2012 Missouri Press Legislative Review

by: Doug Crews May 23, 2012


The Missouri General Assembly wrapped up its 2012 session at 6 p.m. Friday, May 18.  

It was a long session, beginning January 4, and there were MANY Missouri Press Association issues.  

For the most part, the session was a success in that Missouri newspapers didn't get damaged.

MPA thanks its legislative consultants in Jefferson City, Harry Gallagher and Heath Clarkston, and their staff for the outstanding job they do in representing Missouri newspapers.  And, thanks to Missouri Press Association members who made the trip(s) to Jefferson City, either to testify at a committee hearing, to visit their legislators, or to attend MPA Day at the Capitol.  

It is so important that newspaper publishers, editors and staff members talk about newspaper issues with their State Senators and State Representatives.  

Thank you for making those phone calls and sending those emails when MPA sounded the legislative alerts this session!  Your grassroots lobbying effort is often the only thing preventing harmful legislation from happening.

During the next few months, when many legislative candidates seek an audience with you, tell them about the importance of keeping public notices in printed newspapers!  Tell them about the importance of the Sunshine Law, open meetings and open records of public governmental bodies.  Ask them their opinions on these topics.

We NEED legislators in Jefferson City who support newspaper issues.  You can help educate them on topics important to the newspaper industry.

Believe me, most any other industry is talking to legislators and candidates about its issues!

Call me or send an email if I can help in any way:  

Doug Crews, MPA.    573-449-4167      dcrews@socket.net


Here are bill topics that MPA's lobby team followed this session, and the bill's outcomes:

-- HB 1623 with a Senate Substitute by Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Glendale) would have allowed public construction bid notices to be posted on government web sites, rather than in local newspapers.  With much effective lobbying by MPA members, the proposal was dropped.  The bill died.

-- HB 1647.  A Senate amendment by Sen. Brad Lager (R-Maryville) allows expungements by courts of certain felony and misdemeanor convictions.  The Missouri Press Association opposed the amendment, but was unsuccessful in killing it.  Awaiting Governor's signature.

-- Recycled newsprint targets.  Sen. Brad Lager and Rep. Don Rizicka (R-Mt. Vernon) assisted MPA in the repeal of an annual newsprint report that, since 1990, must be submitted to the Department of Natural Resources.  Both DNR and MPA agreed the report showing the amount of newsprint used with recycled content percentages was antiquated.  Awaiting Governor's signature.

-- State and federal judges and their families will have their personal information held by the Department of Revenue in motor vehicle records shielded from the public for security reasons.  Currently, such information is closed for law enforcement officers and their families, also.  Awaiting Governor's signature.

-- Language in HB 1860 by Rep. Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany) that would have criminalized posting or broadcast of undercover videos taken at an agriculture facility passed the House, but died in the Senate.  

-- HB 1273 by Rep. Mike Kelley (R-Lamar) would have allowed advertising on the outside of a school bus.  The bill died.

-- SB 576 by Sen. Bill Stouffer (R-Napton) expands charter schools in Missouri.  The original bill would have allowed charter schools to publish their annual financial statement on their web sites.  MPA intervened.  SB 576 requires such financial statements to be published in local newspapers.  Awaiting Governor's signature.

-- Non-election elections.   Missouri Press Association continued this session its stand to oppose the spread of "non-election elections" (when, for instance, only two candidates file for two seats on the school board, there is no election, and no opportunity for write-in candidates).  Bills were proposed in the House to extend "non-elections" to certain municipalities.  (Such elections are in place for school districts, public hospital districts, public water districts, public fire and ambulance districts.) MPA opposed this year's bills.  The proposals died.  Last year, Gov. Nixon vetoed a "non-elections elections" bill.

-- MPA suggested to the sponsor and supported a proposal that makes it an election offense if anyone responsible for elections or candidate filings discourages, hampers, pressures or attempts to prevent a person from filing for office.  SB 569 with this provision passed the General Assembly.  The amendment was offered by Rep. Stan Cox (R-Sedalia). Awaiting Governor's signature.

-- SB 764 by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) contained various improvements to the Missouri Sunshine Law, proposed by the MPA.  The bill received a late hearing in the Senate.  Some of the more non-controversial provisions were successfully amended in the House to SB 729 by Rep. Stan Cox.  However, the Sunshine Law improvements did not cross the finish line.

-- Publication in book form of the Official State Manual, the Blue Book.  Rep. John Cauthorn (R-Mexico) passed House Bill 1345 in the House, helping to restore the published Blue Book, but the bill died in a Senate committee.

-- SB 729 by Sen. Kurt Schaefer allows Boone and Greene counties to purchase items costing less than $6,000 without advertising for bids.  Currently, the amount is $4,500.  Awaiting Governor's signature.

-- SB 694 by Sen. Brian Nieves (R-Washington) died.  The bill would have removed members of the press from their capitol office spaces and would have eliminated press parking spaces near the capitol.

-- HB 1716, sponsored by Rep. Stan Cox, would have established a Political Subdivision Construction Bidding Standards Act, supported by MPA, that would have required construction bid notices in newspapers.  The bill died.

-- HB 1835 by Rep. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) died.  The bill would have eliminated the sales and use tax exemption for the purchase of newspaper supplies, ink, newsprint, presses, computers and equipment to produce newspapers.  

-- HB 1127 by Rep. Scott Largent (R-Clinton), would have closed crime scene photographs.  The bill, supported by the Missouri Coroners Association, has been filed for the past three sessions.  MPA suggested substitute language to Rep. Largent that would have opened the photos for inspection, but not for copying.  HB 1127 died.

