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09 January 2010

Joe Smith: 2010 Session Kick-Off

Last Wednesday kicked-off the opening day of the second session of the 95th General Assembly.  The Capitol was buzzing as all the legislators and staff filled the halls in preparation for the big day.

The Speaker of the House gave his Opening Day Address in the Chamber at noon on Wednesday and outlined his priorities in the House for this Session.  The common thread of his commentary was simple; "We must never forget we sit in the people's chamber and our sacred duty as their elected officials is the maintenance of the integrity and sanctity of the Missouri House of Representatives.  We are here to make our state a better place for Missourians to work and live."

You have elected me as your State Representative, and I am passionately committed to doing your work and serving you as I travel to Jefferson City each week.  With every vote, I pledge to put your best interest first – and not my own.  This is your Session, paid for by your tax dollars and we are committed to doing your work.

We have a very busy four months ahead of us here in Jefferson City.  Our economy needs a complete revitalization, we must balance a budget despite severe fiscal constraints and we can't overspend and run a deficit like we have seen in Washington D.C.  I look forward to talking to you each week through my Capitol Reports and giving you an inside look into what House Republicans are doing to make our state a great place to live, work and raise a family.

House Republicans Protecting Your Tax Dollars

The responsible management of your tax dollars is our highest priority.  We have seen Washington D.C. spend like there's no tomorrow – but that's not how we do things in the Missouri House of Representatives.

You can be absolutely confident that we WILL NOT RAISE YOUR TAXES. Families all across the state are tightening their budget and cutting costs, and we must follow their lead.  We will not burden our citizens with higher taxes because we will not spend frivolously.  We will carefully place each tax dollar.  Just like you, we will spend within our means and leave our children and grandchildren with a bright future – not debt.  As the Speaker said in his opening day remarks, "Fiscal discipline and prudence will become the bywords for this year's session."  As constituents, you demand nothing less and as you elected officials we will give you nothing less.

Revitalizing Missouri Business

Last session, the House of Representatives crafted and passed a comprehensive jobs bill which was eventually passed by the Senate and signed into law by the Governor.  This year, our effort to grow Missouri's business climate continues to be a top priority.  The economic downturn has left no household or business in Missouri untouched, and the unemployment rate has dropped to a staggering 9.5%.  We must work towards a complete revitalization of Missouri's economy by protecting our tools already in place that have been successful at bringing jobs and businesses into our state as well as working to help small businesses.  I look forward to joining my colleagues in the House to boost Missouri's economy and get our citizens back to work.

Ensuring the Trust of the People in Their Elected Officials

This week, the Speaker of the House announced his creation of a committee charged with reforming the ethical standards by which all elected officials must abide.  The Special Standing Committee on Government Accountability and Ethics Reform will receive all ethics reform legislation filed this session with the goal of creating one, bipartisan piece of legislation that will help restore the public's trust in government.  With the ethics reform legislation we work on this year, our goal is to remove even the appearance of impropriety in the legislative process.

As elected officials, we must never forget that we sit in the people's chamber and our sacred duty is to honor the trust Missourians have placed in us by serving with the highest level of integrity.  Regardless of party affiliation, we all can agree the sanctity of the legislative process must be preserved so that this and future legislatures can honorably serve the will of the people. This is truly a bipartisan issue as members from both sides of the aisle want to ensure our system of government has the level of transparency and accountability that the people of Missouri deserve.

08 January 2010

Rupp: Hard Work and Optimism Begin 2010

This week marked the start of what is certain to be a challenging session, as the General Assembly convenes in Jefferson City at noon on January 6. Some of the issues I will be working on this session include autism insurance reform, mandatory drug tests for welfare recipients, and repealing the commercial weight zone in St. Charles County. I also intend to file additional protections for victims of identity theft legislation, among others. My new appointments as vice-chairman of the Senate Education Committee and as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting give me the sense of optimism and hard work in 2010.

The new year also enacts a new law that affects all Missourians. New car inspections can now wait until five years after the manufacture date of the vehicle, beginning January 1. For example, if you buy a new vehicle in 2010, your first car inspection wouldn't need to take place until 2015. From then, you will only have to get your car inspected every time you renew your license plates. This new law should streamline vehicle registration by allowing for one less document to be gathered during the relicensing process.

