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This week we had sophomores from across Southeast Missouri visit the Capitol for the annual Sophomore Pilgrimage. Visiting from my district was, Libby Turner from Arcadia Valley School. It was enjoyable being able to visit with these young students about the legislative process.

Stephanie Labron, Iron County Clerk, was in Jefferson City this week for the Missouri Association of Clerks conference. They visited the Capitol and talked with legislators regarding legislation that effects their office. Stephanie was recently elected to this position and is working hard to make sure her office is run right. Also visiting this week was Don Thompson from Washington County First State Community Bank and Chris Wigger from the Iron County branch. They were up with the Missouri Bankers Association discussing bills that will affect the banking industry and its customers.

My House Bill 722 passed out of the House this week and is moving to the Senate. House Bill 722 allows a $10 service fee to be collected by any individual who serves a summons, writ, subpoena, or other court order. Under current law, the fee can only be collected when a summons or order is served by a sheriff. By allowing others who are appointed to provide this service to also collect the $10 fee, additional revenues will go to the deputy sheriff salary supplementation fund. The Sheriff’s supplement fund is a valuable resource in our rural communities. Sheriffs in the areas that receive money from these funds can barely afford to keep good employees because they cannot afford to pay them a competitive salary, so this fund helps a lot. Many sheriffs were able to get off government assistance because of this fund.

The House has given preliminary approval to legislation that would give Missourians a break on late payment of taxes. The bill comes in response to issues within the Department of Revenue that have resulted in many Missourians owing more income tax or getting smaller tax refunds this year.

For months a special House oversight committee has investigated issues within the department. The House Special Committee on Government Oversight found not only that the department had an error in its withholding tables, but also that the department had failed to alert Missourians about how the tax code was changed and what it could mean for them.

The bill would block late payment penalties on tax debt owed to the state by individual taxpayers through the end of this year. It would also waive any interest owed on such debt until May 15. For those who might pay penalties before the bill would become law, it would require that those Missourians receive refunds.

It’s important to note that while some Missourians could see greater tax bills this year, changes in the federal tax code mean their overall debt is down. Missourians are keeping more money in their pockets, so we’ve got to fix this withholding thing but at the end of the day Missourians, as they should, are keeping more of their hard-earned money.

The legislation now requires a final vote in the House before moving to the Senate. The Speaker of the House has said the House Special Committee on Government Oversight will continue to investigate what caused the withholding problems and how the department responded.

The House has voted to allow individuals with concealed carry permits to carry firearms on college campuses in Missouri. That provision is part of a broader bill that would also allow colleges and universities to designate faculty or staff members as campus protection officers.

The legislation would help students protect themselves from sexual assaults and other threats on campus. Many people believe that allowing students to carry concealed guns would make campuses safer from active shooter situations. When Kansas passed this a few years ago they saw a 60-percent decrease in violent assaults on campus.

Currently this is another gun-free zone where people think that they can go carry out their attack and not be stopped. People can’t defend themselves in these situations, but if we give them that ability, even if the criminal thinks there’s a possibility of that, it is a deterrent immediately.

The legislation also allows higher education institutions to designate and train staff members to be campus security officers who may carry concealed firearms. Other provisions would create a STEM studies enhancement scholarship program, and bar colleges and universities from requiring students other than first-time freshman to live in campus housing

I am very excited that this weekend there will be a ceremony recognizing Piedmont as a POW/MIA City. Many of my family plan to be in attendance. Several people have reached out to me since I began this process telling me stories of how they knew my grandfather, Alex Cortez. It warms my heart to hear the stories and hear the respect they had for him.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. As your Representative I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Chris.Dinkins@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-2112.

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