As we get ready to wrap up another year, it’s time to take a look at what 2021 Missouri law changes our state will see. Staying abreast of the most recent updates is crucial, so you continually have a comprehensive understanding of your legal rights, as well as your legal obligations.
While it’s likely we’ll see more laws introduced as we make our way through 2021, there are certain areas where we know changes have already happened or will shortly happen. Specifically, we’ll discuss government reorganization, changes to employer hiring practices, changes to the juvenile offender age, and what our state is doing to repair its dilapidated bridges and roadways in the upcoming year.
According to the 2021 Budget and Legislative Priorities published by Missouri state leaders, the state government underwent the most significant reorganization in decades. The reorganization is now having a substantial impact on government policies and law changes.
As a result of the reorganization, the Department of Economic Development went from being one of the least-focused economic development agencies in the Midwest to one of the most laser-focused on supporting businesses and communities. Now, the public interest is vital to the agencies looking to make changes.
For example, the Division of Workforce Development and the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center moved to the newly named Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. This change established a single state resource for all post-secondary education options.
Prohibiting Hiring Decisions Based on Criminal History
Effective January 1, 2021, employers in St. Louis with ten or more employees will be subject to new guidelines when it comes to hiring employees with a criminal history. Employers will be prohibited from taking the following actions:
- Basing a hiring or promotion decision on an applicant’s criminal history, unless the employer can show that its decision is based on all relevant information, including the frequency, recency, and severity of the criminal record, and that the decision regarding the applicant’s criminal history is reasonably related to the duties and responsibilities of the position.
- Posting job advertisements that exclude applicants based on criminal history, as well as using exclusionary language in job applicants.
- Asking applicants to disclose their criminal history on initial job applicants and forms.
- Seeking publicly available information regarding an applicant’s criminal history.
There are, however, instances where an employer can ask about an applicant’s criminal history. This includes after deciding the applicant is otherwise qualified, after the employer interviews and applicant, and only in the event the criminal history inquiry is made of all applicants in the post-interview selection pool.
Changing the Juvenile Offender Age
Starting in 2021, 17-year-olds will be considered juveniles instead of adults in the criminal justice system. Before this change, 17-year-old offenders could find themselves behind bars in an adult prison. The prosecutors support the change in both St. Louis City and county.
Currently, statistics show that youth transferred to adult prisons are 34% more likely to re-offend was released. This change in the criminal definition of an adult is happening in an attempt to reduce the percentage of youth re-offenders.
Those in support have pledged to participate in a working group to determine how those changes will be implemented. However, it’s important to note that the courts will still be able to certify those younger than 18 as adults in certain situations.
Repairing State Bridges
In 2019, Governor Mike Parson secured standing funding to repair 215 Missouri bridges. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, construction is predicted to begin in 2021. Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 14 supported the issuance of $301 million in bonds by the Highways and Transportation Commission for bridge repair and construction. The bond agreement will be paid out of state general revenue over the course of a seven-year period.
In addition to the bond funding, Missouri also received an $81.2 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to build the Rocheport bridge. The federal grant will allow the Missouri Department of Transportation to complete the $240 million project to build a six-lane structure to replace the current four-lane structure.
To learn more about the latest law changes coming to Missouri in 2021, contact Thomas Law Offices. Our lawyers and staff are dedicated to staying on top of all state and federal laws so that we can provide our clients with the best representation possible. If you have concerns regarding one of the statutes discussed above or another potential law change you’ve heard about, we can look into the matter for you and help you determine if it has the potential to affect any current or future personal injury claims.