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New legislation of municipal interest

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

Despite an extended recess due to COVID-19, the General Assembly reconvened in time to pass several bills impacting Missouri municipalities this legislative season, including an omnibus bill with several provisions affecting municipalities. Some of the new legal requirements applicable to Missouri cities include the following:

Certain Municipal Utility data and any reports or records of drug tests requested by municipal law enforcement agencies now to be closed records under Sunshine Law.

  • "Individually identifiable customer usage and billing records for customers of a municipally owned utility, unless the records are requested by the customer or authorized for release by the customer, except that a municipally owned utility shall make available to the public the customer's name, billing address, location of service, and dates of service provided for any commercial service account" - added to list of closed records (HB 1854)

  • In addition to mobile video recordings and investigative reports of law enforcement agencies being closed records until the investigation becomes inactive, now "any reports or records in the possession of the department of health and senior services Missouri state public health laboratory, which were the result of testing performed at the request of any municipal, county, state, or federal law enforcement agency" will be treated the same (HB 1682)

  • Name and employer of a dependent child age 21 or younger of a candidate for office filing a financial interest statement may be redacted and not publicly available, if candidate requests (SB 631)

Changes to Local Government Election Law

  • Candidate filing periods to change. The following statutory deadlines have been adjusted by HB 1854 (Note: this bill has not yet been signed by the Governor)

    • Opening filing date has been changed from the 16th Tuesday prior to the election to the 17th Tuesday prior to the election

    • Notification of filing period has been changed from the 16th Tuesday prior to the election to the 17th Tuesday prior to the election

    • Closing filing date has been changed from the 11th Tuesday prior to the election to the 14th Tuesday prior to the election

  • School districts and charter schools are now expressly added to the statute prohibiting any employee or agent of any political subdivision from advocating, supporting or opposing the passage or defeat of my ballot measure or nomination or election of any candidate for public office. Additionally, violation of this statute will now be punished as a class four election offense (imprisonment of not more than one year or a fine of not more than $2,500 or both) (SB 631)

Grandfathered political subdivisions can no longer charge a linear foot fee for use of right of way to any small local exchange telecommunication company if such company is providing internet access to customers within the rural areas of the state. (HB 1768)

  • Small local exchange telecommunications company - defined in Section 683.020 RSMo. as a company engaged in the provision of local exchange telecommunication services with less than one hundred thousand access lines in Missouri

  • "Rural areas out of the state" undefined

Municipalities will be able to voluntarily - and in some cases may be required to - participate in an expenditure tracker available to the public (HB 1854)

  • The Missouri Office of Administration will be creating and maintaining an online information system called the Local Government Expenditure Database where anyone can access and download information about participating local governments' expenditures (including the amount, date, vendor, purpose and municipality name)

  • A template will be provided for all municipalities who participate

  • Tracking will begin on December 31, 2022

  • If a municipality does not choose to voluntarily participate, they may be required to participate if 5% of voters voting in the last general municipal election within their limits so request

    • Note that due to low turnout caused in part by COVID-19 and the rescheduling of many local government elections in 2020, this number could be very low

  • Municipal governments with a website must put a link to the database in a prominent location on the website (apparently even if not participating in the database)

  • Actual expenses incurred by local governments in complying with this law are reimbursable upon appropriation at the state level

Changes to certain Economic Development Mechanisms and Entities

  • Currently, a majority vote of residents/property owners located within the proposed district is required to establish a funding source for a Community Improvement District (CID) or Transportation Development District (TDD). After HB 1854, a CID sales/use tax or TDD "funding proposal" for such districts can only be established if obtaining of a majority of votes of residents of the entire municipality in which they are located

  • Tolls and fees for use of facilities of TDDs must now receive majority vote of residents in the municipality in which they are located to be enacted, rather than simply the majority of votes within the district itself (HB 1854)

  • Neighborhood Improvement Districts and CIDs are now authorized to partner with telecom company or broadband service provider to improve telecom facilities. Such facilities must be wholly owned and operated by the telecom/broadband company and must be located in an underserved area - which must be certified as such by the Department of Economic Development (HB 1768)