The year 2009 was a difficult one for everyone, but I am pleased to say we have guided our state through a historic economic challenge by remaining fiscally responsible and prudent in our budgetary and legislative decisions. Despite the economic challenges, we were able to assist Missouri businesses and corporations by developing a larger set of tools for creating jobs that get Missourians back to work. We began addressing Medicaid and Medicare fraud by making more costs more transparent. In fact, more than a dozen of my own proposals succeeded in 2009 — ranging from expanding the New Markets Tax Credit Program to encourage investment in small businesses located in distressed communities (HB 191) to expanding consumer protections to require notification of security data breaches (HB 62) to expediting and increasing the efficiency of state road improvement projects through the awarding of additional design-build contracts (SB 128).

I know that there will be more difficult decisions to come in 2010, but I also know my dedication to conservative values and my common sense approach will serve the 2nd District and the state of Missouri well.

Bill Banning Insurance Coverage for Abortion in Proposed Health Exchanges

I plan to file a bill expanding Missouri's health insurance coverage ban on elective abortions that would prohibit any plans and policies offered through a health insurance exchange in Missouri from covering abortion. The bottom line is, if any health care plan comes down from the federal government, the state of Missouri will not make our citizens subsidize abortions in policies offered through the health insurance exchanges currently being discussed in the pending federal health care bills.  I've already co-signed on to a bill that will allow Missourians to reject whatever health care Washington mandates. My legislation will continue to protect our unborn children.

Under current Missouri law, health insurance policies are barred from providing coverage for elective abortions except through separate optional riders (additional provisions to the insurance policy) that require an additional premium. Senator Rupp's proposed legislation will serve to eliminate concerns of public funds being used to purchase coverage for abortions through any plan or policy sold within any exchange in Missouri.

This bill is a proactive approach to combat any attempt to use Missouri taxpayer dollars for abortions.  When you combine it with my efforts to reject the federal health care plan, I think we can protect every Missourian, born and unborn, from a federal government that is overstepping its bounds.

Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Meet

The Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee met (1/5) in the Capitol to discuss the Missouri Department of Natural Resource's (DNR) actions regarding the discovery of high levels of E. coli bacteria in the Lake of the Ozarks last summer.

The committee invited several individuals to testify, including DNR Director Mark Templeton, former DNR Deputy Director and general counsel Joe Bindbeutel, former DNR Communications Director Susanne Medley, as well as lab technicians who conduct water quality tests for Missouri's public waterways.

The public hearing included a review of the information provided to the committee by the department at the committee's request. In late July, the committee began thoroughly reviewing the circumstances that led to a nearly month-long delay in the release of public health reports concerning E. coli in the Lake of the Ozarks. The committee also discussed if changes in law are necessary to prevent similar delays in public health information in the future.

Senators serving on the committee include Chairman Sen. Brad Lager (R-Savannah), Vice-Chairman Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Sen. Matt Bartle (R-Lee's Summit), Sen. Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles), Sen. John Griesheimer (R-Washington), Sen. Jim Lembke (R-St. Louis), Sen. Luann Ridgeway (R-Smithville), Sen. Joan Bray (D-St. Louis), Sen. Tim Green (D-St. Louis) and Sen. Jolie Justus (D-Kansas City).

The Senate will reconvene at 4 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 11. The Second Regular Session of the 95th Missouri General Assembly will run through Friday, May 14, 2010.

As the 2010 legislative session unfolds, I will continue to keep you, my constituents, apprised of all major developments, and I look forward to continuing to serve your needs and priorities in Jefferson City. As always, if you have any questions about this week's column or any other matter involving state government, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can reach my office by phone at (866) 271-2844.

Ervin: Session Begins

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Republican citizens of Washington County, Maryland, March 31, 1809

This week the Second Regular Session of the 95th General Assembly was convened.  This will be my last year to serve in the Missouri House of Representatives due to term limits and I look forward to representing the interests of our communities and our state in the coming months.

It is also with great regret that I inform you that the U.S. Congress has also convened this week to work tirelessly on their behalf, and their elections, as well.

Missouri’s state budget will command the most attention from lawmakers and special interest groups this session.  This is the second budget year in a row where general revenue collections are less than the previous year.  At present, revenue collections are down considerably from last year with year to date collections off by 10.5%.

