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End of Session Report for the Missouri Legislature - May 18, 2021

The 2021 legislative session is now complete, but not fully satisfying.  The failure of the passage of the Federal Reimbursement Allowance (healthcare provider tax) means that a special session will be required before the end of September 2021.  The killing of Senate Bill 43, the bill with a clean FRA extension in it, early on Friday morning also brought an end to all bill activity in the Missouri Senate on the final day of session.
While the session did bring passage of many significant bills, the end of the session was relatively quiet and somber.  In spite of the strange finish, the session could generally be viewed as a success, with some major issues passing well before the end of the session.  The budget was completed in a timely manner, and the federal stimulus has filled the state coffers with revenue.
Governor Parson will now have until June 30 to approve the state operating budget (he has line item veto authority in the budget) and must either sign, pocket sign (no signature) or veto legislation by July 14, 2021.


FY22 Budget Passes

The Missouri General Assembly approved House Bill’s 1-13 and House Bill’s 15-19 related to FY22 Budget. House Bill 3, which appropriates money for Missouri Higher Education Institutions core budgets and related line items included a $5.4M core increase for UM System and an additional $10M core increase to be used for NextGen Precision Health. These increases brought UM System core appropriations to approximately $432M. House Bill 19, which appropriates money for planning and capital improvements from federal stimulus funds, gave $15M to the University of Missouri-Columbia for the Veterinary Medicine Diagnostics Lab, $5 to Missouri S&T for the planning, design, and construction of an advanced manufacturing building, and an additional $1M to the Delta Fischer Research Center for the construction of greenhouses.

Additional budgetary items for UM System are outlined below.

  • $1.8M, UM Mo Excel Project for Faculty Development for eLearning
  • $1.75M, UM State-wide fund for treatment of renal disease
  • $1.5M, UM State-wide fund for research on spinal cord injuries
  • $15M, MU Veterinary Medical Diagnostics Laboratory 
  • $2.5M, MU Mo Excel Project for Clinical Service Engineering Partnership with Siemens
  • $1M, MU Fisher Delta Research Center(in addition to the $1M in HB 19)
  • $325K, MU Law Veterans Clinic 
  • $275K, MU Greenley Research Center
  • $550K, UMSL International Collaboration
  • $1.5M, UMSL Mo Excel Project for Nursing
  • $250K, S&T Project Lead the Way 
  • $381K, S&T Mo Excel Project for Teacher Preparation
  • $1.9M, MUHC Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes Programs
  • $438K, MUHC Missouri Telehealth Network

Omnibus Higher Ed Bill Passes

The Missouri General Assembly gave final approval to HB 297, which became an omnibus package of higher education issues. The bill included the removal of the tuition cap for the state’s public four-year institutions/community colleges and gives college athletes the right to be compensated for the use of their name, image or likeness among other provisions.  Additionally, the bill designates the statewide mission of Southeast Missouri State University in the visual and performing arts and designates the statewide mission of Northwest Missouri State University as educator preparation, emergency and disaster management and profession-based learning. Additional provisions include: the Students’ Right to Know Act, the Missouri Education Savings Program, Harris-Stowe Mission Statement, language for the state board of education to develop a statewide plan to look at career and technical education, language related to community college district elections, and language to allow the UM System to convey and sell land.

 The bill is now on the Governor’s desk and awaits approval before becoming law.

***The latest version of HB 297 has not been posted at this time. The link above is to the version that went before the Senate prior to amendments and the #2 Senate Substitute.

Uniform Athlete Agents Passes

House Bill 273, sponsored by Representative Tom Hannegan, was Truly Agreed and Finally Passed with language that would update Missouri laws surrounding the protection of student athletes. The Revised Act makes numerous changes to the original act, including expanding the definition of “athlete agent”, providing for reciprocal registration between states, and adding new requirements to the signing of an agency contract. The Revised Uniform Athlete Agents Act is an update of the Uniform Athlete Agents Act of 2000, which had been enacted by 42 other states, now 43.

No FRA Extension Bill Passes

The stalemate on passing the original FRA bill (Senate Bill 1) sponsored by Senate Appropriations Chairman Dan Hegeman, meant that the passage of the FRA would likely have to be through amendment or conference committee report on a House or Senate bill.
At about 10:30 PM on Thursday, the FRA provision, along with a ban on certain post-sex contraceptives for Medicaid was placed in the Conference Committee report for Senate Bill 365, along with a severability clause.  The severability clause would allow the other provisions in the bill to remain if the contraception provision was barred by judicial action.
About 4 a.m. on Friday morning, the Senate took up Senate Bill 43, which contained the FRA provision without the contraceptive clause.  Senator Bob Onder offered a substitute motion (to the motion to Truly Agree to and Finally Pass the bill as amended in the House) to send the bill to Conference Committee, which would effectively kill the clean FRA provision.  That motion was approved by a 16-14 vote, with Senate President Pro-Tem Dave Schatz voting with the majority.
Senate Democrats were still furious with the outcome of the vote on SB 43 and rose promptly when the Senate reconvened later Friday morning, saying that there had been a deal with the Pro-Tem to vote down the Conference motion.  The Democrats then filibustered until the Senate adjourned at 2 p.m. Friday, when Minority Floor Leader JJ Rizzo (D-Independence) made a motion to adjourn while no Republicans were in the chamber.  His motion was recognized by the chair and the Senate stood adjourned.
There most certainly will be a special session to pass some FRA provision before September, when the current statutory FRA provision expires.  The FRA with federal matching funds brings around $3.5 billion in funding to the state’s Medicaid program.  However, the challenges of how to deal with the contraception language still also remains.

