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11 August 2011

Korman: Legislative Highlights

It has been a busy (and HOT) summer with county fairs, picnics, festivals, guest speaking engagements, etc., along with working in the private sector and spending quality time with family and friends. With all the activity, I wanted to take a moment to tell you, I feel it is a pleasure, as well as, a privilege, to serve the people of the 99th District.

Recent news has been focused on our Nation’s Economy and the Federal Government’s policies on debt and spending. So much so, that the positive steps taken by your Missouri Legislators in paving the road to recovery for Missouri have been lost in the media. For this reason, I have included (below) some of the key legislation which will soon become law.

Highlights of the 2011 Legislative Session

Jobs Legislation

SB 19 “phases out” Missouri’s Corporate Franchise Tax over the next 5 years until completely eliminated in 2016. This removes the tax penalty for business expansion in Missouri and encourages job growth.

HB 45 changes the definition of small business to include businesses with fewer than 50 employees, requires General Assembly approval of any federal mandates, extends a moratorium on new regulations and fees that impact small businesses for an additional year, and authorizes an income tax deduction for small businesses of ten thousand dollars for each full-time job created or twenty thousand dollars per new job if the employer offers, and pays, at least half the Health Insurance premiums.

SB 55 seeks to help Missouri’s sawmill industry by aligning the tax burden for sawmills with other agricultural businesses. Specifically, it reclassifies sawmills at the agriculture tax rate of 12 percent instead of the current business rate of 32 percent.

I was proud to support this legislation which improves the attractiveness of Missouri’s business environment; helping bring needed jobs to Missouri.

Ag Legislation

SB 187 provides additional protections to farming operations against recurrent lawsuits from the same person, for the same nuisance, while maintaining an appropriate level of recourse for property owners against permanent nuisances.

HB 109 extends Missouri’s Linked Deposit Program, a highly successful, low-interest loan program for farmers and small businesses responsible for more than $550 million in loans and positively impacting approximately 9,000 jobs and farmers in the past two years.

HB 458 provides the mechanism by which farmland can be donated, or conveyed, to the Department of Agriculture to preserve as farmland to be leased, at a low rate, to beginning farmers; making it affordable for the next generation of farmers to produce food, fiber, and fuel.

HB 344 establishes the Farm-to-Table Advisory Board. The board will be responsible for making it easier for schools to purchase fresh, locally grown produce to encourage healthier eating behaviors and lifestyles.

Agriculture is the largest industry in Missouri and we have a responsibility to promote the industries continued success as we recover in this struggling economy. The Ag bills passed by the General Assembly in 2011 are a positive step in the direction of economic recovery.

Fiscally Responsible Legislation

HB 73, Drug Testing for TANF Recipients, requires the Department of Social Services to develop a program to screen applicants, or recipients, of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program benefits if DSS case workers have a reason to suspect drug use. Failing a drug test can result in a loss of adult benefits unless the client completes a substance abuse treatment program. Children could still receive benefits through a third party. Additionally, all electronic benefit cards will now include a photo of the recipient.

When the State feels it is necessary to use your tax dollars, for whatever reason, it becomes incumbent upon the State to make sure your money is used for the intended purpose. Not only will HB 73 help stop the misuse of your tax dollars, but, it also addresses the issue of getting drug abusers into the substance abuse treatment programs they need.

Appropriations (Budget) Legislation

HBs 1-15, 17, 18, 21, and 22 (Budget Bills). Despite diminished revenue during our nation’s recession, we were able to pass a balanced budget which continues to provide funding for our priorities without raising taxes for you and your family. Missouri government must live within its means; just like Missouri families. The House of Representatives led by example by cutting its own budget and reducing waste, fraud, and abuse, elsewhere in state government. There will be other tough decisions to be made as we continue down the “fiscally responsible” road to economic recovery. But make no mistake; the Missouri Legislature will do everything possible to ensure the continued, and appropriate, funding of our State’s priorities.

Gun Laws

HB 294 lowers the minimum age requirement to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon from 23 to 21 (like the majority of states which allow concealed gun permits). The bill also requires an applicant to gain experience shooting 50 rounds each with a revolver and a semiautomatic pistol, makes it easier for Missourians to buy firearms out of state, and provides additional protection of your right to purchase firearms and ammunition by prohibiting a sales tax on any firearms or ammunition from being levied at a higher rate than sales tax charged on sporting goods or hunting equipment.

This is common sense legislation which further protects our 2nd Amendment rights and eliminates out-of-date laws regarding firearm purchases.

Pro-Life Legislation

HB 213, and SB 65, essentially ban abortions after 20 weeks unless two doctors verify that the fetus is not viable, the mother would not survive, or continuing the pregnancy creates a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the mother. If a fetus is found to be unviable and is aborted, a doctor will be required to report why the child was unviable to the state. A person who violates the law could spend up to seven years in prison and be fined up to $50,000.

We have a societal responsibility to provide protections for those whom cannot protect themselves. There can be no one needier of this protection than the viable, unborn child.

Puppy Legislation

SB 113 and SB 161 made beneficial changes to Proposition B. These bills were a compromise between Missouri’s agriculture groups and animal welfare organizations, with the ultimate goal of improving the care of dogs, while keeping licensed breeders in business.

SB 356 establishes the Puppy Protection Trust Fund which collects funds to be used by the Department of Agriculture for the administration of the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act. The bill allows individuals and corporations to donate a portion of any tax refund owed to them by the state of Missouri to the fund.

For those of you concerned about altering Prop B, this legislation is by no means a full repeal of the Proposition. I have reviewed the alterations and I believe this act is beneficial to both breeders and dogs.

As always, if you have any questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact your 99th District office at:

201 W. Capitol Avenue, Room 114-C
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-2689

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