This past week, we have had good news and bad news. On the "good" side, the governor signed SB 252 on July 1. This brings an end to the ongoing scanning of personal source documents by the Department of Revenue.
Additionally, all documents that have been scanned are to be purged and destroyed pursuant to the new law. This is due to the hard work and dedication of bi-partisan committee that would not succumb to pressures from the administration, and diligently pursued this victory for personal privacy and freedom. The committee continues to work to find out why this was allowed to happen in the first place and insure there will be no further violations in the future. The governor also signed SB 23, which requires a public vote to establish a use tax in local jurisdictions. SB 99 was signed also which among other election law provisions, it allows 18-year-olds to run for alderman in small towns.
The idea for this legislation was brought to me by Dirk Deaton from Noel. We failed to get it passed last year, but Dirk came to the capitol for the hearing and testified for the bill this year and we got it passed.
House Bills 331 and 335 were also signed which will provide opportunities for expanded access and improved broadband through the wireless network infrastructure.
Now for the "bad news." Back in June, governor Nixon vetoed HB 253, a wide-ranging tax reduction bill that would have saved Missouri families $700 million. Triggers in the bill would have protected all necessary funding and no budget cuts to the current $24.7 billion budget would have occurred. (Read that as education funding was absolutely protected)
Now, in a strictly political move, the governor has issued $400 million in budget holds, most of which is education and disability funding, as a hostage to keep us from overriding his veto. Since we currently have a budget surplus of more than $700 million, this exceeds the constitutional authority given to the governor for withholds. I can appreciate a shrewd political move as much as the next guy, but frightening school districts into cost cutting transportation and postponing much needed raises just to play politics is a bit much. HB 611 was also vetoed. This bill was a federal mandate bill that the Department of Labor presented to me for passage in committee. There were new federal rules that we had to adopt by next October or risk losing several hundred million dollars in federal aid. The Senate added an amendment to the bill, which would have strengthened the laws concerning misconduct as a reason for firing an employee.
Currently, there are loop holes that allow an employee to obtain unemployment after being fired for gross misconduct. We thought this was an unfair burden to a system that is already $500 million in debt. Apparently the governor disagreed. We are now in danger of losing the federal aid. The veto that has the most people riled up is for HB 436. This is the bill that was named The Second Amendment Preservation Act. The legislation mirrored successful bills in other states that prevent federal agents from enforcing executive orders concerning firearms in the states. This bill should be a no-brainer. It looks like we have our work cut out for us in Veto Session this year.
Page 2 of 2 - I was told last week that due to a lot of different factors, our highway patrolmen haven't had a wage increase in more than five years. What in the world are we thinking? These guys are risking their lives every day to help keep us safe. They are constantly going to training sessions, many of which are on their own time, they show up at events in the community, they answer our dumb questions and listen to every kind of complaint there is, and always with a smile and a sympathetic ear.
So what if we're in an economic slump, we can buy a six million dollar airplane supposedly because the patrol needs it, (It was used 104 times so far, twice by the patrol and 102 times by the governor), but we are losing trained professional law enforcement officers to cities and counties because they can't afford to work for the state anymore? Where the blazes is common sense? I talked to the transportation chairman today and if he needs a bill sponsor, I'm ready to file one.
We were at Southwest City for their celebration on Wednesday night and boy was it a success. There were thousands of people there for the great food, cold watermelon, and fantastic fireworks. Good Job folks! Seneca had a great celebration Saturday. I am always amazed at how many people show up for the Parade. The streets were lined with thousands of kids of all ages! The chamber is to be commended for a great job of scheduling events for all day.
"Food for Thought" If in the largest city, you can buy two 16 ounce drinks, BUT NOT a 24 ounce drink because it might make you fat.... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.
Until next week, I am and remain in your service.
Bill Lant represents the people of Southwest Missouri in the Mo. House of Representatives. Contact him locally at 437-8223 or at his Jefferson City office at (573) 751-9801 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.