When you look to our neighboring states, see increases in tax rates further burdening their citizens, and watch as their lending rates increase due to their credit rating downgrades, I want you to know your leadership here in Missouri has a different plan. Our plan includes holding the line on spending, balancing our budget, no tax increases, working together in a bipartisan fashion to pass legislation making the business climate in Missouri friendly to job creation and growth, and living within our means. In last week’s Capitol Report I had mentioned these priorities; referred to as the “Blueprint for Missouri.” I am happy to report; the General Assembly has taken steps this week to help insure the fulfillment of these goals through the passage of HB 1135 & HB 1140.
January 25, 2012 – WednesdayHB 1135, sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith (R-150), was Third Read and Passed by a vote of 102 to 57. This bill received no opposition in committee and proponents say the bill gives the Secretary of State the authority to make technical changes to rules. HB 1135 will identify those rules which have become obsolete or overly burdensome and remove them, update them, or take other action that is necessary. I fully support this measure because it forces government transparency and accountability to you; the tax-payer. Currently, state agency/departmental rules stay on the books indefinitely; even though they may be outdated and obsolete. HB 1135 creates sunsets after 10 years which forces the rules through a public comment process. This creates the transparency and accountability necessary for you, as an active citizenry, to monitor the actions, improve the efficiency, and improve the efficacy, of your state government. Improving the efficiency of state government is the right direction, raising your taxes to continue feeding an inefficient and bloated state government, as our neighboring states have done, is the wrong direction.
HB 1135 is currently waiting to be First Read in the Missouri Senate.
HB 1140, also sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith (R-150), was Third Read and Passed by a vote of 113 to 42. This bill also received no opposition in committee and proponents say the bill expands the Missouri Accountability Portal to include school district and county government information; which increases transparency in government. HB 1140 holds local governments accountable by making local information accessible to every taxpayer. I also fully support this measure because an informed citizenry is the best way to monitor government growth and prevent it from becoming too large and unmanageable. By requiring counties and schools to submit their debts and holdings to the Office of Administration for posting on the Missouri Accountability Portal, it will be easy for taxpayers to track how their state and local tax dollars are being spent.
HB 1140 is currently waiting to be First Read in the Missouri Senate.
Other Key Legislation
The House Committee on Workforce Development and Workforce Safety reviewed information from its public hearing on HB 1219, which occurred on January 17th, 2012. HB 1219 would change the laws regarding unlawful employment practices as they relate to the Missouri Human Rights Act and establish the Whistleblower Protection Act. This proposed legislation would change the state law which indicates discrimination must be a “motivating factor” rather than a “contributing factor” in wrongful termination suits. The purpose of the legislation is to make Missouri’s business climate friendlier and encourage businesses to relocate in Missouri; providing more jobs for Missourians.
Supporters of the bill say it protects employers by making Missouri law mirror the federal Civil Rights Law. Employers would no longer be liable for the actions of an employee and a graduated scale of damages, based upon the number of employees, would be established; providing uniformity in awarding damages. Also, by reinstating the Summary Judgment Standards, this bill would assist the courts in handling their cases more quickly and efficiently.
This legislation is receiving support from a wide variety of organizations; from hospitals, grocery stores, and restaurants, to school administrators, community colleges, and building contractors.
Feel free to contact my office in support of, or opposition to, any legislation being heard by your Missouri House of Representatives. I am here representing you and place great value in your opinion. You are also always welcome to stop by my office here in your State Capitol. Let your voice be heard.
Free Federal Tax OpportunityIf you make $57,000 or less you can go to http://www.irs.gov/efile/ and have your Federal returns done free through a partnership of various tax software producers and the Internal Revenue Service.
Ways to Keep in ContactI consider communication with my constituents a high priority. My weekly Monday morning chat at 8:45 a.m. with Woody at KOKO Radio on AM 1450 is one of the best ways I’ve found for you to literally “hear” from me. During session or interim, tune in every Monday morning at 8:45 to hear the latest concerning District 121.
Visiting the Capitol
Anytime you find yourself near our Missouri State Capitol (201 West Capitol Avenue, Jefferson City, MO 65101) please feel free to pay a visit. Our state boasts one of the most beautiful Capitol buildings in the nation and you are always welcome.
This week I was very pleased to play host to the Missouri Society of CPA’s who came to visit me here at Missouri’s Capitol. I really enjoyed meeting with them and hope they had a pleasant visit.
Picture of me and the Missouri Society of CPA’s between the side gallery columns on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives.
I also welcomed the Sedalia Mayor - Elaine Horn, City Administrator - Gary Edwards, and Public Works Director - Bill Beck, to the Capitol for a visit concerning issues related to a bridge in Pettis County. It was a pleasure visiting with them and I look forward to working with them in the future.
Please share this report with anyone you feel would be interested in this information. It is genuinely a privilege to serve as your state representative.