We could not have had a more beautiful Easter weekend. I certainly enjoyed being home and spending time with my family and friends and I hope that all of you had the chance to do the same.
In a few weeks, I will be back in the district and will be available to meet with you regarding any state issues or concerns that you may have. This week at the Capitol, I met with different members from the Department of Transportation to discuss road concerns on Hwy 61 and Hwy 221. MoDOT is looking into both areas. I also met with several Freshman Representatives (retired teachers or administrators) to brainstorm ideas to make our education system be the best it can be.
The Missouri State Capitol held a Commemoration Ceremony for the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. There were over 400 Veterans from across the State that were being welcomed home by Governor Parson. I was honored to play a small part in this ceremony by being one of the Representatives to pin a welcome home medal on one of the Veterans. I would like to say a very heartfelt Thank You to all the Vietnam Veterans in our district. We all appreciate the sacrifices you have made for our great country. More information is provided later in this report.
(HJRs 48, 46 & 47)
Members of the Missouri House want to give voters an opportunity to strengthen and change some of the provisions contained in the Clean Missouri constitutional amendment that was approved last November. Lawmakers gave first-round approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that supporters say would clarify and improve the ethics reforms and redistricting process put in place by Clean Missouri.
The proposal is meant to give voters a choice with clear ethics reform and a much better way to draw districts where communities and families mean something. This proposed amendment provides a better solution to keep districts and communities in closer proximity to each other through a bipartisan process so more people have a seat at the table to say how Missouri House districts are drawn.
The newly proposed constitutional amendment would:
• Prohibit all gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers. The current version of Clean Missouri allows for gifts up to $5;
• Lower campaign contribution limits for state senate candidates from 2,500 down to $2,000, the same as the House of Representatives.
• Create bipartisan citizens commissions to draw redistricting maps rather than using a state demographer appointed by the State Auditor to oversee the redistricting process which is in the current Clean Missouri amendment; and
• Establish criteria that ensures the redistricting process is compliant with the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, that it provides communities of interest with localized representation and participation in the political process, and that it produces districts that are compact and contiguous and achieve partisan fairness.
The proposal offers a more complete version of ethics reform. It is a true 100% gift ban. It provides total transparency and fairness in drawing the districts with the priority of keeping communities together.”
The legislation now requires another vote in the House before moving to the Senate. If approved by both chambers, it would go on the November 2020 ballot for voters to approve it.
The Missouri House of Representatives has a proud tradition of recognizing and honoring the service of Vietnam Veterans. In 2012 the state legislature passed legislation to establish a Vietnam Veterans Day, which takes place on March 30, and has held ceremonies each year in the State Capitol to pay tribute to the service and sacrifices of the heroes who served during the Vietnam War. This year’s event was held in conjunction with the 13-year Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War that began in 2012.
Other Bills Sent to the Senate
HCB 1 and HB1237 authorizes the conveyance of specified state property and provides the legal description for each property. One such parcel is in the Farmington Industrial Park. This legislation clears the path for the Farmington IDA to keep ownership of land which had previously been acquired from the state but had some contract language which needed to be cleaned up. The Governor is authorized to sell, transfer, grant, convey, remise, release, and forever quitclaim all of Missouri's interest in real property specified in the bill which is in the best interests of the state.
HB 919 creates the "Save the Family Farm Act," creating new provisions regulating the partition of property among heirs. Supporters say the bill would help keep family farms and other property within the family by establishing a process to allow an heir to assert an interest in the property and proceed through a judicial process of equitably purchasing the property.
HB 1099 defines "concession agreement," as any license or lease between a private developer and an institution of higher education regarding capital projects. The bill allows institutions of higher education to enter into long-term concession agreements as long as they follow the competitive bidding process for public private partnerships. This bill also gives Southeast Missouri State University authority to develop a statewide mission in visual and performing arts, computer science, and cybersecurity without having to submit an application to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education. Supporters say the bill will allow facilities to be built on campus property, leased to the institution of higher learning, and allow private business to generate revenue to offset costs.
HB 337 establishes the "Senior Services Growth and Development Program" within the Department of Health and Senior Services to provide additional funding for senior services through area agencies on aging. Supporters say this is a small step toward restoring badly needed funding for significant unmet needs of seniors.
HB 685 requires that for purposes of property zoning classifications, any sawmill or planing mill must be classified as agricultural property. Supporters say that in some counties which have planning and zoning with an agricultural exemption, saw mills are being zoned commercial and must follow the ordinances for commercial property when in fact the property should be zoned agricultural. The bill would clarify that saw mills are agricultural operations and should be classified as such.
Senate Bills in the House of Representatives
SB 182 reauthorizes the prohibition on the issuance of incentives under the BUILD program, the new or expanded business facilities program, the Urban Enterprise Loan program, or the Missouri Works program for businesses that relocate from certain counties in Kansas to certain counties in Missouri, contingent on similar action taken by Kansas. Such prohibitions expired on August 28, 2016. Supporters say the use of these incentives rarely create new economic activity in this unique situation since businesses can move across the states' border to take advantage of these incentives. An amendment added in the House would establish the Land Bank Act, which authorizes St. Joseph to create a land bank.