The Governor, House, and Senate budget leaders have agreed upon the revised consensus revenue estimate for the remainder of this fiscal year which ends on June 30, 2010 predicting that revenues will be 6.4% less than expected at $6.97 billion in general revenue.  The fiscal year 2010 budget was passed based upon an overly optimistic revenue estimate of $7.76 billion.

They have also agreed upon the consensus revenue estimate for the next budget year which begins on July 1, 2010 suggesting a growth in state general revenue collections of 3.5% resulting in $7.223 billion of general revenue.  This will be a difficult number to beat if unemployment remains high.

Speaking of unemployment, this year begins with a staggering 9.5% unemployment rate in Missouri and 10% unemployment nationwide.  The shadow of the federal government continues to darken over the states and the federal overreach into the lives of Americans is frighteningly Orwellian.

A recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece suggested, “…a civilization becomes incompetent not only when it fails to learn the lessons of the past, but also when it becomes crippled by them.”  The world over is strewn with the debris of failed socialist governments, despots, and the wretched human condition of those struggling for hope and liberty at the hands of those promoting “the greater good”.

Yet, in Washington, Congress continues to fritter away opportunity after opportunity to provide real leadership for America, to unleash the American mind and the entrepreneur by promoting Liberty.  Instead, our elected Congress and executive branch ignore the virtue of our matchless Constitution, they ignore the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness endowed to us by our Creator as recognized by our Founders in the Declaration of Independence, and they buy each other off with our tax dollars to ingratiate themselves, buy votes for unpopular legislation, and then turn around and lecture us about who is watching out for our best interests.

This is the year where states will play defense.  We will dust off the forgotten notion of federalism and we will remind Congress and the President that the U.S. Constitution begins with “We the People”.

The Republican majority in the Missouri House recognizes that the bedrock of the economy, the bedrock of every community, is you and your family.

It is time for government to quit trying pick winners and losers, to stop trying to tell us what is good for us, to stop trying to be God.  Instead, government should recognize that, as Frederic Bastiat observed in 1850:
God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies…  And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun:  May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgement of faith in God and His works.

Where our federal government has failed to act, the Missouri House will remain committed to seeking solutions to the problems faced by Missourians from all walks of life.

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns.  LaTonya Percival, my Legislative Assistant, and I are always available to answer questions and address your concerns.  I can be reached in Jefferson City at (573)751-2238 or you can write me at doug{dot}ervin{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov or regular mail at 201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 412A, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

Schupp: A Successful 2010, Freshman Democratic Caucus Update

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As we begin the legislative session in Jefferson City, I want to thank you again for sending me to serve on behalf of the 82nd district. It is work that I care deeply about and I am committed to serving with passion and integrity. What will a successful 2010 session look like?

A successful session would result, first and foremost, in jobs for Missourians. Building and expanding businesses and getting people back to work will improve our economy and fund our needs throughout the state.

A successful session will help ensure affordable and comprehensive healthcare coverage for more Missourians, including children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

A successful session will continue to make education, early childhood through college, a priority.

A successful session will include meaningful and effective ethics reform in our state. Transparency and limits on campaign contributions are key components of reform.

With hope that we will achieve success, my colleagues and I descended upon Jefferson City this week to begin the legislative session on Wednesday. We witnessed the swearing in of our newest member, Representative Stacey Newman.

The Capitol looks beautiful in the snow, but it makes for difficult driving. Many Representatives and Senators travelled home immediately after Wednesday's session to avoid all that Wednesday evening would bring to bear weather-wise, so there was no substantive session on Thursday.

As are my colleagues, I am filing legislation for consideration that you will hear about as session moves forward.

As always, please keep in touch and if possible, come visit our magnificent capitol. Let us know you are coming, and we will help you arrange tours.

Healthy and happy New Year,


New Ranking Member Status

I was selected by the Minority Leader to begin service as the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee for Public Safety and Corrections. Helping take the lead to inform colleagues on this committee, the Budget Committee and in the General Assembly will help me delve further into appropriations as I continue to become educated and offer input into budgetary decisions that affect our safety.

Freshmen Dems' Learning Sessions

It is a real honor and wonderful opportunity to serve as the Chair of the Freshman Democratic Caucus. Early this session, we will begin by discussing the following topics in order to make us better informed legislators:
  • DWI (Driving while intoxicated) enforcement
  • Nursing Home Regulations/Private Services
  • School Foundation Formula
  • Biotechnology
  • Healthcare Options for Missouri
  • Roadways and Transportation
  • Appropriations for Tax Credits
  • Metro
  • Farmland Property Classifications and Taxation
  • CAFO (Controlled Animal Feeding Operation) legislation

A Message from MODOT: Record Cold + Blowing Snow = Cautious Driving

This information is provided directly from a MODOT press release.

