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Earlier this week and last week, my fellow senators and I had the distinct pleasure of welcoming several groups of students to the Capitol, including members of FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) and FFA (Future Farmers of America).

Wednesday, Feb. 13, was Career and Technical Education Day at the Capitol, and we welcomed students from various career centers and technical education institutes from around the state. It is so important for these students to be able to visit the Capitol and see how their state government functions. I was a state officer for DECA in high school, and I remember visiting the Capitol and how much I enjoyed witnessing state government in action.

Last week, I was pleased to be a part of the governor’s roundtable discussion on workforce development priorities. This discussion focused on the proposed Fast Track program, which is the subject of Senate Bill 16. More than ever, employers need workers that are qualified and equipped with the skills necessary to fill job vacancies, and this program would give Missourians the tools and training needed to work in today’s high demand jobs. Fast Track will provide tuition assistance to adults working toward a bachelor’s degree. I applaud the governor’s dedication to workforce development, and I am pleased that the roundtable discussion focused on the tremendous impact this program could have on Missouri’s economy.

One bill I have sponsored for the 2019 legislative session, Senate Bill 202, was heard by the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 13. It calls for a fair, equitable way of distributing mining royalties in our state. Currently, mining royalties are distributed by the federal government to 29 different counties. However, only two counties, Iron and Reynolds, have active mines that accrue royalties. This distribution model has caused financial strain on these counties because they are producing the valuable materials, but are not receiving their fair share of the royalties. These royalties are used to fund public schools, local law enforcement and the maintenance of roads and bridges. I look forward to further discussing this piece of legislation with my fellow committee members.

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, Senate Bill 28 was discussed on the Senate floor. This is not a bill I sponsored, but it is one that is important to the residents of my district. This legislation caps the amount of tax credits issued through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program. Under the proposal, the amount of tax credits that would be issued per year would be capped at 72.5 percent of the amount of federal low-income housing tax credits allocated to the state. This amount translates to roughly $115 million per year for the program. After numerous hours of debate, I was proud to see my colleagues reach a compromise on this important issue. This issue is very important to our community, and I am hopeful that it will make its way to the governor’s desk before the end of the legislative session.

I always appreciate hearing your opinions and concerns regarding your state government. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101; or email me at gary.romine@senate.mo.gov. For more information, please visit my official Senate webpage at www.senate.mo.gov/romine.

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