Missouri General Assembly to Convene Wednesday, January 6

January 5, 2016

The Missouri General Assembly is scheduled to convene on January 6, 2016. While lawmakers have been pre-filing bills, leaders of the Senate and House have given indications of what will be the top priorities for the upcoming session.

Ethics Reform

Ethics reform will be proposed early in the session. Missouri currently permits unlimited gifts and campaign contributions to state elected officials. In addition, there are no time restrictions placed on lawmakers who leave office and are then hired to represent entities and interests with matters before the General Assembly. An ethics reform proposal will likely include limits on the gifts lawmakers and their staff may accept. Also, a "cooling off" period will be included to prevent lawmakers from immediately lobbying colleagues after leaving office. The most viable proposals include a one to two year time limit before a former lawmaker may register as a Missouri lobbyist. Limits on campaign donations have yet to gain significant support and may not be included in a final package of reforms.

Roads and Bridges

Members will also attempt to address the need for new revenues for Missouri's roads and bridges. Such proposals may include an increase of the state's gas tax by 1 or 2 cents. This issue is garnering support from lawmakers representing both rural and metropolitan regions. Missouri's gas tax is currently 17 cents per gallon and was last increased in 1996.

Medicaid

The legislature will also be examining the effectiveness of the Medicaid managed care system. This will include determinations on the efficiency of the program, including eligibility determinations and the delivery of services. In 2016, managed care in Missouri will cover approximately 893,000 Medicaid enrollees. Proposals for expanding Medicaid are not viable, as the current majority of Senate and House members oppose such measures.

Other Issues to Be Examined

Other issues that will be debated include right to work legislation, student transfer matters, curriculum criteria at the University of Missouri, and stadium financing. We will keep you informed of substantive developments relating to health care issues, tax incentives, budget priorities, banking, and business regulations. If you have any questions or need additional details please do not hesitate to contact David Kirby of the Government Solutions and Administrative Law Practice Group.

Following is a substantive list of pre-filed bills that the Firm will be monitoring.

Employment

Senate Bill 745 – Modifies the law relating to unlawful discrimination. Currently, under the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA), a practice is unlawful when the protected trait is a contributing factor in the decision to discriminate. This act changes that standard to a motivating factor standard.

House Bill 1718 – Changes the Uniform Arbitration Act regarding agreements between employers and at-will employees by the arbitrator and not the court make all initial decisions as to arbitrability including, but not limited to, deciding whether the parties have agreed to arbitrate, whether the agreement is a valid and enforceable contract for arbitration, and whether specific claims must be arbitrated pursuant to the arbitration agreement.

House Bill 1864 - Prohibits employers from inquiring into or considering the criminal records of applicants before offering a conditional offer of employment. (Bill text is not yet posted online.)

House Bill 1867 – Specifies that beginning January 1, 2017, certain shareholders of S corporations may elect to reject workers' compensation insurance coverage. (Bill text is not yet posted online.)

Estate Planning

Senate Bill 577 – Modifies laws regarding the liability of attorneys in fact, modification of irrevocable trusts, court removal of a trustee, application of the Principal and Income Act, and the time limit for the issuance of letters of administration.

Health Care

Senate Bill 579 – This act requires the Department of Health and Senior Services to include carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) in its list of communicable or infectious diseases which must be reported to the Department.

Senate Bill 581 – Under this act, no contract provision between a health carrier and a health care provider shall be enforceable if such provision prohibits, conditions, or in any way restricts any party to such contract from disclosing to an enrollee, patient, or potential patient the contractual payment amount for a health care service if such payment amount is less than the health care provider's usual charge for the health care service, and if such contractual provision prevents the determination of the potential out-of-pocket cost for the health care service by the enrollee, patient, or potential patient.

Senate Bill 621 – This act specifies the licensed individuals who shall be considered eligible health care providers for the provision of telehealth services. Additionally, this act specifies the originating sites where a MO HealthNet participant may receive telehealth services, as well as requiring that such originating sites ensure the immediate availability of clinical staff during the telehealth encounter if a participant requires assistance.

Senate Bill 654 – Modifies certificate of needs requirements for long-term care facilities. This act requires a licensed long-term care facility seeking to increase its licensed bed capacity to submit a letter of intent to and receive certification from the Division of Regulation and Licensure within the Department of Health and Senior Services. This act also prohibits the issuance of a certificate of need (CON) for any licensed long-term care facility unless its application for the CON contains an analysis of, and the Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee finds, population-based need for all persons 80 years or older within a 15-mile radius of the proposed site.

Senate Bill 752 – Under current law, certain assistant physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and physicians assistants can prescribe Schedule II medications which contain hydrocodone. Schedule II - hydrocodone prescriptions are limited to a five-day supply without refill. This act provides that these medical professionals can prescribe all Schedule II prescriptions, which shall be limited to a five-day supply without refill.

House Bill 1376 – Changes the definition of "small employer" with regard to the Affordable Care Act to include businesses who employ up to 100 employees.

House Bill 1579 – Establishes the Missouri Health Information Exchange Commission.

House Bill 1604 – Requires any person who holds himself or herself out as an advanced radiology practitioner or radiologic technologist to be licensed by the State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts.

House Bill 1652 – Establishes the Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act.

House Bill 1660 – Prohibits the use of non-compete clauses in contracts between physicians and nonprofit hospitals.

House Bill 1682 – Establishes the Medical Practice Freedom Act which prohibits state licensure of physicians, chiropractors, optometrists, and dentists to be conditioned on participation in any public or private health insurance.

Litigation

Senate Bill 736 – Provides that defendants in tort actions shall only be held severally liable and not jointly.

House Bill 1748 – Allows a corporation to initiate and appear in an eviction proceeding without an attorney.

Municipal Law

Senate Bill 572 – Limits the amount of municipal revenue derived from non-moving ordinance violations.

Senate Bill 765 – Expands a provision prohibiting traffic citation quotas to apply to all political subdivisions, not just St. Louis County.

Senate Bill 788 – Requires that municipalities in the St. Louis County sales tax pool receive at least 50% of the revenue generated inside a given municipality.

Tax Policy & Business Fees

Senate Bill 575 – Repeals the earnings tax in the cities of Kansas City and St. Louis on December 31, 2017.

Senate Bill 692 – Changes the maximum authorization on low-income housing project tax credits from $6 million to $12 million.

Senate Bill 799 – This act waives specified business fees when a specified organizer, majority shareholder, officer, director, or partner of a company, corporation, health services corporation, nonprofit corporation, cooperative company, or partnership is a veteran, resides in Missouri, and provides proof of military service to the Secretary of State.

House Bill 1389 – This bill creates the Manufacturing Infrastructure Investment Act which authorizes qualified manufacturing companies, approved by the Department of Economic Development, to retain withholding taxes from specified full-time jobs.

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