Governor Parson has signed two more bills. The first I will describe in this week’s report is SB51, the Covid liability bill. This bill protects businesses, churches, and schools from being sued if someone thinks they contracted Covid there, unless the plaintiff can clearly prove the location acted with willful or reckless conduct that caused exposure to the virus.
Upon signing the bill Governor Parson said, “More than 200 businesses retooled their companies to help us during one of the most dramatic emergencies I can remember in a long time. This is to protect those businesses. The last thing we need to do is punish anybody for trying to help in the middle of this crisis.”
The second bill to discuss is HB734. This bill deals with utility companies, and allows them to spread out their infrastructure costs, leading to lower gas and electric bills for their customers. The bill also includes some language I authored protecting homeowners from higher property taxes due to tax discounts that would have gone to the utilities. I know how hard it is to earn and keep a buck these days, and I am happy to be a part of saving my constituents money on both taxes and utility bills.
Of the 50 policy bills passed by the legislature this year, so far the governor has signed 30 of them. He has until July 14 to sign the remaining 20 into law or veto them. Any vetoed bills could be brought up for a possible veto override vote by the legislature when we meet for a short Veto Session in September. While it only takes a simple majority of House votes and Senate votes to pass a bill, it would take a 2/3 vote in each chamber to override a governor’s veto. My guess is that if the governor vetoes anything, we will not attempt to override, but we shall see.
Until next time, health, happiness and prosperity to you and your family.
Please contact me at:
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 302B
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Email: [email protected]
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PICTURES FROM THE DISTRICT
Some of the best pictures from my district’s 4th of July parades
OTHER NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
Missouri Revenue Numbers Continue to Increase at a Healthy Rate
Missouri’s economy continues to show strong signs of life as the latest revenue numbers for the state exhibited significant growth.
For the month of June, state revenues increased by 40.2 percent compared to June of 2020. This year, the month saw total revenue collections of $1.22 billion compared to last year when the state brought in $871 million.
Overall, for the fiscal year that ended June 30, the state brought in $11.24 billion in general revenue. That figure represents a 25.8 percent increase from the previous fiscal year when the state collected $8.93 billion.
The $11.24 billion reflects a record amount of revenue collected by the state, but the increase is in part due to the April 15, 2020 due date for income taxes being pushed to July 15, 2021. That change caused a decline in 2020 revenues and an increase in 2021 revenues.
Missouri Department of Labor Offers Unemployment Overpayment Waivers
During the 2021 legislative session House members worked diligently to protect Missourians who mistakenly received overpayments on their unemployment benefits. The House held numerous hearings to investigate the issue, and passed legislation to ensure those who received overpayments through no fault of their own would not have to repay the federal dollars they received.
While the bill approved by the House ultimately did not receive Senate approval, the thousands of Missourians who received overpayments received good news this week as the Department of Labor revealed a plan for a potential waiver of the recovery of the benefits. The department announced the state is implementing a process for eligible claimants to apply to the Division of Employment Security (DES) for potential waiver of the recovery of non-fraud federal pandemic program unemployment benefit overpayments.
The waiver provision applies to overpaid benefits for weeks ending February 8, 2020, through June 12, 2021, under these federal pandemic programs:
The waiver of recovery only applies to non-fraud federal benefit overpayments. Regular state unemployment insurance (UI) and Extended Benefits (EB) overpayments are not eligible for waiver. Collection activities will begin on state benefit overpayments in August.
For eligibility, the overpayment must not be a result of claimant fault, and collection of the overpayment must be against equity and good conscience, per federal guidance.
Claimants who were overpaid benefits under any of the federal pandemic programs and are eligible for consideration will be notified in July and given instructions on how to apply for a waiver.
Information may be found online at https://labor.mo.gov/coronavirus.
Bills Recently Signed into Law
SBs 51 & 42 will protect small businesses, frontline health care workers, schools, and churches from lawsuits related to COVID-19. The legislation is meant to give businesses the confidence to fully reopen so the state’s economy can thrive once again. The bill raises the bar for liability for COVID-19 related lawsuits by protecting against unmerited civil actions against health care workers, first responders and small businesses. It ensures those that act in good faith would not be subject to lawsuits resulting from exposure to COVID-19. Additional provisions provide heightened protections for religious institutions from pandemic-related lawsuits.
HB 604 modifies provisions regarding the regulation of insurance. The bill modifies a tax deduction for certain long-term care insurance policies to include any insurance policy considered an asset or resource for purposes of eligibility for long-term care benefits under MO HealthNet. It allows for the delivery of temporary total or temporary partial disability payments payable under workers’ compensation laws by electronic transfer or other manner authorized by the claimant. The bill specifies that a religious denomination that has more than 25 members with motor vehicles and “discourages”, rather than “prohibits”, its members from purchasing insurance, as being contrary to its religious tenets, may obtain a certificate of self-insurance from the Director of the Department of Revenue. The bill also provides that no long-term care insurance policy shall increase premium rates, measured annually, in excess of the amount that is actuarially justified based on credible experience, and on the rate basis in effect in this state without recognition of rates that may be in effect in other states. Additionally, it requires certain health benefit plans that provide coverage for mental health conditions to meet the requirements of the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, as amended, and the regulations promulgated thereunder.
SB 303 modifies provisions relating to workers’ compensation. The bill allows for the delivery of temporary total or temporary partial disability payments payable under workers’ compensation laws by electronic transfer or other manner authorized by the claimant. It modifies the applicability of the priority schedule for payment of liabilities of the Second Injury Fund (SIF). The bill also permits the Division of Workers’ Compensation to call the security of a group self-insured employer or public sector individual employer if they are deemed insolvent, are determined to be insolvent, file for bankruptcy, or fail to pay any obligations owed under the workers’ compensation laws. Additionally, the bill extends the supplemental surcharge collected by the Division of Workers’ Compensation until December 31, 2023.
SB 5 extends the sunset for the Advanced Industrial Manufacturing (AIM) zones program from August 28, 2023 to August 28, 2030.
SB 44 prohibits local governments from banning certain types and sources of energy, modifies provisions relating to service territories of retail electric service providers, increases the competitive bidding process threshold from 10 to 20 percent of external expenditures for certain water corporations, and provides an infrastructure replacement mechanism for certain water and sewer projects.
SB 258 creates the Missouri Medal of Honor Recipients Fund to receive donations to repair and replace memorial signs for Medal of Honor recipients, designates the Missouri National Guard armory in Joplin as the Sergeant Robert Wayne Crow Jr. Memorial Armory, designates four additional segments of Missouri highway as part of the Purple Heart Trail, and establishes numerous memorial highways and bridges across the state.
HB 734 clarifies how wind farms will be assessed for property tax purposes, allows certain gas utility corporations to recover particular costs when they invest in renewable natural gas programs, and creates a new financing mechanism for electric corporations to retire or abandon certain electric generation facilities and recover certain qualified extraordinary costs.