Several new Missouri laws take effect Sunday. The legislature passed 149 bills during its regular session this year. Some of those have been signed by Governor Jay Nixon (D) or will automatically become law on August 28. Others have been vetoed by Nixon that some lawmakers could seek an override for during the legislature’s veto session next month. Here are the ten laws that stand out:
State officials must ‘cool off’ before becoming lobbyists
State elected and Senate-confirmed appointed officials must wait six months after their term ends before they can become a lobbyist. The bill, sponsored by Columbia Republican Representative Caleb Rowden, was part of several ethics proposals offered this year. House Speaker Todd Richardson pledged to ‘clean up’ the public’s perception of state lawmakers, after scandals surfaced in 2015 between two Missouri legislators and capitol interns.
Lawmakers-turned-lobbyists must end committees and return money
Another ethics bill becoming law requires former members of the General Assembly registering as lobbyists to end their campaign committees. The measure, sponsored by Senator Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis), also requires ex-legislators to return the money to their donors or give it to a nonprofit or political party committee.
State elected officials can’t be hired as political consultants
State legislators and statewide elected officials will be barred from hiring one another as political consultants. Ballwin Republican Representative Shamed Dogan’s proposal also prohibits them from working for committees that support a candidate, issue or ballot measure. The proposal does not include elected officials’ staff.
Third party will verify eligibility of Medicaid recipients
The legislature passed this session Cassville Republican state Senator David Sater’s bill that will allow the state to hire someone to verify eligibility for those on Medicaid. The company would flag those it thinks aren’t eligible but the Department of Social Services would make the final decision. Sater says the measure could save the state millions of dollars.
Regulations for Fantasy sports industry
Fantasy sports companies will have to start paying an annual operating fee of 11.5% of its net revenue from Missouri participants for the previous year. To pay for investigating and licensing of operators, the Missouri Gaming Commission will collect an application fee of $10,000 or 10% of the operator’s net revenue for the previous year, whichever is less. The measure, sponsored by Representative Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob) also requires operators to verify that participants are at least 18 years old.
Juvenile life without parole sentencing
Springfield Republican state Senator Bob Dixon’s measure will make Missouri compliant with federal sentencing laws for juveniles guilty of first-degree murder. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that Missouri must offer another sentencing option for juveniles guilty of murder, not just life without parole. The legislation allows a life without parole or a minimum 25-year sentence for those under 18.
Limits on non-traffic violations
The measure caps how much cities can collect from citizens for minor ordinance violations. First-time offenses are limited to $200 fines and citizens can no longer be jailed for nonpayment. It also lowers the cap on fines and costs for minor traffic violations. Glendale Republican Senator Eric Schmitt’s bill expands on legislation that last year limited municipal traffic fines and fees.
Sex advertising with trafficking victims banned
A house bill sponsored by Representative Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield) will make the advertising of sex with victims of trafficking a felony. The bill will also add such advertising to the state’s definition of trafficking, which is a felony punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or 10-years in prison or life, depending on the age of the victim.
Increase in asset limits for some applying for Medicaid
The measure aims to make it easier for disabled and elderly Missourians to qualify for Medicaid. Farmington Republican state Representative Kevin Engler’s bill increases the amount these Missourians can have in savings or other assets, and still qualify for coverage. Starting in 2018, the asset limits increase from $1,000 to $5,000. For couples, the limit increases from $2,000 to $10,000. Lawmakers project the law will add about 10,000 people on to Missouri’s Medicaid program.
Schools required to make youth suicide and cyber bullying prevention policy
Representative Sue Allen (R-Town and Country) says her bill requires the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to develop guidelines and training materials about youth suicide and cyber bullying prevention. Each school district in Missouri must have these prevention policies in place by 2018. It also clarifies the definition of bullying and includes the definition of cyber bullying in state statutes regarding schools’ anti-bullying policies. Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, licensed educators will be able to annually complete up to two hours of training or professional development in youth suicide awareness and prevention to satisfy a portion of the hours required for professional development.