Last week, my colleagues and I gave first round approval to a number of bills. Senate Bill 45 extends coverage for pregnant and postpartum women receiving benefits through MO HealthNet for Pregnant Women or Show-Me Healthy Babies from 60 days following the end of the pregnancy to one year. It’s important to ensure both mother and baby are healthy following delivery, and this extension is a necessary measure to provide the best health care possible for them.
Senate Bill 8 reduces the assessment of personal property from 33.3% of its true value to 31% of its true value. It also puts vehicles under 10 years old on a depreciation schedule and exempts vehicles over 10 years from personal property taxes. These taxes are a burden, especially for middle and low income Missourians, and this reduction will provide at least a little relief.
The Senate also perfected:
· Senate Bill 133, which creates an income tax deduction for unborn children.
· Senate Bill 34 that would allow school districts to offer an elective social studies course relating, but not limited to, the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament of the Bible and the New Testament of the Bible.
· Senate Bill 186, which modifies provisions relating to criminal offenses involving teller machines.
Last week, the Senate third read and passed Senate Bill 82, which establishes a transitional benefits program for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This program would allow recipients whose monthly income has exceeded the maximum to receive reduced benefits. Currently, if Missourians receiving benefits under this program work additional hours or receive pay increases, they are at risk of exceeding the income maximum and completely losing benefits, such as child care. This transition plan creates a pathway to independence and allows Missourians to become more self-sufficient without fear of completely losing their benefits.
The Senate passed House Bill 14, a supplemental appropriation bill that would give all state employees an 8.7% cost of living pay increase, and provide $275 million for disaster aid grants, $148.71 million for matching grants to federally qualified health centers, $20 million to bolster security at local schools and $3 million for the Wood Energy Tax Credit Program. In his State of the State address, the governor emphasized the need to pass this bill as soon as possible, aiming to implement the state employee pay raise by March 1. This governor signed this legislation into law on Monday, Feb. 27.
The Senate also passed the following bills last week:
· Senate Bill 20 modifies the terms of active employee members serving on the Board of Trustees of the Missouri Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol Employees’ Retirement System by extending their term from August 28, 2026, to June 30, 2028.
· Senate Bill 24 creates the “Missouri First Responder Mental Health Initiative Act.”
· Senate Bill 47 allows homeless youth use to obtain a free state identification card from the Missouri Department of Revenue.
· Senate Bill 28 modifies provisions relating to fees for requests to access public records of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
· Senate Bill 23 requires licensed motor vehicle dealers to collect and remit to the Missouri Department of Revenue the sales tax on all motor vehicles the dealer sells.
· Senate Bill 70 adopts the Counseling Interstate Compact for professional counselors.
· Senate Bill 103 modifies provisions relating to court operations, including court automation, compensation for court reporters and court surcharges for expungement petitions.
· Senate Bills 119 & 120 add “telecommunicator first responder” to the definition of “first responder” and establishes post-traumatic stress disorder as an occupational disease for first responders. This legislation also adds firefighters as eligible first responder personnel to receive services from the Critical Incident Stress Management Program of the Missouri Department of Public Safety.
· Senate Bill 101 enacts provisions related to lender-placed insurance.
· Senate Bill 13 modifies provisions relating to financial institutions.
· Senate Bill 75 modifies provisions relating to public school retirement systems, including retirement allowance multiplier, working after retirement and increases for members in domestic partnership with reduced monthly payments.
· Senate Bill 41 allows pharmacists to continue administering vaccines they were authorized to under the state of emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
· Senate Bill 187 creates the Commercial Financial Disclosure Act.