The Missouri General Assembly’s 2016 legislative session concluded on May 13. The legislature's priorities included ethics reform, municipal court issues, civil justice matters, and energy regulation. More than 2,000 bills were introduced, but only 138 were passed and sent to Governor Nixon.
Three ethics bills cleared the General Assembly and were signed by Governor Nixon. The first, HB 1979, would impose a six-month waiting period before lawmakers can become paid lobbyists. The second, HB 1983, would ban lawmakers from being paid political consultants while in office. The last, HB 2203, would restrict how campaign committees could invest funds.
Legislation that would have banned gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers was ultimately defeated in the Senate. Consequently, legislators are still permitted to receive free meals, event tickets, and travel. Efforts to impose a gift ban are likely to reemerge in the coming year.
Following the municipal court reforms of 2015, the legislature sought to limit fines for ordinance violations and to prevent municipalities from maintaining traffic violations quotas.
The legislature approved SB 572, limiting court fines for cities and towns. The bill sets a maximum fine amount of $450 for nuisance violations. This legislation would also limit municipal court judges from serving in no more than five municipalities. Lawmakers also approved SB 765, prohibiting cities and towns from encouraging police or traffic officers to meet a quota for the number of traffic citations issued.
Civil Litigation Reforms
The legislature passed SB 847, known as the “collateral source rule,” which clarifies that in a lawsuit, an injured person can recover only the actual medical costs she or he incurred. The bill is expected to be vetoed. The General Assembly also approved SB 591, legislation that seeks to change admissibility standards for expert witnesses in civil actions, so that Missouri’s standards are consistent with the majority of other states and federal court rules. The measure would require that an expert’s opinion be based on sufficient data and be reliably applied to the facts of a case. The legislation would not apply to juvenile or family court matters. SB 591 is expected to be vetoed.
Daily Fantasy Sports Contests
Under a measure passed by the legislature, Missouri would exempt daily fantasy sports from state gambling regulations. The bill, HB 1941, would require daily fantasy sports sites operating in the state to pay an annual $5,000 registration fee with the Department of Insurance (DOI). The bill would also enact a fee of 11.5 percent of annual revenue (gathered from Missouri players) from FanDuel, DraftKings, or any other daily fantasy site with no cap. Governor Nixon is expected to sign the legislation.
Law Enforcement Video Recordings
The General Assembly approved HB 1936, seeking to limit public access to certain footage captured by police. The legislation would limit, during an investigation, public access under open records laws to footage from body cameras and dashboard cameras, if the video depicts a nonpublic location. In such circumstances, people depicted in those videos, their family members, or their lawyers could access the footage. Any other party seeking such footage could obtain access with a court order.
Under SB 865, passed this session, the Missouri Department of Insurance (DOI) would have the authority to review and publish the premiums being charged by health benefit plans. The measure would exclude large group market, long-term care, and Medicare supplemental plans. For plans starting January 1, 2018, the legislation would require health insurance carriers offering small group and individual plans to submit rates to the DOI.
Both chambers approved House Joint Resolution 53, a proposed constitutional amendment that would require Missouri residents to present a government-issued photo ID when voting. Voters will decide whether the amendment becomes law when they go to the polls in November.
Items that Did Not Pass
Several issues were heavily debated throughout the legislative session, but ultimately failed to be adopted.
SB 623 would have increased Missouri’s gas tax to fund roads and bridges, from 17 cents per gallon to 22 cents per gallon. It was approved in the Senate, but it failed to advance in the House. Opposition to a tax increase during an election year appeared to stall the bill.
HB 2689 would have changed ratemaking for utility companies. It was filibustered in the Senate, owing to significant opposition from consumers, both large and small.
HB 1892 would have created a state prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) to track users of certain opioids, in an attempt to curtail abuse of such drugs. The measure, which stalled in the Senate, will likely come up again next session, as Missouri is the only state without a PDMP.
HB 2330 would have created a regulatory framework for transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft. However, it failed to receive approval in the Senate because that chamber could not agree on whether to provide exemptions for certain cities and towns.
For a complete list of legislation that was approved by the General Assembly and sent to Governor Nixon for consideration, click here.
For legislation that has already been acted on by Governor Nixon, click here.