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Close of legislative session sends bar-drafted bills to the governor

As the 2016 Missouri legislative session came to a close May 13, several bills drafted and sponsored by The Missouri Bar made it one step closer to becoming law. This year, 10 of the 12 proposals sponsored by The Missouri Bar were approved by the General Assembly.

A condensed summary of successful bar-sponsored bills follows. To learn more about each, go to mobar.org/legislative/2016-proposals.htm.

Senate Bills 588, 603 & 942, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, Sen. Shalonn “Kiki” Curls, and Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, and handled in the House by Rep. Jay Barnes, would shorten the time that a person convicted of a crime must wait to petition to have a criminal record sealed. Under the measures, a person may petition a judge to seal their criminal record seven years after completing the sentence for a felony conviction and three years after completing the sentence for a misdemeanor offense, reducing the amount of time someone has to wait to petition from 20 years for felonies and 10 years for a misdemeanor.

The measures protect public safety by ensuring that the prosecutor is notified when petitions to seal criminal records are filed. Additionally, sealing is only available to those convicted of non-violent, low-level offenses who have not re-offended. For example, some felonies, including Class A or dangerous felonies, offenses involving a death, felony assault, domestic assault and kidnapping, cannot be sealed under the change. Registered sex offenders are also exempt from petitioning to seal their criminal records. Under the current statute, records for only 13 specific offenses can be expunged. The proposed new law creates a process to seal – rather than destroy – records for more than 1,900 eligible offenses, greatly increasing the utility of the process.

HB 1765 brought about the approval of several probate division proposals. If signed by the governor, statutory guidance regarding powers of appointment in estate planning matters would be expanded to provide greater guidance to practitioners. Additionally, the bill would allow for updates to several existing statutes, including trust modification after a settlor’s death; judicial discretion to remove and replace corporate and individual trustees; applicability of the Uniform Principal and Income Act on or after Aug. 28, 2001; clarification of virtual representation; standing to bring a claim and the standard of liability under the power of attorney statute; and clarification of time limits for applying for letters testamentary and wills presented for probate.

The Missouri Commercial Receivership Act passed in two bills: SB 578, sponsored by Sen. Joe Keaveny and handled by Rep. Robert Cornejo; and HB 1765, sponsored Rep. Robert Cornejo and handled by Sen. Bob Dixon. The bills would change Missouri’s Receivership Statute to create uniform, standardized guidelines for the administration of commercial receivership (a form of insolvency proceeding), and business assets and operations would be protected during the receivership process, better ensuring creditors could be made as close to whole as possible. Additionally, they would clarify Missouri’s current receivership laws to address the complex issues that arise in receivership, and provide guidelines for courts, receivers and other interested parties to make receivership cases more efficient.

SB 833, sponsored by Sen. Jamilah Nasheed and handled by Rep. Travis Fitzwater, includes a provision dealing with the preparation of property descriptions. The bill would maintain the ability of lawyers and other licensed real estate professionals to provide the service of drafting legal descriptions of real property.

The bills now go to the Governor’s desk for his consideration. If signed, they would take effect Aug. 28.

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