Missouri General Assembly

Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Senate is scheduled to debate its main ethics bill on Wednesday.

The bill would expand income reporting requirements to legislative staff members, provide the state Ethics Commission with a full-time investigator, and bar campaign contributions when the legislature is in session. It would not, however, reinstate campaign contribution limits. Senate President Pro-Tem Charlie Shields sponsored the bill.

Kansas City, Mo. – The Missouri Senate has overwhelmingly passed a resolution rejecting the State Tax Commission's move to reassess property values for the state's farmlands.

The State Tax Commission last month recommended raising the productive value of the state's best agricultural land by 29% and lowering values on low-producing lots by 25%. GOP Senator Bill Stouffer says in addition to crop growers, the move would hurt cattle ranchers, even though pasture land assessments would go down.

Jefferson City, Mo. – Supporters and opponents of scrapping the state income tax in favor of an expanded sales tax sounded off on the issue at a Missouri Senate committee.

Among the resolution's supporters was lobbyist and former GOP House Member Ed Robb. He told the Senate committee on fiscal oversight that the measure would transform Missouri into a "mecca for investment and job opportunities."

Jefferson City, Mo. – Legislation that would expand Missouri's ban on texting-while-driving to everyone has drawn lots of support. In a Senate committee meeting, lobbyists for highway workers, law enforcement, senior citizens, and bicyclists spoke in favor of the bill. No one spoke against it. The bill is sponsored by Democratic Senator Ryan McKenna of Jefferson County.

Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri's budget picture remains bleak, as lawmakers begin to consider Governor Jay Nixon's spending plan and come up with their own.

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering reminded the Senate Appropriations Committee Monday that revenue collections will continue to lag. But she also said Missouri is expected to receive $300 million in federal dollars that can be used for state expenses.

GOP Senator Kurt Schaefer of Columbia expressed concern that the Nixon Administration is depending on money that may not come.

Jefferson City, Mo. – Republican leaders in the Missouri House and Senate returned to their party's traditional themes, after talking up ethics and the economy on the legislature's
opening day last week.

Led by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, GOP leaders pledged first and foremost not to raise taxes this year.

"Taking more money from Missouri families is not a sensible solution to fix whatever budget problems we face today," said Kinder.

Jefferson City, Mo. – An audit finds Missouri needs to do a better job of tracking how much revenue is lost through sales tax exemptions.

State Auditor Susan Montee said the state has 131 tax exemptions, ranging from food and medicine to construction materials.

"It is a number of $150 billion that is being subtracted off of gross sales revenue. Five years ago in our report it was 120 billion," said Montee.