SESSION COMES TO AN END
Lawmakers have returned to their home districts as the 2021 legislative session came to a close on Friday, May 14 at 6:00 pm, as mandated by the constitution. Without a doubt, this is one of the most memorable sessions in memory and included plenty of drama, especially on the final day where the Senate came to a breaking point.
At the center of the controversy was an extension of the FRA bill – which stands for Federal Reimbursement Allowance – and is a self-imposed taxing mechanism covering hospitals, long term care facilities, ambulance services and pharmacies, which is used to help pay for Medicaid services through the state’s MO HelathNet program. The money is matched by federal dollars at a higher rate and is then used to reimburse the state’s Medicaid providers. The FRA legislation must be renewed every year, or the health care entities risk being short funded, and many would likely close their doors. Democrats said they were given assurances by Republican leadership that the bill would pass through the Senate cleanly, but when it became apparent late Thursday night that would not be the case, chaos ensued.
The final day of session in the Senate was marked by Democrat leadership holding the floor and lambasting Senate President Dave Schatz for not keeping his word on the FRA legislation. In an unprecedented move, and nearly four hours before the scheduled end of session, Democrat Floor Leader John Rizzo made a motion for the Senate to adjourn. With no objections from any of the Republicans in the chamber, the motion passed, and the 2021 legislative session was over for the upper chamber.
The House, meanwhile, continued their work, and pushed through a couple of last-minute priorities as the 6:00 pm deadline approached.
The fallout of failing to pass the FRA means that Governor Mike Parson must now call a special session to address the issue, otherwise health care facilities will not receive the necessary funding when the program expires in September.
In the end, only 51 policy related bills and resolutions were approved and forwarded to the Governor for his consideration. Additionally, the 19 budget bills that encompass the fiscal year 2022 state budget also await the Governor’s approval.
The Governor has until the end of June to sign or veto budget related bills, as the new fiscal year begins July 1. He must take action on non-budget bills within 45 days of the end of the legislative session. All policy related legislation takes effect on August 28, unless the bill contains an emergency clause or other effective date. Any vetoed bills may be considered for an override at the annual veto session on September 15.
Highlights of Bills of Interest
Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR)
SB26 – I’m pleased to report that after several years of laying the groundwork, building the necessary relationships, and garnering support, LEOBR has passed and now awaits action by the Governor. After many thought this legislation was dead because of the numerous amendments added and controversy surrounding some of the provisions, the House and Senate approved the measure on the final day of session. The final two weeks of session saw this bill on life support numerous times, but persistence paid off as we made it across the finish line. In a nutshell, the legislation provides a statewide framework ensuring due process protections for all law enforcement officers when under administrative investigation.
There are numerous other provisions in the bill that were added along the way including language that allows a taxpayer to ask for injunctive relief if a local law enforcement budget is reduced by a certain amount, a restriction on regulation of battery charged fences in political subdivisions, parole modifications for a person who was under 18 when they committed a crime, training requirements for pesticide application, allowing certain convicted felons to sell alcohol and lottery tickets, provisions relating to interference with an ambulance service or health care facility, and the establishment of a police use of force database.
Many thanks to President Inglima, Vice President Schroeder, and Legislative Director Ahlbrand for being in Jefferson City during the final days of session and allowing me to bring on additional lobbyists to help in the fight. I also want to recognize Lodge 68 General Counsel Brian Millikan for his work to draft the original legislation, the many modifications and rewrites along the way, and coming to Jefferson City to testify in committee. Lodge 68 lobbyist Jane Dueker and Lodge 111 lobbyist Tom Robbins were also key in helping to get the bill passed. Kudos as well to Lodge 99 President Brad Lemon who also let me employ a team of lobbyists to secure key votes on this bill and the police residency bill. Finally, I want to give a special thank you to our good friend Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe, who was instrumental in the passage of our bill. He continually asked for updates on our bill throughout the legislative session and put together some last-minute negotiations that helped get the bill necessary floor time in the final two days of session. His behind the scenes support over the last five months was incredible to say the least. There is no better friend of the FOP than Mike Kehoe.
