There was lots of action during the 2012 General Assembly – and AARP Missouri was in the thick of things. Following is a recap of legislation tracked by AARP Missouri and the results over the five-month session.
Passage of SB464 prohibits the establishment and operation of health insurance exchanges unless certain criteria are met. With a referendum clause included in the bill, the issue will be on the November 2012 ballot. In the House, the Federal Health Care Reform Act did not pass which would have created criminal penalties for persons enforcing or attempting to enforce the act.
AARP and other groups joined to defeat HB1219 that would have changed that affected discriminatory employment practices under the Missouri Human Rights Act and established the Whistleblower Protection Act. Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill on March 16.
Selection of Judges
SJR51 will be on the November 2012 ballot for voters to approve a constitutional amendment to modify the composition of the Appellate Judicial Commission and the selection process for judges to the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. The current plan for selecting judges, called the “Missouri Plan,” has been in effect for more than 70 years and has served as a model for many states across the country.
A constitutional amendment prohibiting state appropriations in any fiscal year from exceeding certain limits called TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) again died as HJR43.
AARP and Coalition for Missouri’s Future partners were victorious when the “Everything Tax” ballot measure was thrown out by a Cole County Circuit Judge who ruled the proposed constitutional amendment ballot language “insufficient, unfair and prejudicial.” If placed on the ballot and approved by voters, the tax would have replaced the state income tax with an expanded sales tax – including emergency room visits, in-home care, prescription drugs, car repairs and much more.
The Streamlined Sales Tax, HB1356, that would allow Missouri to collect sales tax for online purchases was defeated.
Legislation died that would have provided permission to charge customers for the cost of an early site permit, an early step toward building a new nuclear power plant in central Missouri died. AARP Missouri advocated for strong consumer protection in HB316 that included 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 plant.
A May tele-town hall attracted more than 4,000 AARP members in the Ameren Missouri area who took action on a legislative request to call their Senators to oppose SB759. This proposed legislation, which died, provided fee assessment funding for the Office of Public Counsel and was not supported by ARP because of its proposed formula.
On a related matter, AARP argued against the proposed shortened rate case period that would have eliminated consumer public hearings. Consumers prevailed and public hearings will continue with the current rate case timeline.
A Cole County Circuit Judge struck down the proposed “Voter Protection Act” which would have required a photo ID to vote. The judge found the language to be misleading because “it fails in several respects to accurately inform citizens as to the subject matter on which they are asked to vote…” As a result of this ruling, HJR89 was introduced and proposed a constitutional amendment regarding advance voting and photo identification and allowing different requirements for certain absentee voting. This House Joint resolution failed passage.
AARP Missouri is asked to support or oppose issues that impact members – but are not always on the legislative agenda. The following bills fell into that mix:
- SB689 modifies provisions relation to crimes against the elderly. AARP supported this legislation that passed that would make it an unlawful violation of the financial exploitation statute to fail to remit to a nursing facility in which a Medicaid eligible person resides all money owing the facility resident from any source.
- AARP opposed HB1952 that would have established the Meth Lab Elimination Act. This bill would have reclassified some forms of methamphetamine precursor drugs from Schedule IV and V controlled substance to Schedule III requiring a prescription.
- HB1996, Advance Practice Registered Nurse and Collaborative Practice Arrangements, did not pass.
Some legislation mentioned above that did not pass this legislative cycle, may be introduced during the next General Assembly. Stay tuned.