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05 January 2012

Newman: 2012 Legislative Session Begins

The 96th Missouri General Assembly convened its second regular session yesterday with us lawmakers bracing for yet another round of deep budget cuts. GOP leaders are offering additional modest legislative agendas in the wake of two unproductive legislative sessions in 2011 that were derailed by disagreements between the GOP majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives.

Personally, I am preparing legislation and working closely with the new group, ProgressMO as the House Progressive Caucus gears up. My fight against voter ID efforts continues. I feel confident that our Democratic House Caucus of 57 members will stand solidly in opposition of ALL attempts at voter suppression as we successfully did in 2011.

It is my task as chair of the House Progressive Caucus to again lead this charge and support Governor Nixon in vetoing any voter ID bill that reaches his desk. You may count on me to protect YOUR right to vote.

With an estimated $550 million general revenue shortfall expected in the state operating budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins July 1, we must again contemplate ways to reduce spending. However, after a decade of significant cuts most, if not all, of the easy-to-eliminate items are long gone from the state budget, leaving only core state services remaining.

Any talk of increasing revenue is missing –unlike discussions many of us are having in our own homes with tight budgets. Many viable options exist, including raising the state cigarette tax from the lowest in the nation and/or collecting internet sales tax revenues which many states are considering.

Although lawmakers again identified job creation as a top priority, the ambitious and wide-ranging proposals that sparked disagreements between House and Senate Republicans last year have largely been set aside.

Instead, GOP leaders said they would focus on bills sought by business groups that have little direct bearing on job creation, such as making it more difficult to prove employment discrimination, limiting the financial liability of lawsuit defendants and requiring losing parties to pay the winner’s legal fees.


Gov. Jay Nixon will deliver his 2012 State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly at 7 p.m. on Jan. 17. In the speech, Nixon will offer his proposed state operating budget for the 2013 fiscal year and outline his legislative agenda for the year, which is expected to focus on job creation. The speech will be streamed live at


I applaud Gov. Jay Nixon’s recent nomination of Jason Hall as director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Hall, an attorney, currently is director of the Missouri Technology Corporation, a state-sponsored group that promotes the growth and science and technology companies in Missouri. If confirmed by the Senate, Hall would replace David Kerr, who recently resigned as economic development director. I know Jason Hall well and look forward to working closely with him once his confirmation is final.

Please feel free to come to the State Capitol in Jefferson City and visit us in action. We normally go into session at 4pm on Mondays and adjourn for the week Thursday afternoons. Let me know if you are coming so I can be sure to meet with you - either via scheduled appointment or by me stepping briefly off the floor.

I will be back home in my district in St. Louis on Fridays so please contact Carla Luebbert, my assistant if I can be of any assistance to you then.

I would love to hear from you so please don't be shy!

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