LOUIS RIGGS STATE CONGRESS REPORT |

Legislators Act to Protect the Rights of Landowners (HB 2005)

The Missouri House took action this week to protect property owners from unlawful seizure of their property through the misuse of eminent domain. Members of the House gave initial approval to HB 2005, which is a direct response to the Grain Belt Express project which has the power to use eminent domain to acquire land in Missouri.

Grain Belt Express is a high voltage electrical transmission line that will run approximately 800 miles from Kansas to Indiana. In 2019, the project gained authority to obtain land easements in Missouri through the use of eminent domain.

The bill’s sponsor told his colleagues, “The Grain Belt is a private, out-of-state corporation that uses eminent domain as a public service. There are very few advantages for the State of Missouri. Only six percent of the energy is going to be used here in our state.

The sponsor said the bill is a response to landowners pleading for help from the legislature. He said the bill “ensures that utility projects in Missouri actually benefit the State of Missouri. It provides fair compensation to landowners when their land is taken away from them and condemned. It also encourages negotiations outside of the court process.

HB 2005 would require any power company that proposes to build a transmission line to deliver at least 50% of its electrical load to Missouri consumers to be considered a utility and be allowed to condemn property to build the transmission. The bill also specifies that in sentencing proceedings, just compensation for agricultural or horticultural land will be 150% of the fair market value, which will be determined by the court. In addition, the bill provides that in a conviction proceeding for agricultural or horticultural land in which a court appoints three disinterested commissioners, at least one of the commissioners must be a farmer who has been farming in the county for at least less than 10 years.

It is sensible legislation that I have supported for several years now.

The bill now requires another positive vote in the House before moving to the Senate.

Making prescription drugs more affordable (HB 1677)

Missourians may see lower prescription drug costs thanks to legislation approved by the Missouri House of Representatives. House members approved in the first round HB 1677 in an effort to improve transparency and accountability for pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs) in Missouri.

PBMs are paid third-party administrators of prescription drug coverage for insurers and employers. They provide a wide variety of services, including developing and maintaining forms, handling claims, and negotiating discounts and rebates between payers and manufacturers. PBMs administer plans for millions of Americans.

The bill’s sponsor said the bill would “reduce prescription drug costs” and noted that his bill was intended to help Missourians “understand what’s going on with the discounts that PBMs manage for their employers”.

The sponsor told colleagues: “It provides transparency. This shows where the rebate money is going and when you look at where the rebate money is going you will determine that these PBMs are actually pocketing some of the rebate money they are collecting which should go back to the patients . It is a bill that puts money back into the hands of patients instead of paying dividends to shareholders.

HB 1677 would require PBMs to report the dollar amount of rebates collected from pharmaceutical manufacturers, the dollar amount of rebates that were not passed on, and the dollar amount of all fees and payments received from drug manufacturers pharmaceuticals. The bill also specifies that PBMs must notify health carriers and pharmacies in writing of any potential conflict of interest, including, but not limited to, common ownership or any other relationship between the PBM and any other health carrier or pharmacy with which the PBM contracts.

Proponents say the legislation will help restore balance to the healthcare system and ensure Missourians have sustainable access to medications and choice in where they receive their pharmacy services.

At a time when health care costs have continued to rise and inflation is rising at rates not seen in 40 years, any relief from these costs is welcome. The only people who should be involved in the medication prescribing process are your doctor and your pharmacist.

The bill now requires another vote in the House before moving to the Senate.

HB 2694 is intended to reduce the increases Missourians will see in their property taxes due to rising vehicle values. The bill changes existing state law, which requires appraisers to use the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) price guide to assess the value of Missourians’ cars. Instead of being limited to the use of October NADA values, HB 2694 would allow appraisers to use the trade-in value of a given vehicle from this edition or from one of the October NADA guides of both last years. Proponents say the market price of vehicles has risen 30 to 40 percent and the bill would allow prices to stabilize without a big increase in personal property taxes for Missourians.

HB 1856 establishes the “Extended Learning Opportunity Act”. An “Extended Learning Opportunity” is an out-of-class learning experience that provides a student with enrichment opportunities, career preparation opportunities, or employability skills such as internships or apprenticeships, any other approved educational opportunity. The bill requires that by the 2023-24 school year, the State Board of Education and local school boards notify students of the opportunity to participate and earn credit for extended learning opportunities. Proponents say the bill ensures students and their families are well-informed about learning opportunities that extend beyond the classroom and receive information about applying for credit for those experiences. .

HB 2202 requires, for all school years beginning July 1, 2023, certain courses and instruction in computer science at public and charter high schools. The bill also creates the “Computer Education Task Force”. The task force’s mission is to develop a state strategic plan for the expansion of computer science education programs statewide. Proponents say the bill will help Missouri address labor shortages in technical industries looking to hire people with a computer background and knowledge base.

HB 2382 exempts from the definition of “retail sale” or “retail sale” for purposes of sales tax law the purchase by persons operating hotels, motels, or other transient accommodation establishments of certain utilities, which are used to heat, cool, or supply water or electricity to guest accommodation, and which are included in the price of accommodation. Supporters say the bill corrects a Supreme Court ruling that disrupted standard practice by requiring hotels to pay sales tax twice.

HB 2193 requires that any member of Missouri Task Force One who is called to active duty be entitled to employment rights and protection from discrimination when released from that duty. Supporters say the bill gives the once task force the same rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA) that they get for working as a federal asset. The bill will ensure that they have the same protections against discrimination and re-employment rights.

HB 1606 requires all unchartered counties, by June 30 of each year, to prepare and publish in a qualified journal a financial statement for the preceding year. The financial statement will include the name, title and current gross annual salary of each elected or appointed county official. Proponents say the bill will allow smaller counties to issue notices in the same way as larger counties, using the condensed financial statement format, and should result in savings for smaller counties.

HB 2355 establishes the “Time Critical Diagnosis Advisory Committee” for the purpose of enhancing public and professional education related to time critical diagnosis, research efforts, policy, and recommendations for change. Supporters say the bill improves services for urgent medical conditions such as strokes and heart attacks.

The Missouri House continues to do its job, holding hearings, holding debates on the floor, and passing common sense legislation designed to make Missouri a better place to work, live, and do business.

I have the honor of chairing the Special Committee on Broadband and Infrastructure. Last week we held hearings on five bills and we have heard a total of 11 now. I am in the process of assembling parts of these separate bills into an omnibus that I hope to get out of committee next week. We will have 1 month to get this legislation passed by the Senate, which is tricky every year, but especially tricky with the chaos that has reigned supreme on this side of the building throughout this legislative year. I am confident of a clear path through the House of Representatives (the last broadband bill I carried, in 2020, passed the House with a 147-3 voter). I hope this omnibus bill will be taken up quickly and passed by the Senate (the last broadband bill I carried was passed by the Senate 32-0). The Senate has different rules than the House, but broadband is universally recognized as an issue of the utmost importance.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve you. God bless you, God bless the State of Missouri, and God bless the United States of America.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office at 573-751-3613 or [email protected]

Designation of Veterans on a Driver’s License: For more information on the Veteran’s License, go to the DOR website: http://dor.mo.gov/veterans or by contacting them at 301 W. High Street, Room 470, Jefferson City, MO 65105.

Missouri Department of Revenue implements REAL ID-See link below:

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