Missouri state representatives filed a tsunami of bills Monday, the first day to pre-file legislation for the Second Regular Session of the 100th General Assembly.
Bills submitted Monday included proposed changes to the initiative process; requirements for schools to prominently display "In God We Trust;" modifications to the eligibility provisions for MO HealthNet; provisions for schools to offer Bible courses as social studies electives; other proposed crime, education and health laws; clarification of some medical marijuana laws; and many more.
A port authority bill will be up for consideration again, said state Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Wardsville. Veit pre-filed House Bill 1330, which is identical to legislation the General Assembly considered during the First Session, early this year.
The bill would transfer 116 acres of state-owned land — just east of the Ike Skelton Training Facility in Jefferson City — to the Heartland Port Authority so Jefferson City can develop a river port, passed through the House as part of a larger bill conveying property throughout the state, but did not pass the Senate. Lawmakers offered it late last year, he said.
"It will get to the Senate earlier, hopefully," he said.
State Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, said the Senate version of the land transference for a Jefferson City port was a bill he pre-filed Monday. Bernskoetter also sponsored the legislation in the Senate last session.
Another bill Veit pre-filed — HB 1332 — will clean up laws concerning ankle bracelet monitors, changing requirements for how the monitors are kept charged. Veit called the change a safety and security issue.
HB 1331 could help low-population, less-wealthy counties pay for expenses in capital punishment cases, Veit said.
"There are a lot of rural areas where capital murder cases occur," Veit said. "They have to take a change of venue because everybody knows everybody. And they may not have the facilities — hotel facilities — to handle the capital cases."
It can cost $100,000 per capital case to sequester a jury, he continued.
The bill would create a "Change of Venue for Capital Cases Fund" to reimburse a county that receives a capital case from another county for costs associated with sequestration, he said.
"A lot of those counties don't have $100,000 laying around. We're getting stuck with costs for crimes in other counties," Veit said. "It can be a real deterrent factor whether (prosecutors) charge a capital murder case."
Veit later filed HB 1542 to modify provisions relating to workers' compensation law.
State Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, filed HB 1447 to designate a portion of U.S. 54 as Miller County "Deputy Sheriff Casey L. Shoemate Memorial Highway." Shoemate, 26, died in an April 2018 vehicle crash on Route Y near Rabbit Hill Road while responding to a house fire.
Miller also filed HB 1448, which would establish new provisions allowing for the creation of benefit corporations — similar to traditional corporations, but with obligations they create public benefit while generating profit. Thirty-five states recognize benefit corporations.
Boating is an important industry in District 58, served by state Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles. The district includes sections of the Lake of the Ozarks area, where boating is a lifestyle.
Wood on Monday pre-filed HB 1489, which would modify provisions relating to licensure for boat manufacturers and dealers.
An Ashland lawmaker filed the first bills of the day in the House. Republican Rep. Sara Walsh filed HB 1256, with the intent of streamlining personal property tax obligations and the process for registering motor vehicles, boats and trailers.
The challenges to her constituents are, first, knowing what documents they will be required to carry when they arrive at the Missouri Department of Revenue office and, second, being able to gather them.
Rather than requiring taxpayers to retrieve documents stating they have paid their taxes and taking those documents to DOR, it would be simpler if DOR simply had a list of who owed taxes, Walsh said.
"The DOR mentioned that other states don't require (physical documents) in this way," she said. "My understanding is that the counties would be able to provide a list to the DOR if they don't pay their taxes. It could result in saving state tax dollars."
Another bill Walsh filed, HB 1257, would modify a law passed early this year. The law was intended to help regulate unlicensed child care providers by limiting child care providers to six children at in-home child care providers' facilities. And it limited the number of children ages 2 and younger to three.
An unintended consequence was that the law also limited how many children licensed providers could serve, Walsh said.
"I heard from more than 100 licensed providers that didn't realize it was going to impact them," Walsh said. "If your licensed provider goes out of business because of this, where are you going to take your kids? We have to have common-sense legislation."
HB 1257 would re-introduce language into the law that creates an exemption for licensed facilities, allowing them to include any number of children related to people who are officers of the company who are responsible for the daily operation of the facility.
State Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, who was recently named chairman of the Standing Committee on Veterans, filed HB 1473, which would create a special license plate for Central Missouri Honor Flight. The organization provides flights to Washington, D.C., for selected military veterans to give them opportunities to visit cemeteries and monuments that honor them.
It's a wonderful service, he said.
"We've had so many veterans go on that," Griffith added.
Griffith said he also intended to file a concurrent resolution aimed at encouraging the federal government to pass legislation that could help bring missing soldiers home. He said the resolution would pressure Congress to pass U.S. Senate Bill 2794, known as the "Bring Our Heroes Home Act," which would create a process to declassify records and get soldiers who are missing in action or their remains home.
"Congress," Griffith said, "has been slow to move in getting a lot of these MIAs home."
Bernskoetter also mentioned that resolution to call for the declassification of prisoner of war and missing in action records, but he cannot file resolutions until the legislative session starts in January.
The Senate had not yet listed any details of pre-filed bills online as of about 5 p.m. Monday.
In addition to the land transference for a Jefferson City port bill, Bernskoetter told the News Tribune, he filed four other bills Monday.
A Capitol complex tax credit bill he filed last year that didn't make it through the Legislature would allow tax credits for donations that help repair and maintain buildings in the Capitol complex, including the Missouri state Capitol and Governor's Mansion.
Another bill Bernskoetter said he pre-filed would extend the sunset clause of a fund to support technology for the public's access to Secretary of State services, from 2021-26.
A bill about "shelf-stable food" would allow for donations of venison jerky to the Share the Harvest program that lets hunters share deer meat with food pantries through meat processors. The law currently limits donations to refrigerated meat.
A fourth bill Bernskoetter said he filed would have the effect of "encouraging the use of prescribed burns to better protect property" on public and private lands by setting up regulations for prescribed burning and letting "people that wanted to go in that kind of business get insurance — evidently they can't get insurance."
News Tribune reporter Phillip Sitter contributed to this article.