Anyone wanting a lesson in the legislative process could gain some insight by watching the actions of lawmakers at the Missouri State Capitol this past week. Several measures that occupied the attentions of senators in committee hearings the previous week made it onto the floor of the Senate chamber in recent days.
Sportsbook and Video Lottery
My legislation, Senate Bill 44, which authorizes sports wagering and video lottery terminals, was considered by the Small Business and Industry Committee a week ago. That committee, which I chair, approved the measure with a “do pass” recommendation. Early this week, the full Senate began discussion on the bill.
Floor debate provides senators an opportunity to ask questions, state objections and offer suggestions for improvement in proposed legislation. The airing of SB44, which occurred Tuesday evening, was a textbook example of this process. A number of senators spoke at length about the bill and negotiations continued both on and off the Senate floor. This work will continue in the weeks to come as the Senate fine-tunes this bill.
There’s a lot of interest in this legislation, not only from sports fans, but also people who understand the potential economic impact to the state of Missouri. Allowing sportsbook and video lottery terminals could eventually bring more than $300 million in new revenue to the state of Missouri, with no increase in taxes. For a reminder of the potential of these measures, we only need to look at the loss of revenue the Missouri Lottery experiences due to illegal “grey” gaming devices. A recent study of Lottery retailers along Interstate 44 showed the state misses out on more than $1 million in Lottery sales from these vendors due to underground competitors.
Low income tax credits
Another measure that moved forward this past week was Senate Bill 28, which provides funding for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program in Missouri. The legislation restarts a program that combines state and federal money to subsidize housing facilities for seniors and low-income residents. The program was put on hold as the governor called for reforms.
The Senate perfected SB28 this week, but the measure still needs another round of Senate approval before it will be considered by the House of Representatives. Once the legislation passes in both chambers and is signed by the governor, developers can again proceed on low-incoming housing projects. There are a number of senior housing facilities in the 21st Senatorial District that benefit from this important program. I look forward to the General Assembly concluding its work on this legislation so that we can address the housing needs of so many vulnerable Missourians.
Once again, I was pleased to welcome a number of visitors from the district to my Capitol office. We saw so many guests this week it’s not practical to list them all. A couple of groups merit particular mention, however.
Two groups of young people from the 21st Senatorial District were able to observe the legislative process and get a sense for the workings of their government. It was great to see students from Carrollton, Chillicothe, Napoleon and Warrensburg who traveled to Jefferson City to participate in Career and Technical Education Legislative Day. Also, I had a personal interest in welcoming members of CLIMB High, a community leadership program for Johnson County high school students. My son, Cole, is a member of this group and he was able to join with his peers to watch as I presented Senate Bill 283, which renews the Veteran’s Survivor Grant program, to the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
A note of thanks
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to my legislative assistant, Marybeth Bruns, who retired this past week. Marybeth has worked in the General Assembly for more than 24 years, including five years in my office. She is hardworking, dedicated, loyal and passionate. She has been the ultimate teammate, and she will be missed by me, my staff and constituents. I thank Marybeth for her time, energy and effort helping me and the constituents of the 21st District!
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at 573-751-4302. You may also email me at email@example.com.