On Oct. 25, I held a stakeholder meeting in Jefferson City to develop a plan of action for the implementation of my HB 1503. You may recall, HB 1503 will allow veterans priority access to low-interest loans to fund a small business endeavor once they exit from military service. It was a very productive meeting, and I want to thank all those who attended.
Statewide Ballot Measures
On Nov. 6, the citizens of Missouri will have several legislative/constitutional issues to decide. As Election Day approaches, I will continue to recap the several statewide ballot measures approved to appear on the ballot this November. This week, the topic is Amendment 1.
Amendment 1 Official Ballot Title:
This is the amendment referred to as “Clean Missouri.” If you think it is about the environment, you are mistaken. If you think it is about ethics reform, you are only partially correct. The provisions of the amendment are as follows:
· change process and criteria for redrawing state legislative districts during reapportionment;
· change limits on campaign contributions that candidates for state legislature can accept from individuals or entities;
· establish a limit on gifts that state legislators, and their employees, can accept from paid lobbyists;
· prohibit state legislators, and their employees, from serving as paid lobbyists for a period of time;
· prohibit political fundraising by candidates for or members of the state legislature on State property; and
· require legislative records and proceedings to be open to the public
State governmental entities estimate annual operating costs may increase by $189,000. Local governmental entities expect no fiscal impact.
A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution, a “no” vote will not.
I try to refrain from pure editorializing on these issues, but this amendment is very significant, so I will share some of my thoughts on the matter. The appealing parts of the amendment reduce the limits on campaign contributions that candidates for state senator or state representative can accept from individuals or entities. The amendment creates a $5 limit on gifts that state legislators and their employees can accept from paid lobbyists or the lobbyists’ clients, and prohibits state legislators and their employees from serving as paid lobbyists for a period of two years after the end of their last legislative session. The amendment prohibits political fundraising by candidates for or members of the state legislature on state property. However, this is only a portion of the story.
Currently, bipartisan house and senate commissions redraw boundaries and those maps are adopted if 70 percent of the commissioners approve the maps. If 70 percent cannot be reached, the process is turned over to the judiciary (this happened during the last cycle). This amendment has a state demographer (there are no criteria given for the demographer’s qualifications) chosen from a panel selected by the state auditor (I’m not certain this will even pass a constitutional challenge) to redraw the boundaries and submit those maps to the house and senate leadership. So, the practical effect is that many people will not have their representative as a participant in the redistricting process. This amendment would then allow changes to the demographer's maps only if 70 percent of the commissioners vote to make changes and do so within two months after receiving the maps from the state demographer. And finally, all correspondence in legislators’ offices will be subject to the open records law. So, if you call with a driver’s license problem, I must keep a record of conversation and someone may publish it to the public. In other words, there will be no private conversations with this office if the amendment passes.
If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes, but there will be a $189,000 annual price tag to maintain the office of the demographer and his/her staff.
New Budget Explorer Site Provides Missourians with Detailed Look at the State Budget
Missourians interested in learning more about how their tax dollars are utilized in the state budget can access a new website recently unveiled by the Missouri Office of Administration. The new website, budgetexplorer.mo.gov, is designed to give users a comprehensive look at the state budget, as well as links to more detailed information.
The Missouri Budget Explorer website was created to give the public a simple, one-stop resource that contains everything they need to know about the state budget. Through the site, Missourians can explore the details of the budget and the sources of the state’s revenues. The site will allow visitors to see how the state allocates funds among the 16 executive departments, the elected officials, the legislature, and the judiciary.
The website utilizes infographics to help make the budget information more easily understandable for the public. The site is meant to give the public not only a better understanding of the state budgeting process, but also a better understanding of the role of each state department and the services they provide.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.