Representative Karla Eslinger – Legislative Update

Hello Friends, 

I hope all are finding time to enjoy this wonderful time of year.  As I drive home I am enjoying the picturesque fields of green, the tulips, forsythia bushes and especially the red bud trees. It’s a beautiful time of year in the Ozarks.  Even though spring is always a welcomed season it also is the time of year for taxes.  

For this week’s report, I am sharing information regarding HB 1094 that may address current issues within the Department of Revenue

HB 1094 –– The House has given preliminary approval to legislation that would give Missourians a break on late payment of taxes. The bill comes in response to issues within the Department of Revenue that have resulted in many Missourians owing more income tax or getting smaller tax refunds this year. For months, a special House oversight committee has investigated issues within the department. The House Special Committee on Government Oversight found not only that the department had an error in its withholding tables, but also that the department had failed to alert Missourians about how the tax code was changed and what it could mean for them. The vice-chairman of the oversight committee said the department’s explanations have changed, and he blames its former director, who resigned last month amid the crisis.

The bill would block late payment penalties on tax debt owed to the state by individual taxpayers through the end of this year.  It would also waive any interest owed on such debt until May 15.  For those who might pay penalties before the bill would become law, it would require that those Missourians receive refunds.

Supporters of the bill said it’s important to note that while some Missourians could see greater tax bills this year, changes in the federal tax code mean their overall debt is down.

The legislation now requires a final vote in the House before moving to the Senate. The Speaker of the House has said the House Special Committee on Government Oversight will continue to investigate what caused the withholding problems and how the department responded. 

Other Bills Sent to the Senate 

HB 584 –– would increase specified motor vehicle and trailer registration fees. Supporters say these fees have not been increased since 1999.  

HB 400 would expand the Missouri Returning Heroes Act to include combat veterans that served prior to September 11, 2001 and combat veterans who are eligible to register to vote in Missouri, registered to vote in Missouri, or are current Missouri residents. Additionally, this bill would place a cap of 30% on tuition and fees for qualified combat veterans pursuing graduate degrees, but not professional degrees, for a period of 20 years after an honorable discharge. 

HB –– 728 specifies that except if the party in interest is a minor, in any action involving the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 5 or 7 of the Missouri Constitution, such action must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest. Supporters say the bill would require plaintiffs to be named in cases where people want to sue to remove religious symbols because such plaintiffs currently hide behind unknown names. They say the bill would treat claimants the same no matter the viewpoint, which would hopefully reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits.

HB 265 –– requires all nonfood items sold in the state capitol to be made in the USA. 

HB 723 –– modifies provisions relating to public employee retirement benefits. Supporters say the bill will allow divorced retired school teachers who elected a joint and survivor option at retirement to remove the ex-spouse from the retirement benefit so that the benefit will pop-up to a normal annuity as long as both parties agree.

HB 705 –– standardizes language regarding physician assistant supervision agreements to be consistent with advanced practice registered nurse collaborative practice arrangements. Additionally, it requires psychologists to take three hours of professional ethics continuing education classes every two years. 

HB 106  –– provides that a real estate licensee shall not be liable for the accuracy of any information about the size of a property or improvements on the property, as long as the licensee discloses the source of the information before an offer to purchase is transmitted to the seller, unless the licensee knew the information was false or the licensee acted with reckless disregard as to whether such information was true or false. 

HBs 746 & 722 –– specifies that other persons specially appointed to serve orders of court shall also receive $10 for orders they serve. The additional $10 shall be deposited in the Deputy Sheriff Salary Supplementation Fund. 

HB 372 –– modifies provisions relating to employment security. A claimant may not be determined ineligible for unemployment benefits because of not actively and earnestly seeking work if the claimant is temporarily unemployed through no fault of his or her own and has a definite recall date. 

This week I was blessed with Kirbyville students visiting the capitol this week.  

As always, I love hearing from friends and family. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of service to you.  It is a privilege to serve and an honor to represent the 155th District.