This week was crunch time for the Missouri Senate, as today (5-10) is the deadline to hand the FY 2014 operating budget plan to the governor. However, the Missouri Senate worked ahead of schedule and the Legislature gave its approval yesterday (5-9) to the 13 core budget bills that make up the budget. The Missouri Senate is dedicated to passing a balanced budget, unlike Congress, which has failed to even pass a budget in more than four years. The budget plan for our state is approximately $25 billion and the 2014 fiscal year will last from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.
An element of the FY 2014 budget plan notes that funding for the Division of Motor Vehicles (a section of the Missouri Department of Revenue) will last for eight months; the Legislature will review the status and policies of DOR once that timeframe is up at the beginning of the 2014 legislative session and determine additional funding at that time. This action is in response to DOR’s new policy of scanning and retaining personal documents and how the executive administration is handling citizens’ private information. The governor reacted to the Legislature’s budget proposal by stating that he would reduce staff and services of the Division of Motor Vehicles beginning July 1. There is no reason for the governor to cause these good people to lose their jobs. All he needs to do is stop the scanning of unnecessary documents and the funding for this division will be restored.
In the upper chamber, lawmakers worked to usher numerous bills past the legislative finish line. My sponsored bill, SB 34, is moving closer to receiving a stamp of approval — the measure was sent to a conference committee in which members of the House and Senate worked to draft a compromise regarding the legislation. Senate Bill 34 would require the Division of Workers’ Compensation to develop and maintain a workers’ compensation claims database. The bill does not give out personal or medical information resulting from a workers’ compensation claim, and is designed to make employers aware of individuals who have abused the workers’ compensation system by filing numerous claims.
A measure to receive the Legislature’s stamp of approval, HB 446, would provide consistency regarding certain services for Missourians by establishing that real estate loans can only be governed by state and federal law. Currently, St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis have their own laws regarding foreclosure mediation ordinances and have ignored state laws. This situation has created some turmoil for lenders, as they do not know which laws to follow. Missouri should not be making it more difficult for citizens to obtain loans for their homes. If signed by the governor, the measure would take effect on Aug. 28.
In the upcoming days, the halls of our Capitol will be busy with activity as laws are passed out of the Legislature and the 2013 legislative session comes to a close. If you have any questions about the matters I’ve addressed in this legislative report, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office.