Last Friday, May 17, marked the end of the First Regular Session of the 97th General Assembly. While the success of that session will certainly have different measurements for all legislators and for all who read this, I was especially pleased to pass a significant amount of quality legislation, including several Senate priorities.
There are several ways for a legislator to get involved with a bill as it goes through the system. Each bill has a sponsor in its originating chamber, then someone to “handle” or “carry” the bill through the other body. Often, lawmakers will add certain priorities as amendments to other bills, creating a stake in that bill’s future as well. And a legislator can heavily impact a bill by offering significant amendments or even full substitute language to improve the legislation.
Taking into account all the bills I was able to impact as they made their way through the system, I was proud to be a part of the process for 17 bills that were sent to the governor this session. A brief summary of each bill that is on the way to the governor’s desk to await his signature is listed below by bill number.
Senate Bill 28 changes the definition of “misconduct” so that only those who are terminated through no fault of their own can receive unemployment, as the system was designed. Too many cases exist where people who have broken rules, even laws, still receive unemployment benefits.
Senate Bill 102 adds catalytic convertors to a statute that requires the monitoring of sales of copper wire and other easily stolen and recyclable items. As often happens, it was combined with another similar bill and passed as Senate Bills 157 & 102.
Senate Bill 116 makes it easier for those overseas, especially deployed military, to vote.
Senate Bill 117 waives university residency requirements for in-state tuition for any military member separating from the military in Missouri in an effort to keep those members in the state.
Senate Bill 118 authorizes veterans’ treatment courts to deal with veterans in the court system who could benefit from drug or mental health treatment, rather than incarceration.
Senate Bill 138 makes changes to the Neighborhood Improvement District language to help Blue Springs and Jackson County with foreclosed properties. While the base bill did not pass, the language was amended on several bills and included in two bills that did pass: Senate Bill 248 and House Bill 1035.
Senate Bill 251 was a bi-partisan bill to comply with new federal mandates restricting the use of cash welfare (Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF). The bill restricts the use of this cash benefit in casinos, adult establishments and liquor stores as required by federal law. It goes on to ban the cash benefit from being used for anything “not in the best interests of the child.”
Senate Bill 252 bans the Department of Revenue from scanning and storing all source documents you bring in to get your license, and requires them to purge any database they have by the end of the year. It also bans most uses of biometrics.
Senate Bill 380 makes changes to corrections programs regarding sex offenders. It did not pass on its own but was added to House Bills 374 & 434.
Senate Bill 381 creates innovation education campuses and acknowledges the first such campus as an effort between the University of Central Missouri, Metropolitan Community Colleges, the Lee’s Summit School District and several local companies.
Senate Bill 395 changes the way political party committee members are chosen in Jackson County. It did not pass on its own, but was added as an amendment to House Bill 110.
House Bill 110 changes the way the lieutenant governor would be replaced if this official left office. I handled the bill in the Senate for Rep. Jason Smith.
House Bill 116 is a bill changing the auditor’s duties and contains an amendment regarding the audits of Transportation Development Districts that I added on behalf or Rep. Donna Pfautsch.
House Bill 128 allows counties to send property tax statements electronically when requested by the property owner. An amendment also changes how multi-state corporations can choose to apportion their taxes in Missouri. I handled the bill in the Senate for Rep. Chrissy Summer and Sen. Scott Rupp who was absent the day the legislation was taken up and passed in the Senate.
House Bill 152 allows schools statewide to hire police officers, as they can currently do in Blue Springs. I handled the bill in the Senate for Rep. Sheila Solon.
House Bill 159 waives residency requirements for the K-12 children of deployed military members who may end up living with a relative in a new district. I handled the bill in the Senate for Rep. Casey Guernsey.
House Bill 253 is a broad based tax cut bill that will benefit all Missouri residents and businesses. While my original bill, Senate Bill 26, passed both chambers, we decided to use HB 253 to put an even better plan on the table, with a 10-year phase-in with triggers to make sure the tax cuts didn’t harm Missouri’s budget. I added a Senate Substitute to HB 253, which was sponsored by Rep. TJ Berry and handled in the Senate by Sen. Eric Schmitt.
House Bill 611 enacts three federal mandates regarding unemployment insurance. The language from Senate Bill 28 was also added in committee. I handled the bill in the Senate for Rep. Bill Lant and Sen. Scott Rupp.
This was an excellent legislative session in my view, and I look forward to working on more legislation that benefits the 8th District in 2014. Please let us know what issues you would like me to address in the future.
State Senator Will Kraus-R serves District Eight and is a resident of Lee’s Summit.