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New legislation of municipal interest

The General Assembly passed several bills that impact Missouri municipalities in the recently-ended legislative session:

Telecommunications and Rights-of-Way (SB 649, SB 650, SB 653): These bills contain significant changes to the laws related to rights-of-way management, zoning of wireless facilities, and attachments to municipal utility poles similar to those contained in 2013’s HB 331 & HB 345, as reported in Report 2013-2. HB 331 and HB 345 were struck down last year as unconstitutional, as reported in Report 2013-3. NOTE: The true impact and effect of the 2014 bills cannot in this case be discerned solely from the 2014 bills due to the Legislature’s failure to comply with Constitutional requirement to show all of the actual changes being made to existing law.

Public Works (SB 529): This act changes § 107.170 RSMo. regarding payment bonds for public works contracts. It increases the minimum amount of a project for which a general contractor must supply a payment bond from $25,000 to $50,000. The act also modifies the Public Prompt Payment Act (§ 34.057 RSMo.), providing that a public owner may retain only up to 5% of the value of a public works contract if the contractor is required to obtain a payment bond under § 107.170 RSMo. Public owners can only retain up to 10% if no payment bond is required, eliminating the former option to retain up to 10% on all contracts if determined to be necessary by the public owner and its architect or engineer. Other changes include the modification of the procedures for securing completion of punch-list items and the extension of the Prompt Payment Act to include contracts with engineers, architects, landscape architects, and surveyors.

LAGERS Switch-Over (SB 675): This bill allows political subdivisions, at their option, to “irrevocably” transfer their closed pensions systems to the state-operated LAGERS system if some or all of their current employees are already covered by LAGERS. LAGERS then “assumes all duties and responsibilities of operating the employer’s prior plan.”

TIF (HB 1504): Under this bill, if voters in a taxing district approve an increase in either ad valorem property tax rates or sales/use tax rates after a TIF project is approved, the additional revenue received by a taxing jurisdiction due to the increased tax rate will not be included as part of the increment that the TIF project receives, unless the taxing district approves the use of such revenues for the TIF project. The bill also appears to exempt county capital improvement taxes designated for emergency communications systems from the increased tax increment available for TIF projects approved after August 28, 2013, perhaps even retroactively.

Elections (SB 593): This act allows towns, villages, and cities with less than 1,000 inhabitants to pass an ordinance foregoing nonpartisan municipal elections when the number of candidates who have filed is equal to the number of positions to be filled, which must renewed every six years.

This legislative summary is not exhaustive. Additional information can be found on the Missouri Municipal League's website.

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