Missouri's Constitution says Gov. Mike Parson has until Sunday to sign or veto all the bills that lawmakers sent him after the end of this year's legislative session.
On Wednesday, he signed another 10 bills into law, including several dealing with changes in court system operations — after noting in his State of the State address last January that tort reform was an important part of this year's legislative package.
Senate Bill 7, which modifies existing state law on joinder — who can become a part of a case — and venue, where that case can be filed. The new law prohibits out-of-state residents from joining with a Missouri plaintiff to bring a lawsuit in Missouri — especially in the St. Louis and Kansas City courts which, some claim, have juries that favor plaintiffs.
Parson said, in a statement: "We took a great step in bringing fairness to our courts and giving Missouri businesses the opportunity for competitive economic growth."
And the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which supported the bill, said in a separate news release the bill would stop "greedy trial attorneys from flooding Missouri courtrooms with out-of-state claims."
Dan Mehan, the Chamber's president and CEO, said: "The law signed by Gov. Parson addresses a major reason why Missouri has annually ranked as having one of the worst legal climates in the nation. Starting today, Missouri will no longer be the nation's courtroom."
SB 230, which also affects judicial proceedings by modifying current state law relating to venue in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings and venue for certain corporations in civil proceedings.
SB 224, which modifies various Supreme Court Rules relating to the "discovery" process in court proceedings. Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, sponsored the measure and said in a news release the bill brings Missouri rules more in-line with federal practices.
"Discovery accounts for about 75 percent of the time and cost of any lawsuit," he said. "This legislation streamlines that process and will lower the cost and length of court proceedings for all parties. Plaintiffs who have been wronged can receive compensation sooner, and defendants facing frivolous lawsuits can have them resolved with minimum delay and cost. It's a win-win for everyone."
SB 30, which allows evidence that a driver in an accident failed to wear a seatbelt, be used to prove comparative negligence, causation, absence of defect and failure to mitigate damages in a court case.
SB 89, a measure making several changes involving Transportation — including the elimination of required motor vehicle inspections for vehicles less than 10 years old, and with fewer than 150,000 miles. Currently, those inspections are required for any vehicle older than five years. Legislative researchers say about 1.1 million vehicles no longer will have to get the every-other-year inspections.
Other provisions of the new law affect commercial driver's licenses; lease and rental registrations; motor vehicle inspection requirements, and — like another bill signed Tuesday — requires the Revenue Director to revoke a driver's license of someone who's negligence allowed a highway worker to be struck in an accident.
House Bill 959 modifies a number of provisions of the Motor Vehicle Franchise Practices Act, including rules regulating the relationship between manufacturers and franchisees/dealers.
HB 220, which modifies provisions of current law relating to the taxation of property involved in producing wind energy.
SB 68, which Parson said will bolster Missouri's economic development and workforce programs. The state Chamber of Commerce and Industry supported the measure, and Mehan said: "Senate Bill 68 is a bold vision addressing two of the biggest issues facing our state's entire business community: workforce preparation and economic competitiveness.
"This law will benefit employers of all sizes in Missouri — from empowering thousands of Missourians to equip themselves with in-demand skills, to giving job creators better access to critical workforce resources, to boosting the effectiveness of our state's economic development tools."
HB 1088, which some call the "Million Dollar Boondoggle Act of 2019," requires the Office of Administration to submit a report to the General Assembly on specified projects that are one year behind schedule or $1 million or more over the original cost estimates. The bill also modifies a number of other laws relating to OA and to state agencies.
SB 17, which modifies several state law provisions relating to public employee retirement systems, including small changes to the Public Schools Retirement System (PSRS) and LAGERS, the Local Government Employees Retirement System.