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14 November 2011

Lant: Caucus Meetings in Jeff City, Candidates For State Office in District

Last week the pace was a little slower. We had caucus meetings in Jefferson City which were quite interesting to say the least. The first information we were presented with was the Speaker, Steve Tilley, withdrawing from the Lt. Governor race. Steve cited family reasons for his decision and shared with us his feelings about the sacrifices one has to make to be in a leadership position. The demands on your time must be truly daunting. At this point we don't really know who might run in his place but rest assured, someone will. We talked at length about what our priorities should be next session. The number one priority has to be job creation. This seems to be the topic of discussion whenever you turn on the talk shows nowadays. The problem we are facing in the Four States Area is attracting new businesses. When I meet with Chamber people, they are all telling the same story. There is fierce competition for industry and we need to change our thinking about what we are willing to do as a state to attract and keep quality job creators. When I attended workshops last summer put on by Chambers of Commerce, the central theme was Right to Work. Six of the eight states that join us already have right to work laws and industry rates; it as the number three consideration in locating new plants. This is certainly something we need to do more research on and look at the possibility of Legislation in the near future.

On a related issue, last year the Missouri Housing and Development Commission increased the prevailing wage for low income housing projects. They recently issued a statement that they will not allocate any Federal or State tax credits to assist in Joplin's rebuilding efforts unless the builders agree to all these new requirements. It is important to note that the Federal Government has no authority to enforce these statutes except for commercial building. The threat of withholding help where it is most needed comes from the MHDC only. I am participating in a press conference with Lt. Governor Peter Kinder where he will ask the Director and the Governor to waive the requirement. This waiver will allow nearly 600 low income homes to be constructed which will fill a much needed void. Joplin had over 4000 homes destroyed and this would make a significant dent in the severe shortage of affordable housing. This isn't an attempt to undermine prevailing wage, but when disaster of this magnitude strikes, we should be able to make some extraordinary concessions while still paying a fair, living wage.

As fall progresses the field of Political candidates is growing. State Representative and Speaker Pro-Tem, Shane Schoeller has announced his intention to run for Secretary of State. Shane is from Springfield and has accompanied me to events in McDonald County. I am going to try to get him down here for a meet-and-greet in the near future so he can answer any questions you may have. Speaking of questions, I have plans to do a series of "Town Hall" meetings over the next few months and I look forward to seeing many of you then. Until next week I am and remain in your service.

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