The Missouri State Capitol was busy this week as lawmakers and citizens from across the state took part in committee meetings, public hearings and more. I would like to take this opportunity to inform you about the legislation I have filed this year. These bills cover a variety of topics and are my priorities for the 2018 legislative session.
SB 649 –Currently, the fee paid to the Division of Fire Safety for using explosives may be set by rule, but shall not exceed $2 per ton. Under this act, the fee shall not exceed $7.50 per ton and any fee established by rule shall not yield revenue greater than the cost of administering the Missouri Blasting Safety Act. Industry businesses and law enforcement personnel support this change. The bill was presented in the Commerce, Consumer Protection, energy and the Environment committee on Jan. 17, and the legislation received positive responses.
SB 576 –This bill changes the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MOVIP) to the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program. This legislation allows any eligible student to enroll in an online course of their choice to be paid by the school district or charter school they currently attend.
SB 577 –Under this measure, community colleges may grant baccalaureate degrees if authorized by the Coordinating Board for Higher education. The West Plains Campus of Missouri State University and the State Technical College of Missouri may also offer baccalaureate degrees if authorized by the Coordinating Board. An institution may also be authorized to offer non-research doctoral degrees in allied health professions. Finally, the boards of state colleges and state teachers colleges have the power and authority to confer degrees in engineering only in collaboration with the University of Missouri if the collaborative agreement is approved by the governing board of each institution.
SB 578 - This act provides that in an arbitration agreement between an employer and an at-will employee, the arbitrator shall make all initial decisions as to arbitrability, which includes deciding whether the parties have agreed to arbitrate, whether the arbitration agreement is enforceable and whether specific claims are arbitrable.
SB 648 - This act requires any school district with an approved gifted education program to have a process that outlines the procedures and conditions under which parents or guardians may request a review of the decision that determined their child did not qualify to receive services through the district's gifted education program. This act also allows for the subject or whole grade acceleration of any student who demonstrates certain characteristics described in the act.
SB 650 - This act corrects the description of St. Francois County in a provision of law relating to expenditures of the county's special road and bridge tax funds.
SB 696 - This act provides that each school district may rely on technical coursework and skills assessments developed for industry-recognized certificates and credentials providing a pathway for students to engage in career and technical education. It also requires the Council to encourage local employers to participate in college and career fairs, and to cooperate with local school districts to ensure that the curriculum for the career and technical education certificate include programs of study and course offerings that will lead to industry-recognized certificates or credentials.
SB 697 - This act reduces the required time period before a member of an organization can participate in operation of a bingo game from two years to six months, and reduces the required membership period of a person working under the direction of such a member from one year to six months. This act also removes a provision currently in effect authorizing organizations to expend up to 10 percent of bingo receipts for advertising. The provisions of this act are contingent upon the passage of a constitutional amendment (outlined in SJR 25) that provides for the same change to the required membership period proposed in this act.
SB 794 –This act would require the governor to inform the Missouri Senate, in writing, of any appointments to state boards or commissions made while the General Assembly is not in session. After appointment and notification, the governor will also be prohibited from withdrawing or rescinding the appointment, except in the case of charges of malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance. Additionally, five members who have been confirmed by the Missouri Senate must be present to establish a quorum and no official actions may be taken unless a majority of the Board, all of whom have received the advice and consent of the Senate, vote therefor. This bill addresses issues with the State Board of Education while also ensuring the same standards apply to other state boards and commissions.
SB 871 - This act repeals provisions of state law which specify that court reporters shall receive $3.50 per page in proceedings in any circuit court. Also, the act repeals the provision specifying that the court reporter is to be reimbursed $3.50 cents per legal page for the preparation of transcripts.
Last week, along with my colleagues in the Missouri Senate, I worked to create and then signed a letter calling for a formal investigation into the allegations concerning the governor. It is crucial to resolve this matter quickly so that we can move on to the important decisions and topics facing our constituents during the 2018 legislative session. I welcome your comments and I hope an efficient and thorough investigation will take place so that we can get back to serving the citizens of Missouri.