The Missouri General Assembly adjourned May 16, bringing an end to the 2014 legislative session. It was a busy year with the House and Senate filing 1,939 total bills in 2014. Both Chambers successfully passed 190 bills, sending 184 to Governor Jay Nixon (D) and six Joint Resolutions to the voters in upcoming primary or general election dates. To provide some comparison - there were 1,653 bills filed and 164 bills passed in 2013.
The Governor has until July 14 to either sign, veto or allow bills to take effect without his signature. The effective date for all legislation is August 28, 2014. The only exception is if a bill contains an Emergency Clause. Then it takes effect upon the Governor's signature.
General Assembly Recap
When session convened in early January, Missouri House and Senate leadership announced a number of priority issues to address during the session. This included measures dealing with the student transfer issue in unaccredited school districts, a proposed transportation sales tax, corporate and personal income tax changes and several union related initiatives. The House and Senate were able to move forward on a number of their priorities during the session.
Key among those issues was the passage of significant income tax reform contained in SB 509. This bill received much attention when both chambers overrode Governor Nixon's veto of SB 509 before the end of session. The tax reductions contained in SB 509 do not take effect for three years. The impact of the proposal has yet to be determined but is already raising concern among education and social service organizations.
MCUA Advocacy Efforts During Session
Building and reinforcing positive working relationships with lawmakers was a big emphasis for MCUA Advocacy in 2014.
MCUA opened Credit Union House in Jefferson City to host 12 receptions for 22 lawmakers. The Democratic House Caucus also held two meetings at Credit Union House. These events helped emphasize to lawmakers the presence credit unions have in Jefferson City and provided an opportunity to highlight the credit union difference.
MCUA Advocacy also hosted a House Financial Institutions Committee dinner and a legislative reception and dinner during the Annual Advocacy Meeting. Both events were well attended by credit union leaders and lawmakers.
A new addition in 2014 was a weekly e-mail to state lawmakers featuring a financial 'Tip of the Week'. The weekly e-mail featured consumer-friendly tips and lawmakers were encouraged to share this information with their constituents. The weekly e-mail also linked to MCUA's advocacy web site. For a list of topics discussed during session, please click here.
Photo: Friends and supporters gather to support a state lawmaker at one of 12 events held at Credit Union House in Jefferson City.
MCUA Legislative Efforts
MCUA Advocacy tracked and monitored roughly 150 bills throughout the 2014 legislative session with potential impact on credit unions. The advocacy team was on hand at the Capitol each day of session to provide input and feedback to lawmakers about the impact legislation could have on credit unions and credit union members. While MCUA did not put forward specific credit union legislation in 2014, the advocacy team actively supported a number of bills that passed and are now waiting for the Governor to take action.
These bills include protection against bad faith assertion of patent infringement (patent trolling) (SB 706); a consumer protection bill banning public employee pension transfers (HB 1217); a bill protecting a credit union’s lien priority over a condo association’s special assessment (HB 1218); a credit union exemption from an overly burdensome credit card processing service contract bill (HB 1270); and a bill allowing credit unions to electronically release a lien on a motor vehicle or trailer (HB 1999).
For additional information on the bills listed above, please click here.
Playing Defense for Our Member Credit Unions
A good defense is sometimes the best offense. A number of bills were introduced in 2014 that had the potential to negatively impact credit unions and credit union members.
Repeating the success from 2013, MCUA Advocacy again lobbied against two so-called tax lien transfer bills, SB 903 and HB 1658. These identical bills would have legitimized property tax lending businesses in Missouri, impairing preexisting contract rights of credit unions that provide home mortgages. Neither bill made it past their respective committee stage.
Another bill, HB 1270, is aimed at 'fly-by-night' credit card processing companies that are soliciting small businesses and entering into deceptive and exploitative contracts. Credit unions were exempted from the bill because quite simply, credit unions are not the problem. It passed both Chambers, but the credit union exemption - along with other exemptions - was unexpectedly removed in a Committee Substitute. MCUA Advocacy worked with lawmakers and interested parties to ensure the credit union exemption was put back in the bill, averting further burdensome regulations on credit unions.
Similar success was reached on a wide range of other bills. Not one bill opposed by MCUA made it past the committee stage.
Other Bills of Interest – Passed and Sent to the Governor
Click here for a full list of bills tracked and monitored by MCUA that were Truly Agreed and Finally Passed.
This list includes bills dealing with foreign ownership of agricultural land (SB 506), filing of fraudulent financing documents (HB 1412), garnishment (SB 621, SB 672), landlord tenant actions (HB 1410, SB 655), taxation (HB 1296, HB 1865, SB 509, SB 693,SB 584, SB 693) and unclaimed property (HB 1075), among a number of other provisions.
For a list of all bills tracked by MCUA (both passed and not passed), please click here.