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Legislative Update - Jan. 15, 2021

Both houses of the General Assembly met from Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, through Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, and conducted mostly ministerial work. The adoption of permanent rules and the appointment of committee chairs and members were among of the primary accomplishments.  

In the House, Speaker Vescovo has appointed chairs and assigned majority party members to all committees. The minority party has not yet named its members to committees, other than Children and Families, Consent and House Procedures and Ethics. It is likely that minority party members will be named next week.  

Committees of primary interest to members of The Missouri Bar include: 

  • Judiciary; 

  • Budget;  

  • Children and Families;  

  • Financial Institutions;  

  • Crime Prevention;  

  • Public Safety; and  

  • the Special Committee on Criminal Justice. 

The members of Children and Families are   

Chair: Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R – Arnold) 

Vice-Chair: Rep. Dottie Bailey (R – Eureka)  

Ranking Minority Member: Rep. Keri Ingle (D – Lee's Summit) 

Rep. Kimberly-Ann Collins (D – St. Louis City) 

Rep. Shamed Dogan (R – Ballwin) 

Rep. Tom Hannegan (R – St. Charles) 

Rep. Jonathan Patterson (R – Lee’s Summit) 

Rep. Randy Pietzman (R – Troy)  

Rep. Brenda Shields (R – St. Joseph) 

Rep. Yolanda Young (D – Kansas City) 

A list of all House Committees and assignments is available on the House website.  Click on “Committee Assignments” listed at the top of the page. 

In the Senate, members representing both the majority and minority parties have been appointed to committees. Those committees of primary interest to members of the Missouri Bar include: 

Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence 

Senator Tony Luetkemeyer, Chair (R – Parkville) 

Senator Bob Onder, Vice-Chair (R – Lake St. Louis) 

Senator Andrew Koenig (R – Manchester)  

Senator Karla May (D – St. Louis City) 

Senator Holly Rehder (R – Sikeston) 

Senator Steve Roberts (D – St. Louis City) 

Senator Bill White (R – Joplin) 


Gubernatorial Appointments 

Senator Dave Schatz, Chair (R – Sullivan) 

Senator Caleb Rowden, Vice-Chair (R – Columbia) 

Senator Jason Bean (R – Holcomb) 

Senator Karla Eslinger (R – Wasola) 

Senator Tony Luetkemeyer (R – Parkville) 

Senator Mike Moon (R – Lawrence County)  

Senator Angela Mosley (D – Florissant) 

Senator Jeanie Riddle (R – Mokane) 

Senator John Rizzo (D – Kansas City) 

Senator Paul Wieland (R – Imperial) 

Senator Brian Williams (D – St. Louis County) 


Insurance and Banking 

Senator Paul Wieland, Chair (R – Imperial) 

Senator Sandy Crawford, Vice Chair (R – Buffalo) 

Senator Justin Brown (R – Rolla)  

Senator Eric Burlison (R – Battlefield) 

Senator Denny Hoskins (R – Warrensburg)  

Senator Angela Mosley (D – Florissant) 

Senator Steve Roberts (D – St. Louis City) 


Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety 

Senator Justin Brown, Chair (R – Rolla) 

Senator Jason Bean, Vice Chair (R – Holcomb) 

Senator Bill Eigel (R – Weldon Spring) 

Senator Lincoln Hough (R – Springfield) 

Senator Cindy O’Laughlin (R – Shelbina) 

Senator Greg Razer (D – Kansas City) 

Senator Brian Williams (D – St. Louis County) 

A list of all Senate Committees and assignments may be found on the Senate website. Click on the name of the committee for details.  

Three legislative proposals were approved by The Missouri Bar Board of Governors in November, for introduction during the 2021 Regular Session. The proposals are summarized below. 

Legislative Proposal 2021-03 (Revised Missouri Decanting Statute) 

Probate & Trust Division 

The Revised Decanting Statute has been introduced by Senator Tony Luetkemeyer (R – Parkville), as part of SB 338, and by Rep. Bill Hardwick (R – Waynesville), as part of HB 758. Both bills also include a provision establishing the interpretation of terms of familial relationship used in trusts.  

