Lawmakers Stay Focused

Despite distractions, lawmakers in Jefferson City continue to stay focused on common sense legislation to help Missourians. Representative Derek Grier has taken strong steps to reduce barriers to entry, encourage job growth, and ease the regulatory burden on working families in Missouri. He continues to have broad support in both the House and Senate. Two of Grier’s bills (1710 & 1710) are scheduled to be heard on the Senate floor in the coming weeks.

Several highlights from the past week include:

Reducing Regulatory Burdens:
HB 1261 would require all state and local licensing boards or entities to waive, for a two-year period, any fees charged to obtain or renew occupational licenses for military families and low-income individuals who request such a waiver. Supporters say the bill would remove barriers and prevent government agencies from profiting off the people who protect America. Supporters believe licensing has gone beyond the original purpose of protecting the general welfare.

Legal Reform:
HB 2119 would provide that punitive damages shall not be awarded except upon proof by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally caused harm or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others. Supporters say the bill would return the state to the original standard for the assessment of punitive damages by requiring a knowledge element. They say it would facilitate settlement discussions between parties without an unsupported threat of punitive damages in the pleadings.

Healthcare Reform to Provide Transparency to Consumers:
HB 1542 would prohibit a pharmacy benefits manager from charging a copayment for a prescription or pharmacy service that exceeds the amount retained by the pharmacy from all payment sources for filling that prescription or providing that service. It would also prohibit a pharmacy benefits manager from prohibiting a pharmacy from informing a person of the difference between his or her co-payment and the amount he or she would pay if a health benefit plan was not used to cover the cost. The bill would allow pharmacies to discuss this with their customers and help them get the best product for them at the cheapest price.

Tax Reform Receives Approval (HB 2540):
Lawmakers gave initial approval this week to comprehensive tax reform legislation that would cut the state’s personal and corporate income tax rates and transform Missouri’s tax system to the most competitive in the nation. The legislation would also make substantive reforms to generate much-needed funding to repair and improve Missouri’s aging transportation infrastructure.

The sponsor of the bill noted the bill has four pillars – an income tax cut, a business tax cut, a funding mechanism for the state’s road fund, and a variety of fiscally responsible revenue generators. As he told his colleagues, “The reason that we run for office, and stand on the floor, is to try to do big and bold and ambitious things for this state, and I believe this is one of them.”