This past week was a hectic week at the Capitol but since there are now only three weeks left in this session of the General Assembly, that's expected.
A rare event occurred this past Monday. When I say rare, I mean I have only seen it happen a handful of times in my entire career which spans over fifty years. A petition was filed on Monday with the chief clerk of the House under House Rule 35, asking that House Bill (HB) 275 (Missouri Nondiscrimination Act) be taken from the House Committee on Children and Families and placed on the House Calendar for consideration. As provided in the Constitution, a petition was signed by fifty-five members of the House. The bill is currently on the calendar.
The House Committee on General Laws accepted testimony on HB 781 this past Monday as well. HB 781 provides that all rules and regulations promulgated after June 30, 2022, would sunset (effectively be repealed) after four years. This bill is similar to Senate Bill (SB) 180 which was introduced by Senator Luetkemeyer. Missouri REALTORS®' position on these bills is to seek an exception for rules enacted by the Missouri Real Estate Commission. The least controversial way to accomplish this is to create an exception for all entities under the Division of Professional Registration. I briefly discussed it with bill sponsor and Representative Bishop Davidson, and then attended the hearing and requested the change. Fortunately, Representative Adam Schnelting, a REALTOR® from St. Charles, was a member of the committee. Representative Schnelting, who has a great relationship with Representative Davidson, sent him a text during the hearing telling him that this needed to be fixed. I’ve given Representative Davidson an amendment that would accomplish our goal which was prepared by Jason Zamkus, our contract lobbyist.
Last Monday, the House Third Read and passed HB 162 by Representative Rudy Viet. The bill contains our language which allows a real estate salesperson to own an unlicensed LLC. Their broker is permitted to pay commissions into that LLC and the salesperson may then take such action as their tax professional may recommend with those funds. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Small Business and Industry.
This past Wednesday was a long day for the Senate but a great day for us! The Senate took up Representative Derek Grier's HB 476. The underlying bill deals with reciprocity for members of the military. It allows a MOS (military occupational specialty) to be accepted as a type of occupational license. Senator Denny Hoskins offered the LLC amendment and Senator Justin Brown offered the Advertising Guidance language. Both were approved.
Most professional registration bills tend to attract amendments. This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight, a necessary step because of the amendments and potential cost. It will likely be heard and acted on this week. I spoke with Representative Grier and he believes that he will be able to take the bill up and approve it without going to a conference. Representative Grier's strong support for our issues has been a critical part of our success.
Lastly, the House Transportation Committee chaired by Representative Becky Ruth recently took testimony on SB 262. SB 262, introduced by Senator Dave Schatz, provides a gradual increase in the motor fuel tax, beginning with a 2.5 cent increase in October of 2021. This tax would increase each year by 2.5 cents until it reaches an additional 12.5 cents per gallon on July 1, 2025. A taxpayer may apply for a fuel tax refund so long as the fuel is delivered into a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 26,000 pounds or less. The bill would allow the Department of Transportation to address some, but not all, of the deferred maintenance facing our highway system. It is vital to public safety, reduction of bad roads, and economic development in Missouri. Thirty percent of the funds raised are earmarked for local city/county highways.
It is likely a Call for Action (CFA) will take place on this issue very soon. Stay tuned.
Chief Lobbyist, Missouri REALTORS®