Representative JIm Neely's Capitol Report
Greetings, friends of the 8th District!
House and Senate Give Final Approval to State Operating Budget (HBs 2001-2013)
The members of the House and Senate this week gave final approval to a state spending plan that will make a record investment in K-12 public education. The $28.3 billion state operating budget approved by the General Assembly will fully fund the school foundation formula for the second consecutive year. Additionally, the plan keeps funding stable for Missouri’s institutions of higher learning, which will minimize potential tuition increases for students.
The budget as it left the House achieved full funding for K-12 public schools with a $99 million funding increase. The Senate then reduced that number by approximately $50 million, but bumped up funding for school transportation by $25 million. The final version includes the $99 million increase to achieve full funding, which also includes $50 million in new funding for early childhood education. The final spending plan also boosts transportation funding by $10 million.
The final version of the fiscally responsible spending plan is based on a sensible consensus revenue estimate that will avoid shortfalls that could force the governor to withhold funds. This year’s budget plan enforces fiscal discipline by holding welfare spending in check. It also includes a budget reserve of $100 million to allow for emergency spending needs. Additionally, the budget plan does not include a plan endorsed by the governor to borrow $250 million to expedite tax refunds.
The budget approved by the General Assembly also has a strong commitment to transparency. In addition to eliminating all “E”s, which represent open-ended spending limits on funds, the spending plan improves transparency in several other key areas. The budget plan breaks down spending for the state’s legal expense fund, which previously had no system in place to track how dollars are spent to pay for settlements and judgments against state agencies. In addition, the spending plan improves transparency for spending within the state’s conservation department, and for dollars allocated to home-delivered meals. The budget also makes a $34-million fund in the Department of Corrections transparent and accountable for the first time.
Other highlights of the FY 2019 Budget include:
- Continued state support for several of Missouri’s cooperative higher education programs, including the Cooperative Medical School Program with MU and Missouri State; the Cooperative Dental Program with UMKC and Missouri Southern; the Pharmacy Doctorate Program with UMKC and MSU; and the Cooperative Engineering Program with Missouri S&T and Missouri State.
- Funding increases recommended by the governor for the state’s scholarship programs, which include a $2 million increase for Access Missouri, $3.5 million in additional funds for the A+ Scholarship Program; and an additional $1 million for Bright Flight.
- $2 million increase in funding towards two-year colleges for the Missouri SkillUP Program that provides free job training and employment opportunities for low-income Missourians.
- $2 million one-time boost in funding for Missouri Southern State University and $750,000 one-time boost in funding for Harris-Stowe State University.
- $300,000 in new funding for school safety grants.
- $250,000 to a new Kindergarten through 3rd Grade reading assessment program for dyslexia diagnoses.
- $1.8 million increase in funding for the state’s independent living centers, which help people with disabilities to increase their independence and their opportunity to participate in day-to-day life within their communities.
- $4 million in state support for Missouri’s Access to Recovery program and peer support, which helps individuals and families struggling with substance use disorders and provides the tools needed for long-term recovery.
- $5 million in new money to provide community-based services that will allow those battling substance abuse to receive appropriate treatment as an alternative to prison.
- $1 million increase for the state’s drug treatment courts to partially restore an FY18 cut.
- $500,000 for a pilot project to extend MO HealthNet benefits to pregnant women who are receiving substance abuse treatment within 60 days of giving birth for a full year.
- $487,000 to increase state support for juvenile advocacy officers under the public defender system.
- $72 million increase for nursing home reimbursements, an additional $1 million for developmental disability rebasing, and a 1.5% rate increase for all other Medicaid providers.
Community and Economic Issues
- $8.5 million increase in funding for the First Steps Program that provides services to families with children, birth to three years of age, with disabilities or developmental delays.
- $400,000 restoration of proposed cuts to the Missouri National Guard to prevent the closure of several armories.
- $4 million in funding to make good on the state’s commitment to the Biodiesel Producer Incentive Fund.
- A 1% pay increase for state employees starting January 1st, 2019. (Does not include legislators).
- $374,000 for a physician prescription monitoring program to curb opioid abuse.
- $7.25 million allocated to reduce air pollution control activities from the state’s settlement with Volkswagen.
- $3 million to initiate a water resource and reservoir fund for communities with water shortage issues to access (to include Little Otter Creek).
