Hello advocate,

At ArtsKC, we are committed to ensuring that the members of our arts community and the public are aware of legislation that could impact their lives and work.

Below, you will find information and session highlights from the 2020 Missouri state legislative session, including general and arts-related bills. I will be sending a Kansas state debrief next Thursday.
The House and Senate finished the budget and delivered it to the Governor on May 8—a requirement by the Missouri Constitution. The Budget Conference Committee—made up of lawmakers from both chambers—met Thursday, May 14, to hammer out the details of the $35 billion Fiscal Year 2021 budget. After an eight-hour delay, it took four hours and limited debate in both chambers to close on the budget. 

The total budget is $35,291,459,657:
  • General Revenue - $10,011,743,473
  • Federal - $14,757,315,949
  • Other - $10,522,400,235

Highlights from the Truly Agreed and Finally Passed HB 2012
  • $4.8 million for the Missouri Arts Council
  • $517,000 from Federal Funds for the Arts (CARES Act)
  • $800,000 for the Missouri Humanities Council
  • $800,000 for Public Broadcasting
  • $1,000,000 pass through MAC for the Truman Library in Independence
  • $250,000.00 pass through MHC for the American Negro League Museum in KC
  • $50,000.00 pass through MHC for the Urban Youth Academy in KC

Highlights from the Truly Agreed and Finally Passed HB 2007
  • $18 million for the Division of Tourism
  • $200,115 for the Missouri Film Office*
  • $100,000.00 pass through Tourism for the history & art form of American Jazz in KC
  • $75,000.00 pass through Tourism for archives which highlight African-American cultural contributions and history in KC
  • $350,000 pass through Tourism for the celebration of Missouri’s Bicentennial.
*Not including any new funds as result of Film Tax Credit Legislation

Unfortunately, the funding for the Missouri Fine Arts Academy (of which I am a proud alum) was eliminated this session. The Budget Committee maintained a $1.00 line item open in the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education’s budget in hopes there are funds that can be added later in the year for the June 2021 academy. We will follow up with you in the off-season and early next session to lobby for the reinstatement of this critical funding.

NEXT STEP: The budget now goes to Governor Parson for his signature and approval. He can line-item veto or make revenue restrictions if he believes the budget is not in balance. Currently, there are discussions regarding what the projected state revenue/income totals will be over the next several months.

Watch your email for a call to action urging the Governor to support funding the arts in his final approval of the budget!

Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau, once again sponsored legislation to restore the Missouri tax credit for qualified film tax credits. Although there was a lot of talk about tax issues, especially the proposal to tax online retail sales, the legislature failed to pass any taxing authority or tax credit changes this session.

Rep. Alan Green, R-North St. Louis County, sponsored House Bill 1827. This legislation would remove $2 million from the Missouri Arts Council’s budget to fund the festival. This language did not receive a hearing this year.

Rep. Dirk Deaton, R-Neosho, and Senator Ed Emery, R-Lamar, sponsored House Bill 2273 and Senate Bill 875, which provide that no public school shall be a member of a statewide activities association if such association prohibits a homeschool student from participating in any event or activity offered by a public school in the school district in which the student resides.

While this legislation is mainly geared towards students who are homeschooled who want to play athletics, like football or basketball, at school, the language as written would also include choir and band. After persuasion, the sponsors of both the House and Senate versions amended the legislation to state if the activity requires class time (for example to practice the half-time football marching band routine) then the student would have to attend class.

This language was added to an omnibus education bill that failed.

Senator Dan Hegeman, R-Buchanan County, sponsored Senate Bill 631. Missouri lawmakers Truly Agreed and Finally Passed a bill to create a new “no-excuse” mail-in ballot system to be used only while the state is combating the novel coronavirus. 

The system would require county clerks to print new envelopes and ballots, separate from the current absentee ballot process. While voters would not have to provide an excuse to request a mail-in ballot, they would still need a notary to validate their identity.

Governor Mike Parson signed an executive order last month allowing notaries to do their work electronically, however, only a small portion have registered to do so. The proposal, passed through the House as part of a larger bill, would allow voting by mail in the August and November statewide elections without voters stating a reason they cannot make it to polls. The bill would expire at the end of the year.

Senator Bill White, R-Joplin, sponsored the tort reform legislation, SB591 that was Truly Agreed to and Finally Passed with no House amendments. House lawmakers sent Parson a wide-ranging bill that would limit so-called punitive damages, which are awarded as a way to financially punish defendants for causing harm. If signed by Parson, who typically supports limiting lawsuits, the bill would only allow punitive damages if the person suing “proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally harmed the plaintiff without just cause or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others.”

Senator Dan Hegeman, R-Buchanan County, sponsored a resolution that will be voted on in August 2020—SJR38. The House approved by a 98-to-56 vote Sen. Dan Hegeman’s resolution that largely does away with the Clean Missouri system. It eliminates the demographer, and instead has bipartisan commissions or appellate judges draw House and Senate maps. 

Democrats and others opposed to the repeal said it reversed what the residents of the state want, and previously passed statewide in 2018 with a 62% majority.

With the passage of HB 1963, Missouri becomes the first state in the nation to approve legislation to support the development of a tube transport system, which is commonly referred to as Hyperloop. The bill authorizes the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to form a public-private partnership to construct the system. The bill prohibits the use of eminent domain for the development of a Hyperloop system. This was a major priority of Speaker Haahr, who reached his term limit this year.

Speaker Haahr tried to add language to an omnibus transportation bill that would have been detrimental to the Grain Belt project as well as other co-ops, railroads, cities, and municipalities. Haahr added language to SB718 which had never been heard in either chamber. The Senate caught it after the bill had been truly agreed to and finally passed prior to the additions. In an unprecedented move, the Senate unanimously voted to reconsider the bill, and by the next morning, it was clear that Senate Bill 718 was dead.

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, once again championed a plan to establish a prescription drug-monitoring program in Missouri and it was expected to sail into law when legislators returned to session. The Senate, which has historically killed the idea, reached an agreement to allow the bill to move forward. House leaders were ready to accept the deal and end Missouri’s distinction as the only state without a statewide electronic database designed to help spot the abuse of prescription drugs. However, the House surprisingly rejected the Senate deal, prompting a vow from conservative Senate critics to filibuster the bill unless the House relented. The concession included provisions related to fentanyl trafficking—that provision was stripped out during conference this week. However, neither the House nor Senate blinked, and the proposal once again failed to make it to the Governor’s desk.
I hope this legislative debrief was constructive and insightful. It takes an army of advocates to make meaningful change, and that is why ArtsKC is committed to empowering our arts advocates with the knowledge, tools, and resources necessary to ensure our region's arts community continues to thrive.

Click here for a full list of the legislation monitored by MCA.

For more details or questions, please email me at BHaralson@ArtsKC.org .
All the best,
​​Branden D. S. Haralson
Communications Manager, Engagement & Public Policy
106 Southwest Blvd | Kansas City, MO 64108
P: 816.994.9224 |  BHaralson@ArtsKC.org