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Bills passed by the Missouri General Assembly 2015

Sometimes it takes a while to find out what legislation passed and what didn’t during the hectic final days of a legislative session. Thanks to the folks at Missouri House Research, we think we have a pretty good handle on which bills that we have been following passed during the just-completed legislative session. Here’s our list:

Tax Legislation

Senate Bill 18 requires the Department of Revenue to notify affected sellers when a change in the amount of sales tax due is modified, and or a change in which items are taxable before the changes can take effect.

Senate Bill 19, signed by the governor, determines what portion of a corporation’s income is taxable in Missouri.

Senate Bill 20, authorizes a state and local sales tax exemption for material, machinery, and energy used by commercial laundries in treating or cleaning textiles. The facility must process at least 500 pounds per hour or 60,000 pounds per week to qualify for the exemption.

Senate Bill 190 removes the expiration date of the public mass transportation sales tax for Kansas City.

Senate Bill 336 specifies that for employees that earn tips, the amount of income that the employer should withhold for tax purposes shall be based on the greater of the total of tips reported to the employer on the employee’s written statement or the amount of tips remitted to the employee by the employer. This provision also exists in HB 517&754.

HB 384, signed by the governor, authorizes a period of tax amnesty from the assessment or payment of all penalties, additions to tax, and interest on delinquencies of unpaid taxes administered by the Department of Revenue which occurred on or prior to December 31, 2014. The bill also creates the position of Taxpayer Advocate to help resolve taxpayer disputes with the DOR. The bill also creates a commission to study state tax policy.

House Bill 517&754 includes several pieces of legislation. The bill requires interest to be paid on any individual or corporate tax refund that is not returned within 45 days of the date the return was filed. It authorizes an exemption deduction for a stillborn child for the year it would have been a member of the family. And it also includes the tax withholding on tips language as in HB 336.

House Bill 613 and House Bill 616 specifies that short term rental merchandise which will ultimately be sold must be considered inventory for property tax purposes and exempt from taxation. The bill is limited to general rental centers and construction, mining, and forestry equipment rental.

Environmental Issues

House Bill 92 includes several pieces of environmental legislation, including language on State Oil and Gas Councils, solid waste districts, and the measurement of sulfur dioxide inside non-attainment areas of the state. The bill also changes the definition of the “waters of the state” to block an expanded definition under EPA regulations. Also included was a new policy statement on the Missouri Clean Water Law, a change in the appeal procedures on DNR permits, and an affordability clause on the state’s Clean Water Law.

Senate Bill 142 requires the DNR to prepare implementation impact reports instead of regulatory impact reports when reporting to the EPA.

Senate Bill 445 requires owners of a coal-fired electric generating source to develop an ambient air quality monitoring or modeling network. The bill also includes language on audits of solid waste districts, management of solid waste districts, recycling of textiles, and allocation of solid waste management fund moneys and grants.

The legislature also passed several non-binding resolutions in response to national policy issues.

House Concurrent Resolution 15 calls upon President Obama to support the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline and the permitting for oil production off the northern coast of Alaska.

House Concurrent Resolution 21 urges the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw their proposed rule expanding the definition of “waters of the United States.”

Senate Concurrent Resolution 3 establishes the Joint Committee on Solid Waste Management District Operations, and Senate Concurrent Resolution 5 creates the Missouri Lead Industry Employment, Economic Development and Environmental Remediation Task Force.

Human Resources

House Bill 116 was the most contentious legislation of the entire session. The so-called “Right to Work” bill specifies that a person, as a condition or continuation of employment, cannot be required to: (1) Become or refrain from becoming a member of a labor organization as defined in the bill; (2) Pay dues, fees, assessments, or other charges to a labor organization; or (3) Pay to any charity or third party any equivalent amount in lieu of dues, fees, assessments, or other charges required by a labor organization. Anyone violating the provisions of the bill will be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.

House Bill 150 links the duration of jobless benefits to the state’s unemployment rate. If the unemployment rate remains under six percent, laid-off workers would be limited to 13 weeks of unemployment benefits. The current state unemployment rate is 5.6 percent. The bill also contains an AIM-drafted amendment to exclude termination and severance pay from unemployment benefits. Under current unemployment law, vacation time is treated the same as wages, but termination and severance pay is not.

The bill was vetoed by Governor Nixon and overridden in the House, but because of the last week slow down, the Senate did not take an override vote. However, the Senate may vote to override the veto during the veto session of the legislature in September.

Economic Development

House Bill 514 allows state tax increment financing to be used in developing currently vacant former auto plants in the St. Louis area.

Also included in the legislation is a relaxation in the caps for financing programs that can be used by the Center for Geospatial Intelligence in St. Louis, which currently employs 2,000 people near downtown St. Louis.

Senate Bill 149, signed by the governor, creates state and local sales and use tax exemptions for data storage centers and allows municipalities to enter into loan agreements, or sell, lease, or mortgage municipal property for a data center project.

Senate Bill 194 extends the date that a business must commence operations to qualify for a business facility tax credit from 2020 to 2025.

Healthcare

Senate Bill 210 extends the sunset on certain healthcare provider reimbursement allowance taxes and modifies provisions relating to MO HealthNet and DSH payments. The passage of this bill was necessary so the state could draw down federal money it uses for the bulk of its Medicaid program.

Senate Bill 239, signed by the governor, creates a statutory cause of action for damages against health care providers arising out of the rendering of or failure to render health care services. In such action against a health care provider for damages, a plaintiff shall not recover more than $400,000 in noneconomic damages for personal injury, no more than $700,000 in noneconomic damages for a catastrophic personal injury, as defined in the act, and no more than $700,000 in noneconomic damages for death. These limitations shall increase by 1.7% each year, and the value shall be calculated by the Director of the Department of Insurance.

When a jury returns a verdict awarding noneconomic damages exceeding $400,000, and upon a post-trial motion, the trial court shall determine whether the limitations as provided in the act shall apply.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 29 urges the President and Congress to repeal the federal excise tax on medical devices.

House Bill 531 requires liquid nicotine products to be sold in child-safe packaging.

Insurance

House Bill 1022 allows a casualty insurer to return or refund a portion of its expense savings to an insured if the insured makes no reportable claim under specified coverages within a prescribed period of time established by the insurer, regardless of whether the claim is due to the fault of the insured.

Transportation

Senate Bill 12 modifies provisions relating to agriculture. Included in this bill is language supported by AIM that requires the Department of Agriculture to promulgate rules regarding the labeling of motor fuel pumps.

House Bill 522 changes the laws regarding bridge and highway designations. Included among the road and bridge name changes is language naming a portion of Highway 63 from the Adair-Macon County line to the northern border of the city limits of the City of Kirksville as the Harriet Beard Highway, in honor of a member of the Missouri Transportation and Development Council (MTD) from Kirksville.

Miscellaneous

House Bill 686 modifies provisions relating to junking certificates for motor vehicles.

House Bill 722 changes the laws regarding prohibited ordinances by political subdivisions. This bill specifies that all merchants, itinerant vendors, and peddlers doing business in this state must have the option to provide customers with a paper or plastic bag for any item or good purchased. A political subdivision cannot impose any ban, fee, or tax upon the use of paper or plastic bags for packaging any item or good purchased or prohibit a consumer from using a reusable bag.

The bill also prohibits a political subdivision from establishing, mandating, or otherwise requiring an employer to provide to an employee a minimum or living wage rate or employment benefits that exceed the requirements of federal or state laws, rules, or regulations. These provisions will not preempt any local law or local minimum wage requirements in effect on August 28, 2015, but will prevent such ordinances in the future.

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