In conditions which are more favorable for polar bears than people, the Missouri Department of Transportation road crews will be pulling out all the equipment, people and materials needed to clear the roads.

The department says the cold temperatures make melting ice and snow much more difficult. At 30 degrees, one pound of salt will melt 46.3 pounds of ice, but at 0 degrees, the same pound of salt will melt just 3.7 pounds of ice. Combining the cold with blowing snow, means it could take longer to clear any snow-packed roadways.

"Our crews have had plenty of opportunities to plow snow in the last few weeks," said Don Hillis, MoDOT System Management Director. "This storm brings some new challenges because salt isn't as effective at these low temperatures. That's why we add other products, such as calcium chloride and beet juice to the salt to help it work better as the thermometer drops."

The department urges motorists to be extra cautious when driving on slick roadways, particularly when the temperatures dip below zero and being stranded on the roadside could be very dangerous. The ultra-cold temperatures predicted for Friday will also cause refreeze on anything that had melted previously making ice an even bigger problem.

Real-time road conditions are available at through the Traveler Information Map.

Travelers can also call MoDOT's toll-free number, 888-ASK-MODOT, to get road condition information.

Constituent Spotlight: Retired educator continues service to community

Meet Florence Terry Pullen! Florence is both Vice-President and membership chair for the Missouri National Education Association-Retired (MNEA-R). She was recently appointed by Governor Jay Nixon to serve on the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board.

Florence's memberships in various community organizations truly set her apart. She is a board member for the Women's Society of Washington University. She serves on the Heritage House Board and Heritage House Foundation, which are both responsible for housing retired educators and non-educators. Florence is a member of the St. Louis, Senegal/St. Louis, Missouri Sister City Committee, promoting cultural, educational, and economic development. She serves on the Physical Improvement Committee for the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA, helping homeless and abused women.

Florence earned a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Alcorn State University, and her Master's degree from Webster University. She went on to teach Elementary Education for 31 years at Commons Lane Elementary School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. She retired 12 and one half years ago.

During her professional career, Florence was President of the Ferguson-Florissant National Teacher's Association, a member of the MNEA's Board of Directors, and also a Board Member for Jefferson Memorial Human Development Corporation which provided after-school tutoring and summer school for five area city schools.

When she is not attending one of her several organizational meetings, Florence enjoys traveling, both in the United States and abroad, reading and spending time with her family, including her son Robert (Jacque), her daughter Andrea and her grandchildren, Camille, Maya, Marissa and Mason.

Congratulations and thank you to Florence for her ongoing service to our community and our state!

Engler: The 2010 Session Begins

This week marked the start of the Second Regular Session of the 95th General Assembly, which officially began on January 6th at noon.  This session promises to be a challenging one as we work to balance the state's budget during a tough economic climate.  While it will not be easy, we will work hard to fully fund our educational system, create jobs, and provide the state's most vital services in a fiscally responsible way — without increasing taxes on hardworking Missouri families.

Last year, I felt like Governor Nixon and the legislature developed a very good working relationship and I looked forward to continuing that relationship in the upcoming session, especially as he drafted his budget. But as we begin the new 2010 session, his relationship with the legislature has not started off on the right foot. I am dismayed that he has left the legislature out of many deals and proposals he has made over the interim. Thus far, the governor has cut backroom deals with universities and community colleges that have tied the legislature's hands when we deal with the budget. He has withheld millions of dollars from economic development, education and healthcare without legislative input. Unfortunately, he has continued to govern by press release or press conference rather than bringing people together to get things done. This has to improve if we are going to have a successful legislative session, put people back to work, and get the state out of this economic downturn.

There are plenty of other issues that promise to draw attention this legislative session. Ethics reform is an important issue to address as we work to find ways to make the actions of elected officials more transparent so that citizens can be sure they are truly working for the good of the people. Also, we will be looking at innovative ways to reform our tax structure in order to bring more jobs to the state.

