ACTIONS THIS WEEK
Yesterday, the International Trade and Job Creation Committee heard my bill, House Bill 1659, which would allow the city of Kansas City to establish a land bank agency for the management, sale, transfer and other disposition of tax delinquent land to return it to effective use. With the help of many other legislators, especially Rep. Michael Brown, I was able to draft legislation that would give our blighted areas a better chance to recover and bring people back to, and reduce the costs to, our community. By giving Kansas City the opportunity to form a land bank, they will be better able to convert vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent land to more productive use. The cost of vacant properties to cities is huge; in Kansas City alone, the cost to maintain tax foreclosed property is over $1 million per year. In addition, land banking will allow these properties to return to the tax rolls, providing a revenue bump to the city and county as well as stabilization of property values. With this bill, a positive cash flow will come from adjacent properties and the city may see a reduction in costs for police, fire, and code enforcement. I hope to avoid situations like those in Ohio, where a study of eight cities found that 25,000 vacant and abandoned properties imposed approximately $15 million in direct annual costs to the cities and more than $49 million in lost property tax revenue. Another study in Philadelphia in 2010 revealed that vacant and abandoned properties reduced the value of the city’s homes by an average of $8,000 each, and incurring more than $20 million in annual maintenance costs. I look forward to following my bill throughout the process and I hope it will be passed in order to give our community a chance to get back on track.
VETERANS LOTTERY TICKET
I am excited to report that the Missouri House is being creative to find ways to help Missouri’s veterans. In January, Rep. Sheila Solon proposed House Joint Resolution 45. If adopted, the resolution would place a proposition before Missouri’s voters which would establish a constitutional amendment requiring the State Lottery Commission to create a “Veterans Lottery Ticket”. All the proceeds from this new lottery ticket would go directly to veterans programs and homes across the state of Missouri. Representatives from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion were on hand at a recent committee to hear the proposal. I gladly signed on to co-sponsor this bill (as I did last year, too) because of the duty I believe we all share to help our veterans, and because of the financial situation facing the Missouri Veterans Commission. Currently, Missouri’s seven Veterans Homes house 1350 beds for veterans in need of skilled nursing care. Without new funds, the Veterans Commission will have to begin closing veterans’ homes and cutting back on other programs as well. This is simply unacceptable. Our veterans, along with our active servicemen and women and their families, have sacrificed so much to defend our country. We owe it to them to see that they are provided for in their hour of need. I am thrilled to see HJR 45 moving swiftly through committee and hopefully on to the House Floor soon. This bill is not a cure-all for the financial problems facing the Veterans Commission but it is certainly a step in the right direction. The General Assembly is continuing to explore further opportunities to help our veterans. I urge you to do the same in our community. We all talk about supporting our troops, but with the uncertain future of Missouri veterans, it is time we follow through on our words.
HB 1659 (sponsor)—Allows the city of Kansas City to establish a land bank agency for the management, sale, transfer and other disposition of tax delinquent land to return it to effective use.
HB 1465 (sponsor)—Changes the laws regarding the compulsory school attendance of certain students.
HB 1464 (sponsor)—Prohibits state-wide elected officials or members of the General Assembly elected to their first term on or after November 2, 2012, from acting, serving, or registering as a lobbyist within one year of leaving office.
HB1214 (sponsor)—Establishes the Missouri Entrepreneur Resources Virtual Network to provide resources for the development of businesses; referred to the Committee on Small Business.
HB 1470 (co-sponsor)—Expands the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect to include coaches, youth leaders, and any volunteer who has direct contact with children.
HB 1459 (co-sponsor)—Disqualifies a person from membership on a school board if such person has a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect on the child abuse and neglect registry.
HB 1399 (co-sponsor)—Requires the injection of therapeutic substances around the spine or spinal cord for the treatment of pain syndromes by certain methods be performed only by a licensed physician.
HB 1334 (co-sponsor)—Establishes the Fair Fare Passenger Safety Act of 2012 which prohibits any person operating a motor vehicle for compensation and transporting passengers from using a handheld wireless communication device.
HB 1317 (co-sponsor)—Expands the crime of child abuse to include shaken baby syndrome.
HB 1515 (co-sponsor)—Changes the elements of the crime of elder abuse in the second degree and the crime of financial exploitation of an elderly person or disabled person.
You can find further information on these bills via the House webpage: http://www.house.mo.gov/billcentral.aspx?pid=26
A few months ago, Comcast introduced “Internet Essentials” which is program aimed at helping families afford fast, quality internet so that they are able to meet the demands of work and school more easily. If you qualify, you are able to receive home internet service for $9.95 a month (with no price increases), as well as a low-cost home computer with free internet training. You may qualify if your household has at least one child receiving free school lunches through the National School Lunch Program. To find out more information and to see if you can qualify, please visit the website http://internetessentials.com/. Please spread this message to your friends and family so all of the 52nd District can get connected!