Give Liberty a Chance!

God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies…

And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgement of faith in God and His works.

- Frederic Bastiat, The Law, 1850

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Session Wrap Up

The final days of the 2nd Regular Session of the 94th General Assembly came to close at 6pm on May 16, 2008. Each session brings with it numerous opportunities and challenges and this session was no different. The top three issues addressed by the General Assembly this year were property tax reform, illegal immigration, and economic development.

Property Tax Reform (SB711)
Judging by the contacts I receive from constituents, property taxes have become a number one priority of the people in Clay County. I have heard from many of you who are struggling to afford to stay in your homes due to steep increases in assessed valuation that in turn lead to a large increase in your property tax bill and the arrogance of our county to make us pay for penalties and interest due to an error of their own making. The legislature was successful in passing legislation that requires that property tax increases exceeding inflation be automatically rolled back to the previous year’s tax rate. Additionally, this legislation requires that counties refund fees or interest charged when the county was at fault. Additional property tax relief will also be available to seniors and the disabled with incomes up to $30,000 for a single homeowner and $34,000 for married couples by increasing the “circuit breaker” tax credit up to $1,100.

Illegal Immigration (HB1549)
Under new legislation the state of Missouri will pick up where the federal government has failed. Inadequate enforcement of our immigration laws by the federal government gave Missouri cause to empower our law enforcement, protect taxpayer benefits, and remove the magnets that attract illegal aliens to Missouri.

This comprehensive legislation requires the Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies to verify the immigration status of any person arrested and inform the federal authorities if a person is found to be here illegally and allow additional Missouri law enforcement officers to receive training to enforce federal immigration laws. In addition to empowering law enforcement, this legislation also makes it clear that illegal aliens will not have access to taxpayer benefits, such as state-provided health insurance and food stamps. This will help add greater accountability to our public benefit programs while saving taxpayers money. In addition, this legislation prohibits sanctuary cities designations and criminalizes those who transport illegal aliens in violation of human trafficking laws. Employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens or who intentionally falsify the classification of employees as contractors will also face sanctions and penalties.

Economic Development (HB2393)
Job creation remains a top priority for the legislature. This year, the legislature expanded the Quality Jobs Act and the Enhanced Enterprise Zones program to further attract and retain family supporting jobs. The legislature also approved a “mega project” plan to attract an aircraft assembly plant in Kansas City. This project has the potential to directly employ 2,100 people with many additional ancillary jobs that could double that number. In addition, a proposal was approved to finally clear the way for new development around KCI that could attract new warehousing and light manufacturing opportunities for our region.

In addition to these major initiatives, a wide range of legislation dealing with everything from agriculture to education to autism health care and scrap metal theft were also addressed.

Mortgage fraud legislation passed this session lets those looking to take advantage of homebuyers know that Missouri will not tolerate mortgage fraud. The legislation places local prosecutors on the same footing as federal investigators who were the only ones that were able to prosecute offenders and were extremely inefficient. It also creates civil and criminal penalties for residential mortgage fraud.

Legislation was also passed to create the "Missouri Returning Heroes' Education Act" to assist veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan by limiting the tuition public universities can charge. It also creates a tuition grant for survivors of veterans who are disabled or killed in combat and seeks to improve educational opportunities for the sons and daughters of military personnel by removing barriers placed on them caused by frequent moves.

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