Representative Jim Neely's Capitol Report
Greetings Friends of the 8th District!
The weather has definitely been hot lately! As temperatures begin to soar, please remember to check in on our elderly family members and neighbors. Often times they will not reach out for help when they need it, so just a call to check up on them goes a long way.
Vital Workforce Development Legislation Set to Become Law (HB 2046)
Legislation was recently signed that will allow professionals moving to Missouri to continue working in their professions without delay. The bill also creates the Fresh Start Act to give a second chance to those who have paid their debt to society, and the Expanded Workforce Act to create a pathway to occupational licensure through apprenticeship.
Currently, individuals licensed in other states must get relicensed in order to work in Missouri, which requires additional tests, training, and a long wait for approval. HB 2046 will allow professionals already licensed in other states to come to Missouri and enter the workforce. It changes Missouri’s current standard, which allows reciprocity only if the license held is from a state with substantially similar or greater requirements for licensure, to a minimum educational standard. The bill also includes the most expansive license reciprocity in the country for military families.
The legislation also establishes the Fresh Start Act to allow prior offenders who have served their time to integrate more effectively back into society by providing a path to meaningful work without arbitrary discrimination. Individuals will not be disqualified for a professional license because of a prior conviction unless the crime is directly related to the duties and responsibilities for the licensed occupation.
Additionally, the bill creates the Expanded Workforce Act to expand Missouri’s recognition of apprenticeships as a path to licensure and work. The act will allow apprentices to obtain industry licenses as part of an apprenticeship.
The bill will now take effect as law on August 28.
Wide-Ranging Crime Bill Signed into Law (SB 600)
Legislation meant to address the issue of violent crime in Missouri is now set to become law. This wide-ranging bill contains provisions addressing dangerous felonies, unlawful possession of firearms, criminal street gangs, and vehicle hijacking.
The legislation increases the prison terms for the offense of armed criminal action. It also increases the minimum prison term for an individual convicted of armed criminal action if the individual unlawfully possesses a firearm. Additionally, the bill increases the penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm.
The bill also creates the offense of vehicle hijacking, which is committed when an individual knowingly uses or threatens the use of physical force upon another individual to seize or attempt to seize possession or control of a vehicle. It also creates the Missouri Criminal Street Gangs Prevention Act. The act modernizes the approach to prosecuting criminal gangs and reduces the barriers to bringing gang members to justice.
The bill is now set to become law on August 28.
The state recently took an important step forward in its efforts to bring broadband internet access to the nearly 1 million Missourians who do not have it. Two pieces of legislation were signed into law that will extend the Missouri Broadband Program through 2027.
The Missouri Broadband Grant Program, which was created to help providers, communities, counties, and regions invest in broadband infrastructure for unserved and underserved areas, was set to expire on August 28 of next year. The two bills approved by the General Assembly and signed by the governor will extend the program an additional six years to June 30, 2027.
HB 1768 will also enable the Department of Economic Development to legally seek to have any funds that would otherwise be returned to the federal government to be retained in Missouri and awarded to other eligible qualified Missouri broadband providers. The bill also allows community and neighborhood improvement districts to partner with broadband providers to construct or improve facilities to provide service to the unserved and underserved.
I hope you have a wonderful week! As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. If you have an event you would like me to attend please let me know. As your Representative I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Jim.Neely@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-0246.