Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Published:05/18/2015

The 2015 Session drew to a close on Friday under a shroud of controversy.  Between the Senate's proud tradition of free and fair debate being usurped by procedural moves to cut off debate and the House Speaker embroiled in controversy over alleged inappropriate text messages, it frankly couldn't have ended soon enough.

By Thursday afternoon Speaker John Diehl had announced he was resigning both as Speaker and from his House seat.  With Diehl's announcement, the House majority caucused on Thursday evening to quickly select Todd Richardson as the new Speaker.  Richardson was sworn in Friday morning.

On Tuesday evening, in the Senate, the majority used a procedural move to cut off debate on a very controversial Right to Work bill.  This resulted in the Senate Democrats filibustering all other bills starting on Wednesday which ended the Senate's ability to move any legislation.  The filibuster led to the Senate adjourning on Thursday morning and not returning until Friday morning to see if they could possibly move some bills on the final day.  By the end of the day, an agreement had been reached to pass the bill extending the federal reimbursement allowance for Medical providers in the Medicaid program and thereby avoiding a special session.

The combination of these two occurrences during the last week of session certainly colored the opinion of session but also severely limited the number of bills passed this session.  What are normally long days and nights during the final week never materialized and instead led the House and Senate to accomplish very little over the final days.

Senate and House budget leaders, in a demonstration of efficiency, worked diligently to get the FY 2016 budget passed early by the General Assembly.  This was done so they would be able to override any gubernatorial vetoes before session ended.  However, there were no budget vetoes made by Governor Jay Nixon.

Notable pieces of legislation that passed were the student transfer law to deal with unaccredited schools; pre-emption of local governments from raising the minimum wage; establishing Missouri as a Right to Work state thus prohibiting union membership from being a condition of employment; municipal court reform in response to issues that arose out of the events in Ferguson; and caps on medical malpractice judgments after the Supreme Court invalidated them in the Watts decision.

The notable bills that didn't pass include a gas tax increase to ensure MoDOT could draw down $160 million in federal gas taxes; Medicaid expansion to cover 300,000 Missourians; and a prescription drug monitoring program so Missouri isn't the only state in the country without such a program.

There were 131 bills passed this session.  This breaks down to seventy-six House Bills and fifty-five Senate Bills.

HB 615 had passed the House early in the session and had been taken up in the Senate and passed as well.  The Senate made several changes which raised issues with a number of House members who did not agree with the changes.  At issue was the removal in two places in the statute that notifications to medical providers had to be sent by certified mail.

When the bill passed the House, the certified mail requirement had not been removed.  When the bill came out of the Senate Small Business and Insurance Committee, it had been removed in the SCS for HB 615 and was still in the version adopted by the entire Senate.

This change resulted in the bill going to conference where a conference committee substitute (CCS) was drafted which was supposed to have resolved any problems between the two versions.  However, the deletion of the certified mail requirement was still in the CCS.

The CCS for SCS HB 615 was in position to be taken up and passed but since the Senate was not moving any bills, the decision was to reject the CCS and instead go back to the SCS for HB 615 and try to pass it.  The SCS also contained the controversial provision removing the certified mail requirement.

After defeating the CCS for SCS for HB 615 Representative Dean Dorhman took the bill up and made the motion to Truly Agree and Finally Pass the SCS for HB 615.  Representative Dohrman argued any problems in the bill could be corrected next session.  However, a number of House members continued to oppose the bill because of these provisions and the bill was defeated on its final vote.

As we noted in our prior reports, insurance changes were proposed for large deductible workers' compensation policies dealing primarily with the guaranty fund.  Toward the end of session, these provisions had been added into a number of insurance related bills.  None of the bills containing the large deductible provisions were ultimately passed.

Many of you over the course of the session also inquired about the employee choice of physician legislation which was filed in the House.  None of these bills passed either.

Attached is the final Bill Summary and Status Report for the 2015 session.   Also, below is a link to all of the Truly Agreed and Finally Passed Bills of the 2015 session.

http://www.house.mo.gov/BillReportPrn.aspx?select=evergroupcode:1

Should you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me.


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msia-2015-leg-rept_010 pdf 140.7 KB 05/18/2015 open