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13 September 2011

Sater: House Passes Six Bills in Special Session

If you are reading this, I will be in Jefferson City for what is called a special session. Our normal session runs for 5 months from the first of January to the end of May. A special session is one called by the Governor to pass legislation that did not get done during regular session or for an emergency. We will spend up to 60 days in Jefferson City, although I imagine it will be 5 to 7 days. If it is only 5 days, this will cost the citizens of the State of Missouri over $100,000. You do the math if it takes longer. I want to go over the bills up for consideration. It is my opinion that these bills are not an emergency and could wait for regular session next January. It also places us in a situation of passing things that should take time to study and to make sure everyone understands the details of each bill. The devil is in the details.

On the House side, we passed 6 bills. HB 6 designates 150 million dollars to be taken out of the budget reserve fund, (Rainy Day Fund) for the Joplin cleanup. Governor Nixon decided to take this money from programs such as schools and colleges. The Rainy Day Fund was set up for emergencies and the money taken out of this fund must be paid back within 3 years with interest. It certainly makes more sense to me to use this money for what it is set aside for and spread the payback over 3 years instead of decreasing funds for ongoing programs for this year only. HB 7, which passed, set up a committee of representatives to oversee the proper use of these funds.

We passed HB 1 which gives control of the St. Louis Police Department back to the City of St. Louis. Since the late 1800s, due to corruption in both St. Louis and Kansas City, the state took over these police departments. This is probably long overdue, but it could of waited until next year.

HB 3 moved the Presidential primary from the first Tuesday in February to the first Tuesday in March. This would place this election on the same date as other states around us. Again, it could of waited.

HB 5 would let Joplin set up tax increment financing for the tornado area. This is a method of tax breaks for the rebuilding of blighted areas. It is only for Joplin. Although important, and the county government in Joplin is in favor of, it could of waited a few more months for regular session and would not of had any impact on the rebuilding efforts.

HB 2 was a bill that passed the House, but failed in the Senate. It is a tax amnesty bill that allows people who owe back taxes to pay them with no penalty. We did this many years ago, and it worked to bring in revenue from taxes that were owed. I do not agree with this bill because it gives lawbreakers a break. Everyone else who does pay their state income taxes on time, it sets a bad precedent to avoid paying taxes. I may not agree with every law on the books, but they are laws and should be obeyed until they can get changed.

These are the House bills that passed and will move to the Senate. The Senate has their own legislation. There are two controversial bills they are debating, but have not passed. One is the tax credit bill for building an international cargo import and export terminal at the St. Louis International Airport. [SB8] It amounts to $360 million dollars. When I first went to Jefferson City as a state representative, I thought favorably of tax credits for certain entities. I passed legislation that gave tax credits to people who gave to Senior Citizen Centers, either food or money. But picking and choosing who gets a tax credit and who does not, does not sit well with me. This tax credit for St. Louis is picking investors and contractors to receive a tax credit if they build the hub. And who knows if this is financially feasible and will work? I have done some research on this type of program, and most of them have been a money pit with no real long term job creation, but is artificial job creation created by the government. To pay for this, the Senate is considering phasing out the low income tax credit for rental housing. I have stated many times that government’s main focus is on helping those who cannot legitimately help themselves. If a low income person, below $28,000 owns their home, then the tax credit remains; but for those who rent, it goes away. If these two bills pass the Senate, I will certainly speak and vote against both.

Again, I must say, that this special session is a waste of time and money, but I will attend and vote the way I believe the majority of my constituents would want me to.

I should also let you know that my long time legislative assistant, Sid Blount, has retired as of September 1st. We will all miss her dedication to the office and constituents. She was a great help to me when I first started because she had been doing this job for other representatives for some time and knew much more of the ins and outs of the political scene than I did. We will all miss her, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Representative Sally Faith ran for Mayor of St. Charles, MO this spring and won. Her legislative assistant was suddenly available and had worked for Representative Faith for 7 years. May I introduce to you, Robyn Huddleston, as my new assistant. She will be with me until the end of next year`s session and came highly recommended from many people. She will value your calls as important and will always do her best for your concerns.

When Special Session is over, I will be letting you know what actually was passed into law.

My Capitol Office is open now Monday through Friday and can be reached at (573) 751-1480. You can also call me at my home in Cassville (417/847-4661).

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