In The Capitol
Extraordinary Session Comes to an EndDespite the best efforts of the Missouri House, the extraordinary session came to an end this week without the passage of legislation [SB8] to create good-paying jobs for Missouri families. The House sent the jobs package back to the Senate last week with the hope the other chamber would join us in a conference where we could iron out our differences. Instead, the Senate chose to walk away from the negotiating table and end the session without passing the bill that was the primary reason the session was called. The failure to pass the bill leaves us without some of the important tools we need to attract new businesses, create new jobs and bring down our unemployment rate that continues to hover around 9 percent. We now must hope the Senate will be willing to work with us during the 2012 regular session so that we can pass legislation that will give Missouri’s economy the boost it desperately needs.
MOSIRA and “Facebook Fix” Bills
While the failure to pass the jobs package cast a shadow over the extraordinary session, it’s important to point out that we were able to pass two bills that are important to our state. One [SB7] is a powerful economic development tool that will help Missouri attract high-tech and life sciences businesses to our state. The Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA) will create a funding source to fuel new growth in the fields of science and technology. MOSIRA was meant to supplement the primary jobs package but it does offer a significant economic development tool on its own. I am excited to see some of the new start-ups that emerge in Missouri because of this program. The other bill [SB1] passed during the extraordinary session is what has commonly been referred to as the “Facebook Fix.” The fix will protect the ability of teachers to have appropriate online communications with students. This fixes the unintended consequences that resulted from a previous bill that was meant to prohibit improper communications but put all communications into question. Both bills have already been signed into law by the governor.
End of Extraordinary Session Dooms Several Other BillsThe Senate’s motion to adjourn doomed not only the jobs package but several other important pieces of legislation as well. In the first week of the extraordinary session, the House quickly passed bills to move Missouri’s presidential primary, create a period of tax amnesty to Missourians who have fallen behind on their taxes, provide disaster relief funding to areas of the state devastated by severe weather, and return control of the St. Louis Police Department to the City of St. Louis. All of these items received overwhelming approval in the House and then sat in the Senate for weeks. The failure of the Senate to pass these bills leaves several serious problems unaddressed. Missouri taxpayers will now be on the hook for a meaningless presidential primary that will cost approximately $8 million. The failure to pass the tax amnesty bill will prevent the state from collecting as much as $74 million in additional revenues. Both of these would have helped immensely as we work to create a balanced budget during a time when our economy is slumping.
In The District
If you have not been on Highway 65, the sound barrier walls are being installed. The work is taking place at night and the lanes are cut down to one lane of traffic, so be ready to go at a snail’s pace. You will be pleased with what you see.
Last Friday, October 21st, I was so pleased to present a House Resolution to recognize the Miracle League Field during the dedication ceremony of the field, at Dan Kinney Park in Springfield. Miracle League Field has a special surface that allows special-needs children and young adults the opportunity to play baseball and softball on a field designated just for them.
Interim Office Hours
Interim office hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Normal schedule will resume December 1, 2011. If you need to call me at home, my number is 417-887-3353.
I look forward to hearing from you. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office. Best wishes.