor, the bill also had an amendment added that would require students in public and charter schools to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before being eligible for a certificate of graduation. The sponsor noted students in Missouri missed out on approximately $9 million in aid last year because they didn’t fill out an application for federal student aid. The provision does include an exemption for a student's enlistment in the Armed Forces, or parental consent that student has chosen not to file for FAFSA.
Another amendment added during floor discussion would establish the Extended Learning Opportunities Act. The amendment’s sponsor said the program would allow students to “discover, develop, and apply their talents to areas of interest that could help them realize their full potential and become an asset in the marketplace of today’s employment opportunities.”
The bill must now receive final approval in the House before moving to the Senate.
House Passes Bill to Address Substitute Teacher Shortage (HB 2304)
Members of the Missouri House took action to address the substitute teacher shortage that is causing major problems for schools around the state. The House gave first-round approval to legislation to create opportunities to increase the number of substitutes that are available to schools.
“This bill is really addressing an issue that’s very prevalent in our state today. Our schools are having a very difficult time acquiring substitute teachers,” said the bill’s sponsor. He added, “This bill just tries to open up the lane for substitute teachers to make it as wide as possible.”
HB 2304 would provide a four year certificate for individuals who want to substitute teach. Under the bill, applicants for certification must complete a background check and also have at least 36 college hours or have completed a 20 hour online training. The bill also requires individuals to have a high school diploma or equivalence. Additionally, the bill provides an alternative route to certification for qualified individuals with technical or business expertise or Armed Forces experience and a superintendent sponsorship.
The bill requires another vote in the House before moving to the Senate.
House Gives Initial Approval to Missouri CROWN Act (HBs 1743 & 2185)
The House has given first-round approval to legislation that would help prevent discrimination against school children based on their hair styles. House members gave bipartisan support to the bill, which is known as the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act.
The bill’s sponsor told his colleagues that the legislation is designed to “fix the fact that students currently can be subjected to discrimination in the classrooms not based on the content of their character but on the hair that grows out of their heads naturally.”
The legislation prohibits discrimination on the basis of wearing protective hairstyles in educational institutions that receive or benefit from state financial assistance or state student financial aid. The bill also authorizes educational institutions to require hair nets and hair coverings for safety purposes in career and technical training courses.
The bill now requires another vote in the House before moving to the Senate.
Protecting Businesses from Costly Mandates (HB 1584)
Lawmakers gave initial approval to legislation this week that would protect businesses from government mandates that force them to foot the bill for new electric vehicle charging stations.
The bill’s sponsor said his legislation comes in response to a disturbing trend. He said, “There is a movement across the country to mandate that small businesses and shopping centers and churches and recreational facilities be required to install electric charging stations whenever they make improvements to their business.”
He noted that St. Louis County has an ordinance that says if you expand your parking lot or change the nature of your business, you have to add electric charging stations. He called the ordinance an “overreach of local government.”
“Building codes are meant for the safety of the citizens. They’re always there to make sure that whatever we build is something that will be done in a manner that is safe and secure,” said the sponsor. “These particular types of building codes are not for safety. They’re there to push forward a political agenda.”
HB 1584 says that any local subdivision that has a regulation or code that requires the installation of electric vehicle charging stations must pay all costs associated with the installation, maintenance, and operation of the stations. The bill does not prohibit private businesses or property owners from paying for the installation and operation of electric vehicle charging stations if they choose to do so.
The legislation needs another vote in the House before moving to the Senate.
Protecting the Rights of Belief-Based Student Groups (HB 1724)
Belief-based student groups on college campuses would have their rights protected under legislation approved this week by the Missouri House. Lawmakers gave initial approval to HB 1724 to protect these groups from being discriminated against because of their sincerely held beliefs.
The bill would prohibit public institutions of higher learning from taking any action or enforcing any policy that denies a belief-based student association benefits available to other student associations. The bill also prohibits discrimination against a belief-based student association based on its requirement that leaders of the association adhere to its sincerely held beliefs, sincere practice requirements, or standards of conduct.
“HB 1724 is designed to protect a long-standing practice in Missouri where belief-based clubs of all creeds and points of view are free to operate as registered student clubs and require that their leaders adhere to the group’s sincerely held beliefs,” said the bill’s sponsor. He added, “This is really just common sense. A pro-choice club should not be required to let a pro-life student serve as its president and a Baptist student club should not be required to let an atheist teach its bible studies.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.