Capitol Report

Greetings from the capitol. The weather is finally warming up here and the House is getting a lot of good things done for the people of Missouri. This week we passed the biggest tax cut in the history of Missouri. We were one of the few states that taxed Social Security Benefits but we have given relief to Seniors now.
The Missouri House has voted to provide more than $1 billion of tax relief to Missouri families, retirees, and businesses. By a vote of 111-48, House members approved HBs 816 and 660 to cut both the personal income tax and corporate income tax, and exempt social security benefits from state tax. If you look at the states that are growing, look at states like Tennessee and Texas and Florida, and you look at what they are doing, they’re growing their economy. There’s more jobs, more business investment, more growth, more population growth. What are those states doing? They’re cutting taxes. They’re giving more money back to their people, keeping it in the pockets of the people and not of the government. They’re not growing the government. They’re growing their communities and the economies and their businesses, and that’s what we need to do.
Under HBs 816 & 660 the state’s top personal income tax rate of 4.95% would drop to 4.5% on January 1 of next year. The bill preserves triggers put into place when the General Assembly approved a tax relief package last year. If revenues grow at a healthy rate and all triggers are met, the top tax rate would be reduced to 4.05%. The bill also includes a reduction for the corporate income tax that currently stands at 4%. The bill would drop the rate to 2% beginning January 1, 2024. The plan includes additional triggers that could eventually phase out the corporate income tax entirely if state revenues grow at a robust rate. This tax cut on businesses means a stronger Missouri, stronger Missouri businesses, more jobs, the stronger possibility that the businesses yet to be created will be created right here in Missouri.”
The final component of the bill would exempt social security benefits from state tax. The trend nationally is at the state level to not tax social security and we would like to make Missouri the next domino in that path. We want to encourage retirees to come to the state of Missouri.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
House Gives Stamp of Approval to Legislation to Protect Property Owners (HB 909)
Lawmakers took action this week to prevent a potential landfill from being located near a residential area on the border of Jackson and Cass counties. With strong bipartisan support, the House approved HB 909 to create a one-mile buffer between landfills and neighboring municipalities. The bill comes in response to public outcry about the potential development of a new landfill in southern Kansas City that would border Cass County. The development would be adjacent to tens of thousands of residents in the cities of Raymore, Lee’s Summit and Grandview and multiple schools that serve those communities.
Under current law, the Department of Natural Resources is prohibited from issuing a permit for the operation of a solid waste disposal area designed to serve a city with a population greater than 400,000 inhabitants located in more than one county, if the site is located within one-half mile of an adjoining municipality without its approval. The bill would change the required distance from the adjoining municipality from one-half mile to one mile.
In speaking about the need for the bill, the sponsor said existing law is insufficient to protect the lives and livelihoods of the thousands of Missourians that would be impacted by the proposed landfill.
He said, “This process is broken. It is absolutely broken. The location of landfills should be open and transparent, publicly discussed with the community, and not done in the dark of night.” He added, “This project is exactly what is wrong with politics. No one outside of the owners and developers of this $1 billion project and the 18 hired lobbyists want this landfill.”
The House approved the bill by a vote of 139-16. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.
House Passes Bill to Help Prevent Veteran Suicides (HB 132)
House members this week approved legislation aimed at improving the state’s efforts to prevent suicide among its veteran population. Representatives voted 156-0 for HB 132, which directs the Missouri Veterans Commission to work with the Department of Mental Health to come up with recommendations on how Missouri can prevent veteran suicide. 
The bill is sponsored by a state representative who is a U.S. Army Veteran who served with the 8th Special Forces Group as a Green Beret. He has spent much of his career in the House dealing with veterans’ issues, and with ways to stem suicide not only among current and former service members but in the population in general.
He told his colleagues on the House floor, “Many of you know, I’m very passionate about this. I can tell you of friends that I’ve lost in the last month – veterans that have committed suicide. A young man that was 27 years old, that grew up across the street from me took his own life. This has got to stop.”
The bill sponsor speaks often of the social media campaign #22, and his personal goal of decreasing or eliminating what that number represents. 
“#22 stands for the number of veterans that commit suicide every day,” he said. “If we can start to look at programs and we can look at procedures that can be done and best practices that are being done by not only our state but throughout the entire United States, we can start making a difference in this, but we need to do more than just talk. We need to do research. We need to look at non-traditional methods of treating [post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury] and veteran suicide.”
Though he and others in the legislature and state government have been talking about these issues for years and developing related programs, the sponsor said Missouri has a long way to go. HB 132 would require the Commission to provide recommendations and make efforts to adopt procedures, programs, treatment options, additional aid, and any other assistance deemed necessary by the Commission to assist in the efforts to prevent veteran suicide. It would also require the Commission to report annually, beginning June 30, 2024, on new recommendations and on the implementation and effectiveness of the state’s efforts.
One supporter of the bill, who is a veteran of the Navy and the Army Reserves and has many service members in his family, said, “I have long believed, and have advocated for, the philosophy - If we send them we have to mend them, and we have to bring them all the way home. It’s time for us to do all that we can to make sure that occurs.”
Missouri as of 2020 had the 14th highest suicide rate in the U.S., with about 1,125 people having died by suicide in that year. The rate among veterans is approximately 1.5 times higher than in the rest of the population, and experts are telling legislators they fear that suicide rates are going to increase. 
The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration. The same bill passed out of the House last year but did not come to a final vote in the Senate. 
If we can ever be of help please feel to call the office at 573-751-2042.
God bless, Travis
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Howell County News

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