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Capitol update

We are now in the middle of the legislative session. The majority of our time is hearing the various bills in the different committees. This coming Thursday will be the last day to file a bill this session. At this time, we now have about 40 bills that have been sent to the Senate and are beginning to now be assigned to the committees in the Senate.

This past Monday, HB 1288 made it through Fiscal Review and we can expect to hear it on the House Floor in the near future. This bill renews the tax credit for the surviving spouse of first responders, pregnancy resource centers and food pantry tax credits. This year, we are expanding the food pantry credits to include soup kitchens. While working at St Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, we noticed that not all were able to take certain items that were available to them. For the simple reason, that if you are homeless you have no stove, no refrigerator or other working appliances. In cities, homeless are more apt to go to soup kitchens than food pantries. It only makes sense, to include soup kitchens in these tax credits.

On Wednesday, Representative Mike Henderson presented his HB 2306 relating to the ASARCO funds. I sit on the committee that this bill was referred to and spoke passionately about this bill being moved forward. This bill refers to funds relating to cleaning up the areas that were damaged in the lead belt area. The funds in this account have dwindled over the last 15 years due to the fact that our previous Governor used money from this fund to purchase state parks. HB 2306 would set up an agency to start the process of releasing the money that is just sitting there earning only about one half of a percent while the cost of repairing any sites just keeps escalating. It is past time to get this process started!

A bill that I have sponsored in the past and will try again to get passed, is HB 2122 relating to dealer license plates. There are too many people driving around with dealer plates that have been given to dealer’s family members and friends. When you are able to drive with a dealer’s plate, you do not have to pay sales tax or personal property tax on that vehicle. The Department of Revenue estimates that this bill has a positive fiscal note of about $20 million dollars. Abusing the system hurts all of us, especially when we have to make the cuts to our senior citizens, education and higher education. We don’t need to give away millions of dollars in revenue just so some can avoid paying sales tax.

I always enjoy seeing any of our groups or individuals who are able to travel to our State Capitol. This week I had the pleasure of meeting with Mike Millikan and Josh Barrett who were here to represent the Convention of the State Day. Also visiting the Capitol were Stephanie and Tracy representing the SEMO Family Violence Council.

Kevin Engler

Kevin Engler

This report was filed Feb. 23, 2018

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