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New Missouri laws take effect, including voting restrictions, charter school funding changes

The Missouri State Capitol on Wednesday in Jefferson City. Today marks the first day of the 2022 legislative session where policymakers are set to tackle a myriad of issues, including redistricting and appropriation of millions of COVID-19 relief dollars.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
The Missouri State Capitol is lit up on Jan. 5, the first day of the 2022 legislative session.

The political infighting over redistricting cost the Missouri General Assembly weeks of productivity.

Only 60 bills have made it to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk in 2022 — 16 of them make up the budget for fiscal 2023. But among the others were major priorities for the Republican-dominated legislature.

The budget and the congressional maps have already taken effect. Most other laws went into effect on Sunday. Here are highlights.

Voting changes

One of the most contentious pieces of legislation to come out of the 2022 legislative session is already facing legal challenges.

Approved on a party-line vote during the final week of session, House Bill 1878 reinstates a requirement to show a photo ID to vote, allows Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft to review the list of registered voters in any jurisdiction and restricts voter registration activities. Election authorities are also no longer allowed to accept donations from private companies.

Although it also includes two weeks of no-reason absentee voting, language in the bill says if one part is struck down by the courts, the entire measure fails.

Supporters, like Ashcroft, said the changes were vital to ensuring election security.

The League of Women Voters and the Missouri state branch of the NAACP filed suit last week, saying the photo ID and voter registration provisions violate the state constitution. They are asking a judge to stop the law from being enforced ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Charter school funding

Charter schools across the state will receive additional revenue under a measure that changed the property values used to calculate funding for charter schools.

St. Louis Public Schools parents, teachers and advocates rally in front of the state Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022 in Jefferson City, Mo.
Kate Grumke
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Public Schools parents, teachers and advocates rally in front of the state Capitol on Feb. 9.

The “fix” had been a priority of the Missouri Charter Public School Association for years. Officials calculated that because the funding formula for charter schools was based on property values from 2005, charter schools in St. Louis received an average of $2,500 less per student than traditional public schools. In Kansas City, the figure was $1,700 less.

Earlier versions of the legislation would have pulled the extra funding from the school districts. But a compromise reached as the session wound down means the state will pony up the cash instead.

“We're pleased that the bill did not take away any funding from St. Louis public schools,” said Matt Davis, president of St. Louis Public Schools’ board of education after the bill passed. “They were trying to pit the school district against charter schools over this funding, when it was ultimately something that the state should just fund everybody adequately.”

Higher education

Student-athletes in Missouri who want to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness will be able to have some help navigating the process.

Lawmakers in 2021 allowed students playing intercollegiate sports to be paid for things like being featured in a video game. The new law allows university employees including coaches to help the athletes identify those opportunities, provided they are not acting as the student’s agent or being compensated for their role as a facilitator.

Coaches often have deeper ties to the communities than athletes, who may be coming from out of state or a foreign country, said Anna Girdwood, associate athletic director of compliance at Lindenwood University.

This is the first year Lindenwood will play at the NCAA’s Division I level. About 30 of the school’s athletes have signed NIL deals.

“Having our coaches be able to kind of facilitate making these introductions between these companies and our athletes enables our athletes to maybe be able to get quicker access than they might have done in the past,” Girdwood said.

Missouri State University athletic director Kyle Moats said he believed states and the NCAA, the governing body for college athletics, would likely need to install more guardrails in the future. But he trusted that his colleagues in Missouri would work in the best interest of their athletes.

“We all know that there’s some times that it doesn't always happen the way it’s supposed to, but I believe in the profession, and that they should do and will do the right things,” he said.

Between 30 and 40 athletes at the university, in Springfield, Missouri, have signed NIL deals since last year, Moats said.

In addition to the changes to the NIL, the legislation requires public schools to teach computer science classes that meet certain state standards, public colleges and universities to grant court credits to students who score a 3 or higher on advanced placement exams and the third week of September in Missouri to be set aside as “Historically Black College and University Week.”

Hospital visitation

Beginning Sunday, hospitals and nursing homes will no longer be able to completely halt visitation for an extended period of time.

Many health care facilities stopped allowing visitors in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Some of the bans lasted for months.

The so-called “No Patient Left Alone Act” requires those facilities to allow at least six hours a day of in-person visitation for what is called a “compassionate care” visit to meet the physical and mental needs of the patient. At least two visitors would be allowed in the room at a time.

Health care facilities are allowed to prohibit visitation entirely for up to 45 days in a 12-month period. However, a single suspension of visits cannot last for more than a week.

Support for sexual assault survivors

There are new protections in place for people who experience sexual assault.

The Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights says anyone over the age of 14 who reports an assault to law enforcement or medical professionals must be allowed to take a shower, talk to someone from a rape crisis center and be given a sexual assault examination. A person’s past sexual history may no longer be brought up at trial.

"There is nothing that can justify someone sexually assaulting you, so why have that even as part of the questioning?" said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, on KCUR’s podcast in April. "That is only to harm the victim, the survivor. There is no other reason."

The law adds email addresses and birthdates of sexual assault survivors to information that must be redacted from public records.

Eminent domain

State Rep. Mike Haffner, R-Pleasant Hill, along with other politicians and members of Missouri's agricultural community, address changes to eminent domain on May 12, 2022
Rachel Lippmann
St. Louis Public Radio
Rep. Mike Haffner, R-Pleasant Hill, answers questions May 12 about legislation that would make it harder for private companies to buy agricultural land in the state for power lines.

Anger over a planned transmission line for wind power prompted lawmakers to put new limits on the use of eminent domain for agricultural land.

A private company that uses eminent domain to take land to build a transmission line must pay the landowners at least 150% of fair market value. Any power line constructed in Missouri will have to provide electricity to a certain number of residents in the state, based on how long the line is. And if a project does not receive financial commitments within seven years of using eminent domain, the land is returned to the owner.

Though the measure is in response to the Grain Belt Express, it applies only to projects that submit applications to the state after Sunday,

Kansas City-specific

Kansas City found itself singled out by a couple of pieces of legislation this year that take effect on Sunday.

One measure exempts tickets to the 2026 World Cup from sales tax. But another that met more opposition attempts to set a higher minimum funding level for the Kansas City Police Department, which is overseen by a state-appointed board.

That change requires approval by voters statewide to take effect. It is on the ballot in November.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann 

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.