Springfield City Council unanimously approved a resolution adopting its 2019 legislative priorities, which will guide the City’s elected officials and staff in their work with state and federal legislators in the coming year.

“City Council is concerned with the legislative matters at the state and federal levels, which have an impact on our governmental operations locally,” said Mayor Ken McClure. “At our retreat in early November, Council identified a number of important legislative items that may be considered on the federal and state levels in the upcoming year. Adoption of these priorities empowers City officials, staff and representatives to advocate on the City’s behalf, before and to members of the federal and state legislative bodies.”

2019 Core Priorities

• Retain Local Control – In general, the City of Springfield opposes legislation that would reduce or remove local authority, including the setting of user and license fees.

• Avoid Unfunded Mandates – In general, the City of Springfield opposes any bill that would result in a new net cost and related tax burden to the City of Springfield and/or its citizens.

• Promote Public Safety – Includes support for public safety funding, statewide scrap metal reporting, seat belt requirements, public health funding, immunization funding, and the establishment of a national Public Health Emergency Fund.

• Promote Economic Vitality – Includes support for strengthening Springfield’s ability to compete for jobs, support for education and workforce development, protection of our natural environment, support for transportation, affordable housing, downtown revitalization, tourism funding, and broadband access and digital literacy for all citizens.

• Promote Fiscal Sustainability – Includes support for meaningful ethics reform, a statewide tobacco tax, support of water quality pollutant trading, and Medicaid transformation.

High Priorities

• Internet Sales Tax – The City asks our local delegation to introduce and support legislation that will “level the retail market playing field” in accordance with the intent of the recent South Dakota v. Wayfair Supreme Court case by appropriately including Internet sales in the current Use Tax statute.

• Hotel/Motel Tax – The City asks our local delegation to introduce and support legislation enabling the Springfield electorate to either increase the hotel/motel tax or to adopt a convention and tourism and/or convention and sport tax in addition to the hotel/motel tax, like what is allowed for Kansas City and St. Louis.

• Statewide Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) – The City of Springfield encourages our local delegation to introduce and support legislation to establish a statewide PDMP. Although the City of Springfield and Greene County have each implemented local PDMPs, it is in everyone’s best interest to establish a statewide PDMP.

Municipal Court Issues

• Modify Certain Provisions from Senate Bill 5 (passed in 2015) – The City asks our local delegation to introduce and support legislation that will modify the unintended consequences to municipalities that are adversely affected by legislation directed toward municipal court policies and procedures in another portion of the state. The City understands that some counties may need to be treated differently than others, and the Senate Bill 5 provisions may be appropriate for some counties. With this in mind, our legislative municipal court objectives include:

Reversal of Section 302.341.2’s RSMo, which eliminated the FACT (Failure to Appear in Court for Traffic Violation) driver’s license suspension procedure (302.341.1) for “minor traffic violations” with reinstatement of the FACT procedure. Most “traffic violations” are “minor traffic violations.” Under current law, the driver’s license for those who fail to appear in Municipal Court can no longer be suspended for minor traffic violations. As a result, arrest warrants are immediately issued for these defendants. The FACT process did allow for driver’s license suspensions, but provided for a 30-day warning/grace period. This process gives defendants a chance to address their case before their license is suspended. Additionally, we have found a much higher compliance rate with the FACT process than with the warrant process.

Repeal of sections 479.353(3) RSMo and 479.360.1(3) RSMo. Missouri Supreme Court Rule 37.65, effective July 1, 2015, comprehensively addresses how courts are to proceed procedurally in enforcing money judgments.

A reasonable increase to or elimination of the cap on municipal fines for a third or subsequent offense.

• Community Service Support – The City of Springfield asks our local delegation to introduce and support language to once again allow municipal courts to sentence to community service and require program cost recovery from nonindigent probationers.

Chronic Nuisance Properties and Dangerous Buildings

• Chronic Nuisance Properties – The City of Springfield asks our local delegation to introduce and support legislation that will modify the provisions passed by the Legislature in 2016 that require all tenants be personally notified when corrective action on the property is necessary. When considering a recent U.S. Supreme Court case determination that addressed proper notice, this statutory requirement results in the City being required to publicly post the names of all tenants. The City is also seeking authority to collect all nuisance-abatement costs through the County Collector’s Office, even when a property changes ownership.

Clarify State Statutes on Nuisance Issues – The City asks our local delegation to introduce and support a bill that will clarify the state’s intent to allow municipalities to recover costs associated with the processing nuisance actions.
Provide accelerated abatement process for Chronic Nuisances – the City asks our local delegation to introduce and support a bill that will allow a single, one-year notice for the abatement of tall grass, weed and junk nuisances.

• Revisions to dangerous building statutes – The City of Springfield asks our local delegation to introduce and support legislation that will allow mailing alternatives to certified mail, and the recovery of costs related to interim structure stabilization, installation of property access control measures, unpaid permit fees, and other directly related out-of-pocket costs.

Other Priorities

• Pay Day Loans – The City asks our local delegation to introduce and support legislation that will cap the amount of interest that can be charged by pay-day loan and car title loan companies that tend to prey on the poor. According to the State Commissioner of Finance’s report to the Governor, the average interest rate for “pay day” loans in Missouri in 2016 was 462 percent.

• Medicaid Suspension – The City of Springfield asks our local delegation to support the appropriation of funds necessary to continue Medicaid coverage while a person is incarcerated. An acceptable alternative would be to introduce and sponsor legislation to suspend the Medicaid benefit for those incarcerated rather than to terminate the benefit. Termination of Medicaid results in disruption of mental health and/or substance abuse care that is critical to life stability. We believe that eliminating or minimizing this disruption can be a positive factor for reducing recidivism and the burden to the criminal justice system. Similar approaches have been adopted by 31 states.

(Information provided by the City of Springfield)