Eleven legislative bills were tracked by AARP Missouri during the 2011 legislative session which ended May 13. Issues of importance dealt with health care, voting identification, “mega” sales tax, streamlined sales tax, TABOR, guardianship, and early site permit.
Norma Collins, associate state director for Advocacy, provided a recap of the General Assembly actions that were relevant and of importance to AARP and its members.
House Bill (HB) 609 which would have created a health insurance exchange as required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed, but failed in the Senate. While there are options still available to the state to establish the exchange, failure to do so would mean federal government intervention.
HB 547 and HB 573 also failed that would have given the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registrations authority to collect information about proposed insurance premium increases and grant approval.
The Missouri State Prescription Drug program, also called MO Rx, was funded and reauthorized until August 2015. This program serves more than 207,000 low-income elderly and disabled beneficiaries who are struggling to pay high costs of prescription drugs. AARP strongly supported this legislation.
Opposed by AARP Missouri, House Joint Resolution (HJR) 14 and House Committee Substitute #2 Senate Joint Resolution 2 passed. In 2012, voters will be asked to approve a constitutional amendment requiring individuals to show a photo ID before casting a ballot a week and one half prior to Election Day beginning 2014.
The proposed “mega sales tax” legislation, also opposed by AARP Missouri, failed to gain traction, but Collins said the measure will likely resurface again during the 2012 legislative session. The failed legislation would have eliminated corporate and individual income taxes and replaced with a flat tax.
HB 966 also failed to gain enough traction for passage. This bill would have allowed Missouri to collect tax for online purchases.
TABOR reared its head again via HJR 11, but was voted down by the House Committee. TABOR was introduced as a constitutional amendment creating revenue and spending lids. Consistently, AARP has opposed this legislation.
Passage of Senate Bill (SB) 213 was another victory for AARP. This legislation modifies what information is required in a petition for guardianship for a minor or incapacitated person and adopts the Uniform Guardianship Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act.
SB321 was hotly contested and would have provided permission for utilities to charge customers for the cost of an early site permit (ESP), an early step toward building a new nuclear power plant in central Missouri. AARP advocated for strong consumer protections, including dedicated funding for the Office of Public Counsel, a hard cap on the $45M cost of the permit, and a rebate for ratepayers if the permit was not used to build the plan. Legislators failed to pass the bill in the final hour of the legislative session.
“This was a very active session,” Collins said. “Volunteers from across the state either testified on behalf of AARP or submitted written testimony on a variety of bills that we either opposed or supported. Their participation and the representation of AARP during the 2011 General Assembly session was stellar and I applaud and appreciate the support our volunteers provided.”