Motor Fuel Tax Passes

The General Assembly passed a 12.5 cent phased-in increase to the motor fuel tax that gives Missourians the option of seeking a refund on the increased fuel taxes paid annually.  This is language that supporters believe does not require voter approval because the payment of the tax is voluntary.  The bill would increase the motor fuel tax by 2.5% each in five equal steps beginning in October 2021 through July 2025.  The bill was Senate Bill 262, sponsored by Senator Dave Schatz.
It is worth pointing out that the so-called Carnahan/Farm Bureau provision of the Missouri Constitution in Article X, Section 19 (e) calls for a vote of the people for any major tax increases and the calculation of the annual limit is outlined in that Constitutional provision.  The limit for the 2021 session is $111.8M. There are numerous respected attorneys that have reviewed Missouri law and agree that this provision does not require a vote because of the voluntary nature of the tax and also agree that the phased in tax stays underneath the annual dollar limit.
Clearly, no one knows exactly how this will play out but it is possible that this issue could end up in the courts if someone decides to take issue with the way this tax is implemented and/or calculated.

No Funding for Medicaid Expansion

The General Assembly, in budget action that ended with the passage of the state operating budget on May 7, 2021, did not include any funding for Medicaid expansion, which was placed in the Missouri Constitution by vote of the people in August 2020.
This issue will almost certainly be resolved in court.  In the past week, due to the lack of funding, Governor Parson announced that he had withdrawn the State Plan Amendment that had been filed with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  The State Plan Amendment was the first step in approving the new applicants covered by Medicaid expansion.

COVID Liability

SB 51 establishes standards required for lawsuits related to COVID-19 exposure. The standard set by the bill requires clear and convincing evidence that an individual or entity engaged in reckless or willful misconduct that caused an actual exposure to COVID-19, and that the actual exposure caused personal injury to the plaintiff.  
Punitive damages are limited by the bill to not exceed nine times the amount of compensatory damages, and any exposure action is required to be commenced no later than two years from the date of the actual, alleged, feared, or potential exposure to COVID-19.  
This act also includes provisions related to medical liability, product liability for products not normally manufactured as part of the normal course of business, products made in the normal course of business but made in a modified manufacturing process because of COVID-19, and products where the use is different from the recommended purpose, but required because of COVID-19.      

Education Scholarship Accounts

The first major break in the ongoing discussion of alternatives to traditional public schools came with the passage of House Bill 349, sponsored by Representative Phil Christofanelli.  This bill was passed on May 6, slightly more than a week before the end of the legislative session.  That bill authorized a 100% tax credit for donations to educational administrative organizations (ASO’s) for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA’s) up to the statewide adequacy target of $6,375.  The bill was passed by the Missouri Senate with little debate, and without amendment.  The annual authorization for the initial credits was $50 million, with an inflation adjusted total future cap of $75 million total.
The bill was then, however, indirectly amended through House action on Senate Bill 86.  The action on SB 86 lowered the ESA credit cap down to $25 million in initial annual tax credits, and $50 million for the inflation adjusted cap.  The revised legislation in SB 86 also revised the number of ASO’s geographically that could be approved for this program.
This strange pattern of legislating reflects the desire in the Senate to push HB 349 through without amendment, even though some Senators were uncomfortable with the number of credits for the program.
This program could also end up as the subject of litigation before it is fully implemented.

Wayfair Bill Passes

The General Assembly in the past week approved Senate Bill 153, which in part contains provisions outlining the changes in the sales and use taxation of internet sales (commonly referred to as the Wayfair tax legislation).  The bill also contains triggers for a 20% earned income tax credit based upon a similar federal earned income tax credit.  Senate Bill 153 also provides for three future cuts to the individual income tax of .1% of the top tax rate.
The first of those tax cuts will occur on January 1, 2024.  The other two will be triggered by the provisions of Senate Bill 509, passed in 2014.  There are three remaining tax cuts under that bill, one of which will be triggered on June 30, 2021.  The two Senate Bill 153 tax cuts of .1% will take place after the two remaining Senate Bill 509 tax cuts are triggered.
This bill also has provisions related to phasing out a portion of the cable franchise fee by municipalities.

Omnibus Local Government Bill

A very expansive number of issues are contained in the local government bill, House Bill 271, that was sponsored by House Speaker Pro-Tem John Wiemann.  Amongst the issues that are contained in this legislation is restrictions on local government public health orders in the event of a future pandemic.  The bill also contains provisions related to municipal utilities, electronic  property tax notices, and the cost of reimbursements to counties for incarceration of prisoners for the Department of Corrections.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Passes

Senator Holly Rehder since her arrival in the State Capitol as a then-Representative has constantly sought to implement a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) for Missouri.  Her efforts finally came to fruition this year with the passage of Senate Bill 63, which does contain authorization for the PDMP program.

Truly Agreed To And Finally Passed Legislation

Below is a link to all of the Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed legislation:

Bills That Failed to Pass

  • Biodiesel Mandate
  • Gaming Expansion of Video Lottery Terminals
  • Expansion of Sports Betting
  • Election Reform
  • Campus Carry
  • Student Lodging Changes related to Higher Education Institutions

Dates of Interest:

Budget Bills Signed/Line Item Vetoed:  June 30, 2021
Legislation Signed or Vetoed:               July 14, 2021
Legislation takes effect:                         August 28, 2021
Veto Session:                                        September 15, 2021
Prefiling of Bills:                                     December 1, 2021
1st Day of 2022 Session:                      January 5, 2022

Reviewed 2021-05-21