This new section 456.1-114 would provide: 

  • a presumption that a child conceived or born during a marriage is a child of the married persons absent a judicial proceeding; 

  • a presumption that a child who is not conceived or born during a marriage is not a child of the marriage; 

  • a person who did not give birth to a child or refused to voluntarily support it  is not a parent unless a judicial proceeding determines parentage; 

  • a trustee must act in bad faith or with reckless indifference to the purposes of the trust or interests of the beneficiaries to be liable to any person for exercising discretion regarding the sufficiency of recognition and support of a child;  

  • a child adopted prior to age 18 is a child of the adopting parent and not the natural parents. 

The Bar-endorsed proposal was introduced in 2020 by Rep. Louis Riggs (R – Hannibal) as HB 2533, and  modifies the means of distributing income or principal from one trust to another (commonly called decanting) by amending 456.4-419 RSMo. 

Section 456.4-419 provides that: 

  • a trustee may distribute all or part of the income or principal to a trustee of a second trust.; 

  • for permissible distributees of second trusts;  

  • a second trust instrument may create a general or nongeneral power of appointment if the powerholder is a beneficiary of the second trust;  

  • the fiduciary of a trust with a disabled beneficiary may exercise the authority to make a distribution to a second trust if the second trust is a special-needs trust; 

  • for repeal of current provisions regarding a second trust's beneficiaries, limitations on a trustee's authority to make distributions from the first trust in certain circumstances, trust contributions treated as gifts, and exercise of the discretionary power to reduce the income interest of any income beneficiary in certain trusts. 

Two proposals introduced last year by Rep. Riggs –  relating to alternative dispute resolution (HB 2534) and relating to assignment for benefit of creditors (HB 2277) – will also be re-introduced in the House this year.  

Legislative Proposal 2021-01 (Alternative Dispute Resolution) 

Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee 

The ADR bill will do the following:  

  • expand and identify needed terminology including: 

(1) Replacing the problematic language of "settlement negotiations" (having many exceptions to confidentiality) with the more modern phrase "ADR communication".  

(2) Defining the term "writing" consistent with other statutes and case law; 

(3) Defining what constitutes a "written agreement," consistent with case law interpretation.  

  • vest the courts with broad discretion to order cases to mediation or other non-binding ADR processes (in line with Supreme Court Rule 17); 

  • identify four specific exceptions to confidentiality, and the procedures a court should use to address these exceptions; 

  • harmonize the statute with the best practices identified in Supreme Court Rule 17 regarding signed written agreements; and 

  •  provide for pre-suit and post-judgment disputes, when the parties agree. 

Legislative Proposal 2021-02 (Assignments for Benefit of Creditors) 

Bankruptcy Creditor-Debtor Rights Committee 

The Assignment for Benefit of Creditors (ABC) bill: 

  • Involves the voluntary assignment of all of an individual’s or company’s assets to a neutral third-party assignee  

  • empowers the assignees who hold legal and equitable title to the company’s assets in trust by virtue of the assignment to sell the assets and distribute the proceeds to the company’s creditors pursuant to priorities established by state law. 

An up-to-date ABC statute will enable individuals and small businesses to orderly liquidate their non-exempt assets to pay creditors without the stigma of bankruptcy.  

Two bills are already moving in the House and were heard and voted Do Pass by the Children and Families Committee. They are summarized below. 

HCS HB 429 – Rep. Hannah Kelly (R – Mountain Grove) 

Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, a taxpayer will be allowed a tax deduction for direct expenses incurred in providing care as a foster parent, provided that: (1) If care is provided as a foster parent for at least six months during the tax year, the total amount of the deduction claimed will not exceed $2,500 per taxpayer, or $5,000 if married filing jointly; and (2) If care is provided for less than six months during the tax year, the maximum deduction limits will be reduced on a pro rata basis.  

Requires each taxpayer claiming the deduction to file an affidavit with their income tax return, affirming they are a foster parent and entitled to the deduction in the amount claimed.  

HCS HB 430 – Rep. Hannah Kelly (R – Mountain Grove) 

Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, the current "Special Needs Adoption Tax Credit Act" is renamed and altered to become the "Adoption Tax Credit Act". The current requirement that the $10,000 nonrefundable tax credit only applies to the adoption of a special needs child who is a resident of Missouri will be removed. The tax credit will apply for the adoption of any child, regardless of residency. The tax credit also is available to any business entity providing funds to an employee to enable adoption. However only one $10,000 credit is available for each child that is adopted. Priority will be given to applications to claim the tax credit for special needs children who are residents or wards of residents of Missouri at the time the adoption is initiated.