Day 2 of Missouri legislature's last week: Municipal reform, fantasy sports, body cameras
With only three days to go, a few bigger issues have been moving in the Missouri General Assembly, while everyone waits to see whether the Senate will soon come to a screeching halt.
First, the so-called "sequel" to last year's municipal reform bill is one vote away from being sent to Gov. Jay Nixon.
In last year's Senate Bill 5, Missouri lawmakers restricted how much traffic fine revenue cities could keep in their budgets. On Tuesday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 572, which would also curb non-traffic fines, such as housing code violations. Both were sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale.
"I think last year was probably the most municipal reform we've ever done," Schmitt said. "On its own, this bill would be very, very significant. But I think when you combine it with [last year’s bill], it just continues our work going forward."
Schmitt's bill would also make it easier for cities todisincorporate. As of now, state law only allows adisincorporationelection in villages and fourth class cities. And even in those places, proponents of dissolution would need to gather signatures from 50 percent of registered voters – which is basically impossible in larger cities.
Senate Bill 572 would allow third class cities and charter cities to havedisincorporationelections. It also lowers the signature percentage threshold from 50 percent to 25 percent. And it decreases the percentage of votes needed to dissolve a city from 60 percent to a simple majority.
"It gives the citizens more options," Schmitt said. "Ultimately if you have that many citizens calling for the dissolution ordisincorporationof a city, I think that's a significant message. And then for a majority of the voters to say 'There's a much better way to move forward,' I think that's significant."
The bill needs one more vote, this time in the House, to go toNixon's desk.
Body camera footage
Legislation that would limit public access to police body camera videos is on its way to the governor.
House Bill 1936 would prevent the public, during ongoing investigations, from accessing video taken by police cameras mounted on vehicles and attached to uniforms. Also, police video recorded at "nonpublic locations," such as homes, schools and hospitals, could remain off-limits to the public after investigations are wrapped up.
The measure comes nearly two years after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer that touched off widespread protests, and generated calls for changes in policing, including the increased use of cameras.
Fantasy sports websites
FanDuel, DraftKings and other daily fantasy sports websites would be licensed by the Missouri Gaming Commission under legislation passed Tuesday by the Senate.
In its original form, House Bill 1941 would have exempted some sites from state gaming laws if they were based on "statistical aggregates of player performance." But the Senate substituted its own version of the bill, which would collect roughly 21.5 percent of a daily fantasy site's annual income and limit players to age 21 and older.
"As someone who's been a part of the fantasy sports community for the last 12 years or better, fantasy sports is a game of skill, it is gambling, it can be both of those things," said Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City. "It should be regulated, and it should be taxed for the benefit of education in our state."
Not everyone in the Senate liked the proposal, including Schmitt. "I think we're over regulating an industry and overtaxing an industry," he said.
Schmitt is seeking the Republican nomination for state treasurer.
The Senate version of HB 1941 passed 20-10, and now goes back to the House.
There are unconfirmed rumors that Republican leaders in the Senate plan to get through several bills Wednesday before bringing up the paycheck protection bill, HB 1891, for a veto override vote. And if Democrats try to block the override, Republicans will then "move the previous question," a parliamentary procedure that cuts off debate and forces a vote to take place.
The PQ motion, sometimes referred to as "the nuclear option," was used earlier this year to cut off debate on SJR 39, the proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed business owners to cite religious objections for refusing their services to same-sex wedding. That proposal later died in the House.
It's likely that if Republicans force a vote on the paycheck protection override, Democrats would retaliate by using parliamentary procedure to virtually shut down the Senate and prevent anything else from passing, with only three working days left in the 2016 session.
Meanwhile, the House could take up the proposed fuel tax hike on Thursday, the day before the final day of session. However, if the Senate is shut down, anything the House sends it would die at 6 p.m. Friday.
Jo Mannies and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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