Missouri GOP leaders happy with Session
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Missouri Republicans are pleased with the progress of their priority bills during the first half of the General Assembly’s session.
Lawmakers are on their spring break, and won’t return to the Capitol until March 25, when they will begin the final seven weeks before the Constitution requires the budget for the 2013-14 business year to be passed, and the final eight weeks until the Constitution requires all business from this session to be finished.
“It’s been a long week and a long couple of months — but it’s been a productive couple of months,” Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, told reporters Thursday afternoon.
House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said the House and Senate Republicans “have been, largely, united on all of our priorities and all of our goals,” sending two bills to the
governor this week — which means he must decide to sign or veto them within 15 days of getting them.
Dempsey said Senate Republicans “this year wanted to set a path to move major policy initiatives to help get people working in the state of Missouri — to spur employment, increase personal incomes and to grow our economy in a way where we would be a leader a leader in our region (and) in our nation.”
And he cited nine “major priority” bills sent to the House that meet that goal, including:
• “A small incentive to help us attract amateur sporting events.”
• Extending tax credits for benevolent groups.
• Strengthening “the definition of misconduct in our unemployment law, which will eliminate over $500 million of liability to our employers.”
• A comprehensive economic development and tax credit reform bill that “brings our overall cap on tax credits down by over $1 billion, over 15 years.”
• Major tax policy changes, reducing income tax rates for all Missourians.
• Helping improve the nearly bankrupt Second Injury Fund.
• A “paycheck protection” bill that requires public employees who are union members to approve having their union fees deducted from their paychecks.
• A bill intended to speed up the state’s ability to “take over” failing school districts, like the Kansas City Public Schools, that continually fail to meet the state’s accreditation guidelines.
Jones said: “We have a great deal of pride in what we’ve accomplished.”
He reminded reporters he began telling Missourians last November about his “Triple-E Agenda, focused on economic development, energy and education reform.”
But Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus — a Kansas City Democrat whose 10th District was moved to east Central Missouri in redistricting and includes Callaway County — said the GOP priorities don’t hit the mark well.
“I think that we continue to not address the issues that are most important to Missouri,” she said. “I wish that we could put aside some of the controversial stuff, and really spend a lot of time on getting some job-creation things that are not just going to be able to get through the Senate, but also through the House and past the governor.”
And House Assistant Minority Leader Gail McAnn Beatty, D-Kansas City, agreed with Justus that lawmakers “have not, so far, had any legislation dealing with job creation.”
Republican press conference video at http://youtu.be/wKFLe4AIThE
Democrat press conference video at http://youtu.be/7GXk8kAHIzU