Legislative Update - 2024, Week 12



Both the House and Senate will be out for a three-day weekend break and return in session on Tuesday, April 1. The legislature has seven weeks remaining before the session concludes on May 17.


The House Special Committee on Education Reform heard SS#2/SCS/SB 727 (Andrew Koenig) on March 28.

SB 727 expands the existing tax credit voucher enacted in 2021 and authorizes the establishment of charter schools in any district in Boone County without sponsorship by the local school board. The Association recognizes that some positive provisions were added during Senate floor action but remains opposed to the bill.

The Association remains concerned that the bill moves the state in the wrong direction by expanding unaccountable charter schools into more communities without consulting the local school board while also expanding vouchers that divert resources away from students in neighborhood public schools in favor of a few students attending private institutions with little oversight or accountability.

The Senate added increases in state funding for public schools, primarily through adjustments to the basic funding formula, along with a number of provisions from other bills filed this session. The revised fiscal note for the perfected bill estimates an increase in state costs of $467 million when fully implemented. The Association notes that state revenues may be insufficient to sustain these proposed increases along with the formula increases already calculated for the next two fiscal years due to MSIP 6 changes. Tax cuts already enacted in law will reduce revenues as they are triggered into effect.



The House-Budget Committee met on March 25 to debate and amend the chairman's proposed committee substitutes for the various House state budget bills. Upon completion of floor session for the day, the committee reconvened and voted to approve the amended budget bills. The bills were reported to the floor and will be taken up when the House returns on April 1.



The House gave final approval to HB 2274 (Travis Smith) on March 27. The bill would eliminate the corporate income tax entirely over a five-year period. The fiscal note for the bill estimates a reduction of $867 million when the bill is implemented. This bill will significantly reduce state revenues and reduce the state's capacity to invest in essential services such as K-12 and higher education. The Association opposes the bill.



The House perfected HCS/HJR 86 (John Black) on March 26. The Association opposes the joint resolution and remains concerned that the resolution will make it more difficult for Missouri citizens to bring forward and gain approval on measures of interest brought by the initiative petition process.

HJR 86 increases the signature gathering requirement. The HJR also raises the approval requirement for those constitutional amendments to add a concurrent majority in a least a majority of Missouri's Congressional districts. The measure also includes several peripheral provisions that have been dubbed "ballot candy."  Ballot candy is a name given to bogus provisions added to trick voters into voting for the measure, such as including broadly supported policies that are already law.

The Senate Local Government and Elections Committee heard HCS/HB 1749 (Mike Haffner) on March 25. The bill enacts numerous provisions regulating the initiative petition process. The Association opposes the bill. Some of the measures are likely to lengthen the time it takes to get an initiative petition approved and thus make it harder to get an initiative on the ballot. Several of the restrictions on signature gathering in this bill have already been ruled unconstitutional in other jurisdictions. The bill would also allow partisan statewide officers to become arbiters of the policies that may be brought forward by initiative petitions. The Association is concerned that these factors will undermine the ability of citizens to bring forward issues by the initiative.



The House Pensions Committee heard HB 2906 (Kathy Steinhoff) on March 26. The bill reduces the penalty for a PSRS retiree who exceeds 550 hours to the actual excess amount earned over 550 hours, rather than a full month's pension payment. The bill also allows PSRS members with a disability retirement to work up to 550 hours per year in covered positions. The Association supports the bill.

The House Pensions Committee also approved HB 1722 (Aaron Crossley). The bill increases the number of noncertificated PSRS retirees that a district may employ under the critical shortage provision. The bill increases the cap to the greater of five employees or 1% of the total number of certificated teachers and non-certificated staff. The cap is currently the lesser of five employees or 10% of the number of non-certificated employees. The bill adds no cost to the System. The bill would also make the PEERS critical shortage provisions similar to the PSRS critical shortage provisions enacted last year. The Association supports the bill.



The House approved HCS/HB 2140 (Peggy McGaugh) on March 28. The bill modifies provisions related to elections. The bill shifts the candidate filing period for school board candidates one week later in the same manner as HB 1604 (Dave Hinman). The bill also allows officers calling an election to contact election authorities by email, allows absentee voting on election day for presidential and vice presidential electors, increases the privacy of absentee voters with permanent disabilities, ensures provisional ballots are available at all elections, extends restrictions on electioneering to in-person absentee voting locations, and creates the offense of tampering with an election official as a class one election offense.

The Association believes that barriers that reduce access to voting and participation in the political process should be removed to allow for involvement by all eligible citizens and supports the bill.



