FROM THE CAPITOL
Wed, 06/01/2022 - 4:14pm admin
At the Missouri Capitol, spring session has come to a close. The Governor may call a special session this summer, but no decision has been made. As previously mentioned and because of a very small group in the Senate, there were fewer bills passed this year. Here are a few bills that passed both the House and Senate that you might find interesting. All bills are subject to either Governor veto or approval.
First, let’s discuss HB 2005. This bill was sponsored by a good friend of mine, Mike Haffner. Mike is a retired veteran (jet pilot) and is running for House Floor Leader, a race that will be decided in the House later this year. Mike is a good and honorable person and has my support.
HB 2005 was written to provide greater protection to farm owners in Missour Missouri farmers from eminent domain abuses . In a small geographic corridor running from east to west across the state in the very flat areas of northern Missouri, it is a terrible problem. It’s simply cheaper for the large interstate “utility” companies to use loopholes in Missouri law to condemn private land across this corridor for their own benefit. Mike has filed this bill (or ones very like it) for several years, but until now, his bills had not passed. Also every year, landowners (farmers) within the corridor testified in favor of the bills in House Judiciary hearings. I will never forget one landowner in tears testifying that she had 8 utility easements (each 150 feet wide) that have “gobbled up” her property. These sad life stories required us to act.
HB 2005 (and its predecessors) has always had House support, but until this year, the bills died in the Senate. However this year, several farm groups from across the state rallied in support, and HB 2005 was finally passed by both House and Senate. Among other provisions (with a few exceptions), this law requires condemning authorities to pay 150 % of fair market value for condemned agricultural land. It also requires that a local farmer be appointed as one of the 3 disinterested commissioners that are part of the formal court condemnation case. This bill was assigned to House Judiciary, and as committee chair, I was glad to work closely with Mike in getting this important bill through the House and to the Senate.
Next, we’ll talk about a Missouri tax refund. As mentioned in an earlier report, Cody Smith, House Budget Chair, first proposed this one year tax cut, and the Missouri Senate did eventually agree to a one billion dollar tax refund. This is a traditional tax credit or refund for working Missouri taxpayers each earning no more than $150,000. When you complete your Missouri taxes and still owe Missouri income tax on the bottom line, then this gives you back up to $500 more per person/$1000 more per couple.
Although some argued that instead of tax refunds, the state (like the federal government) should consistently shift more taxpayer dollars to the unemployed. In Washington, it has become increasingly popular year after year to borrow more money (increasing the federal deficit) for spending on social programs. Sadly, federal deficit spending only increases the national debt that our children and grandchildren must repay through their future tax payments.
As we have recently seen, deficit spending often does drive inflation even higher. The piper must always be paid. In Missouri, we must balance our state budget every year. We simply cannot print more money and hope for the best.
Most people from this area and across Missouri agree. Budgets should be balanced, and when possible, it’s a good thing to give unspent tax dollars back to taxpayers. Several of us are working on legislation for next year that will provide for a permanent (not just single year) Missouri tax cut.
I’ll wrap up this Report talking about HB 1878 (also referred to as the “election integrity bill”). This passed bill requires voters to present a photo identification before they cast a vote. This bill also requires paper ballots, and bans “ballot harvesting” and drop boxes for absentee voting.
Since 2016, our Missouri Constitution has specifically approved photo identification, but because of opposition by some, it has taken a long time to get the specifics worked out. Overwhelmingly, the folks contacting me support stronger election integrity laws and passage of this type of legislation.
On the other hand, there is one part of this bill that I don’t like. It eliminates the presidential preference primary in Missouri. Instead, it provides for the election of local caucus delagates (without a voter preference primary) to gather at convention to nominate a presidential candidate. County clerks from across the state supported this provision citing the millions of state and local dollars saved by eliminating the primary.
I believe that the fundamental right to vote should be more important than cost savings, but I would like to hear from you. This change came from the Senate, and the entire bill was prsented as an up or down vote at the very end of session as the Senate left a day early. House leadership has promised that we will revisit this issue again early next full session. What are your thoughts?
It is my honor to serve as your representative and to speak for your commonsense values. If you would like to schedule a specific time to meet locally or at the Capitol, please call my office at 573-751-1455, or email my office at email@example.com.
David Evans, Missouri State Representative, 154th District[DE1]