Economic Development, Chairman
Joint Committee on Gaming & Wagering
Joint Committee on Life Sciences
Appropriations - Health, Mental Health & Social Services
Administration & Accounts
Appropriations - Revenue, Transportation & Economic Development
Tourism & Natural Resources
Interim Committee on Improving Government Responsiveness & Efficiency
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Greetings! Hope your summer is off to a good start! I hope you are able to enjoy some summer activities with family and friends.
Overview of August Ballot Measures
At the beginning of August we will head to the voting booth to decide on a number of proposals that would make substantive changes to the Missouri Constitution. Changing the constitution is no small matter and for that reason I think it’s important that we all be as educated as possible before voting on these measures. Below is a brief overview of each proposed constitutional change. I hope you will find these helpful as you look ahead to the Aug. 5 election.
Amendment 1 - Right to Farm
Amendment 1 will give Missouri voters the opportunity to enact a constitutional amendment affirming the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices. Known as the “Right to Farm” bill, it would, upon voter approval, “ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed." The amendment would prevent changes made to state law that infringe on the rights of farmers.
Amendment 5 - Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Amendment 5 is a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would reinforce the right of Missouri citizens to keep and bear arms, ammunition and accessories in defense of their family, in addition to the current rights to protect a person’s home, property or themselves. The amendment would also make these rights inalienable, and obligate Missouri to uphold these liberties and under no circumstance decline to protect against their infringement.
Honoring Those Who Gave All
This Memorial Day, as we pay our respects to our nation’s fallen heroes, I think it is extremely important that we have a healthy dose of perspective. It is too often easy for us as Americans to take our many freedoms for granted; to not fully appreciate the immense privilege it is to live in the greatest nation on this planet. When we do that, we diminish the importance of the sacrifices that have been made to give us this blessing of liberty, and this honor of being Americans.
For that dose of much-needed perspective we have only to look at the brutal reality that many people live in around the world. In Nigeria we saw tragedy strike as the Boko Haram terrorist group wiped out a defenseless village. In Thailand we see a nation in turmoil as the Prime Minister was removed from office, which marks the third time this has happened in the last 8 years. And in Crimea we saw the people able to vote on the issue of annexation, but only as soldiers wielding guns stood over them at the polling place.
These are just a few of the many examples we can see if we look at the world around us – examples that should remind us of how fortunate we are to live in a nation that is a shining beacon of hope for the rest of the world. This is a nation built on freedom and equality and a profound respect for the sanctity of all human life. And on a day like Memorial Day, when we pause to honor those who gave their lives so that we might have these many blessings, it is crucial that we realize this great nation was not inherited; it was earned.
We must continue to work each and every day to honor those who have sacrificed to make the American dream a reality. They paid the dearest price because they knew there was no way of life more perfect than ours, nor any nation that better embraced and valued the freedoms necessary to give every man, woman and child the opportunity to pursue their dreams. So on Memorial Day we say thank you and we pledge to do all we can to make certain their sacrifices will have not been in vain. We owe our fallen soldiers a debt of gratitude we can never repay, but that should never stop us from trying to pay back this debt each and every day we continue to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I hope that your Memorial Day is a great one and that you pause to reflect with your family and friends about the heroic sacrifices made by our nation’s service men and women. May God bless you; may God bless our nation’s heroes; and may God bless the United States of America.
On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 11th, we honor the grace, wisdom, and strength of all of our mothers, and all women that have made a difference in a child’s life.
Last Week of Session
We are going into the last week of session. The pace really picks up now, with both Chambers trying to finish up bills to get them Truly Agreed and Finally Passed. It’s a challenging and exciting time at the Capitol.
Legislation Passed This Week
Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto of Tax Cut Legislation
What the Senate began on Monday night the House completed Tuesday morning as a supermajority in both chambers voted to override the governor’s veto of a bill that would reduce Missouri’s income tax for the first time in nearly a century. Now set to become law, the bill will provide tax relief to approximately 2.3 million families and 121,000 small businesses in Missouri.
It was in September of last year when the House fell short in its efforts to override a veto of a larger version of the tax cut. At the time, some members were concerned with provisions in the bill that could have had unintended consequences. Tax cut proponents came back this year with a revised version of the tax relief package with more safeguards in place. This revised version won the support of the entire Republican caucus and one member from the other side of the aisle.
The version of the bill now set to become law will begin taking effect in 2017. The delay was put in place to give the legislature the opportunity to fully fund the K-12 school funding formula before the phase-in starts for the tax cut. Once implemented, SB 509 will cut the income tax for the first time in nearly a century and will provide additional tax relief to low income citizens. The bill will reduce the individual income tax by a total of one half percent over a period of five years by increasing the deduction from $2,100 to $2,600 for families making less than $26,000 a year. The phase-in of the tax break will be based on state revenue increases of at least $150 million each year. The bill also will provide additional relief to lower income Missourians by increasing the personal income tax exemption amount by $500 for taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of less than $20,000.