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15 September 2011

Tim Jones: House Legislation In Special Session, Auditor's Lawsuit, Local Announcements

At left: Rep. Jones walking with daughters in the September 10th Eureka Days Parade.

Americans paused Sunday on the 10th anniversary of the devastating terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to honor the brave men, women and children who lost their lives and the heroes that responded to the emergency that fateful day. We will always remember what was lost and how much has changed in these last ten years. The tragedy of 9/11 unified this state and nation in strength and resolve and caused us to realize that freedom must never be taken for granted.

“Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

2011 Special Session and Veto Session

The Missouri Constitution requires that, each year, the legislature convene a “Veto Session” in September. The purpose of the session is for the legislature to consider overriding any bills that are vetoed by the Governor. However, this year is unlike any other veto session as the legislature has also held a “Special Session” concurrent with veto session.

The purpose of the Special Session, which was called by Governor Nixon, was to pass a number of important bills. The General Assembly began its Special Session on Monday, September 5th. The House passed the following five pieces of legislation:

HB 1: Currently, the state oversees the police force for the City of St. Louis through the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners. This bill allows the city to establish and maintain a municipal police force under its own authority. The House passed HB 1 by a vote of 123-27.

HB 2: Authorizes an amnesty from the assessment or payment of all penalties, additions to tax, and interest on delinquencies of unpaid taxes administered by the department which occurred on or prior to December 31, 2010. A taxpayer must apply for amnesty, file a tax return for each tax period for which amnesty is requested, pay the unpaid taxes in full from January 1, 2012, to February 29, 2012, and agree to comply with state tax laws for the next eight years from the date of the agreement. All tax payments received as a result of the tax amnesty program must be deposited into the General Revenue Fund unless otherwise earmarked by state law. The House passed HB 2 by a vote of 150-0. This program has been a great success in many other States and has resulted in significant revenue for States while at the same time clearing up delinquent tax rolls.

HB 3: This substitute repeals the provision requiring a statewide presidential preference primary to be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February any year in which a presidential election is held and requires the primary to be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March of each presidential election year. The House passed HB 3 by a vote of 147-2.

HB 5: This bill changes the laws regarding the assessment of commercial real property destroyed by a natural disaster and authorizes tax increment financing in certain areas affected by a natural disaster. The House passed HB 5 by a vote of 149-0.

HB 6: This legislation would appropriate money for the purpose of matching Federal Emergency Management Agency expenditures due to natural disasters in the state of Missouri in 2011 for the period ending June 30, 2012. The House passed HB 6 by a vote of 127-22.

HB 7: This bill establishes the Joint Committee on Disaster Funding. The House passed HB7 by a vote of 129-22.

The Senate’s version of the Economic Development bill [SB8] was just passed by the Senate yesterday and we are currently reviewing it in the House. The House Economic Development Committee is currently working on the House position and I am involved, on a daily basis, in assisting with the House position.

Regarding Veto Session, neither the House nor the Senate took any action to attempt to override the Governor’s vetoes. A veto override is extremely difficult and unfortunately for us in the House, we were not able to convince enough members of the Governor’s party to join with us on any of the potential overrides, despite the fact that nearly all of the vetoed bills passed in an overwhelming, bi partisan manner during Regular Session.

State Auditor Tom Schweich files Lawsuit Against Governor Nixon

On August 26th, State Auditor Tom Schweich filed a lawsuit against Governor Nixon for violating the Constitution with the withholding of over $170 million appropriated by the legislature. The Constitution allows the Governor to withhold money when revenues are below projections. In this case, the Governor announced his withholdings in June before the fiscal year began. Withholding when revenues are up is a violation of the separation of powers set up in the Missouri Constitution. The legislature has the power to appropriate money, not the Governor. The Governor withheld money from the Republican controlled legislature and the Republican State Auditor’s office but left his own budget alone as well as all other Democrat statewide officials. We expect the Governor to lead, to have an agenda and to follow the Constitution. Unfortunately, his actions have been lacking in all three areas to date. The following link provides more information on the lawsuit and the complete audit report:

The Case for a Balanced Budget

On August 5, 2011, Standard and Poor’s downgraded the United States government’s sovereign debt rating from AAA to AA+. Another credit rating organization, Fitch Ratings, reaffirmed Missouri’s AAA credit rating on June 29. The difference in credit ratings of the U.S. and that of Missouri is directly related to the fiscal policies of these branches of government. I believe it is worth considering the difference in the way Missouri conducts their fiscal affairs as compared to our national government. Although the full impact of this decision by Standard and Poor’s downgrade is not completely known at this time, it will certainly have an impact on the cost of interest paid by federal taxpayers on what seems the ever expanding national debt.

