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07 April 2010

Holsman: Budget's Silver Linings, Updates on Proposed Legislation, Town Hall Meeting Recap

Preliminary Budget Passes House

The Missouri House of Representatives has passed its version of the 2010-2011 state budget and have sent it to the Senate. While there will likely be changes made in both houses before a final version can be agreed to, Representatives and Senators on both sides of the aisle agree that there will be difficult cuts to be made. Several popular programs and services face funding cuts and many state employees worry about the prospect of layoffs. Governor Nixon has already vowed to sell surplus vehicles, reduce the state workforce by 1,000 jobs, and eliminate three state holidays; all part of his commitment to pull Missouri out of the recession without raising taxes.

While the state faces another year of budget woes, there are a few silver linings in the House's proposed budget. The House proposed more funding for early childhood special education programs, job training programs, mental health care caseloads, and programs for senior citizens. Missouri would also be hiring more veterinarians for disease interdiction among the state's agricultural animal population.

The Missouri Senate will review the House budget, make changes, and return the bill for a final vote.

Urban Farming Bill Passes Missouri House

On Thursday, April 1st, House Bill 1848, the Urban Farming Task Force Bill, passed the Missouri House of Representatives with a vote of 121-30. This represents a significant step forward for the bill and greatly increases its chance of being truly agreed and finally passed into law.

The bill, which would create a task force to study urban agriculture, vertical farming, and sustainable living communities in Missouri, was considered a consent bill as it was deemed to be non-controversial and would carry no fiscal note. The bill had previously been heard before the House's Agriculture Policy Committee on March 18th. The next step is for the bill to be referred to a committee in the Senate. Holsman has already been in communication with the office of Senate President Pro-Tem Charlie Shields to formally request a Senate committee assignment for the bill.

Kansas City-area Senator Jolie Justus, whose district covers Representative Holsman's, has agreed to handle the bill through the Senate.

Jason testifies at a committee hearing.Committee Hears Broadcast Blackout Bill

At left: Rep. Holsman testifies at a committee hearing.

H.B. 1986, the Broadcast Blackout Bill, received a hearing Tuesday afternoon in the Special Standing Committee on General Laws. Rep. Jason Holsman gave a brief presentation on the merits of the bill; explaining what a broadcast blackout is, why blackouts negatively impact taxpayers, and some of the options that the State has to help combat blackouts. Mike Darby, owner of Coach's Bar and Grill (103rdand Wornall,) drove to Jefferson City to testify in favor of the bill. Mr. Darby testified that not only do broadcast blackouts hurt local sports bars bottom line, but they also cause bar and restaurant owners to send workers home due to low customer turnout.

Holsman and Darby answered questions from committee members about broadcast blackouts and how they impact the local economy. Several members were surprised to find out that cable and satellite providers also participated in the National Football League's blackout policy, and that games regularly shown on the popular NFL Sunday Ticket™ package with DirectTV® are subject to blackouts.

So far, legislators in five states including Pennsylvania, Michigan, California, New York, and Missouri have filed or are preparing to file bills similar to HB 1986.

Town Hall Meeting

Approximately 70 people showed up at Center Middle School on Thursday evening of last week to attend a town hall meeting hosted by Representative Jason Holsman. The meeting, which focused on the Missouri Budget, featured Holsman, Representative Jason Kander, Center Superintendent Robert Bartman, Hickman Mills Superintendent Marjorie Williams, and Police Officer Mike Hammer.

Jason Holsman presenting information at a town hall meeting.At left: Rep. Holsman presents information at last week's town hall meeting.

Representative Kander led off with a presentation about how Missouri's budget process works, followed by a PowerPoint presentation from Representative Holsman about Missouri's 2010-2011 budget. Superintendents Bartman and Williams gave updates on their respective school districts and how the budget impacted South Kansas City's schools. Officer Hammer discussed some of the happenings in South Patrol. Attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions, many of which focused on schools and recent votes in the Missouri General Assembly.

"I was very pleased with the turnout," said Holsman of the 90-minute long forum, "due to the recession, the past two years have not been easy from a budget standpoint. I'm glad that people had the opportunity to ask questions and get answers from their elected officials."

PACE Bill Passes Committee

The language from the PACE: Property Assessed Clean Energy bill [HB2178] sponsored by Representatives Jason Holsman and Rachel Storch has passed the Energy and Environment Committee of the Missouri House of Representatives as an amendment on a larger bill. PACE would create jobs by allowing municipalities to start a fund with seed money to encourage homeowners to make necessary renovations to their homes to make them more energy efficient or energy independent. Rather than having to pay for these renovations up front, the homeowners can use the PACE seed money, and pay off their improvements over the course of twenty years through their property taxes.

Quote of the Day

"We demand that big business give the people a square deal; in return we must insist that when anyone engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right he shall himself be given a square deal." –President Teddy Roosevelt

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