- $4.75 million increase over the governor’s recommendation for tourism funding and grants ($14.75 million total).
- $65 million in federal funds for emergency preparedness through the Community Development Block Grants program.
Truly Agreed to and Finally Passed Bills
HB 2330 would designate the portion of State Highway 30 from State Highway 21 continuing east to State Highway P in St. Louis County the "Officer Blake Snyder Memorial Highway". Supporters say Officer Snyder was tragically killed while responding to a domestic violence situation in St. Louis on October 6, 2016. They point out that he achieved many service awards such as "Hero of the Highways" and was known for his dedication to duty and devotion to the welfare of many local citizens.
HB 1887 would specify that no deed restriction, covenant, or similar agreement running with the land shall prohibit the display of political signs. A homeowners' association may remove a political sign if the sign is located on common ground, threatens public health or safety, violates an applicable law, is accompanied by sound or music, or if any other materials are attached to the sign. Subject to this provision, a homeowners' association shall not remove a political sign or impose any fine or penalty on the homeowner unless it has given three days' written notice specifically identifying the rule and nature of the violation. Supporters say the bill enacts rules similar to existing First Amendment doctrine by prohibiting a complete ban on political signage by homeowners' associations, but allowing reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions for such signs.
SB 659 would require the Department of Natural Resources to submit a report to the General Assembly on or before January 1, 2019, and annually thereafter, regarding the maintenance, repair, and construction at State Parks and Historic Sites. The bill would also create the "Environmental Restoration Corporation Act," which allows for the formation of a nonprofit corporation to hold, manage, or own environmentally impaired property that is subject to an ongoing cleanup or remedial action. In addition, the bill would increase the potential grant amount administered by the Department of Natural Resources for the benefit of public water supply districts, sewer districts, rural community water or sewer systems, or municipal sewer systems.
SB 768 would allow a telephone company to elect to have its tangible personal property assessed in accordance with depreciation schedules beginning January 1, 2019. Under current law, a telephone company has its tangible personal property assessed in the same manner as a railroad. Supporters say that the bill will create a level playing field for the tax treatment of telecommunications companies some of which were regulated under older, utility-based standards that should not apply to deregulated markets. They also note there is a provision in the bill to make sure schools are not harmed by the change.
HB 2183 would allow an applicant for or holder of a hospital license to define the premises of a hospital campus to include tracts of property which are adjacent but for a single intersection. The bill would also allow certain hospital licensure regulations to incorporate by reference Medicare conditions of participation, including later additions or amendments. Supporters say the bill would give more clarity and consistency with federal requirements to the state’s hospital regulations. The legislation would also change the definition of "new institutional health service", as it applies to changes in licensed bed capacity, to apply only to long-term care facilities.
HB 1252 would add digital mammography and breast tomosynthesis to the definition of low-dose mammography screening and, beginning January 1, 2019, require reimbursement rates to accurately reflect the resource costs specific to each modality, including any increased resource cost of breast tomosynthesis. Supporters say the bill would add digital mammography and breast tomosynthesis to the definition of low-dose mammography screening and requires reimbursement rates to accurately reflect the resource costs. They say these mammograms are 3-D and are much more accurate and have less false readings.
HB 1646 would add a reference to the existing voter approval requirements for imposing obligations on landowners to control brush on county rights of way and easements in certain counties, and specify that the landowners shall prevent brush from interfering with vehicles traveling on the road. Under the bill, brush elimination costs charged against a parcel of land would become due on the landowner's personal property tax assessment rather than becoming a lien on the land.
HCR 70 would declare youth violence as a public health epidemic and declare June 7th as "Christopher Harris Day" in Missouri.
HB 2017 would appropriate money for capital improvement and other purposes for the several departments of state government. The bill allocates more than $347 million in funding.
HB 2018 would appropriate money for purposes for the several departments and offices of state government; for projects involving the maintenance, repair, replacement, and improvement of state buildings and facilities. The bill allocates nearly $174 million in funding.
HB 1858 would require the Department of Revenue to establish and maintain an online, interactive map that will show Missouri taxpayers the boundaries of Special Taxing Districts across the state. The bill seeks to make taxing information available in an accessible way. Supporters note the state now has over 2,200 Special Taxing Districts, most of which have been instituted in the last 10 years. The bill would allow taxpayers to see where the taxing districts are, where the rates overlap, and what the rates are in a shopping area. Another provision in the bill would require interest on a tax overpayment be paid at the same rate of interest as the rate imposed for an underpayment of income tax.
