The AP contributed to this report
(Jefferson City) – It’s a new year and that means new laws in the state of Missouri.
Some of the new Missouri laws that take effect Wednesday are the result of bills passed during the 2013 legislative session, such as new screening requirements for babies who may have congenital heart disease, and new benefit entitlements for claims of serious work-related illnesses.
Missouri’s minimum wage will rise to $7.50 on Wednesday, making Missouri one of 20 states with a rate above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. A law passed by voters in 2006 set Missouri’s minimum wage at $6.50 an hour with an annual cost-of-living adjustment. The National Employment Law Project, a New York-based worker advocacy group, estimates that the minimum wage increase will affect 104,000 workers in Missouri.
The sponsors of Missouri’s minimum wage initiative, meanwhile, have opposed laws enacted in 2009 and 2011 that first exempted many businesses from Missouri’s corporate franchise tax and then ordered the tax to be phased out. The middle step in that gradual reduction takes effect in 2014. Legislative staff previously estimated that Missouri could collect nearly $20 million less in franchise taxes for 2014, compared to the previous year, because of the phase out.
One of the new laws taking effect Wednesday seeks to replenish the state’s Second Injury Fund, which employers finance through surcharges on their workers’ compensation insurance premiums. The fund pays benefits to disabled workers who suffer additional serious work-related injuries or illnesses. As of mid-December, the fund had a balance of less than $3 million but owed nearly $39 million of initial payments to people, not counting interest. The new law temporarily doubles the fees paid by businesses for the Second Injury Fund. It also sets workers’ compensation benefits for people suffering from toxic-exposure illnesses, such as an asbestos-related cancer called mesothelioma.