One thing that we plan to do very soon in session is to reduce the amount of money state legislators are paid. Congress, in their infinite wisdom and in a bad economy, voted themselves a 20% raise in the amount of money they get paid for daily expenses when they are in Washington. Because our per diem rate is tied to Washington's and our budget is going to be tight, we must reject this raise.

Our work will continue as we resume session on January 11th.  I will continue to keep you posted on what goes on here in Jefferson City throughout the 2010 legislative session.

07 January 2010

Tim Jones: Happy New Year!, House Priorities, Health Care Freedom Act

First, from my family and my legislative staff I want to wish you and your family a very Happy New Year with wishes for a blessed, safe and prosperous 2010!  This week we returned to the Capitol in Jefferson City for the beginning of yet another legislative Session.  A fierce winter storm that raged across most of the country and brought many of us snow and continued bitterly cold weather caused us to call off our formal Session on Thursday and simply hold a "technical" session day in its place.  This has given many of us some extra needed time to organize our legislative agendas and prepare for what will be a very challenging and busy year.


Yesterday, House Speaker Ron Richard (R-Joplin) dropped the gavel and opened the Legislative Session with a concise speech that set the agenda for our work this year.  The economic challenges continue to be a concern in every household and business across the state.  Among the House's priorities will be to do what it can to assist individuals and businesses lift themselves out of this recession and provide them the necessary tools to spur economic growth.  The forces of personal initiative and the free market will be the true forces that take us back to growth and prosperity.

Government must spend within its means and keep from running budget deficits like the federal government.  Now is the time to make wise fiscal decisions and leave our children and grandchildren with a bright future, not with mountains of debt.

We have worked passionately for the past seven years to boost economic development in Missouri.  That effort will continue this year as we craft an economic package that will aim towards making Missouri a more attractive place to conduct business.  We are focused on keeping the jobs that are currently in place, in addition to bringing new jobs to our state.

We are also taking a very close look at revising our state's ethical standards for elected officials and looking closely at government accountability across the board.  The task of the newly created Special Standing Committee on Government Accountability and Ethics Reform will be to create one, bi-partisan House Bill that will restore the public's trust in its Government by seeking to remove even the appearances of impropriety.

Finally, I remain firmly committed to not raise taxes on working Missourians.   Families all over the state are tightening their belts when it comes to their budget, and in Jefferson City we will continue to do the same.  Fiscal discipline and prudence will become the bywords for this year's session.  You demand nothing less with your hard earned tax dollars.

Our House is composed of responsible, hard-working members, and I trust that this will be a productive session of which all Missourians can be proud.


As I previously discussed, I have sponsored House Joint Resolution 57 which would, if passed and approved by the voters, permit Missouri to opt out of any federal laws that would interfere with your freedom of choice in health care.  75 of my colleagues have co-sponsored this legislation and I am very grateful to them for their support.  You may view the legislation at this link:

Unlike the so-called health care "reform" measure that is being debated in the U.S. Senate, the constitutional amendment we are introducing in the Missouri House (and the Missouri Senate, courtesy of Senator Jane Cunningham and over 18 other Senators) would go to a vote of the people. If the resolution passes out of the General Assembly, and voters approve the measure as well, it would not affect laws or regulations that are on-the-books as of January 1, 2010.

As I have discussed in the past, the current plans on Capitol Hill are filled with tax increases. Even though health care reform would not start until 2013, the tax hikes would take effect immediately, creating a pool of money for the federal government to utilize in order to start the ball rolling in four years.  These proposals have a direct and indirect effect on all taxpayers in Missouri and our state budget.

Some of the tax increases include penalties for not signing on to whatever plan the federal government mandates, taxes on doctors and hospitals for not cooperating and new fees on things like wheelchairs and hearing aids. Everyone would be hit by these outrageous penalties — not just tax hikes on the rich — all in the name of "reform."

When Congress went home for its summer break earlier this year, most members held town hall meetings. These gatherings were filled with people who had a great deal of concern about what was in the bill. Unfortunately, most Congressmen had not read anything in the bills, much less bill summaries, and had no idea what was in the thousands of pages contained in the bill.

But, citizens have been reading the bills, staying up-to-date on this issue and they are not happy. Sadly, Congress is continuing to move ahead with this and ignoring the American public.

