This week, the Judiciary Committee heard my HB 1954

By State Rep. Bennie Cook, Missouri's 143rd District
Posted 2/7/24

Currently, information and data obtained by a probation or parole officer is privileged information and not receivable in any court. This bill modifies that provision to allow an exception for the …

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This week, the Judiciary Committee heard my HB 1954


Currently, information and data obtained by a probation or parole officer is privileged information and not receivable in any court. This bill modifies that provision to allow an exception for the receipt of this privileged information by a court for lawful criminal matters. If this legislation passes it would provide an additional tool for law enforcement.

The Missouri House passed HB 1989  on Wednesday and it now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Elections Committee hears Initiative Petition proposals

The House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials in Missouri, one week after hearing proposed changes to citizen-led initiative petitions, recently discussed three more bills aiming to modify the process of adopting Constitutional amendments. These bills seek to raise the standards for majority votes, requiring approval in both legislative districts and statewide votes, while one bill proposes increasing the threshold from a simple majority. The goal is to improve the process of citizen-initiated ballot measures by increasing transparency, improving accountability, creating stricter deadlines and rules to ensure verified, legal signatures, and curb outside influence from special interest groups.

HJR 86: Requires any measure referred to the people to get a majority of votes statewide and in most state Senate districts upon voter approval. This aligns with HCS HJR 19 (2023), emphasizing the need for broader geographic support.

HJR 76: Upon voter approval, demands that any constitutional amendment secure a majority of votes both statewide and in most state congressional districts. It specifies that only U.S. citizens who are legal residents of Missouri can vote on these changes, highlighting the importance of both geography and citizenship.

HJR 119: Introduces significant changes, raising the passage threshold for Constitutional amendments from a simple majority to 55 percent of votes cast. It allows voters in each Congressional district to review and comment on initiative petitions in a process administered by the Secretary of State. Moreover, it specifies that only U.S. citizens who are residents of Missouri and registered to vote can be considered legal voters.

The committee also passed the following measures last week:

HB 1749: Amends Constitution with specific formatting rules; requires U.S. citizenship or Missouri residency for petition circulators; sets deadlines for ballot title challenges; imposes a 30-day residency for paid signature gatherers; prohibits per-signature payment; aims for local control, and reducing external influences.

HJR 72 and HJR 102 — Propose constitutional amendments: restrict initiative petitions.; prohibit specific tax increases; prevent foreign involvement; set voting requirements, mandate amendments to secure majority votes statewide and in most congressional districts; and improving rural economic development.

The House Committee on Rural Community Development recently considered two bills aimed at enhancing rural economic development in Missouri. This endeavor is vital for rejuvenating and sustaining rural communities, tackling demographic challenges, fostering job creation, diversifying the economy, and enhancing overall quality of life.

HB 2170 introduces the “Missouri Rural Access to Capital Act,” promoting economic development by offering tax credits to investors making capital investments in rural funds. The credits start at zero percent for the first two years and rise to 15% for the subsequent four years, with an annual cap of $16 million. Rural funds must undergo an approval process, adhere to investment criteria, and could face credit recapture for non-compliance. Eligible businesses must meet specific criteria, and rural funds are required to submit annual reports. The program sunsets on Aug. 28, 2030.

Meanwhile, HB 2069 adjusts state funding for regional planning commissions, doubling the maximum funds for the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council and increasing the Mid-America Regional Council’s limit. The bill also updates the list of planning commissions and adjusts maximum grants for all commissions with the consumer price index from July 1, 2026.

Legislative initiatives, such as these bills, aim to offer targeted support and resources to address the unique challenges faced by rural areas.

An eye on immigration issues

The Special Committee on Innovation and Technology heard testimony this week on HB 2489, which would establish the “Immigrant Employment Registration and Taxation Protection Act”.

This legislation seeks to address employment practices and immigration status verification, and extends municipal sanctuary policies to include qualified immigrant workers registered in the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DOLIR) database. Private employers would be required to enroll in a federal work authorization program, verifying the eligibility of new hires beginning Jan. 1, 2025, with specified penalties for non-compliance.

The bill outlines definitions, establishing a database, and setting requirements for qualified immigrant workers and their employers. Qualified immigrant workers must sign an affidavit, and employers must provide documentation to DOLIR for confirmation. The Attorney General enforces the act, with penalties for non-compliance. The bill also sets restrictions on the working hours for individuals aged 16 to 18 and grants exemptions for certain categories.

The bill sponsor said that the legislation would protect Missouri jobs, assist in cutting down on illegal immigration, and protect Missouri taxpayers’ dollars.