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28 July 2011

Kraus: Town Hall Meetings

This week, several state representatives, municipal leaders, and I hosted two town meetings in the district. As always, it was great to hear from people from the district on issues that are important to you.

Lee’s Summit

On Monday evening, I participated in a town hall at the Lee’s Summit City Hall along with Reps. Jeff Grisamore, Mike Cierpiot and Gary Cross. I’d like to thank Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads and the city for allowing us the use of the council chambers for this meeting. About fifty residents showed up for the meeting, and they came with a wide variety of questions and ideas.

After each elected official gave a brief summary of this year’s session, we opened the floor to questions. Among the many topics discussed were programs and funding for disabled Missourians, funding for Missouri’s Department of Transportation, and possible ideas for raising taxes on gasoline or cigarettes.

Perhaps the most common theme of the night was ethics in government. Several specific ethical issues were raised, and while it is hard to comment on specific incidents, each elected official present was clear that ethical standards must be held high so that our constituents trust what we are doing.

Blue Springs

On Tuesday evening, I participated in a town hall at Moreland Ridge Middle School with Rep. Sheila Solon. We were joined by Blue Springs Councilmen Grant Bowerman and Ron Fowler. About 40 residents from Blue Springs, Grain Valley and Oak Grove attended the town hall.

Interestingly, the issues raised Tuesday evening were a bit different. Several union representatives touched on the “Right to Work” issue that comes before the Legislature almost annually. We had several questions surrounding Missouri’s budget and the growth of social services. We were asked about proposals to implement a flat tax (the same percentage for all taxpayers) or Fair Tax (eliminating the income tax in favor of a higher sales tax.) And we took a few questions relating to jobs and economic development.

It was also interesting to hear the discussion involving city issues. Blue Springs is considering changes to its solid waste programs, and that dominated the discussion.

I consider these town halls to be a valuable asset. In addition to the questions and comments during the meeting, I am always able to talk one-on-one with residents before and after these events. These conversations help me understand what constituents of the 8th District expect from their state senator.

I am planning one more town hall this summer, this one in conjunction with Rep. Jeannie Lauer. We will advertise that in our weekly e-mail as well as through the local papers.

District Activities

This week has been a busy week. In addition to holding two town hall meetings, I’m also meeting with Grain Valley’s Mayor Mike Todd and local businesses. In addition, I’ll be visiting with constituents John Baty, Charles Russell, and Mathew Harper. And as a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Emergency Response, I’ve learned a lot about natural disaster recovery during the two recent informative committee meetings.

Try to Dunk Me at Grain Valley!

Grain Valley is planning a celebration of Police and Community Partnerships next Tuesday, Aug 2. Remember those old-fashioned dunking tanks? I’ll be sitting above one at this event, and you will have the chance to put me under water. It will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Armstrong Park in Grain Valley.

Sales Tax Holiday on School Supplies

During the weekend of Aug. 5-7, Missouri will hold its annual sales tax holiday on school supplies, as well as some electronics and clothing. That amounts to a 4.225 percent savings on qualifying purchases. In addition, sales taxes on these items will not be collected in Jackson County, Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs, and all other municipalities in District 8. For more information, click here: Sales Tax Holiday.

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