Local state representatives have recently returned from the legislative session in Jefferson City and say progress was made.
Following is a breakdown of some of the legislation pushed by State Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, and State Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific.
An article detailing some of the legislation sponsored by State Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, appeared in last weekend’s edition of The Missourian.
Schatz said he got a bill passed that put in place federally mandated language to outlaw texting and driving for commercial truck drivers. He said the bill was needed to prevent the state from losing federal funding.
One of the bigger bills Schatz was hoping to get passed dealt with conceal-carry weapons permits. He was hoping to eliminate the requirement that the permits have to be renewed.
He was unable to get the bill passed, but the permits were extended from three years to five years.
There was worry that making Missouri’s conceal-carry permits permanent could cause problems with other states that recognize Missouri’s permits. Those states may not be able to recognize Missouri’s permits if there is not a renewal process in place, he added.
Schatz noted that legislation also passed to take the conceal-carry permitting process away from the Department of Revenue and give it to local sheriff’s offices.
Schatz last week said bills were still subject to Gov. Jay Nixon signing them into law.
He also passed a bill dealing with salvage vehicle titles. The bill allows insurers to obtain lien releases in a more expedient fashion. This way, vehicles can be salvaged in a more timely manner rather than sitting around in a junked condition, he said. Insurance companies had requested the legislation be passed, Schatz said.
He also sponsored an amendment that ensures Department of Natural Resources regulations cannot be changed in the middle of a permit cycle. This way permit holders will not be forced to uphold new DNR guidelines until their permits come up for renewal. This keeps the rules from changing in the middle of the game, he said.
This was done in response to new, more stringent federal Clean Water Act guidelines being imposed on wastewater treatment facilities across the state, he said.
Schatz also worked on some bills dealing with workers’ compensation. One of the bills, he said, puts occupational disease back into the workers’ compensation fund where it was for more than 80 years prior to a court making the change.
Occupational disease belongs in the workers’ compensation fund to prevent plaintiffs from filing dual claims, he said. This helps protect businesses, he added.
Getting this bill passed required compromise, he said, noting that the mesothelioma benefit has been enhanced.
As chairman of the Downsizing State Government Committee, Curtman said he was able to move bills forward.
One bill requires state agencies to gain legislative approval before using federal money to implement or expand a program. Curtman said this was actually Hinson’s bill.
State agencies at times get federal funding to expand and create programs without the Legislature knowing, Curtman said. This creates an obligation for the Legislature when agencies return seeking more funding to keep programs going, he said.
Requiring legislative approval before state agencies use federal funding provides another set of checks and balances, Curtman said.
However, he said the legislative approval is only required if a state agency gets more than $1 million in federal funds for two consecutive years.
Curtman also pushed a bill in his committee to require state agencies that get federal funding to disclose those dollar amounts to the Missouri Accountability Portal database so the information is available to the general public.
Curtman noted that he also supported legislation to allow the open carry of weapons by citizens who hold conceal-carry permits. He said he introduced the legislation at the request of the Missouri Sport Shooting Association.
Last week, Curtman was still waiting on the governor to sign bills into law.
Curtman also introduced a bill to adjust tax brackets for inflation, but it did not pass. He said there are currently about $2.4 billion in excess taxes being collected because of inflation. Other states adjust for inflation annually, he said.
And another bill that he was unable to pass would have brought forth a resolution calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve, he said. Missouri needs to take a stance on federal monetary policy because it impacts the state, he said.