There have been several events this week including an important court decision, and opposition to stadium financing as proposed by the governor. I believe it is worthwhile to look in-depth at these two issues as they affect many Missourians.
Judge Strikes Down St. Louis Minimum Wage
During the 2015 Regular Session both St. Louis and Kansas City considered ordinances to raise the minimum wage above the Missouri state level. After repeated suggestions from the General Assembly that this would not be legal, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen passed a defiant wage hike. The legislature responded with a clear statement in HB 722.
The issue hinges on something called the Dillon Rule, dating back to jurist John Dillon's interpretation in Municipal Corporations (1872). The basis of the rule is the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which reads, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." There is no mention of governmental entities below the state level. Therefore, the basis of the rule holds that local governments have only the powers delegated to them by the state. The U.S. Supreme Court cited Municipal Corporations in its 1907 ruling in Merrill v. Monticello concerning the existence of a local municipality.
The General Assembly passed HB 722, ultimately vetoed by Governor Nixon. The bill addressed two issues of local ordinances overriding legislative laws, one of these being minimum wage. On September 16, the General Assembly overrode the governor's veto by a vote of 111-44 and placed the measure into law.
Judge Steven Ohmer followed the basis of the Dillon Rule in his decision yesterday. His in-depth written decision stated in detail that the legislature holds authority and delegates to local entities. Mayor Francis Slay has vowed an appeal.
Momentum against Stadium Financing Plan Continues to Build
The Speaker of the House recently joined the growing list of legislators who are strongly opposed to the governor's plans to finance a new stadium for the St. Louis Rams. Just a few weeks ago, several legislators from both the House and Senate reacted with disappointment to the news that the Missouri Development Finance Board had approved $15 million in tax credits for the proposed stadium. They are opposed to any use of taxpayer funding for a new stadium that does not first include a vote from the legislature or the public
Now Speaker Richardson has joined the group of legislators who oppose a new stadium, which would cost nearly $1 billion, because it would incur significant debt that Missourians would be forced to pay. Richardson wants the people of Missouri to have a say in how the plan moves forward in an effort to protect taxpayers from an excessive debt burden.
As Richardson wrote in a letter sent to the governor, "We will oppose any proposal that undermines the authority of the Missouri General Assembly and the will of the people. We will not stand idly by as the people of this state are committed to millions of dollars in debt without proper legislative approval or a public vote."
The current financing plan calls for the state to issue $135 million in bonds and for another $187 million in tax credits and other state and local incentives. Payments for the bond debt would then need to be authorized by the legislature through the appropriations process. The mood in the legislature, which I share, is refusal of the governor's plan to force the state to take on
new debt without first gaining taxpayer approval.
Honoring Missouri's Heroes
As Veterans Day draws near, Missouri's public officials want to honor veterans who give of their time and energy to volunteer for worthwhile organizations in their hometowns. Currently, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is seeking nominations for the 2015 Lieutenant Governor's Veterans Service Award.
In the words of Lt. Gov. Kinder, "Many of our state's veterans, who selflessly served their nation, continue to serve their communities through volunteerism. This award provides an opportunity to recognize those efforts and honor our Missouri veterans."
The deadline to submit nominations is Oct. 31. Each nominee will receive a certificate of recognition, which will note the nominating person or agency.
To be considered for the award, individuals must have served or currently be serving in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and volunteer a minimum of 25 hours per year. A Veterans Service Award Nomination form can be found on the Lieutenant Governor's website, www.ltgov.mo.gov, under the "Veterans" banner and after clicking on "Veterans Service Award Winners." Nomination forms are also available at veteran services agencies, libraries, courthouses, senior centers and other agencies in communities throughout the state.
Winners, selected from across the state, will be announced on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. They will be presented with an official declaration from Lieutenant Governor Kinder at a ceremony in the Capitol when the General Assembly is in session to give lawmakers the opportunity to also honor these veterans.
Completed nominations can be mailed to the Lieutenant Governor's Office at 201 W. Capitol Ave., Room 224, Jefferson City, Mo., 65101, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions about the award, call the Lieutenant Governor's Office at 573-751-4727.
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at email@example.com. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.