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Perspective: Legislation aids local governing bodies, businesses

Before I continue re-capping legislation from this session, I want to begin by saying thank you to everyone that helped organize and put Monday’s Memorial Day Service at the National Cemetery in Jefferson City. This professional, personal and dignified event honored the ultimate sacrifice paid by so many from central Missouri in helping to keep us free.

I am grateful for the opportunity to attend this observance. I wish I knew the men and women that were honored on Monday. Because I do not, I can only look at the perfectly aligned headstones and the lives that they represent and say a genuine prayer of thanksgiving for generations of warriors who have died defending our nation.

Of less significance than Memorial Day observances are the accomplishments of the legislative session just completed. Last week, I began with the Senate bills I filed. I will continue that as well as begin to discuss the House bills I played a role in passing.

Senate Bill 675 allows political subdivisions that run a retirement plan for some or all of its employees, and that is a member of the Local Government Employees’ Retirement System (LAGERS), to enter into an agreement with LAGERS assigning the duties and the responsibilities of operating the plan to LAGERS. This maximizes the expertise in the current LAGERS system and also allows political subdivisions to shed the significant administrative burdens associated with older and more obscure plans. SB675 requires the political subdivision to still fund the plan, and requires LAGERS to operate the plan under its existing governing documents, but it removes the administrative burden from the political subdivision. This bill passed the Senate unanimously and the House with an overwhelming bi-partisan majority. I look forward to the governor signing this bill quickly.

Senate Bill 719 will ensure that first-class counties are treated exactly the same as second, third, and fourth class counties with respect to school board members who seek to do businesses, in their real/day-jobs, with the district. SB719 will allow school board members in first-class counties, as well as employees of the district and their families, to do business with the school district as long as the business is made via contract or sale after public notice and competitive bidding practices are utilized.

In too many instances, good and conscientious board members were forced to choose between two options: 1) continue to serve on the school board and not be able to run their businesses as effectively as possible, or 2) resign from the school board. I am glad that we were able to solve this problem without compromising the integrity of the board and districts, while at the same time recognizing that school board members have full-time jobs and need to provide for their families.

When bills leave the chamber in which they originate, House bills in the House and Senate bills in the Senate, they must be “handled” by someone in the other chamber. Handlers present the bill on the floor and usher it through the process in the opposite chamber. During this session I was pleased to work with House members to serve as the handler for a number of important House bills.

Two significant House bills that I carried in the Senate were House Bills 1326 and 1707. HB1326 is the omnibus agriculture bill that has many components designed to promote and protect Missouri’s number one industry. Among the many components of HB1326 are those relating to protecting and increasing the number of dairy farmers in Missouri, promoting urban agriculture, and making weight limits on the transporting livestock across the state on Missouri interstate similar to limits in neighboring states.

HB1707 makes a number of changes to current law, one of which is very significant to local businesses, specifically to funeral homes. In the mid-1990s, the Legislature updated the law relating to how funeral processions must be marked. These changes were agreed upon by the industry and were very welcomed. However, in enacting new procession requirements, the legislature failed to repeal the old requirements which left two sets of directions on the books. Unfortunately, at least one funeral home which follows both the letter and the intent of the updated guidance has been sued by an unscrupulous trial attorney for failing to adhere to the old funeral procession guidelines which were never repealed. This business, upon which families depend on in a time of great difficulty and need, is now being sued because a simple section of statute was not removed. While I wish that this were not the case, it is nonetheless gratifying to be a part of passing common-sense legislation to help small businesses, particularly when that legislation is as simple as deleting old, obsolete statutes.

Over the course of the next month, there will continue to be a great deal of activity surrounding many pieces of legislation as the governor signs bills into law and vetoes others. I will keep you updated as those actions occur and will provide perspective on what I understand will happen with vetoed bills as we move through the summer and head toward the annual veto session in September.

My purpose and my intent is to serve the constituents of the 6th Senatorial District. If you are in the Capitol during the coming weeks and months, please stop by your office in Room 220.

State Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, represents the 6th District.

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