I have every confidence that the Health Care Freedom Act (HJR 57) will gain a great deal of momentum as the session progresses, making its way to your November, 2010 ballot. I pray the men and women in Congress will wake up and understand that taking over one-sixth of the GDP and controlling health care issues, such as who can see their doctor, is NOT a part of the America I know and love.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will write more about health care "reform," what states plan to opt out of the plan, what legal actions that various states, through their Attorney Generals, plan to take, and what ideas are out there that are better than what the president says he wants and our country needs.  We need true cost reforms in our health care, not any federal government mandates or takeovers.

Tim's Legislative Platform for 2010

So far this year I have sponsored and filed nine individual pieces of legislation.  I have co-sponsored numerous other bills.  To review all of the bills that I have sponsored or co-sponsored, please follow this link:

Personal News & Notes

[At right: Rep. Jones with With Students from the YEA (Youth Empowerment in Action) of LaSalle Springs Middle School]

As we begin this legislative session, I want to publicly thank my wonderful wife Suzanne for all of her continued sacrifices and all of the hard work she continues to perform every single day that I am away in Jefferson City.  During the holidays, I witnessed first hand the many joys AND challenges of raising two young daughters!  As for my extremely intelligent, adventuresome and beautiful daughters, 4 year old Katie and 7 month old Abby, I will deeply miss them every week that I travel to the Capitol but I will hold thoughts of them close to my heart as we begin making decisions that will affect them as they grow up and experience our great State of Missouri.

Feel Free to Contact Us!

If my Legislator Assistant, Jody Williams, or I can be of any assistance throughout the year, please do not hesitate to contact us at 573.751.0562 or by email at jody{dot}williams{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov or at tim{dot}jones{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.  And if your travels find you anywhere near the Capitol, please do stop by and visit us in Room 114.  Have a great New Year and until our next report, I remain, in your service,

Representative Timothy W. Jones
Proudly Serving the 89th House District
Eureka, Wildwood and parts of West St. Louis County
Missouri House of Representatives
Telephone:  573.751.0562
Fax:  573.526.3007

Kraus: Beginning a New Session

The 2010 Session convened yesterday, and I am ready to go to work in Jefferson City.  During the month of December, I pre-filed four bills in preparation for the legislative session.  All of them remain true to principles of limited government and keeping more money in the hands of the people rather than in government coffers.

It is important to me that you have the opportunity to understand legislation that I am sponsoring and to register your comments.  With that in mind, please see the information below on the bills that I have introduced so far for this session.

HB 1227 Dependency Exemption: Currently, the state allows a dependency exemption from state income taxes of $1,200 for each qualified dependent.  This bill would increase the exemption to $2,000 for each qualified dependent claimed by a resident.  We all know that children have many needs, and this bill would help families with children afford those costs.  If you want to read the entire text of the bill, click on HB1227.

HB 1228 Homestead Property Relief: This proposed legislation would exempt real property owned by individuals 65 years of age or older, with qualifying income levels, from increases in assessed valuation that are not from new construction or improvements.  The income level for qualifying for this exemption is a total household federal adjusted gross income of less than 200 percent of the poverty guidelines.   This bill would benefit seniors, often on fixed incomes, who are having difficulty paying for large property tax increases.  If you want to read the entire text of the bill, click on HB1228.

HB 1229 Red Light Camera Fines: This proposed legislation specifies that any fine collected from a red light violation using red light cameras must be given to the local school district where the infraction occurred.   I do not support red light cameras.  This legislation, if passed, will keep cities from making money from these cameras and therefore eliminate one of the incentives to install them. However, if they are needed to ensure safety, then a city would still be able to use them.  If you want to read the entire text of the bill, click on HB1229.

HJR 47 Reduction of House Membership:  This joint resolution proposes a constitutional amendment reducing, beginning with the 97th General Assembly, the number of state representatives from 163 to 137.  If passed, the amendment would be placed on a ballot for a vote of the people.  This bill would accomplish two goals – limiting the size of government as well as reducing the cost of government.  If you want to read the entire text of the resolution, click on HJR47.

As always, I am here to serve you.  Please don't hesitate to let me know your thoughts on the above legislation or any other state government issues.

You're Invited!
Fourth Annual District Day, Wednesday, April 14

I will once again be organizing a trip to Jefferson City for constituents of the 48th District.  Please be my guest!  Held once a year, District Day provides an opportunity for you to learn about Missouri state government.  I'll also be available that day to answer any questions that you might have.

