Local state representatives are working on various bills for the legislative session, which began this week in Jefferson City.
The session runs to May 17.
Rep. Dave Hinson
Hinson said he is working on a variety of bills ranging from road and bridge funding to education.
One bill would require high school seniors to take a math and science course their final two semesters. This is an effort to reduce the number of students taking remedial classes when they enter colleges, he said. Under the current system, a student could be done taking math before the sophomore year, the St. Clair Republican said.
Another bill Hinson is working on would require Missouri General Assembly approval before state departments accepted federal money.
Hinson said this comes after the department of health and senior services accepted federal money last year to set up a health care exchange prior to the General Assembly approving such a system.
In the November election, voters decided that the General Assembly is the only entity that can set up a health care exchange.
Hinson said he is also looking at funding for roads and bridges and possibly asking voters to approve a sales tax to fund those improvements.
Hinson said the idea would be for the tax to end in 10 years. That way the construction would be paid for as the tax was collected instead of the state taking on debt.
The possibility of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act also will be a big issue this year, he said.
Tort reform, which was overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court last year, may also have to be reviewed, he said, to prevent a climate where the cost of malpractice insurance makes it unfeasible for doctors to practice in the state.
Another bill Hinson is working on would allow second and third-class counties to enact building codes upon voter approval. But agricultural buildings, such as livestock barns, would be exempted. Franklin County is a first-class county.
Hinson said he will be appointed to the appropriations committee for public safety and corrections.
Rep. Paul Curtman
Curtman, R-Pacific, said he is working on a bill to clear up vagueness in state statute dealing with 17-year-old runaways.
Current law provides no protection for parents, Curtman said, adding that law enforcement is not always required to go look for the child.
The current state statute reads that a child can leave home at 17, but the parents are still liable for the child until 18, he said.
Curtman said his bill would obligate law enforcement to find a 17-year-old runaway. But if the child has a right to leave home, the parents should not be liable for problems the kid may cause, Curtman added.
He is also working on a bill that would let Missouri residents monetize commodities such as gold and silver to buy products.
Curtman said this would not be the same as people walking around with bags of gold like Old West days.
It would be done through electronic transactions similar to money market accounts, he said.
If his legislation passes, Curtman said somebody may open a business to issue debit cards backed up by gold and silver U.S.-minted coins. The business would sell off gold and silver to cover the expenses made with the debit cards.
Curtman said this just gives people one more way to make purchases. He added that gold and silver are stable markets that protect people from inflation.
Utah signed similar legislation into law in 2011, he said.
Curtman also is working with used car dealers on legislation that would allow dealers to hold onto a title for a few days to give them time to determine whether the trade-in they get from the customer is free of liens.
Also, he plans to seek the legislature’s approval of a resolution asking the U.S. Congress to audit the Federal Reserve.
Curtman said a partial audit in 2011 disclosed that the Federal Reserve loaned upward of $16 trillion to foreign and domestic banks without congressional authorization.
This is an attempt at seeking accountability for federal dollars, he said.
Curtman hopes to sit on the economic development committee again, saying Missouri has been one of the last ranking states for job creation.
The state’s tax credit program needs to be heavily rolled back, he said, adding that it competes unfairly against small businesses when national retailers get the benefits and local merchants get no break.
Moreover, the money from tax credits could be put into education, he said. There are other ways to bring businesses to the state, such as cutting regulations, he said.
Rep. Dave Schatz
Schatz, R-Sullivan, said he may be working on some workers’ compensation legislation to make the state more business friendly.
He said currently businesses often have to fight two fronts when dealing with employee litigation. This should not be the case, he said, adding that workers’ compensation should be the sole remedy for such claims.
But he noted that occupational disease has been pulled out of workers’ compensation as a separate way for employees to seek damages. Schatz said it should be put back in workers’ compensation.
He also thinks economic development, energy and education funding will be big issues this session.
Establishing alternative energy sources from coal, which is facing tougher federal requirements, is also on Schatz’s agenda. Small nuclear plants could be an answer, he said.
Schatz said he thinks he will be part of the budget committee, utilities committee and possibly chair the transportation committee.
Sen. Brian Nieves
Nieves, R-Washington, declined comment for this story.