Representative Ed Lewis's Capitol Report
The Final Countdown
We are in that part of session (last two weeks) when bills from the Senate are being heard and passed in the House and bills from the House are being heard and hopefully passed in the Senate. Some of our caucus priorities like protecting individual’s rights from vaccine mandates, protecting the most vulnerable like the unborn and those being trafficked, protecting and securing the voting process, important ag related bills and many education related bills are being heard on the opposite chambers floor. These bills when passed will then be sent to conference if they have passed both chambers but have differences between the House version and the Senate version. We have only two weeks left and big items like the budget and congressional redistricting is not complete. I hope that some of our priorities make it through this long process.
Senate Bills Approved by the House
SB 820 is a wide-ranging utilities bill that establishes the Task Force on Distributed Energy Resources and Net Metering, to conduct hearings and research information related to net metering. The bill also specifies that no deed restriction, covenant, or similar binding agreement running with the land shall limit or prohibit the installation of solar panels or solar collectors, as defined in the act, on the rooftop of any property or structure.
During floor debate, the House added an amendment to the bill that would protect landowners from having their property unlawfully seized through the misuse of eminent domain. The proposal is a direct response to the Grain Belt Express project that has the authority to use eminent domain to acquire land in Missouri. The sponsor of the amendment told his colleagues, “We have to make a conscious decision if we’re going to stand with Missouri farmers and ranchers. I am going to stand with the property rights. I am going to stand with landowners. I am going to stand with ranchers and I am going to stand with Missouri agriculture.”
Some of the other amendments added by the House would help expand broadband internet access across Missouri, protect the private information of public utility customers, allow homeowners to install solar panels on their home without the need for special certification as long as they are following applicable building codes, create parity between traditional investor-owned utility companies and solar utility companies, establish the Task Force on Fair, Nondiscriminatory Local Taxation Concerning Solar Energy Systems, and establish the Missouri Nuclear Clean Power Act.
The bill now heads back to the Senate where the other chamber can either accept the changes made by the House or ask for a conference where representatives from both bodies will meet to iron out their differences.
Bills Sent to Conference
HBs 3002 – 3013, 3015 are appropriations bills that make up the bulk of the Fiscal Year 2023 state operating budget. The bills were approved this week by the Senate with several significant changes made. In total, the Senate added more than $1.2 billion in spending to the plan approved by the House. The two sides will now meet to reach a compromise on the spending plan that must be completed by Friday, May 6.
HB 1720 modifies various provisions governing agricultural economic opportunities. The bill would continue several agriculture programs that are priorities for the agriculture community in Missouri.
HB 2149 modifies several provisions relating to professional licensing, including: (1) home health licensing; (2) exemptions for professional licensing; (3) land surveyors; (4) Missouri Dental Board pilot projects; (5) assistant physicians; (6) physical therapists; and (7) audiologists and speech-language pathologists.
Bills Headed to the Governor’s Desk
HB 1697 allows cottage food production operations to sell food over the internet. Currently, cottage food production operations must have an annual gross income of $50,000 or less and are prohibited from selling food through the Internet. This bill removes the cap on annual gross income and the prohibition of online sales, provided that the cottage food production operation and purchaser are both located in Missouri. Supporters say this adds new jobs for people who want to work from home and this will strengthen Missouri's local economies.
HB 1725 changes the laws regarding requirements of lodging establishments. Currently, lodging establishments are not liable for the loss of certain specified items, such as money or jewelry, unless the guest asks that the item be placed in a safe and the lodging establishment refuses or omits to do so. This bill states that the hotel may use a safe or safe deposit boxes located behind the registration desk and when deposited into a safe, must give the guest a receipt for the item. The bill also specifies that any lodging establishment that publishes current rates electronically on a public Internet platform does not have to post a written copy of the rates charged for each guest room.
HB 3001 is an appropriations bill that allocates funding to pay the state’s debt obligations.
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