The day will include tours of the Capitol, Governor's Mansion and the Supreme Court. We will begin around 10:00 a.m. on April 14 and the last tour will end around 3:00 p.m.  Lunch will be provided and there is no cost for this event.

Because spaces are limited, please RSVP, by phone or e-mail, to my office before Tuesday, March 30, 2010.  I hope to see you there!

With the beginning of the 2010 Legislative Session, the Capitol Report will be issued about once a week. During this time, if you have an event that you would like me to attend or speak at, please contact my office at 1(573)751-1459 or e-mail at will{dot}kraus{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.

Roorda: Budget, job creation and ethics reform to highlight 2010 session

State Capitol in the Snow Crafting responsible budget priorities amid lean revenue collections, creating jobs and enacting meaningful ethics reform will top the agenda for House Democrats during the 2010 legislative session.

"Even after a decade of mostly tough budgets, we are facing one of the most difficult budget years in memory," said House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence. "It is vital that we set responsible budget priorities that ensure the continued delivery of essential state services such as education and health care."

Job creation is a necessary component of long-term budget stability, and House Democrats will push proposals to help Missouri businesses expand.

"Helping existing Missouri companies to grow and put more Missourians to work is a key to economic recovery," said Assistant House Minority Leader J.C. Kuessner, D-Eminence. "Although efforts to attract new businesses to the state are important, it only makes sense to give priority to businesses that are already contributing to Missouri's economy."

As they have for the last several years, House Democrats are again proposing strong reforms to improve the ethics and accountability in state government. This session House Republican leaders have embraced some proposals Democrats have long championed such as banning lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, prohibiting lawmakers from also serving as paid political consultants and closing the revolving door between lawmaking and lobbying.

An essential part of any meaningful ethics reform, however, must include restoring campaign contribution limits. Missouri voters first imposed limits with the passage of a 1994 ballot measure, but the Republican-controlled General Assembly repealed the caps in 2008.

"When Missourians see single contributions of $100,000 or more, they are naturally going to wonder what favors the donor is going to expect the recipient to do in return," LeVota said. "Re-establishing reasonable contribution limits and providing transparency by prohibiting campaign money laundering will help end the perception of a state government for sale."

Jeff Roorda
State Representative
District 102

06 January 2010

Nodler: A New Legislative Session Begins

On January 6th, the Second Regular Session of the 95th General Assembly officially began.  Due to term limits, this will be my final session serving the 32nd District in the Missouri Senate.  It has truly been an honor to serve the citizens of Dade, Newton, and Jasper counties, and I am looking forward to the progress I can make in my final year in the Senate.

Preparation for the 2010 legislative session has been going on for quite some time and many of my colleagues chose to prefile bills, a process that began on Dec. 1st.  This year, 155 Senate Bills were prefiled.  These bills provide a glimpse at some of the legislative priorities that are sure to be debated this year.  I prefiled several pieces of legislation including bills:

Protecting States’ Rights— this year, I filed Senate Bill 587, an important piece of legislation to ensure that the federal government does not violate the rights of our state.  Voters would be able to approve the creation of “The Tenth Amendment Commission,” a panel that would alert the attorney general in any case when the federal government takes steps that require the state to enact or enforce a provision of federal law that lies outside Congress’s power.  The rights of the states are a fundamental part of the foundation of our country, and Missouri needs to make sure that we protect this freedom.

The commission would be made up of four lawmakers appointed by the Senate President Pro Tem and Speaker of the House and two citizens appointed by the governor.  The seventh member would be appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  These seven members would refer any cases of 10th Amendment violations to the attorney general, who would then be authorized to seek appropriate action to preserve our state’s sovereignty.

Barring All Felons from Public Office— I filed a bill this year to fix a loophole in Missouri’s election law.  Current regulations state that any person who commits a felony in this state is ineligible to run for public office. However, the law does not specify that such a crime committed in another state would also disqualify a candidate.  Under Senate Bill 589, this stipulation would be clarified by specifically stating that those who commit a felony in Missouri or commit a crime in another jurisdiction that would be considered a felony in Missouri, would be barred from qualifying as candidates for holding public office. It is important that we close this loophole that now allows felons onto the ballot—a place reserved for law-abiding citizens in our state.

This year is sure to be a challenging one, with economic factors making the budget process particularly complicated.  Much of the discussion on the floor is sure to focus on Missouri’s financial situation and finding ways to fund vital services while keeping within our fiscal constraints.  I will continue to keep you posted on these and other issues throughout the legislative session.

