Capitol Report 04/02/2015

Ethical Reform, Limiting State Spending, & Honoring Veterans
The members of the Missouri House returned from their annual Spring Break to discuss and pass legislation that would strengthen the state’s ethics laws. The House took up a bill already approved by the Senate that would limit lobbyist gifts and restrict lawmakers from becoming lobbyists. After lengthy discussion and several amendments, the House built on the work of the Senate and created an even tougher bill that contains stricter provisions.

Under a plan approved by the House this week, voters would have the opportunity to put limits in place that would check the growth of state spending. The proposed constitutional amendment would allow spending to grow based on an appropriations growth limit determined by inflation and increases in population. Revenues beyond the limit would be used to fill a Budget Reserve Fund, and then to reduce state income tax rates.

House members paused from legislative activity on Monday to honor several Vietnam veterans who made the trip to the State Capitol.

Members recognized and thanked the heroes in attendance as part of the observation of the state’s third annual Vietnam Veterans Day.

It was in 2012 that the General Assembly passed legislation to establish an annual Vietnam Veterans Day on March 30 of each year. The day is meant to encourage Missourians to honor those who served during the Vietnam conflict with appropriate activities, events and remembrances. According to the Veterans’ Administration, there are more than 171,000 Vietnam-era veterans living in Missouri.

You may read more about what is happening at your Capitol below.

As always, I will work diligently and tirelessly for you as your State Representative.

-Jason

Committee Hearings
This week HB 1204, which specifies that the Governor must, within 30 days, issue a writ of election to supply a vacancy in either house of the General Assembly, was heard in committee. I was honored to have Mr. Loyal Kaeding testify in support of the bill.

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HB 1216, which designates the State Highway 19 Bridge over the Meramec River between the cities of Cuba and Steelville as the “Betty Vickers Memorial Bridge”, was also heard in committee this week. I would like to thank Mr. John Fester, Mr. Loyal Kaeding, and Ms. Sue Dwyer for traveling to the Capitol to testify in favor of HB 1216.

Ethical Reform
The members of the Missouri House returned from their annual Spring Break to discuss and pass legislation that would strengthen the state’s ethics laws. The House took up a bill already approved by the Senate that would limit lobbyist gifts and restrict lawmakers from becoming lobbyists. After lengthy discussion and several amendments, the House built on the work of the Senate and created an even tougher bill that contains stricter provisions.

The House made several important changes to the bill, including provisions that would:

  • Create a limit of $25 for lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and all public officials. The Senate version required stricter reporting on gifts to legislators, but did not include a limit.
  • Stop the revolving door for lawmakers becoming lobbyists by putting in place an immediate one-year ban for any public official leaving office. The Senate version of the bill included a two-year ban but only applied to members who begin their first term in January 2017 rather than those currently serving.

The House additions to the bill supplement several existing provisions that would ban out-of-state trips for lawmakers paid for by lobbyists; require stricter reporting requirements for lobbyist expenditures; prohibit lawmakers from serving as paid political consultants; and require all elected officials to obtain ethics training within 120 days of taking office.

Supporters said the bill represents an important step toward increasing the people’s trust in their elected officials. The bill now has to return to the Senate where the other chamber can either accept the changes made in the House and send them to the governor, or send it to a conference committee where selected members will try to iron out any differences between the two chambers.

Limiting State Spending
Under a plan approved by the House this week, voters would have the opportunity to put limits in place that would check the growth of state spending. The proposed constitutional amendment would allow spending to grow based on an appropriations growth limit determined by inflation and increases in population. Revenues beyond the limit would be used to fill a Budget Reserve Fund, and then to reduce state income tax rates.

Supporters say the proposed constitutional amendment will limit the growth of government spending, provide long-term fiscal planning and rainy day funds, help balance the economic highs and lows, protect programs and funding, reduce income tax rates, and create a better business environment.

If approved by both chambers of the General Assembly, the measure would go before voters for their approval in November 2016.

Honoring Veterans
House members paused from legislative activity on Monday to honor several Vietnam veterans who made the trip to the State Capitol. Members recognized and thanked the heroes in attendance as part of the observation of the state’s third annual Vietnam Veterans Day.

It was in 2012 that the General Assembly passed legislation to establish an annual Vietnam Veterans Day on March 30 of each year. The day is meant to encourage Missourians to honor those who served during the Vietnam conflict with appropriate activities, events and remembrances. According to the Veterans’ Administration, there are more than 171,000 Vietnam-era veterans living in Missouri.

Capitol Visits
I was honored this week to visit with the Disabled Citizens Alliance for Independence (DCAI) from Viburnum.

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Tracey Hedrick, center, and Angie Jimmerson, right, were very knowledgeable and I enjoyed hearing updates on the important work of DCAI.

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After testifying in committee on HB 1216, John Fester, left,, Loyal Kaeding, far right, Sue Dwyer, right, and I took a moment to visit the House Chamber and Dais.

Facts & Figures
Each week you can find an interesting fact or figure here on how Missouri measures up to other states and the U.S. government: Tax Freedom Day represents how long Americans as a whole work into the year before they have earned enough money to pay all federal, state, and local taxes for the year. Missouri’s Tax Freedom Day is April 11th. Louisiana has the earliest date of March 30th, Connecticut has the latest date of May 9th, and the U.S. average is April 21st.

District Events
Sat, April 4th – 10 AM Easter Egg Hunt sponsored by State Representative Jason Chipman – Steelville Community Park Tue, April 7th General Municipal Election – Don’t forget to vote! Wed, April 8th – 1 PM to 4 PM Meramec Regional Job Fair hosted by the Missouri Employer Committee. Knights of Columbus Hall, Exit 210, Hwy UU, Cuba, MO

Fri, April 10th – 6 PM Phelps County Lincoln Days – Matt’s Steak House, Rolla, MO

Sun, April 12th – 10 AM to 4 PM Midwest Bat Fest at Onondaga Cave State Park will be held on Sunday, April 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sponsored and coordinated by the World Bird Sanctuary, the event will begin on Saturday, April 11 at the World Bird Sanctuary with a host of events and then conclude on Sunday, April 12 at Onondaga Cave State Park. The Park is located seven miles south of Interstate 44 on State Hwy H. For more information about the event, call the park at 573-245-6576.

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