The legislature acted on several provisions relating to property taxes this week.

The House approved HCS#2/HJR 78 (Jeff Coleman) on March 28. The HJR revises the reassessment of primary residential properties by lowering the inflationary cap for assessment growth of real property from five percent to the lesser of two percent or CPI growth for each reassessment cycle. This measure would reduce the amount of increase of residential property assessments during high inflationary years.

The House also approved HB 2432 (Wendy Hausman) on March 27. The bill revises the senior citizen property tax credit enacted in 2023 in SB 190. The bill clarifies that any such homestead credit starts when a county acts to adopt the optional property tax credit and is not retroactive to a prior year when a taxpayer might have otherwise become eligible based on age qualification. The bill also clarifies that a taxpayer must be 62 years or older to qualify, rather than being Social Security-eligible. Qualifying taxpayers must also not have delinquent taxes to qualify. The House also adopted an amendment providing that the additional value of new construction and improvements on qualified properties would be subject to taxation, but such additional taxation would then be frozen in the same manner as provided for the existing, qualified property.

The House-Special Committee on Property Tax Reform approved HB 1668 (Mark Matthiesen) on March 27. The bill reduces the percentage of the inflationary cap for assessment growth of real or personal property from five percent to three percent for each reassessment cycle. This bill would reduce the amount of local tax revenue increases retained by school districts and other local taxing entities during high inflationary years.



The House Special Committee on Innovation and Technology heard HB 1688 (Rodger Reedy) on March 26. The bill requires DESE to develop a driver education instruction and training program to be offered as part of the high school health curriculum in district and charter schools. The instruction shall include habits and skills necessary for the safe operation of motor vehicles, distracted driving hazards, and traffic stop procedures. The instruction will not require operation of a vehicle.



The committee approved two bills on March 27:

HCS/HB 2378 (Bennie Cook) to require the State Board of Education to handle appeals of decisions made by statewide activities associations, such as MSHSAA.

HCS/HB 2499 (Jeff Farnan) to prevent students from being disqualified from the A+ scholarship program solely due to a conviction involving controlled substances.



The committee approved HCS/HB 2905 (Brenda Shields) on March 27. The bill requires the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development to work with public institutions to develop a higher education funding model. The funding model will provide a level of stable, sustainable resources, include a process for allocation of core appropriations, and include a performance component designed to enhance student success and efficient operations.



The committee heard two bills on March 26:

SB 1164 (Rusty Black) to create an educational stabilization fund. Money appropriated to this fund could be used to cover the cost of full funding of the school formula in years when actual revenues are less than the estimates on which the budget is based. The Association supports this proactive step to create a more sustainable state budget and sustained commitment to education funding.

SB 1290 (Jill Carter) to create a grant program for the purpose of assisting school districts with providing programs in classical education.

The committee also voted to approve the following bills:

SCS/SB 819 (Ben Brown) to restrict a school district from being a member of an association that does not allow home school students to participate in activities.

SCS/SB 1153 (Angela Mosley) regarding school safety assessments.

SB 1056 (Rusty Black) to expand income eligibility for Missouri Fast Track workforce development grants.



The committee met on March 25 to hear HB 2937 (Bishop Davidson). The bill would radically change school funding in Missouri to a per pupil model that includes direct payments to students attending private schools. The Association is concerned that this expanded voucher would divert resources away from students in neighborhood public schools in favor of students attending private institutions with little oversight or accountability. The Association opposes the bill.             

The scheduled hearing on HB 2938 (Bishop Davidson) was postponed. The bill creates a new state level council that would create a school letter grade accountability system. The Association continues to oppose this kind of top-down approach and supports the increased local control proposed in HB 1851 (Paula Brown) and SB 814 (Jill Carter).



The committee heard two bills on March 25:

HB 2430 (Mike McGirl) revises personal property tax valuations. The assessment ratio for personal property would be reduced from 33 1/3% to 31%. The bill also includes increases in motor vehicle value from the previous year's price guide as a part of the roll back calculation based on assessment increases.

SB 1062 (Mary Elizabeth Coleman) to exempt the sale of food from sales tax and phase out local sales taxes on food over a four-year period.

The scheduled hearing on SB 1496 (Nick Schroer) was postponed. The bill would eliminate the state income tax while raising the state sales tax from 4% to 9% on taxable non-food purchases and from 1% to 6% on food purchases. Despite the large increase in regressive sales taxes, the bill's fiscal note still predicts a massive reduction of state revenues that would cripple the state's capacity to support public education and other essential services. The Association opposes the bill.