Four New State Laws in Effect Jan. 1 Affect Hazelwood Residents
A smoking ban isn't the only new ordinance in town, rather the state.
While most Missouri laws go into effect Aug. 28 of the year in which the legislation passed, four new laws went into effect on Jan. 1:
HB 1311: Thanks to the House bill 1311, thousands of Missouri kids affected by autism will now be eligible for health insurance coverage for the treatments they need. All group health benefit plans are now required to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, and coverage will be limited to treatments ordered by qualified physicians that are considered medically necessary. The new law requires that health insurance plans cover up to $40,000 per year for each affected child, and it provides a new licensing requirement for behavior analysts who treat autism.
HB1868: In an effort to save the state money, House bill 1868 merges the Missouri Water Patrol with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. While officers will remain in their current assigned positions, Missouri residents may encounter Water Patrol officers on the roads, as some will be assigned to help the Highway Patrol during the offseason. All officers will now wear blue uniforms and resources will be shared between agencies. Beginning Monday (Jan. 10), water patrol officers will receive several weeks of highway patrol training, including instruction on related laws, investigations and policies.
HB 1: Expected to save Missouri taxpayers $660 million over the next 10 years, House bill one creates a new contributory requirement for state employees' retirement plans. While they weren't required to make contributions before, state employees hired after Jan. 1 will be required to contribute four percent of their salaries (pre-tax) to their pension plans. Plus, they'll now be required to work for 10 years before becoming eligible to receive their pensions (double the original five-year requirement) and the minimum retirement age increased from 62 to 67 for most new employees. The new law does not apply to state employees who were hired before 2011.
HB 205: In an attempt to reduce the number of fires started by cigarettes, Missouri joins 48 other states with House bill 205. The Fire-Safe Cigarette Law states that Missouri stores can only sell cigarettes that are considered "fire-safe," meaning that they will extinguish automatically if not actively smoked. The new cigarettes are made with a special kind of paper that is designed to stop burning if left unattended. While the law is new to Missouri, most retailers have already been selling fire-safe cigarettes since manufacturers began switching over about five years ago. By July, the law will affect every U.S. state when Wyoming's legislation becomes effective.
The City of Hazelwood's ordinances become law immediately upon city council's passage, according to Hazelwood's city clerk Colleen Wolf. As for St. Louis County there were no new bills other than the smoking ban to go into effect. Genevieve Frank, St. Louis County Council administrative director, told Patch she is not aware of any additional new laws that took effect once the new year began.
The smoking ordinance is different than other county laws because the county council only agreed to put the issue to a vote. Then county voters approved the measure, and the wording of the law specified that it would take effect Jan. 2.
Frank said if there is ever a time you, as a resident, want to figure out when new laws will take effect follow these steps:
1. Look through the county council's journal, which it releases after each meeting.
2. Count down the calendar 15 days after a bill's final passage. That's typically how long it takes for a bill to become law. It's possible for the county council to say, for example, "This bill shall become law on Jan. 1, XXXX," but that would be the exception and not the rule.