Several new laws and provisions are set to become law in Missouri on August 28, ranging from tax relief for senior citizens, extending healthcare coverages, removing financial barriers in the adoption process, combatting the opioid epidemic, simplifying the state’s vehicle sales tax, increasing public safety, and preparing Missouri’s workforce for the future. Here is a look at some of the bills passed this session.
Here’s the ones to watch.
Improving Education and Addressing Teacher Shortages
This year, Missouri’s legislature continued pushing for more funding and changes aimed at improving the educational status in the Show-Me State. The state has once again fully funded the K-12 Foundation Formula for the fifth year in a row, securing $3.6 billion in state aid, alongside $233 million for school transportation.
The legislature has also made moves to address the issue of teacher shortages and the salaries paid to those in charge of educating our children. Some school districts are facing shortages of qualified educators, and in an effort to keep teacher pay competitive, Missouri has fully funded the Teacher Baseline Salary Grant Program, which increases baseline K-12 educator pay to $38,000 per year. In addition to that, the state has put aside $32 million for the Career Ladder program to reward educators who go beyond normal duties.
The Missouri General Assembly passed legislation that would also enable K-12 schools to hire more retired teachers longer under SB 75. Under current law, retired teachers can only return for two years, and school districts can hire no more than 5 retired teachers or 10 percent of their teaching staff, whichever is smaller. SB 75 will extend the limit from two years to four, and would revive a retirement allowance for teachers who have served 31 years or more, allowing them to receive 2.55 percent of their previous salary multiplied by their years of service.
More Tools to Aid in Development for Hard of Hearing Children
HB 447 would also bring Missouri in line with more than 20 other states in regards to education provisions and resources regarding deaf and hard of hearing children. The legislation, called “LEAD-K” or “language equality and acquisition for deaf kids” seeks to give parents of children living with hearing issues some much needed resources to address the tendencies which some deaf and hard of hearing children have with delayed language acquisition. Because there is no standard process for assessing children with hearing issues under the age of five, this often means that these children arrive in kindergarten not knowing as many words as they should at that age. By passing this bill, we can help provide more resources to parents, and ensure that these children are starting kindergarten with a foundational knowledge of either English or American Sign Language.
Protecting Vulnerable Information of Children and Victims of Domestic Violence
SB 28 serves to protect Missouri’s most vulnerable in a variety of manners. SB 28 provides an easy avenue forward for the victims of domestic violence or abuse in the event that they need their birth certificate. This legislation waives any required fees for the issuance or copy of a birth certificate if a victim of domestic violence or abuse makes the request and if the victim provides documentation signed by an employee, agent, or volunteer of a victim service provider, attorney, or health care or mental health professional.
This new law also protects children’s private and identifiable information. Under this act, any personally identifiable information regarding any child receiving childcare from a provider or applying for or receiving any services through a state program shall not be subject to disclosure, except as described in the act.
SB 40 also modifies provisions relating to background checks as they relate to minors. High schools in Missouri that offer on-campus career development classes to both students and adults will not have a layer of protection for minors included. SB 40 requires that anyone over the age of 18 enrolled in a course on school property who is not a regular attendee of the school must get a full background check. This only applies to classes in which K-12 students are present. The background checks will be processed through the Missouri Highway Patrol and the discovery of any crimes or offenses that would cause a license to teach to be revoked or not issued would cause that person to be prohibited from enrolling in the course. At every level of the education system, from district superintendents to teachers to maintenance to food service, all workers that are in contact with children have to submit to background checks. This new law now requires adults on-site for educational purposes to receive the same verification.
Simplifying Vehicle Sale Tax
SB 398 simply states that licensed motor vehicle dealers would collect and remit sales tax on all motor vehicles sold. Vehicle sales tax is the only sales tax not collected at the point of sale, so this change puts Missouri in line with the other 47 states who require dealerships to collect the vehicle sales tax. The way the process will work is that when you go into the dealership, you will do all of your paperwork. You will leave with a temporary tag, but that will start the ball rolling for the Department of Revenue to issue your plates and you will receive them in the mail.
–Doug Richie, Legislator 39th District,