-- Bills by Rep. Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) would have required public notices in newspapers and shed light on economic development activities in the wake of the Mamtek project-default debacle that occurred in Moberly.  The bills died.

-- Counties, under certain circumstances, may decrease their budgets during a fiscal year, under a bill approved by the General Assembly.  A public notice in the local newspaper is required.  Awaiting Governor's signature. The original bill would have allowed a notice posted on the county's web site, rather than in the newspaper.  But, MPA intervened.

-- Certain foster parent records would have been closed under a bill and amendments offered by Rep. Stan Cox.  The bill and amendments died.

-- SJR 37 by Sen. Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau) would have required open public hearings for any Senate or House redistricting commission.  The bill died.

Here are more details on certain bills that PASSED the General Assembly, and are awaiting the Governor's signature.:

HB 1251:
RECYCLING TARGETS FOR NEWSPAPER PUBLISHERS (Section 260.255)
Since 1990, newspaper publishers with an average daily distributio of greater than 15,000 copies are required to meet targeted recycle content usage each year and to report to the Department of Natural Resources the total number of tons of newsprint used during the past year and if it met the recycle target or why it failed to do so.
HB 1251 repeals this requirement.

SS HB 1318:
EMPLOYEE IDENTITY
Currently, no person or entity shall require an individual to use
his or her Social Security number as an employee number. This
substitute prohibits employers from using the last four digits of
the employee's Social Security number as an employee number. The
provisions of this substitute will not go into effect until December
31, 2015 (Section 407.1355).

HB 1647:  
EXPUNGEMENT
Among many provisions, the bill allows expungement by a court of certain
felony (after 20 years) and misdemeanor (after 10 years) offenses
(including passing a bad check, fraudulently stopping payment of a check,
fraudulently using a credit card, negligent burning or setting fires,
tampering, property damage, first degree trespassing, entry on posted
property, gambling, private peace disturbance, and drunkenness in a
school, church or courthouse).

SB 569:
ELECTIONS
Specifies that any person of any election authority or
political subdivision who is responsible for the oversight of the
filing of candidates who discourages, hampers, pressures, or
attempts to prevent another person from filing for office for the
purpose of eliminating the requirement to hold an election because
the number of candidates filing is the same as the number of
positions to be filled will be guilty of a class four election
offense (Section 115.637).

SB 576:
CHARTER SCHOOLS
Requires charter schools to publish annual financial statements
in newspapers, following the same procedures as public school
districts.  (The original bill would have allowed charter schools
to post their financial statements on web sites, rather than
publish in newspapers.)

SB 628 and SB 636:
JUDICIAL PROCEDURES  
Currently, the Department of Revenue is prohibited from releasing
the home address or any other information contained in the
department’s motor vehicle or driver registration records on
specified groups of individuals such as law enforcement officers
and their immediate family members. The substitute bill adds any
state or federal judge or his or her immediate family members to
those groups and specifies that the department cannot release any
information that identifies any vehicle owned or leased by the
specified groups in its records.

Also in SB 628:  CONDUCT AT PUBLIC MEETINGS (Section 537.528)
Currently, any action seeking monetary damage against a person for
conduct or speech at a public hearing or meeting is subject to a
special motion to dismiss, a motion for judgment on the pleadings,
or a motion for summary judgment so it can be considered on an
expedited basis to prevent the unnecessary expense of litigation.
The substitute allows any action against a person for conduct or
speech at a public hearing or meeting to be subject to these special
motions.

SB 631:
AGRICULTURE.  VIDEOTAPING OF ANIMAL ABUSE (Sec. 578.005 and 578.013)
If any farm animal professional videotapes or otherwise makes a
digital recording of suspected animal abuse to a farm animal, he or
she must submit the videotape or digital recording to a law
enforcement agency within 24 hours of the recording. The recording
may not be spliced, edited, or manipulated in any way prior to
submission. An intentional violation is a class A misdemeanor.

SCS SB 729:
COUNTY PURCHASES
This bill specifies that Boone and Greene counties are not required
to obtain bids on purchases of $6,000 or less. Currently, the
amount required is $4,500 for all counties. Currently, a county may
waive competitive bidding when the county commission determines that
there is only one feasible source for the supply. The commission
must post notice for proposed purchases of at least $3,000 and also
advertise in the newspaper for purchases of at least $5,000. The
bill changes the notice and advertising requirements for Boone and
Greene counties, so that they are only required to advertise and
post notice on proposed purchases which exceed $6,000.

SCS SJR 51:
NONPARTISAN SELECTION OF JUDGES
Upon voter approval, this proposed constitutional amendment changes
the composition of the Appellate Judicial Commission and the
selection process for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court
and the Court of Appeals. The number of individuals submitted by
the Appellate Judicial Commission for consideration by the Governor
for a vacancy in the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals is increased
from three to four.
Currently, the commission consists of a judge of the Missouri
Supreme Court chosen by its members; three attorney members, one
elected by members of the Missouri Bar in each appellate district;
and three non-attorney members, one appointed by the Governor from
each appellate district. The resolution changes the membership to
consist of seven voting members and one nonvoting member including a
former judge of the court of appeals or the Supreme Court who has
not lost a retention election or been removed for cause to serve as
the nonvoting member selected by the members of the Supreme Court
whose first term will begin January 15, 2013; a member of the
Missouri Bar from each court of appeals district elected by its
members in each district; and four citizens appointed by the
Governor, one from each court of appeals district and one from the
state at-large. The appointed members will serve staggered terms so
that the term of two members will end on January 15, 2015, and the
term of two members will end on January 15, 2017. The terms of all
subsequently appointed members will end four years after the
termination of the prior term. Vacancies occurring in unexpired
terms must be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term. These
changes take effect on January 15, 2013.



Doug

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