SBs 999 & 1000 would enact provisions relating to the designation of memorial infrastructure. It would designate the portion of Interstate 70 from Rangeline Street continuing west to Business Loop 70 in Boone County the "Highway Patrol Sgt. Benjamin Booth Memorial Highway". It would designate the portion of Interstate 70 from the eastern edge of the intersection of U.S. Highway 63 and Interstate 70 continuing west to Rangeline Street in Boone County the "Sheriff Roger I. Wilson Memorial Highway".
HB 1291 would modify several provisions relating to political subdivisions. It would revise the definition of counties exempt from certain requirements of the county special road and bridge tax. It would remove requirements that money in the Road Bond Construction Fund and Special Road and Bridge Fund be used only on roads that are continuous through a political subdivision, and specify that counties may contract with political subdivisions to share the bond proceeds for authorized purposes. The bill has additional provisions dealing with community college districts, county recorders’ funds, National Guard training centers, and political subdivision concession agreements.
SB 892 would modify provisions relating to various retirement plans for public employees. It would modify provisions regarding the retirement system for prosecuting and circuit attorneys, as well as the Missouri Local Government Employees' Retirement System, the Public School Retirement System of Kansas City, and the Missouri Local Government Employees' Retirement System.
HB 1558 would create the offenses of "nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images" and "threatening the nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images." A person would commit the offense of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images when he or she with the intent to harass, threaten, or coerce any individual intentionally disseminates an image of another person who is at least 18, identifiable from the image or information displayed in connection with the image, and is engaged in sexual activity or whose intimate parts are exposed, in whole or in part; obtains the image under circumstances a reasonable person would know or understand that the image was to remain private; and, knows or should have known that the person in the image did not consent to the dissemination. Nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images would be a Class D felony. A person would commit the offense of threatening the nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images when he or she gains or attempts to gain anything of value, or coerces or attempts to coerce another person to act or refrain from acting, by threatening to disseminate an image of another person, which if disseminated would constitute nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images. Threatening the nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images would be a Class E felony.
SB 707 would modify provisions relating to vehicle sales. Some of its provisions would raise, from $25,000 to $50,000, the bond required for licensure as a motor vehicle dealer; require motor vehicle dealer license applicants to submit their regular business hours, and a phone number and email address where the applicant can be contacted during regular business hours; and increase, from 6 to 8, the number of vehicle sales required as evidence a person is engaged in the motor vehicle business and eligible for licensure or renewal.
SB 793 would change "adult" to mean anyone 18 years old or older and "child" to mean anyone under the age of 18. The bill would also require children to be prosecuted in juvenile courts unless the child is certified as an adult or is being prosecuted for a traffic or curfew violation. Additionally, the bill would specify that no person under the age of 18 may be detained in an adult jail unless the person has been certified as an adult. Supporters say the goal is to reduce the number of youth in the adult system, to make Missouri safer, and to save the taxpayers money. They say that what youth need is rehabilitation services, and they do not get that in prison, but they would get it in a juvenile detention center. Supporters note that youth in adult facilities are more likely to commit suicide and they are more likely to recidivate if they are in the adult system. Missouri is one of only five states that have not passed legislation to raise the age.
SB 800 would specify that the order or judgment by the juvenile court would take precedence over other orders concerning status or custody of a child less than 21 years of age, or orders of guardianship, so long as the juvenile court exercises continuing jurisdiction. The bill would specify additional powers a court exercising jurisdiction over a child under 21 shall have. This bill would provide provisions regarding custody, support, or visitation orders entered by a court having jurisdiction over a child under 21. Supporters say the bill would allow a guardian ad litem or a private attorney filing a petition for adoption to petition the juvenile court to terminate the rights of a parent or to receive specific consent to adopt or waiver of consent to adopt.
In the weeks ahead, I will be sending out an additional report via mail that will analyze the bills that were truly agreed to and finally passed during this year’s legislative session. I will be focusing on those bills that I feel will have the greatest impact on the citizens of the 8th District and the rest of the state. You can also access information regarding legislation online at house.mo.gov.
Thank you for your continued support!
Yours in service,
Representative Jim Neely
Proudly Serving the 8th House District
Clinton, Caldwell, Ray, & Clay Counties
Missouri House of Representatives