Missouri Minute: COVID-19 liability bill passes state Senate; lawmakers challenge wind energy line

Hello, MBA readers,

As vaccine rollout continues in an effort to confront the immediate health threat of COVID-19, Missouri Senate Republicans have advanced their attempt to address legal challenges arising from the pandemic. The Senate on Tuesday approved a measure that Gov. Mike Parson has deemed a top priority, sending to the House a piece of legislation that would offer businesses protections from lawsuits related to COVID-19. Also Tuesday, House lawmakers gave initial approval to legislation that could further delay the construction of the Grain Belt Express transmission line. The long-debated project plans to bring Kansas wind energy to Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The bill would require the company behind the line to gain approval from each of the eight counties it would cross. And, in the St. Louis area, Boeing has progress to report from its defense division as its commercial division continues to grapple with recent groundings of the 777. The aviation and defense company has started testing updated F-15 jet fighters that are set to be delivered to the U.S. Air Force by the end of March. The order was the first from the Air Force for a Boeing F-15 in nearly 20 years.

Stay alert

Bill shielding businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits passes Missouri Senate
Legislation that would limit coronavirus-related lawsuits now moves to the Missouri House. It did not garner enough votes to take immediate effect, leaving room for legal challenges before a potential August effective date. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Lawmakers challenge future of wind energy line
In a preliminary vote, the Missouri House approved a bill that could block the construction of a power transmission line, the Grain Belt Express, across eight counties. (Columbia Missourian)

Boeing tests updated F-15 jets ahead of Air Force delivery
After nearly 20 years without an order for the fighter jets from the U.S. Air Force, Boeing plans to deliver two of the updated F-15s by the end of March. The U.S. military may order up to 144 over the next few years. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis County receives 6,000 more COVID-19 vaccine does
This shipment included 3,000 doses that had been delayed last week by the snow. County officials said they will “aggressively schedule” vaccinations. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Populous to build Canadian entertainment venue
The Kansas City-based sports architecture firm has announced plans to build a $500 million entertainment venue and hotel complex in Toronto. (Kansas City Business Journal)

State Senate advances legislation to stifle protests, protect police
The bill would increase punishments for protestors who block intersections and roadways, enhance protections for law enforcement in excessive force investigations and limit municipalities’ ability to reduce police funding. (Missouri Independent)

St. Louis tiny homes near capacity, draw criticism
A $600,000 project paid for with COVID-19 relief funds created 50 tiny homes in a former RV park, and all the homes are expected to be occupied this week. However, some say the funds could have been used more effectively in addressing homelessness. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Say that again

“In the grand scheme of complexity this is on the easier side. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s on the easier side. You’re collecting very targeted kinds of data.”

That’s Dick Flanigan, a senior vice president at Cerner, which is one of several organizations working to develop a vaccine passport, The Kansas City Star reports. The North Kansas City-based health care IT company believes that such a passport, which would show proof of its holder being vaccinated, can serve as a crucial tool in the world’s emergence from the pandemic. Cerner is partnering with firms like Microsoft and Oracle as part of the Vaccine Credential Initiative, which envisions providing vaccinated people with a digital copy of their immunization record to be accessed through an app or via a printed QR code for those without access to a smartphone. The technology is set to be tested in the spring with hopes of launching in mid-summer.

Go figure


Yellow Corp., the Kansas City-area trucking company formerly known as YRC Worldwide, is looking to fill 1,500 commercial driver positions, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. Those 1,500 positions are part of a larger driver shortage facing the trucking industry, which is estimated to be down about 60,000 drivers overall. Yellow operates 12 driving academies nationally and plans to open several more this spring. The company is considered critical to national security because it handles nearly 70% of less-than-truckload shipments for the U.S. Department of Defense.

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The District, downtown Columbia’s community improvement district, is encouraging local restaurants think differently about Restaurant Week this year due to COVID-19. Typically, Restaurant Week participation involves dine-in opportunities, but it is shifting now to allow for curbside pickup and delivery options, the Columbia Missourian reports. That’s an approach reminiscent of what restaurants have done recently in other cities, including Kansas City. In Columbia, customers can collect passwords from participating restaurants to fill out squares on a bingo card, entering them for a chance to win gift cards to businesses downtown.

Hello, my name is


Launched late last year by former Express Scripts executive Scott Liebman, the Creve Coeur-based startup works with companies to help educate employees on benefits available to them as they start and grow families, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. BenefitBump connects employees to emotional health professionals who conduct check-ins and help employees navigate the benefits and resources available to them, starting with childbirth or adoption and continuing on. The company initially launched with three clients, and it’s in the process of adding two more companies. It already has eight employees.


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