Several bills were signed into law yesterday (Wednesday) by Governor Mike Parson.
One of them includes a bill sponsored by State Representative Mike Haffner of Pleasant Hill, which seeks to expand property right protections in the Show Me State.
Haffner says the bill limits the use of eminent domain by private electric utility companies to acquire land.
The bill indicates that land acquired using eminent domain must be purchased at 150% of the current market value and it ensures that future energy projects have at least an equal proportion of the power produced in the state.
Today, during a signing ceremony at the State Capitol, Governor Mike Parson signed five pieces of legislation into law, including House Bill (HB) 1878, which modifies Missouri’s election laws to strengthen election processes and voter confidence.
“We are happy to be joined by Representative John Simmons and Senator Sandy Crawford to sign HB 1878 into law,” Governor Parson said. “In 2020 and years prior, Missouri has conducted free, fair, and secure elections, but with changing technologies and new emerging threats, we want to ensure they remain that way. HB 1878 strengthens our election processes and gives Missourians confidence that their voices are being accurately and securely recorded at the ballot box.”
HB 1878 – Modifies provisions regarding election law:
Requires all registered voters in Missouri to provide a photo ID to vote and repeals the use of mail-in ballots while allowing certain absentee ballots, strengthening the integrity of each citizen’s vote.
Additionally, HB 1878 makes several other modifications to state statute:
- Clarifies when voter rolls can be audited by the Secretary of State;
- Allows no excuse absentee voting in person at the local election authority starting two weeks prior to the election;
- Prohibits the use of ballot drop boxes for absentee ballots;
- Makes the paper ballot the official ballot and prohibits the use of electronic vote counting machines after January 1, 2024;
- Prevents local election authorities from accepting private donations, with limited exceptions;
- Requires all electronic voting machines to be “air gapped” or not directly connected to the internet; and
- Adds several other provisions related to elections.
“Our election system is a cornerstone of our Republic,” State Representative John Simmons said. “Faith and confidence in the process is a solemn responsibility by voters themselves and those conducting elections. A photo ID requirement is but one common sense measure the vast majority of Missourians support.”
“I believe when HB 1878 becomes law Missourians can be assured that their votes will be counted correctly and there will be many safeguards in place to prevent voter fraud,” State Senator Sandy Crawford said.
Additionally, Governor Parson signed SB 745, SB 820, HB 1606, and HB 1552.
SB 745 – Modifies provisions relating to public utilities:
- Protects the personal information of municipal utility customers from disclosure under the Sunshine Law;
- Expands certain utilities’ ability to apply to the Public Service Commissions for a one-time rate adjustment for rate variations caused by weather, conservation, or both outside of a general rate proceeding;
- Creates a legislative task force to review proper taxation on solar energy systems; and
- Establishes two discount rate options for new, large electric customers that project certain electric loads over 5 and 10 year periods.
SB 820 – Modifies provisions relating to utilities:
- Exempts solar energy systems that are purchased and installed by a solar energy company from sales tax;
- Establishes the Office of Broadband Development in state law, including criteria and deliverables for the broadband grant program; and
- Prohibits deeds, covenants, or other binding agreements that limit or prohibit property owners from installing solar panels on their rooftops.
HB 1606 – Changes the law regarding political subdivisions:
- Increases transparency and reduces administrative burdens on various taxing districts;
- Requires deeds to include the marital status of all grantors to prevent titling discrepancies and land title defects; and
- Conveys several state properties.
HB 1552 – Modifies provisions relating to funding for charter schools and requirements for virtual education:
- Makes changes to charter school funding;
- Modifies requirements on charter school board member qualifications, annual performance report publications, and lactation accommodations; and
- Amends the state’s Virtual School Program.