According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, Bureau of Public Debt, our gross national debt increased $1.9 trillion in Fiscal Year 2009 and $1.7 trillion in Fiscal Year 2010. As of August 3, 2011, the total Public Outstanding Debt was $14.34 trillion, of which $9.78 trillion was debt held by the public. As of the end of the second quarter of 2011, the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $15.003 trillion. Total Public Outstanding Debt as a percentage of GDP was 100% and debt held by the public was 65.2% of GDP. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced in our country. This means that our national debt is currently worth the same as the value of all goods and services created in America in a year. This figure of 100% is not far from the 130% of Greece. In response to their debt crisis, all debt issued by the nation of Greece is currently rated at “junk bond” status. It certainly doesn’t seem reasonable that we can sustain such massive national debt on a long term basis.

How we got there is simple. Our national debt was over $10 trillion in 2008 and we have added $3.6 trillion since then. Three years ago we had too much national debt and we have since added 40%. Our recent Federal Stimulus, generous tax credits for home purchases and “cash for clunkers” has done nothing to turn the economy around but has pushed us over the edge of debt. The solution is to do something to create discipline at the national level. We balance our budgets in Missouri because we are required by law not to spend more than we receive in revenue. We have a Missouri Balanced Budget Amendment in our State Constitution. In an attempt to do the same thing in our national government, on at least several occasions since 2007, the Missouri House of Representatives has passed a Resolution supporting a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Besides electing fiscally conservative members of Congress, adoption of a U.S. Constitution Balanced Budget Amendment is the only solution. The U.S. House passed a Balanced Budget Amendment just a couple of weeks ago, but it was blocked in the Democrat controlled U.S. Senate. As the U.S. government continues to deal with the problems of debt and high unemployment, we should feel good that the Special Session of the Missouri General Assembly was primarily focused on job creation.

Special Local Announcements

St. Louis Chase Homeownership Center may be able to help customers lower their monthly mortgage payment or interest rate and avoid foreclosure. They provide one-on-one meetings with a Chase Mortgage Counselor, extended hours of operation including evenings and Saturdays, and assistance for Spanish-speaking customers. Any Chase customer in need of mortgage assistance may call to make an appointment at 314.729.0421 or stop by the center at 9717 Landmark Parkway Drive, Suite 101, St. Louis, Missouri 63127. Their hours of operation are: Monday-Thursday 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Friday-9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

SAVE THE DATE for the Eureka Harvest Moon Celebration on Saturday, October 22. As part of a City of Eureka fall party, the Eureka Project is holding a Harvest Moon Walk and 5K Run on the evening of Saturday, October 22. This walk/run is quite unique as it is the only night run in the area. Volunteers are needed for this first-time event, so if you would like to help, please e-mail the Eureka Project at theeurekaproject{at}yahoo{dot}com.

The City of Eureka is again participating in the 2011 Home Improvement Program with its Community Development Block Grant funds which are administered by St. Louis County. The purpose of this program is to provide financial assistance to low/moderate income homeowners with home repairs which will correct code violations and safety hazards. For additional information, please contact Rose Loehr, City of Eureka at 314.615.4025.

The City of Eureka also recently entered into an agreement with St. Louis County to allow its residents to participate in a Residential Energy Efficiency Loan Program. This program will allow the City to make low interest rate loans available to eligible residential property owners for upgrades that improve comfort and reduce energy costs in their homes. For additional information, please contact Anne Klein at aklein{at}st{dot}louisco{dot}com or by telephone at 314.615.7017.

Public Service Information

Whether you are breaking ground or just installing a new sprinkler system, avoid personal injury and underground line damage by calling before you dig: It’s free, and it’s the law! One easy phone call to 811 starts the process to get your underground pipelines and utility lines marked for FREE. When you call 811 from anywhere in the country, your call will be routed to your state One-Call Center. Once your underground lines have been marked for your project, you will know the approximate location of your pipelines and utility lines and can continue your project by digging with care and respecting the marks. More information regarding 811 can be found at

News & Notes

I recently appeared on a television interview program entitled, “Conversation with Lee Presser” which is aired in the St. Louis area on Charter Cable TV. If you would like to watch this interview, following is the YouTube link to this interview during which Lee Presser and I discussed the prospect of Missouri’s political future:

Thank you for reading this Interim Report. If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this report, please click the “Capitol Report Signup” button on my member home page at and enter the appropriate information. If you happen to see me in and around the District this summer, please feel free to introduce yourself and say hello! I have been very busy traveling all over the State and speaking to various groups about our many substantive legislative accomplishments. If you would like for me to speak to your group or community, please contact Jody at our office at 573.751.0562, and we will be happy to accommodate you.

Finally, if we can ever be of any assistance to you at your State Capitol during the coming months even while we are in the Interim Session, please do not hesitate to contact us at: 573.751.0562 or you can reach my primary assistant, Jody, at: jody{dot}williams{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov. If you ever find yourself in or around Jefferson City at any time during the year, please feel free to visit the Majority Leader’s Office in Room 302 and Jody will be happy to meet and greet you!

Until our next update, I am, and remain, in your service.

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