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Second Round of Ethics Reform Bills Headed to the Senate (HB 2166, HB 2203, HB 2226)
On the first day of the legislative session, House Speaker Todd Richardson called on the Missouri House to make substantive ethics reform a top priority for the 2016 legislative session. Just a few weeks later, the House has made good on his promise by approving seven separate bills that take a multitude of steps to improve the culture at the State Capitol.
This week the House gave overwhelming approval to HB 2166 to alleviate the undue influence of lobbyists in Jefferson City by banning gifts and meals provided by lobbyists to elected officials; HB 2203 to limit how long campaign funds can be invested and how they can be used; and HB 2226 to prohibit task force and commission appointees from profiting from the recommendations they make. All three bills now head to the Missouri Senate for discussion.
The bills join four pieces of legislation already moving through the Senate. HB 1452 would require elected officials to file a personal financial disclosure twice each year. Current law requires only a single disclosure each year. HB 1575 would require elected officials to report lodging and travel expenses in a timely fashion. The bill requires the expenses to be filed within 30 days of the reportable event. HB 1979 would require elected officials to have a one-year “cooling off” period after leaving office before they could become lobbyists. HB 1983 would make it clear that no statewide official or member of the General Assembly can serve as a paid political consultant while in office. All four bills have already received a public hearing in the Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions, and Ethics Committee.
The Governor gave the State of the State address this past Wednesday. Along with it, he submitted the proposed 2017 fiscal year budget. The House will take a look at what is being requested over the next few weeks through Appropriations Committee hearings, make amendments the House feels should be put into place, and then voted on by the House to send over to the Senate. Even after seven years as State Representative, it amazes me how much money is spent in Missouri’s budget. This year’s proposed budget is over $27 billion dollars. About $9 billion of that is paid by Missouri taxpayers through our various taxes, another third from the Federal government, and the remainder in inter-governmental funds. We have a balanced budget requirement in Missouri, so we cannot spend more than we take in. Still, it is vitally important for the legislature to spend the taxpayer’s dollars as efficiently and as effectively as possible, which is what I will be aiming for as I participate in the budget process.
House Speaker Calls for New Investment in Missouri’s Transportation System
One of the major issues discussed by House Speaker Richardson in his response to the Governor’s State of the State Address is the need to increase investment in the state’s transportation infrastructure. Richardson noted that, “investing in our state’s transportation funding isn’t just a convenience issue; it’s one of economic necessity and public safety.”
The Speaker said he is proposing, along with his fellow House and Senate leaders, that the state reinstitute the Missouri Department of Transportation cost-sharing program. Richardson said the once popular program among Missouri cities and counties will allow local governments to work with the state to meet the infrastructure needs of their communities.
“While this proposal won’t solve all our transportation problems, this investment will send a clear signal to job creators and industry that our state is making the necessary investments and improvements to our infrastructure to allow business to capitalize, expand, and grow,” said Richardson. “And we can do it without asking Missouri families for a single penny.”
House Approves Four Ethics Reform Bills (HB 1979, HB 1452, HB 1575, and HB 1983)
On the first day of session, House Speaker Todd Richardson made it clear that substantive ethics reform would be the top priority for the 2016 legislative session. In the second week of session, lawmakers made good on his promise by giving bipartisan approval to four reform bills and sending them on to the Senate.
The bills moved quickly through the process as they were heard and approved in committee on Monday, given initial approval on the House floor on Wednesday, and then given final approval Thursday morning. The bills address a wide array of issues designed to improve the environment in Jefferson City, and begin the process of restoring the public’s confidence in elected officials. As Speaker Richardson said in his Opening Day Address, “There is no rule or law that can make our imperfect process perfect, but we can, and we must, work to improve the culture here in the people’s Capitol.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2016
UNINCORPORATED ST. CHARLES COUNTY RESIDENTS ASKED TO ARRANGE FOR FLOOD AND HEAVY RAIN-RELATED DEBRIS PICKUP UNDER THE STATE FLOOD DEBRIS REMOVAL PROGRAM
Division of Emergency Management encourages unincorporated residents affected by the December 2015 flooding and heavy rain to arrange for pickup as soon as possible
ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO – Unincorporated St. Charles County is participating in the State Flood Debris Removal Program, “Operation Recovery.” The joint state-federal program assists participating communities in the St. Louis region with debris removal after the historic rains and flooding that occurred in late December 2015. Municipalities participating in the State Flood Debris Removal Program are listed at http://www.mo.gov/flood-recovery. If you live in one of these municipalities, and not in unincorporated St. Charles County, please contact your municipal government about their participation in the program.
The St. Charles County Police Division of Emergency Management is asking affected residents in unincorporated St. Charles County to contact the division through the phone number or website below to arrange for flood and heavy rain-related debris pickup. Submissions will be forwarded to the State Flood Debris Removal Program liaison to coordinate removal:
• Phone: call 636-949-7498, listen to the voicemail instructions, and leave a message
• Web: visit www.sccmo.org/flood to fill out and submit an online form, and for tips on cleaning your home
To help the State Flood Debris Removal Program process go smoothly, the Division strongly encourages affected residents to arrange for pickup as soon as possible. Debris pickup may occur one day to several days after calling or filling out the online form to make arrangements. Residential flood and heavy rain-related debris removal will take place on an ongoing basis until the program ends (date to be determined).
Please note the following guidelines, instructions, and tips:
• Debris must be properly sorted and placed on the curb before it is removed. Curbside pickup will not occur on private roads. For debris sorting, safety and placement instructions, as well as a list of accepted items, please visit the State Flood Debris Removal Program website at http://www.mo.gov/flood-recovery. Children and pets should not be in or around flood or heavy rain-related debris.
• Only residential homes are eligible for pickup.
• This program is ONLY for flood and heavy rain-related debris - requests for other types of debris removal from homes unaffected by flooding and heavy rains cannot be granted.
• If you have special needs and need assistance moving flood and heavy rain-related debris, please call United Way 211 (dial 2-1-1 or 1-800-427-4626).
For questions about the program, please contact the St. Charles County Police Division of Emergency Management at 636-949-3023 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2016 Legislative Session Begins with Call to Action from House Speaker Richardson
The opening day of the 2016 legislative session was marked by a speech from House Speaker Todd Richardson in which he called upon members to work together to, “find answers to the seminal challenges of our time and make tough decisions.” Richardson reminded members that the Missouri House of Representatives, “cannot be a place where inaction, infighting and indifference define us. This must be a place where we tackle and solve real problems.”
In his speech, Richardson highlighted many of the recent accomplishments of the legislature. He emphasized the General Assembly’s work to end the practice of taxation by citation in the municipal court system; passage of the first income tax cut in a century; reforms to the state’s welfare system to help get people out of poverty rather than trap them in it; and efforts to reduce the numbers of abortions in the state by 30 percent over the last 10 years.
Richardson also cited several accomplishments that have not received as much attention including efforts to make oral chemotherapy medications more affordable for Missourians battling cancer; work to ensure Missourians with eating disorders have access to the help and care they need; and proactive steps taken by the legislature to protect children from the ever-growing dangers of human trafficking. As Richardson said in his speech, “By doing so, we’ve made our state a better, more compassionate place.”