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Source: US State of Missouri

After the Gavel

The final gavel of the 100th General Assembly fell on May 15, marking the end to a most unusual legislative session, one interrupted by a global pandemic. After approving the budget on May 8, the General Assembly focused on priority legislation. Despite a shortened schedule, the Legislature still sent 47 bills to the governor’s desk and advanced a proposed constitutional amendment that will go before voters later this year.

I’m pleased to report that several measures I worked on this year were among the provisions passed. House Bill 1511 will make it easier for spouses of military personnel serving in Missouri to continue their professional careers after relocating to our state. I sponsored a parallel bill in the Senate and helped move the House bill when it arrived in the upper chamber. Another measure I sponsored, Senate Bill 599, expands the Missouri FIRST linked deposit program. This legislation will increase the amount of money the state treasurer can deposit in local banks to facilitate low-interest loans for farms and small businesses. House Bill 1768 extends funding for rural broadband expansion and includes a provision I advanced that would hold service providers accountable when they fail to meet performance standards.

In part due to the limited time we had to finish our work, many legislative proposals advanced as amendments to bills farther along the process. Consequently, the Legislature approved several omnibus bills that combined multiple provisions related to single general topics. House Bill 1682 gathered provisions involving health care, including one I sponsored to allow physicians assistants to serve on ambulance crews. The bill also outlaws vapor products in schools, prohibits edible medicinal marijuana “gummies” in shapes or flavors that appeal to children, pays for COVID-19 testing, authorizes tax-exempt savings accounts for long-term disability care, provides epi-pens to rural fire departments and modifies a number of provisions related to various health care professions.

House 1963 is an omnibus transportation bill. It authorizes remote driver’s license renewals and digital driver’s licenses, makes changes to laws regarding vehicle registrations, modifies provisions relating to off-road vehicles, fire trucks and agricultural equipment, provides accommodations for hearing impaired CDL applicants and outlaws unmanned drone aircraft above prisons and mental health facilities. The bill incorporates several measures I sponsored in the Senate, including provisions relating to inspections of boat manufacturers and inaccuracies in vehicle history reports. This same bill will also allow motorcyclists over the age of 26 to ride without a helmet if they have proof of medical insurance.

Two bills passed this year combine a number of provisions relating to military personnel, veterans and families of service members. Senate Bills 656 and 718 overlap somewhat, but together they expand legal assistance services to military members and their families, provide developmental disability services for dependents of military personnel, streamline the issuance of teaching certificates to military spouses and expand the role of the state ombudsman for long-term care facilities, allowing them to work in Missouri’s veterans homes. Senate Bill 656 includes a number of new designations and specialty license plates related to the military, while SB 718 transfers the office of the Adjutant General to a newly created Missouri Department of Military Forces.

Senate Bill 600 toughens penalties for violent criminals and creates a new offense of vehicle hijacking. Senate Bill 569 establishes a bill of rights for victims of sexual assault and will expand forensic evidence collection capability at smaller hospitals through a statewide telehealth network. Senate Bill 591 tightens the requirements for punitive damage awards so that Missouri businesses have less concern about frivolous lawsuits. Senate Bill 676 exempts CARES Act stimulus checks from state taxation, while also protecting property owners from runaway assessment increases.

Although the governor has already signed a few bills passed by the Legislature this year, most await his approval before becoming laws. One measure, however, must be approved by the people. Senate Joint Resolution 38 asks voters to weigh in on new, more-restrictive limits on campaign contributions, a total ban on lobbyists gifts and changes to the legislative redistricting process. Look for that constitutional amendment on an upcoming ballot.

You can read the full text of every bill passed by the Missouri General Assembly online at www.senate.mo.gov/legislation. Or, if you have questions about any of these measures, please feel free to call my office. The 2020 legislative session has ended, but my staff remains in Jefferson City, ready to serve you. I’ll be spending the remainder of the year in the district, but am available to meet with groups and attend community functions. I’m also happy to talk about Missouri state government and the issues impacting our citizens whenever and wherever you may find me.

It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at https://www.senate.mo.gov/brown for more information.

MIL OSI USA News