Capitol Report 04/10/2015

The Missouri Senate approved its version of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget this week and then sent the 13 bills back to the House for consideration. House members quickly voted to send 12 of the appropriations bills to conference where key negotiators will iron out the differences between the two chambers.

Also, the state could possibly generate millions of dollars in additional revenue under a plan now on its way to the governor’s desk for approval. The House and Senate gave final approval this week to tax amnesty legislation that would allow Missourians to pay back taxes without penalty. The bill would set up a period between September 1 and November 30 when delinquent taxpayers could pay off their tax debt. The bill would then require those who utilize the amnesty period to comply with all state tax laws for a period of eight years.

The House also advanced an important piece of consumer protection legislation by approving a requirement that hospitals notify patients when they are being admitted. The bill addresses a current issue where many hospitals are placing patients on observational status without their knowledge. For Medicare recipients, observational status means they do not get nursing home benefits, which then translates into a bill in the thousands of dollars that they were not expecting. The bill approved by the House this week simply says hospitals must give written notices when a patient is admitted or placed on observational status.

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 Chipman

Budget
The Missouri Senate approved its version of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget this week and then sent the 13 bills back to the House for consideration. House members quickly voted to send 12 of the appropriations bills to conference where key negotiators will iron out the differences between the two chambers.

The key area of contention that will have to be worked out resides in the budgets for the departments of social services, health and mental health. The House used the normal budgeting procedure by putting in funding lines for specific programs within the departments. The Senate deviated from the script by using a lump sum budgeting method that gives the departments a pot of money they can spend in the way they choose. The Senate then took that lump sum total and cut between four and six percent from the budgets for health, mental health, and social services.

The Senate made cuts that generated approximately $130 million in additional revenue, and then used the dollars to bolster funding in other critical areas. The $74 million increase for K-12 education approved by the House was bumped up to an $84 million increase in the Senate. The House-approved $12 million increase to higher education was moved to a $27.6 million increase.

During discussion on the House floor, members were supportive of the idea of increasing funding to education, but concerned that the cuts to health, mental health and social services would deny critical services to some of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens. As one member said, a four percent cut to mental health services would be “catastrophic.” Other members expressed concerns regarding the additional power the governor would gain from a lump sum of money to use as he pleases. As they pointed out, the lump sum method would throw out any fiscal oversight the legislature has over the executive branch.

Now, selected members from the House and Senate will meet in an attempt to find common ground for the budget. Members of leadership from both chambers hope to have the budget bills completed and to the governor’s desk by Friday, April 17, which would be a full three weeks ahead of the constitutional deadline.

Tax Amnesty
The state would generate millions of dollars in additional revenue under a plan now on its way to the governor’s desk for approval. The House and Senate gave final approval this week to tax amnesty legislation that would allow Missourians to pay back taxes without penalty. The bill would set up a period between September 1 and November 30 when delinquent taxpayers could pay off their tax debt. The bill would then require those who utilize the amnesty period to comply with all state tax laws for a period of eight years.

Lawmakers believe the tax amnesty period could generate $60 million in new revenues for the state. The state has previously authorized tax amnesty periods that brought in approximately $74 million for fiscal year 2002 and $42 million for fiscal year 2003.

Hospital Disclosure
The House advanced an important piece of consumer protection legislation by approving a requirement that hospitals notify patients when they are being admitted. The bill addresses a current issue where many hospitals are placing patients on observational status without their knowledge. For Medicare recipients, observational status means they do not get nursing home benefits, which then translates into a bill in the thousands of dollars that they were not expecting. The bill approved by the House this week simply says hospitals must give written notices when a patient is admitted or placed on observational status.

Capitol Visits
I was honored this week to visit with Lynn Wallis and Tracey Hughes of Wallis Companies in Cuba, MO.

IMG_8206   ffa2015

I  was also honored to have a moment to talk with several FFA members representing Crawford County outside the House Chambers.

Oversight Division Survey
The  Oversight Division is in charge of conducting performance evaluations and program reviews of state agencies or programs during the interim as assigned by the Committee on Legislative Research. As your State Representative, I have some input on what the Oversight Division investigates this year; therefore, I would like your input!

Please email my Legislator Assistant, Dylan Bryant, at dylan.bryant@house.mo.gov with suggestions of programs or agencies that you would like reviewed by the Oversight Division. The most popular choice will be what I recommend to the Joint Committee on Legislative Research and the Oversight Division.

Veterans History Project
The Missouri Veterans History Project (MVHP) is a non-profit whose mission is to collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of Missouri Veterans, so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war.

The unedited recording is provided to the Veteran free of charge. In partnership with the State Historical Society of Missouri, the Library of Congress, and other organizations, the interviews are archived and made available to scholars, students, Veterans and the public.

If you are a Veteran and would be interested in telling your story to MVHP please contact:
Audrey Mack, Executive Director
Missouri Veterans History Project
E-MAIL: amack@mvhp.net
PHONE: 314-997-5039

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:
The State Business Tax Climate Index is a ranking system that measures how favorable a state’s tax system is to businesses within the state. MO ranks fairly well with a score of 17. Wyoming ranks the most favorable with a score of 1 and New Jersey ranks the least favorable with a score of 50.

District Events
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 

Sat. April 11th—9 AM to 4 PM
Civil War Living History Event sponsored by Missouri State Parks at Battle of Pilot Knob State Historic Site in Pilot Knob. 

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. For more information about the event, call the park at 573-245-6576.

I am committed to serve the constituents of the 120th District, so please feel free to contact my office anytime at 573-751-1688. Your District 120 Capitol office is 201 W Capitol Ave, Rm 115H, Jefferson City, MO 65101. If you wish to unsubscribe from this report, please email Dylan Bryant at dylan.bryant@house.mo.gov

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