The Capitol Report | January 11th, 2018

Legislative Session Underway

The 99th Missouri General Assembly, Second Session, has officially begun. Governor Greitens delivered the 2018 State of the State Address yesterday in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Missouri State Capitol. In the address, the governor discussed the current condition of Missouri as a state, job growth, economic outlook and forecasts, among several other topics important to the well-being of the state.

As I have mentioned previously, 2017 played host to some very historic events in Missouri. Now, in 2018, the new year brings more topics to the table including approval of measures to cut bureaucratic red tape, lessen the regulatory burden on families and businesses, and advance policy changes that will provide more educational opportunities to young people in all parts of the state.

Also, late last night, following the State of the State Address, a story broke about Governor Greitens having an extramarital affair. The governor made a statement about this situation, but few factual details are known at this time. However, the following statement has been released by House leadership. “While the details of the story continue to emerge, the allegations made against the Governor last night are deeply concerning. The Governor must be forthright and accountable for his actions.”

More than anything, I am extremely disappointed. For the Governor to run on a platform of ethical behavior and, as he stated, “cleaning up the culture in Jefferson City”, I find his actions beyond hypocritical. My heart goes out to his wife, his children, and the other family affected during this difficult time.

In other news, the members of the Missouri House came together this week to make substantive ethics reform a top priority for the 2018 legislative session. The House gave initial approval to gift ban legislation that is similar to bills that received bipartisan House approval in both 2016 and 2017, but failed to secure final passage in the Senate.

This year’s version of the bill is meant to limit the influence lobbyists have on legislators by implementing a strict ban on gifts. The bill approved by the House would prohibit lobbyists from paying for things like steak dinners, tickets to sporting events and concerts, and travel and lodging expenses. The sponsor of the bill said it is meant to restore the public’s trust in its elected officials by eliminating any appearance of impropriety and banning all gifts that could give a lobbyist undue influence.

The bill now awaits a final vote in the House before moving to the Senate for consideration.

Moreover, as the nation paused to recognize Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11, the members of the House took action to address the growing problem that has devastated lives in the state and across the country. The Missouri House gave first-round approval to legislation that would make Missourians better aware of the resources available to assist victims of trafficking.

The bill would require the Department of Public Safety to develop a poster to promote the use of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline. The posters would be displayed at common areas where human trafficking can occur such as hotels or motels that have been cited for prostitution, and train and bus stations. Currently 28 other states require or encourage the display of trafficking hotline posters.

The House now needs to vote a final time on the bill before sending it to the Senate.

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

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

-Jason

 

 

 

House Gives Initial Approval to Ethics Reform Legislation (HB 1303)

The members of the Missouri House came together this week to make substantive ethics reform a top priority for the 2018 legislative session. The House gave initial approval to gift ban legislation that is similar to bills that received bipartisan House approval in both 2016 and 2017, but failed to secure final passage in the Senate.

This year’s version of the bill is meant to limit the influence lobbyists have on legislators by implementing a strict ban on gifts. Currently, Missouri is one of only 10 states to have no limit or ban on gifts from lobbyists. The bill approved by the House would prohibit lobbyists from paying for things like steak dinners, tickets to sporting events and concerts, and travel and lodging expenses. The sponsor of the bill said it is meant to restore the public’s trust in its elected officials by eliminating any appearance of impropriety and banning all gifts that could give a lobbyist undue influence.

The bill does contain common sense exceptions that would still allow lobbyists to make expenditures to the entire General Assembly. The exception would allow for events to which every member of the House and Senate are invited at least three days in advance. The sponsor explained the exception is meant to allow for grassroots-driven events where large groups of Missourians have the opportunity to meet with all members of the legislature. The bill also contains an exception that would allow a legislator to receive an award or accept flowers for the funeral of a loved one without breaking the law.

The bill now awaits a final vote in the House before moving to the Senate for consideration.

House Members Continue the Fight against Human Trafficking (HB 1246)

As the nation paused to recognize Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11, the members of the House took action to address the growing problem that has devastated lives in the state and across the country. The Missouri House gave first-round approval to legislation that would make Missourians better aware of the resources available to assist victims of trafficking.

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Missouri currently ranks 20th in reported human trafficking cases. The state saw 74 human trafficking cases reported in 2017, and more than 200 cases reported over the last two years, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Missouri is part of a global problem that has seen the trafficking industry grow into a multi-billion dollar industry.

The legislation approved by the House builds on past efforts to address the trafficking problem by making Missourians better aware of the resources available to assist victims of trafficking. The bill would require the Department of Public Safety to develop a poster to promote the use of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline. The posters would be displayed at common areas where human trafficking can occur such as hotels or motels that have been cited for prostitution, and train and bus stations. Currently 28 other states require or encourage the display of trafficking hotline posters.

Supporters of the bill say that requiring the posters to be displayed will help inform the public about human trafficking, and will help victims identify resources that can provide assistance. They note it’s also critical that law enforcement receive tips to help combat trafficking.

The House now needs to vote a final time on the bill before sending it to the Senate.

Federal Income Tax Changes

In light of the recent passage of the federal income tax overhaul, I thought it would be beneficial to provide you with a brief summary of the major changes.  The net effect of most of these changes is that corporations will see a significant decline in their tax rate, individual tax payers are being encouraged to take the standard deduction instead of itemizing, and the income tax brackets for filers are generally adjusted down.  Below is a brief list of the changes.

Changing from existing federal tax law:

  • The corporate income tax rate is reduced from 35% to 21%
  • Changes to the income tax brackets (10% up to 37%)
  • The Affordable Care Act individual mandate is removed
  • The standard deduction is increased:
  • From $6,350 to $12,000 for single filers
  • From $12,700 to $24,000 for married filing jointly
  • 529 education savings accounts are now eligible for K-12 spending
  • Allows for expenditures up to $10,000 to private institutions
  • The Child Tax Credit is increased from $1,000 to $2,000:
    • Is now refundable up to $1,400
    • For single filers making up to $200,000
    • For married filing jointly making up to $400,000
  • Creates a $500 credit for non-child dependents (includes parents and adults with disabilities)
  • Pass thru entities get up to a 20% earnings deduction that begins to phase out at $315,000
  • The estate (death) tax threshold is doubled
  • The $4,050 personal exemption is removed
  • The tax preparation deduction is removed
  • The moving expenses deduction is removed
  • Alimony is no longer deductible
  • Increases limits on the alternative minimum tax
  • Eliminates the $4,050 personal exemption
  • The state and local tax (SALT) deduction is now capped at $10,000

Not changing from existing federal tax law:

  • No changes to classroom supplies deduction
    • If a teacher uses personal money to purchase supplies
  • Home owners’ profit off of sale is still at the capital gains rate
  • Tuition waivers for graduate students remain tax free

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 415-B, 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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