As the new state senator reflecting the 18th Senatorial District, the first half of the 2019 legislative session has truly been a productive and insightful experience. Over the course of the past 10 weeks, my colleagues and I in the Missouri Senate have reviewed numerous legislative proposals. The Missouri Senate has discussed several bills addressing emergency communication services, tort reform, education and transportation. I’ve learned that the legislative process takes time; It is our job as legislators to pass legislation that makes Missouri a more attractive place to live, work and raise a family.

Below are several bills the Missouri Senate passed during the first half of 2019 legislative session.

Senate Bill 291 modifies state law relating to 911 communication services across the state. If signed into law, this bill aims to provide additional support for all emergency services throughout Missouri.

Senate Bill 7 attempts to put an end to out-of-state plaintiffs clogging up in Missouri’s judicial system in search of large legal settlements. Data shows that there have been more than 13,000 tort litigation cases filed in St. Louis, where only 1,035 are from Missouri and only 242 cases involve St. Louis residents. These are the kind of civil cases that clog up our judicial system and make it harder for common Missourians to have their case heard in court.

Senate Bill 38 clarifies the relationship between a franchisee and a franchisor. A franchisee is typically a small business operating under the brand name of the franchisor. The franchisor is a larger enterprise that focuses on product development, brand management and marketing. The relationship between the two has always been considered separate, unless the franchisor exercised direct control over the franchise. This all changed in 2015 when a federal board blurred this relationship and made the ruling that put franchises at risk for actions of the franchisor. This legislation clarifies the relationship between the two in hopes of protecting the franchises from being held liable for the actions of the franchisor.

After spring break, my colleagues and I are tasked with our only constitutional responsibility, passing a balanced state operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year. As we review each state department’s request, it is important that we make sure they are efficiently and effectively spending our tax dollars.

Transportation:
With the failure of Proposition D this November, there have been numerous proposals discussed in the State Capitol on how to fund our state’s infrastructure needs. It’s no secret, Missouri’s roads and bridges are below adequate and are in need of repair. However, no one seems to be in agreement on how to provide additional funding for our state’s aging infrastructure. As our state budget continue to grow, I believe we must make fiscally responsible decisions when it comes to addressing this issue. I look forward to a productive dialogue on this issue, with the hope of finding a funding source solution to our transportation infrastructure needs.

Education:
Education is a vital economic driver for our state and plays a critical role in the future of Missouri’s workforce. With this in mind, Senate Bill 160 aims to help students attend a school that is best suited for their needs. Taxpayers who donate to the program will be eligible for a tax credit equal to 85 percent of their donation. This is an interesting proposal and I look forward to discussing it further with my colleagues during the second half of the legislative session.

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-7985. You may also email me at cindy.olaughlin@senate.mo.gov.