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Legislative Update: Did You See the Wave?

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POSTED IN: EPIC - The Official Newsletter of MOCEP, November/December 2018,

Written by Jorgen Schlemeier, MOCEP Legislative Liaison

The wave in Missouri was…wait what??? Red again?!  Yup, in fact, had I known Missouri elections were going to be such a non-event, I would have been in bed by my normal 8:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m. at the absolute latest. Yes Hawley beat McCaskill for the US Senate, and that was a big deal, but has little effect on the day-to-day operations of Jefferson City, which is the space in which I operate on your behalf.   The democrats had opportunities, but the republicans held the line in the State House and Senate, too. The early predictions were that the republicans may lose another senate seat (lost one – Clay County, during a special election in the spring), and a few house seats, but neither occurred, and neither scenario would have eliminated the republicans respective super majority anyway. While the elections did not bring big change to Missouri, the sequel to the sequel of term limits did. Over a third of the 163 House members are new, and 10 of the 34 Senators will vote as a Senator for the first time.  That is a major change.

Highlights of the election include Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley defeating U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, no change in Congressional seats, State Auditor Nicole Galloway narrowly squeaks by for another term, and no number of seat changes in the State House nor Senate.

Ballot measures of interest included Medical Marijuana, lower contribution limits to candidates, revamping redistricting methodology, $5 limit on lobbyist gifts to legislators, and a higher minimum wage measure all were approved by the voters.  The gas tax and two of the three medical marijuana proposals failed.

Many in “Jefferson City” immediately turned their attention to the Senate leadership races which were highly contested.

Pro Tem of the Senate had four strong candidates.  Senator Dave Schatz, from Franklin County, beat Senators Bob Onder, Mike Cunningham and Ed Emery.  This office appoints committee chairman, assigns bills to committee and determines when a bill is eligible for floor debate. Due to term limits, several key spots are open including the Senate Appropriations Chair.

Majority Floor Leader, Caleb Rowden, was chosen by his caucus to run the day-to-day operations on the Senate floor, including how much time each piece of legislation is allowed for debate.

The House Leadership will remain with Representatives Elijah Haahr (Speaker) and Rob Vescovo as Majority Floor Leader. 

Missouri Congressional Incumbents Retain Seats

All eight of Missouri’s U.S. representatives – Jason Smith, Vicky Hartzler, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Billy Long, Emanuel Cleaver, Lacy Clay, Ann Wagner and Sam Graves – won re-election.

State House

As expected, Republicans in both the Senate and House continue to hold supermajorities.

In the Missouri House of Representatives, Republicans and Democrats swapped 3 seats, leaving the republican majority with 116 and 47 democrats. Of the 163 members, 60 will be new to the building in January when the 2019 session begins. Three incumbents lost their seats, Mike Revis, D-Jefferson County; Kevin Corlew, R-Clay County; and Mark Mattiesen, R-St. Louis County.

State Senate

The Missouri Senate had no additional changes, however Senator Lauren Arthur, D-Clay County, was sworn in during veto session replacing republican Ryan Silvey, who resigned when appointed to the Public Service Commission. Republicans hold 24 seats and Democrats have 10 seats – 23 seats are needed for a supermajority. With Sen. Arthur, there will be 10 new senators in the January 2019 legislative session. No incumbents lost their seat.

Statewide Ballot Issues

After several years of debate surrounding Missouri’s minimum wage, Missourians voted to pass Proposition B which will increase the minimum wage beginning in January 1, 2019. The measure increases the state minimum wage to $8.60 per hour with an 85 cents per hour increase each year until 2023, when the state minimum wage would be $12.00 per hour. This measure exempts government employers from the increase, and increases the penalty for paying employees less than the minimum wage. There are exemptions to this law. The current law exempts from the minimum wage law, Any individual employed by a retail or service business whose annual gross volume sales made or business done is less than five hundred thousand dollars;’’ and Government employers. This measure passed with 62% voting yes.

Missouri voters passed a measure known as Clean Missouri with 61% voting yes. The measure changes the process and criteria for redrawing state legislative districts during reapportionment; changes limits on campaign contributions that candidates for state legislature can accept from individuals or entities; establishes a limit on gifts that state legislators, and their employees, can accept from paid lobbyists; prohibits state legislators, and their employees, from serving as paid lobbyists for a period of time; prohibits political fundraising by candidates for or members of the state legislature on State property; and requires legislative records and proceedings to be open to the public.

Missouri’s gas tax proposal, also known as Proposition D, failed to pass with only 46% voting yes. If passed, Proposition D would have increased the motor fuel tax by two and one half cents per gallon annually for four years beginning July 1, 2019; exempted Special Olympic, Paralympic, and Olympic prizes from state taxes; and established the Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund. The new Governor and Lt. Governor worked very hard on this measure, however it still came up short.

Missouri became the 32nd state to legalize medical marijuana after 65% of Missourians voted yes on Amendment 2. The measure allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and creates regulations and licensing/certification procedures for marijuana and marijuana facilities; imposes a 4 percent tax on the retail sale of marijuana; and uses funds from these taxes for health and care services for military veterans by the Missouri Veterans Commission; and to administer the program to license/certify and regulate marijuana and marijuana facilities. The Department of Health has been busy attempting to set a process for applications to be submitted, reviewed and scored.

Session begins in a few short weeks, two weeks after Christmas to be exact.  You have this short amount of time to get to know your new or returning legislator.

Several bills were prefiled on December first, including a bill which will require a higher standard of proof to claim medical malpractice against a practitioner providing services as required by EMTALA.

Other bills filed include instituting a PDMP, we will see how that progresses since the primary opponent Dr. Rob Schaaf is no longer in the Senate, and Medicaid Expansion.  Additionally, many health care bills and tort bills were filed, but the text of each of the proposals are not yet available.