Helping Children with Developmental Disabilities (SB 514) An important piece of health care legislation that was recently signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson will require insurance companies to cover therapeutic care for children with disabilities. With the new law now set to go into effect, Missouri will become one of three states to require coverage for young people with physical or developmental disabilities. The new law expands legislation that was approved in 2010 to require coverage for therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders. It also builds on federal requirements that provide some coverage for therapies for children with disabilities. Current law allows for unlimited speech therapy but just 20 physical therapy or occupational therapy sessions combined per year. With the new law, insurers will not be able to limit therapy visits without giving patients and doctors a chance to document that more sessions are medically necessary. The legislator who led the effort to pass the bill into law said, “With this disability legislation becoming law, all children will now have access to much-needed therapies that will help them achieve success in their lives. These children deserve the chance to reach out for a piece of the American Dream. Now they have a better chance to achieve that possibility.” Supporters of the bill said any increases in insurance premiums that result from the coverage requirement will be minimal. They noted that after Missouri passed the autism coverage requirements in 2010, the average costs of therapies per member went up about 39 cents a month. They also note the costs will likely be offset by savings in the public school system and social services as kids with disabilities become more independent. Bill to Ease Vehicle Inspection Requirements Signed into Law (SB 89) Missourians who renew the license plates on their vehicle after August 28 may not have to get it inspected, under a bill signed into law in July. The legislation will extend from five to ten years the age of a vehicle before it must be inspected every two years, as long as it has fewer than 150,000 miles on it. That sponsor of the provision had discussed vehicle inspections with a former representative who wanted to eliminate them altogether. The sponsor initially thought that would go too far, but after doing some research, he felt that there was little connection between requiring regular inspections and ensuring that vehicles on the roads are safe. As the sponsor said, “Come to find out that 35 states no longer make their citizens get their cars inspected at all, including all of the states that touch Missouri, and I was very surprised to learn that. So that gave us the data we needed to dig in to compare the states that do have inspection programs to the states that don’t to see if there really is any safety correlation or not and I was very surprised to learn there really doesn’t seem to be much of a correlation. Over time we were able to settle on the fact that maybe we don’t want to get rid of the program but we could pare it back some and make it less of a hassle for Missourians, especially for cars that aren’t that old or haven’t been driven that much that, by and large, don’t end up with any mechanical-related accidents anyway.” The change in law will apply to roughly half of the vehicles that currently would have to be inspected and a third of the total number of vehicles on the road today. The sponsor thinks time will prove that Missourians won’t be less safe under the changes to the inspection program. The sponsor said, “Cars have definitely improved in their safety features and their longevity since the days when the inspection program came about. The program started with, actually, a federal mandate back in the ‘60s, but in the 1970s the federal government backed off of that and said they would leave it up to the states, and one-by-one from the ‘70s up until just a couple of years ago 35 states have gotten rid of their program altogether.” The bill also includes a provision that requires the revocation of the driver’s license of a person who hits a highway worker or emergency responder in a work or emergency zone; and a provision that requires that all homemade trailers be inspected. House Speaker Forms New Committee to Evaluate Local Tax Policy House Speaker Elijah Haahr recently announced the creation of the Interim Committee on Oversight of Local Taxation. Haahr formed the interim committee to evaluate how local governments are determining taxes and are impacted by current tax policy. “Missourians across the state have raised serious concerns on how counties access property tax values and the fairness of what is being taxed,” Haahr said. “While the General Assembly continues to ensure Missourians keep more of their hard-earned money, we will remain vigilant that counties are not in return deviously raising Missourians’ taxes.” Speaker Haahr said he expects the committee to ask a lot of hard questions regarding the impact the state’s tax policies have on local communities. He expects the committee to explore many different areas outside of county property assessments, and to continue last session’s conversation on internet sales tax and examine how local communities are stacking sales taxes. Haahr added, “By reviewing the process of determining sales and property taxes, the committee will provide the General Assembly with the full picture of how our state policies impact local communities. We know Missourians want to be a low-tax state and what taxes they do owe, they want to know are calculated justly and correctly. We will protect Missourians in this area from the state level all the way down to our local government levels.” The committee will hold its first hearing Monday, August 12, 2019 at Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City. As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House. If you would like to discuss any issue, please call 573-751-6566. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to hearing from you. To be added to our Capitol Report email listing, please send a request to email@example.com
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