This week HB 2225 was heard in Rules Committee and voted out. This is the bill dealing with emergency room care and requiring the insurer to direct pay to the provider instead of the individual who has the insurance. This is a great bill that protects the average person who has insurance but still could be forced to pay a very large bill through no fault of their own.
Also this week HB 1291 dealing with the flying of the POW/MIA flag was passed out of the Rules Committee.
HB 2306 will be in Rules the week after spring break. This bill will create a third party land trust. The purpose is to help individual land owners and municipalities that were affected by lead contamination to be able to access the funds from the ASARCO settlement. There is approximately $24.5 million dollars left in the settlement. These dollars were intended for the lands affected by lead in the Big River watershed.
All three bills should be coming to the House floor after spring break.
House budget: The House budget that will be debated on the House floor starting Monday, March 26th contains full funding for K-12 education. This would be the first time the formula was fully funded two years in a row. The budget would also include $500,000 for a new K-3 reading assessment program and $250,000 for the Scholars and Fine Arts Academies, $300,000 for Active shooter training.
Bills of Interest:
HB 1872 establishes the “Missouri Rural Broadband Development Fund.” This fund consists of appropriated moneys, gifts, contributions, grants, or bequests made to the fund. The fund is to be used for the expansion of rural broadband access. For the purposes of the bill “rural areas” are defined as any county except charted counties of the first classification or St. Louis city. The bill directs the Department of Economic Development to establish rules and regulations as well as a committee to evaluate the proposals for a grant submitted by each regional planning commission, on behalf of rural regional development groups, and to disburse grants in accordance with the purpose of the fund. However, a rural regional development group shall not qualify for a grant if the group’s region includes a county outside of Missouri or a portion of another state, or if the group maintains an operating budget greater than $250,000. A single grant may not exceed $150,000.
HB 1443 changes the law regarding the use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits via electronic benefit transfer (EBT) transaction. The bill adds pornography to the list of items that are prohibited from being purchased with TANF or SNAP benefits using an EBT card. The bill requires that upon any third or subsequent violation of the prohibition against using TANF or SNAP benefits via an EBT card in a prohibited establishment or to purchase prohibited items, a TANF recipient must lose his or her TANF benefits for two years. No one wants to hurt low-income families but we do expect accountability.
HB 1486 requires any individual participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to comply with
the work requirements described in federal statute and regulations. Any nonexempt participant who refuses or fails without good cause to comply with the work requirements will be ineligible to participate in the program for the duration of the disqualification period as follows: (1) For the first occurrence of noncompliance, the individual will be disqualified for three months; (2) For the second occurrence of noncompliance, the individual will be disqualified for six months; and (3) For the third occurrence of noncompliance, the individual will be disqualified permanently.
HB 1503 allows the Department of Economic Development to issue state guarantees to lenders for loans to veteran-owned small businesses. The lender and applicant have certain responsibilities relating to the application and fees required by the department. In order to be eligible for the program, an applicant must be an honorably discharged resident intending to locate his or her business in the state, complete an approved boots-to-business program, and have a business plan approved by the department. Upon approval for the state-guaranteed loan, an applicant will be assigned a mentor for one year following the approval and must meet with the mentor at least once every 90 days. It is my belief that we must continue to help our veterans because they have earned and deserve any and all help we can give them.
Missouri 117th District House Representative Mike Henderson, R-Bonne Terre, files his Capitol report at the end of each week during the state legislative session.