As a follow-up to last week’s Capitol Report, I have highlighted a few more pieces of legislation that might be of interest to you.
Some of the key pieces of legislation given final approval by the General Assembly include:
Income Tax Exemption for Stimulus Payments (SB 676) – Legislation that is meant to protect Missourians’ stimulus payments from state income tax. The stimulus payments are not subject to federal income taxes, and the change approved by the General Assembly would enact a similar policy for Missouri tax law.
Mail-In Voting (SB 631) – In order to protect the health of citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the General Assembly approved legislation that would allow voting by mail for the 2020 elections. The bill expands the existing absentee ballot system to allow absentee ballots for those who are in an at-risk category for contracting or transmitting COVID-19. The bill also allows any registered voter to cast a mail-in ballot during 2020. Voters would request a mail-in ballot from their local election authority. Voters using the mail-in ballot option would need to have their ballot notarized.
Legal Climate Reform (SB 591) – The legislation will reform Missouri’s legal climate by stopping the abuse of the state’s punitive damage system. The original intent of the punitive damage system was to punish and deter a small number of defendants who exhibit the worst type of conduct. Today, Missouri’s system instead is used to put pressure on businesses to agree to huge payouts. Supporters say the bill provides a balanced and fair solution that does not eliminate punitive damages, but ensures they are only awarded in appropriate cases. The bill also makes important reforms to the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), which was created to protect consumers from unfair practices. The bill includes commonsense changes such as requiring that plaintiffs demonstrate they acted as a reasonable consumer and members of class actions must demonstrate individual harm.
Expanded Workforce Act (HB 2046) – The act will expand Missouri’s recognition of apprenticeships as a path to licensure and work. It will allow apprentices to obtain industry licenses as part of an apprenticeship. According to recent reports, Missouri reached 10,000 new registered apprenticeships in 2019, becoming second in the nation for new apprenticeships. The state also ranked second in number of apprenticeships competed in 2019.
As always, it is an honor to serve you.
Allen Andrews, State Representative – District 1
Missouri State Capitol
201 West Capitol Avenue
Jefferson City, MO 65101