Special Session Updates
House Approves Tax Amnesty Legislation (HB2)
Members of the Missouri House of Representatives gave unanimous approval to legislation sponsored by State Representative Tom Flanigan and me that would authorize a period of tax amnesty for delinquent taxpayers. The bill also added language that was requested by the City of Joplin to authorize tax increment financing to assist in disaster recovery efforts, but this language has since been removed in the Senate.
The tax amnesty provision would allow delinquent taxpayers who pay their state tax bills between Jan. 1 and Feb. 29 to waive interest and penalties. The state has previously authorized tax amnesty periods that brought in approximately $74 million for fiscal year 2002 and $42 million for fiscal year 2003. Rep. Flanigan and I anticipate similar revenue numbers if HB 2 becomes law.
Disaster Recovery FundingThe House passed HB 6&7 on Friday. HB 6 allows the Governor to use up to $150 million from Budget Reserve Fund, commonly referred to as “The Rainy Day Fund,” to fund disaster relief in disaster areas across the state. As mentioned in my last Capitol Report, the Governor has opted to unilaterally withhold over $150 million from various programs, including education and Medicaid, rather than use this reserve fund which was designed to provide aid for natural disasters. HB 7 sets up the “Joint Committee on Disaster Funding” to oversee disaster relief expenditures from the Budget Reserve Fund and other state expenditures.
During a special session, the legislature may only consider bills prudent to the subject matter spelled out by the Governor. So far the Governor has not amended his call to include disaster recovery. HB 6&7 would ease the stress on our state’s already tight budget and provide proper legislative oversight to ensure YOUR state tax dollars are being spent wisely.
Human Development Corporation Mismanagement
Last week the Human Development Corporation (HDC) closed its doors amid an audit into its questionable financial practices. HDC is a St. Louis nonprofit Community Action Agency funded by federal grants that are administered by the State. The agency provided help to over 100,000 low-income citizens in the St. Louis Area primarily for utility payments, but also for job development and food assistance (WIC Program). It has been found that HDC owes over $1 million in debt. It has not properly allocated the $650,000 already awarded to it from the “Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program” to assist St. Louis residents with their utilities.
I have spoken with the Director of the Family Support Division within the Department of Social Services, which oversees the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, about HDC and how Federal Funds are being handled. I also spoke with officials from Ameren and they have assured me that they will work with HDC clients to arrange alternate payment plans as needed. Ameren spokesman Ken Martin issued a statement that said customers in the program will not be disconnected.
I am very pleased that Ameren is working with the people affected by the mismanagement of HDC, especially those within the 92nd District.
Special Session Schedule
Next week the legislature will meet for technical sessions on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. There will be a floor debate on bills next Thursday. The schedule may change depending upon action in the Senate.
In the District
Last Sunday I attended the Town and Country 9/11 Community Event at the West County EMS and Fire Protection Station #3. As many of us recalled the treacherous and evil attacks against our country carried out 10 years ago, we were reminded of the murderous slaughter of nearly 3,000 innocent civilians, but also of the incredible courage shown by so many of our citizens and veterans in the days and years ahead. We should never forget the incredible courage and sacrifice displayed by Americans that day. Our prayers continue to be with the victims’ families.
Manchester Homecoming ParadeAt right: Cindy Scanlon (driver), Jennifer Scanlon (rear right), and Samantha Holmes (rear left) in my homecoming parade car! It was great to have them along.
Last Saturday I enjoyed walking and meeting many residents and families in the Manchester Homecoming Parade. I was honored to have two young ladies from Manchester, Jennifer Scanlon (National American Miss Missouri State Ambassador) and Samantha Holmes (National American Miss Missouri) in the parade with me.