Monday, August 24, 2009

Jack Goodman Capital Report -"Senator Goodman’s Legislation Becomes Law"

August 28 is the day most bills passed by the Missouri Legislature and signed by the Governor are officially enacted into law. As we approach the enactment date, I will review some of the bills I was privileged to help advance this year.

Of the more than 500 Senate bills introduced this year, 36 Senate bills were signed and 12 were vetoed. One hundred and three House bills were signed into law and 11 were vetoed (11 budget bills also contain line-item vetoes).

Here is a list of the legislation, signed into law, which I either sponsored in the Senate or handled in the Senate for a colleague in the House:

* Senate Bill 36 – This legislation increases the maximum sentence for forcibly raping or sodomizing a child younger than 12 years old to life in prison with no possibility of parole, probation or release - ever. Before we passed this law, these deviants could become eligible for parole after serving 30 years of a life sentence. That was simply wrong. Any person who violently rapes a child should receive the maximum punishment the state can give, and we need to do everything in our power to prevent any child from becoming the second victim of such an offender. I am tremendously grateful to Rep. Jay Wasson for handling this bill in the House after it passed the Senate.

* House Bill 919 - This legislation was sponsored in the House by Rep. Marilyn Ruestman and is an expansion of a bill I handled in 2006 (HB 1827) with Rep. Jay Wasson. The earlier bill allowed small businesses in Missouri to pool together and insure their employees as one large group, thereby greatly reducing their premiums. This bill has made insurance more affordable for many Missouri employers who are now providing coverage for their employees. When Representative Ruestman asked me to help her pass a bill to give sole proprietorships the ability to join such pools, I was somewhat skeptical about its chances for success. Any insurance reform bill, even those that are conservative and based on free market principles, face an uphill battle in the General Assembly. I am pleased that Rep. Ruestman and I were able to pass this bill through our respective chambers. This will bring Missouri’s smallest businesses an alternative to unaffordable or government run healthcare.

* House Bill 83 – This bill changes the laws regarding travel club membership contracts. House Bill 83 adds even more consumer protection to the travel club legislation that I sponsored in 2006. It protects consumers by giving them the right to cancel a membership contract with a travel club even if they use some of the membership benefits during the three-day rescission period. Rep. Dennis Wood and I worked together to pass this bill through our respective chambers.

* House Bill 205 – This legislation, sponsored in the House by Rep. Mike Parson, prohibits the sale of any cigarette in Missouri that has not been tested, certified and marked that it has met certain fire safety standards, such as being self-extinguishing if not puffed. Unfortunately, many house fires across Missouri are started every year by unattended cigarettes. This was tragically illustrated by an apartment fire in my district just this year. Many other states already require self-extinguishing cigarettes. I certainly believe that Missourians are worthy of the same protections.

* Senate Bill 154 – This bill authorizes non-for-profit sewer companies to accept and run sewer and domestic water services. Many subdivisions and real estate developments are created with their own sewer or water systems. Often, as time passes, no one in the development wants to run the sewer or water system anymore. Under this bill, the property owners' association, or whoever owns the system assets can them convey them to a local not-for-profit sewer company, as long as the service area does not overlap with a municipality. Over the long haul this will help to ensure that sewer companies are run by competent and qualified individuals. This, in turn, will help our lakes and streams remain clean for recreation and tourism in the Ozarks. I am grateful to Rep. Maynard Wallace for his help in getting this legislation through the House.

Original language from several other bills I sponsored was amended on to other bills that eventually received the governor’s signature. For instance, language from my Senate Bill 155, which requires the Missouri Accountability Portal to provide the public with information relating to state contracts and tax credit issuance, was included in HB 191, which was passed and signed by the Governor.

Also, language from my Senate Bills 221 and 402 was added to HB 62, the omnibus crime bill. This language expands the crime of resisting or arrest to include an arrest for a warrant issued by a court or a probation and parole officer. It also expands the crime of tampering with a judicial officer to protect our prosecutors who are on the front line making sure criminals are put behind bars where they belong.

This year, in your General Assembly, we worked to make Missouri more free of government interference, more safe from those who prey on the weak and helpless, and more open and accountable to people that elect us. Although we did not accomplish everything we wanted to further these objectives, I think the balance sheet will show it was still a successful year.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve you in the Missouri Senate, and am optimistic about what we accomplish together in the future!

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