Police Residency – Police Reform
SB53 – This is another huge win for us as the legislation eliminates residency requirements for employees of the Kansas City Police Department. The measure allows officers to live within a 30-mile radius of the city limits, provided they remain residents of the state of Missouri. This bill also required hours of negotiations to secure the necessary votes as we faced immense opposition from Kansas City Mayor Quentin Lucas, the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, and their team of lobbyists.
There are several other provisions that were added to the bill including “police reform” language that creates a Class E felony for officers who have sexual contact with a detainee, and a provision that an officer shall not knowingly use a respiratory chokehold unless protecting himself or others from serious injury or death.
Other sections of the bill cover numerous public safety and judiciary statutes including juvenile justice provisions, credit for jail time served while awaiting trial, crime laboratory surcharges, orders of protection for pets, county sheriff’s salary increase, elimination of the Attorney General residency requirement, guardianship for adult wards, fees for police reports, doxing of a first responder, and establishment of a police use of force database.
Police Mental Wellness
SB57 – This legislation was passed on the final day of session and now heads to the Governor for his consideration. The bill creates the Critical Incident Stress Management Program within the department of Public Safety, to help officers cope with psychological trauma stemming from critical incidents. The legislation mandates that all peace officers meet with a program service provider once every three to five years for a mental health check-in. The bill also creates the 988 Public Safety Fund within the state treasury to be used by the Department of Public Safety to provide the mental health services set forth in the bill. Additionally, the bill creates the Economic Distress Zone Fund within the Department of Public Safety, to provide funding to areas of the state with deteriorating infrastructure and high crime rates. The money is to be used by non-profit organizations to assist with efforts to reduce crime.
We are appreciative of Senator Karla May who sponsored this bill, as she worked with us to make sure there was language in the bill to ensure confidentiality of the mental health check-ins. Senator May also offered to include the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights in her legislation if we ran into roadblocks with SB26.
Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA)
HB85, dubbed the SAPA bill, was approved by the House as the session drew to a close on Friday evening. According to the sponsor, Senator Eric Burlison, the bill is designed to prevent overreach of the federal government on firearms issues, and declares that any federal law, rule, orders, or other actions which restrict or prohibit firearm manufacture or ownership, including accessories and ammunition, will not be enforced by state or municipal law enforcement officers. Should any law enforcement agency in the state violate the provision, the agency would be liable for redress for $50,000 per occurrence. Originally, the bill provided that an officer would lose their POST certification for life should they violate the provisions in the bill. We worked with Senator Burlison and the House sponsor, Representative Jered Taylor to modify that language to place the burden on the agency and not the individual officer. The final vote in the House was 111-42 after having passed the Senate by a margin of 22-10. The measure now awaits action by the Governor.
Prescription Drug Monitoring
SB63, which establishes a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, was approved by the House early last week and is now headed to the Governor’s desk. Passage of the bill ensures that Missouri will now longer be the only state in the nation without such a program. The bill was championed by Senator Holly Rehder, who had pushed for the bill since first being elected to the House of Representatives over nine years ago.
Public Employee Labor Organizations – “Paycheck Protection”
HB88, and SB244 both dealt with annual authorization of labor dues deductions from public employee paychecks. Neither bill was able to gain much traction, as the Senate version died on the informal calendar without receiving any floor time and the House version died after passing out of the Rules Committee.
Right to Work
SB118, SB73, and HB87 – Each of these bills established “Right to Work” provisions in the state, but the legislation wasn’t a priority in the General Assembly as each of the bill gained very little traction. SB118 was voted out of the Senate General Laws Committee in early March but was never placed on the calendar, SB73 was referred to the General Laws Committee but a hearing was never held, and HB87 was not referred to committee until the final day of session.
A link to all truly agreed and finally passed bills may be found here. Please note that because of networking issues between the House and Senate Research Divisions, not all bills have the most up to date versions online. Thus, I will continue my review of all bills as the final language becomes available over the coming days. I will also keep you updated as the Governor announces his intentions on the various bills which could impact the FOP.