Nance: State Spending, Jobs Bill, Winter Storms

"For several decades, I have tried to tell my children about the winters of my youth. They usually would respond with humor and imply that I certainly must have exaggerated the frequency and amount of snow I remembered.  Well children, when you tell your kids about the winter of 2009-2010, we will see how you feel when they laugh in disbelief."     Anonymous

At the Capitol

I have returned to Jefferson City this week and the 2nd half of the Missouri 95th General Assembly has officially started.

The most important issue for our state this session will be state spending for the remainder of this session and the budget for next year. Revenues are down and the governor has had to once again cut spending.  The three cuts to date total over 800 million dollars and that is after a billion dollars received from the stimulus money.

A jobs bill will be offered and should be fast tracked as we work to bring more employment opportunities to Missouri. This is something that the Governor and General Assembly both agree on and will work toward.

In the District

With the winter storm well in progress, if you know seniors and especially seniors who live alone, please check on them to be sure they are okay and have food and heat.  Diane Gonzalez of the Excelsior Springs Job Corps Center and Martha Buckman of the Good Samaritan Center have put together 48 "winter food packs" for local residents known to be homebound. The goal is to eventually provide these packs (which will contain items like soup, cereal, bread, peanut butter and crackers and other easy-to-prepare food) to as many as 90 regular attendees at the Excelsior Springs Senior Center, which is expected to be closed the rest of this week.

If you need help or know of someone who needs help, the Excelsior Springs Proactive Response Organization may be reached at 629-3160 or contact your local police department. Thanks to the Excelsior Springs Job Corp Center who will be answering the phones and directing people and assisting callers in whatever way possible.

I am also attaching an email from Sally King, who is with Tri-County Mental Health Services. The holidays are sometimes tougher on our seniors. [Click here to read it.]

Lawson High School student, Rebecca Heckert, won the Missouri Youth Adult Alliance Red Ribbon Statewide Contest with her poster (photo at right taken with her newly won computer, picture by David Blyth). The alliance works against alcohol and drug abuse.

Please forward this to friends on your email list. If they would like to receive an update throughout the session, they can email me and I will make sure they receive my report.

In your service
Bob Nance

05 January 2010

Ruestman: Session Begins

With snow on the ground and more snow to come, it is a sure sign that Session is here.  Once again, it is time to begin driving back and forth to Jefferson City to represent the 131st District.  This will be my last session in the House of Representatives and it looks to be one of the more stressful ones since we are charged with balancing the budget once again with revenue down over 7%.

In addition to making tough budget decisions, we will be tackling other controversial issues including ethics reform.  We are approaching this reform with three goals:
  • It must be fair.
  • It must be comprehensive.
  • It must be effective.
Two ideas that have been discussed are prohibiting any political donations being made to the Governor by any entity which has a pending decision before an executive department or decision-making body; and, prohibiting political contributions to the Governor, Speaker of the House or President Pro Tempore of the Senate by any entity seeking or receiving Senate approval for a compensated appointment. State sovereignty is an issue that will be making headlines this year as the federal government seems to be encroaching further and further onto the states.  I know many of the Representatives are interested in sending the Governor something to sign that will send Washington a clear message that we retain our 10th Amendment rights.

I plan to get right to work on property tax reform.  My constituents have asked for assistance in this matter and I hope to make some headway with reforms.  There will be strong opposition from taxing entities that want more spending money each year.  I plan to fight that opposition and help find other avenues to fund their growing needs.  There is no intent to reduce any funding source, but rather to find a way to be fair to all.  Our senior citizens have already paid their dues.  Let's give them some relief and allow them to retain enough of their savings or social security to enjoy a few years of their retirement.  There is no excuse for pricing the elderly out of their own homes.  It is time a change is made!

This year, the legislative session begins Wednesday, January 6th, and will run through Friday, May 14th.  We will be in session Monday through Thursday each week with one week of recess in March.  The budget must be passed by May 7th.  I encourage everyone to visit Jefferson City while we are in session to see your state government at work.

If you have problems, questions or wish to express concern over an issue, please do not hesitate to contact me or my Legislator Assistant, Jonathan, at my Capitol office either by phone 573-751-9801 or by e-mail at Marilyn{dot}Ruestman{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.