Senator Mike Cunningham

“There ought to be a law.” How many times have we heard someone say that? Fairly often, I suspect.

When people at the coffee shop complain about the law, or the lack of one, that’s usually the end of it. The conversation takes on a whole different meaning when it’s directed at an elected official. It’s our job to consider how Missouri law affects our constituents and propose changes for the better.  

By the time the presiding officer calls the Missouri Senate to order on Jan. 9, more than 200 proposed laws will already be drafted and ready for consideration. These “pre-filed” proposals are just some of more than 500 pieces of legislation lawmakers will review before the session ends in May.

As I look forward to the coming legislative session, I have pre-filed a number of bills. Some of these are the direct result of constituents reaching out to me with concerns. These may not be measures that will occupy the front page of the newspaper, but I can assure you each is important to someone.

The following is a summary of the bills I have pre-filed for the 2009 legislative session:

Senate Bill 10 ­– This bill corrects a flaw in the minimum wage law that resulted from the passage of Proposition B and requires all employees who earn tips and gratuities as part of their compensation to receive at least 50 percent of the state minimum wage as their hourly wage.

Senate Bill 11 ­– Under this proposal, intermediate care or skilled nursing facilities that participate in MO HealthNet could have their per diem reimbursement recalculated to reflect their actual costs if they incur total capital expenditures of more than $2,000 per bed. 

Senate Bill 12 – Under current law, sheriffs are paid $10 when they serve a summons, writ, subpoena or other court order. This bill would extend that payment to other persons appointed to serve orders.

Senate Bill 82 – This bill modifies provisions of law relating to health care facilities and the Certificate of Need (CON) program. If SB 82 becomes law, the Certificate of Need program would be administered by the Department of Health and Senior Services and health care providers would no longer be required to obtain a CON prior to purchasing major equipment.

Senate Bill 83 – This bill requires that before a child subject to a custody or visitation agreement can be relocated to a different principal residence, all parties with custodial or visitation rights shall be notified. Interested parties would have a right to file a motion opposing the relocation.

Senate Bill 84 – This measure extends the sunset date of a law that established geologic resource fees related to surface mining.

Senate Bill 133 – This bill allows the Department of Agriculture to assess civil penalties for violations of laws relating to egg production in Missouri.

Senate Bill 161 – Effective January 2020, employer contributions to the unemployment compensation fund would automatically increase at a rate of .015 percent of the employer’s total taxable wages for the prior 12 months.

Senate Bill 179 – This bill reduces redundant paperwork requirements for certain banks, trust companies and savings and loans associations.

Each of these bills is the result of someone wanting a change in Missouri law. In some cases, a constituent felt that current law was burdensome. Others are an attempt to improve laws and make them more efficient. I can’t guarantee that all of these proposed bills will become law, but every one of them will be presented to the General Assembly where the ideas that inspired them can be considered.

We spend a lot of time around the Capitol fretting over the legislative process. It’s good to remember that every bill we debate begins as an idea, often submitted by a constituent. If you have a concern about our government and its laws, or if you have a notion of how our laws could be improved, I encourage you to contact me. After all, maybe there ought to be a law.

As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.