Final week — We are fighting for these 12 issues
Start the countdown — the 2019 Legislative Session ends at 6 p.m. this Friday. Lawmakers are hastening to finalize bills, and the Missouri Chamber is focused on advocating for 12 important legislative issues that are poised to cross the finish line and land on the governor’s desk.
As we continue to work in the state capitol, we need your help. It takes as little as five minutes to let your legislators know how important pro-business bills are to you.
We encourage you to contact your senator and representative and ask them to support the topics below.
1. Bolstering Missouri’s economic development and workforce tools — Senate Bill 68
Improving our state’s economic development programs has been a strong focus of Gov. Mike Parson and the legislature this year. The package currently under consideration contains four priorities:
- New tax credits for automotive manufacturers — such as General Motors — that invest a certain amount in plant upgrades and agree to retain current workers
- A measure called One Start, which simplifies the state’s jobs training programs into one streamlined, employer-friendly system
- A proposal called Fast Track, which creates a grant program to help thousands of adult Missourians pursue higher education to prepare for work in high-demand jobs
- A deal closing fund to give our state a key negotiating tool for finalizing business investment opportunities, leveling the playing field with other states that already have this tool
2. Funding bridge repairs through bonding — Senate Concurrent Resolution 14
This measure would allow the state to borrow $301 million for transportation needs if Missouri receives funding through the federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program. These bonds would be in addition to $50 million for transportation from general revenue, which was allotted in the 2020 state budget approved last week.
3. Reforming our legal climate
Missouri already scored a big win on the legal reform front this year with the passage of Senate Bill 7, which put an end to the abuse of our state’s venue and joinder laws. However, several other legal reforms remain to be passed, including:
- A measure to stop excessive and costly litigation delay tactics by placing reasonable limits on discovery procedures (Senate Bill 224)
- Legislation to put commonsense time limits on product liability lawsuits and end the practice of bringing product-related claims against companies decades after the item was sold (House Bill 186)
- A bill to curb the overuse of punitive damages, which are all too often wielded in Missouri as a threat to help drive up payouts from businesses (House Bill 186)
- A measure to clarify the employment relationship in the franchise business model and protect small franchisees’ independence (Senate Bill 38)
4. Revising Clean Missouri — House Joint Resolution 48
This legislation would give voters the chance to revise the problematic portions of Amendment 1, a dark money-funded measure passed last November which included misleading provisions to radically alter the way Missouri is divided into districts. Without revision, Amendment 1 could lead to higher taxes and more bureaucratic regulation, as well as reverse long-running efforts to make our state business friendly.
5. Allowing MEWA health insurance plans to be marketed — House Bill 942
Multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA) health insurance enables small employers to join together and share in the overall claims risk, reducing cost. But current Missouri law prohibits brokers from marketing MEWA plans to the public, making it nearly impossible for eligible businesses to find out about the option. This measure would fix that problem.
6. Launching a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) — House Bill 188
This measure would give physicians and pharmacists a critical tool to combat the opioid crisis by identifying individuals who “pill shop.” Missouri is the only state that lacks a statewide PDMP.
7. Boosting awareness of in-demand careers by incentivizing teacher externships — House Bill 462
In order to advance on their salary schedule, Missouri teachers currently must spend their summers taking graduate classes. This measure gives them the option to spend those hours in an externship for equivalent credit, allowing them to work inside local companies and take that experience back to their classrooms.
8. Ending the Missouri/Kansas Economic Border War — Senate Bill 182
Missouri and Kansas have spent tens of millions of dollars enticing companies to make a short move across the border with little net job creation for either state. This bill would help enact a truce to halt this costly practice.
9. Providing a consistent regulatory framework for Missouri agriculture — Senate Bill 391
A patchwork of highly restrictive and arbitrary county ordinances is stifling the growth of Missouri’s agriculture industry and in some cases has all but halted future expansion. This bill would provide a consistent statewide regulatory framework based on sound science and reliable environmental data to allow ag business and rural economies to flourish.
10. Leveling the playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers — Senate Bill 46 / Senate Bill 50
Prompted by a recent Supreme Court ruling, lawmakers are working to pass legislation to level the playing field between brick-and-mortar businesses and online retailers by requiring all sellers with an economic nexus to Missouri to collect sales tax.
11. Protecting critical infrastructure — House Bill 954
This bill would protect the state’s pipelines and other critical infrastructure by creating stronger penalties for willfully trespassing onto or willfully damaging critical infrastructure facilities.
12. Forming empowerment scholarship accounts (ESAs) — Senate Bill 160
This legislation would help provide expanded education opportunities to thousands of students by giving families tax credits for money spent on schools.
While we believe these particular issues are well-positioned to pass, we will continue to advocate for all the issues outlined in our 2019 Legislative Agenda should additional opportunities arise during the final week.