  • Creation of new type of economic development political subdivision - Targeted Industrial Manufacturing Economic Zones (TIME Zones), made up of one or more contiguous political subdivisions for industrial development and job creation (HB 1854)

Certain residency requirements have been relaxed for certain offices in fourth class cities with a population of no more than 2,000 (HB 1854)

  • If a statute or ordinance authorizes a mayor of a fourth class city with no more than 2,000 inhabitants to appoint any member of a board or commission, the requirement that the person be a resident of the city will be deemed satisfied if the person owns real property or a business with the city

  • If the board involves management of a city's municipal utilities, then residency requirements are deemed satisfied only if all the following are met:

    • The board has no authority to set utility rates or issue bonds

    • Person lives within 5 miles of the city limits

    • Person owns real property or a business within the city

    • Person or the person's business is a customer of the public utilities owned and operated by the city, and

    • Person has no pecuniary interest in the utility

Annual Financial Reports no longer required for any political subdivision having less than $5,000 gross receipts or not collecting sales tax; fines and penalties relating to Annual Financial Reports amended (HB 1854)

  • If failure to submit the report is due to fraud or illegal conduct by an employee or officer of the political subdivision - the political subdivision will still not be subjected to a fine if the report is filed within 30 days of discovery of the conduct

  • The director of revenue will make a one-time downward adjustment for all political subdivisions with an outstanding balance for fines and penalties relating to annual financial reports. The adjustment will reduce the outstanding balance of a political subdivision by 90% but will only occur after the political subdivision turns in its first annual report due after January 1, 2021

  • The director of revenue may further adjust downward any penalties if he or she determines the amount is uncollectable

  • A political subdivisions may be disincorporated if it continues to fail to file annual financial reports after August 28, 2020 (or if it files an annual financial report between August 28, 2020 and January 1, 2021 but none thereafter). The process may be initiated by the director of revenue or a resident of the political subdivision

Increased attendance fees for fire protection district board members, increased sales tax cap for certain fire protection districts and ambulance districts and other changes to fire protection districts (HB 1854)

  • There are currently restrictions providing that no person can hold any lucrative office or employment for Missouri or any political subdivision while also serving as director of a fire protection district. Now, HB 1854 creates an exception to this for law enforcement agencies, which would allow a law enforcement officer to also serve as fire protection district director

  • Before this legislative season, board members of a fire protection district could receive attendance fees of $100 provided they did not attend more than a certain number of meetings (varied depending on the class of county in which the district was located). Now, board members can receive up to $150 for such meetings provided the board members are not attending more than one meeting per calendar week (irrespective of county class)

  • Sales tax levies for fire protection districts and ambulance districts (except those located in Greene, Platte, Clay, St. Louis, and St. Charles counties) can now levy a sales tax up to 1%, rather than just 0.5%, upon voter approval

Local Governments preempted from enacting ordinances or regulations related to certain topics

  • Motorcycle helmets on riders 26+ years with health insurance. HB 1963, an omnibus bill relating to transportation, includes a provision that certain qualified persons 26 years of age or older with certain health insurance benefits can operate a motorcycle without wearing a helmet. Political subdivisions are preempted from enacting any regulation stricter than the statute. and no law enforcement officer or other agent of the political subdivision may stop or inspect any motorcycle driver for the sole purpose of determining compliance with the statute

  • Prescriptions for certain drugs. Political subdivisions may no longer enact or enforce any regulations requiring any prescription for Ephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, or pseudophedrine or any of their salts or optical isomers, in any amount within the limits prescribed by statute. (HB 1682)

  • Consumer Installment Lenders (Liability for Attorneys' Fees). "Traditional Installment Loan Lenders" - political subdivisions have been preempted since 2014 from any governmental action or law that creates any kind of disincentive for any traditional installment loan lenders (defined in statute). Now, further restrictions have been added - any fee a political subdivision charges to installment loan lenders that is not charged to all other lenders will be considered in disincentive and any traditional installment loan prevailing over a political subdivision in an action under this law may receive attorneys' fees from the political subdivision. No mirror provision allowing for a prevailing political subdivision to receive attorneys' fees from the lender was added (SB 599)

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