MSIA Legislative Report - May 4, 2012
Before adjourning Thursday, the House took up and passed HB 1639 (Nolte), a bill containing among other things, tax amnesty from the assessment or payment of all penalties, additions to tax, and interest on delinquencies of unpaid taxes administered by the department which occurred on or prior to December 31, 2011. If you recall, the FY 2013 budget includes approximately $70 million in General Revenue, dependent on the passage of this legislation. As the bill was debated, House Budget Chair, Representative Ryan Silvey, explained to the House that without passage of the bill, the conference committee which is scheduled to meet Monday morning to iron out differences between the two chambers, would be tasked with cutting the $70 million from the budget. The bill was then passed 97-46. According to Representative Silvey, the bill may run into a road block in the Senate.
In addition to Tax Amnesty, legislation providing additional funding for Veterans' Homes is also needed before work can be done on the conference committee reports next week. The original plan was to move the portion of gaming revenues earmarked for Early Childhood to the Veterans', then backfill the Early Childhood hole with additional Lottery funding. However, the plan of tweaking Lottery payouts was scrapped due to opposition bringing forth a new plan, as contained in a SCS for HCS for HB 1731 (Day), which was voted out of the Senate Veterans' Committee on Thursday morning. Instead of Lottery, a little over $30 million will be directed from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement for Early Childhood. The bill will now go before the full Senate for consideration.
Specific to Workers' Compensation, there are a number of bills still moving with various provisions attached to them. HB 1403 was voted out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee yesterday. However, the bill was not turned in for placement on the Calendar. That should happen on Monday. The bill now contains co-employee, occupational disease and Second Injury Fund changes. The SIF changes will likely be deleted since there is still no consensus on how to move head on that issue. Co-employee still remains non-controversial. The same can’t be said for the occupational disease piece.
Governor Nixon has communicated with key members in the Senate what must be included in a bill to get his approval. Co-employee is easy to solve but the OD must include an enhanced remedy for toxic exposure death claims. Discussions are around a benefit of 200 weeks at a level of a total 200% of the state average weekly wage. Part of this would include the 66 2/3 already paid in PTD benefits. A cap on the amount of the benefit has also been discussed.
Business groups have been working on the occupational disease part since the beginning of session. We continue to discuss among ourselves where the group can find support on OD. We hope to see new language on Monday. The situation remains pretty fluid and with only two short weeks to find a solution, it becomes even more difficult.
HB 1540 will be voted out of the Senate Small Business Committee on Tuesday. This bill only contains the co-employee liability fix. This bill keeps alive a fix on co-employee as a standalone issue.
Attached is the latest Bill Summary and Status Report. If you have questions please give the office a call.