Back in Session
I am excited to return to work in the Capitol as the 2012 legislative session opened on Jan. 4. I look forward to a busy legislative season, knowing that we face many challenges in making decisions governing the state and continuing to make Missouri a great place for people to live and work.
As usual, Senate Leader Robert N. Mayer, R-Dexter, set out our legislative priorities for the session in his opening speech to the Senate. As with last year, passing a balanced budget without a tax increase and putting Missourians back to work are top priorities. With a possible $500 million budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2013, once again the budget will be difficult, but I know that we will accomplish our goal, as we did last year. Education issues present another challenge, both in keeping funding adequate for our schools and facing the difficulties that occur when two major school districts in the state have lost accreditation.
Throughout December and into January, I was able to file several pieces of legislation, the most recent of which are summarized below. If you wish to read the entire text of any bills I have sponsored, please go to my Senate web page, Senator Will Kraus, and go to the “Legislation” link.
Since our last newsletter, I have filed several more pieces of legislation. Some were bills that did not move through the legislature last year for various reasons. Others are new ideas brought to me by constituents or ideas I have been pursuing to make government work better.
Senate Bill 589 requires local jurisdictions that use red light cameras to direct proceeds to the local school district where the offense occurs. This allows red light cameras, but removes the incentive for local governments to use them purely for profit. If safety is truly the main concern, then the profits can go to help build up education.
Senate Bill 590 tightens Missouri’s immigration laws. Based on parts of the recent Alabama law, this legislation does three different things. First, it allows law enforcement officers to check immigration status on all stops when they have reasonable cause for suspicion. Currently, they can only check when an arrest is made. Second, the bill requires school districts to keep track of undocumented students so the state has a more clear understanding of the cost of illegal immigration. Third, the bill creates a state misdemeanor for not carrying proper documentation that mirrors a federal misdemeanor. This allows Missouri to enforce laws the federal government does not always enforce.
Senate Joint Resolution 40 would make two changes to the constitution to allow easier prosecution and monitoring of sex offenders. The first part removes the phrase “retrospective in operations” from the Missouri Constitution. Because of that phrase, any changes the legislature makes to sex offender registry rules does not apply to people already on the registry. The second change allows prosecutors to use propensity evidence in sex abuse cases when that evidence shows a pattern of behavior and does not prejudice the case.
Grain Valley Town Hall
On Thursday, Jan. 19, Grain Valley Mayor Mike Todd and I will be hosting a town hall meeting in Grain Valley from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Grain Valley Community Center, 713 Main Street.
I will open with a short talk on the upcoming 2012 legislative session and then open the floor for questions and answers. Mayor Todd will also be there to discuss local issues and answer any questions you may have.
These town hall meetings are important to me because they give me the opportunity to interact on a personal level with the constituents of the 8th Senatorial District. It is a vital way to keep members of the local community up-to-date on activities within the Capitol and upcoming issues and events. I look forward to speaking with concerned citizens and addressing any questions they might have.
I hope to see you there!