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May 2, 2012

Posted Thursday, May 10, 2012, at 3:28 PM

What a difference a year makes. Last year in Southeast Missouri we had massive rains producing unprecedented flooding and major economic impact on agriculture. This year what winter we had was mild an early spring allowed agriculture a jump start. Summer clothes were the natural in April with folks opening their swimming pools and outdoor activities and BBQ's the normal. Here at your State Capitol we work the final three weeks of session to complete legislation important to the citizens of Missouri. Without any doubt the most important of these issues is the budget.

House Concurrent Resolutions Third Read and Passed

The Joint Interim Committee on State Employee Wages worked very hard throughout the past year to develop strategies for increasing the wages of Missouri's state employees so Missouri can become competitive with peer states in regard to state employee wages. Sadly, Missouri is ranked 50th out of 50 states for the wages paid to state employees. HCS HCR 33, will reauthorize the "Joint Interim Committee on State Employee Wages" to function in the legislative interim until 2014 for the purpose of studying and developing strategies for increasing the wages of Missouri's State Employees.

House Concurrent Resolutions Adopted

The Lake of the Ozarks is one of the top tourism spots in the state. One of the main perks of the lake is that boat docks, personal housing, and businesses were able to build on the lake shore making access to the lake very easy. Last summer, Ameren Missouri was required to develop a shore line management plan. This plan required that every nonconforming structure be demolished. The plan has since been changed, and HCR 46, encourages Ameren Missouri, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the affected property owners to cooperate in coordinating a swift resolution to the shoreline management plan project at the Lake.

In an effort to keep energy affordable, HCR 49, requests that the U.S. Congress disapprove the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards regulation because of the unprecedented economic impacts of such regulation and ensure that the EPA replaces it with a sensible regulation that achieves reductions in mercury emissions without unnecessary increases in energy prices, job losses, and threats to electric reliability.

The United States Secretary of Defense recently announced that the Pentagon will seek new rounds of base closures, mission realignments, and procurement decreases as part of the federal budget cutting process. HCR 47, strongly urges the United States Department of Defense and Missouri's Congressional delegation to protect, promote and leverage Missouri's military bases and agencies to keep our economy in sound condition.

Trying to keep Missouri on the same playing fields as our neighboring states and working hard to keep businesses in the State of Missouri, HB 1592, was Third Read and Passed. This bill establishes the STAR Bonds Financing Act which allows the governing body of a city or county to issue a bond that is to be repaid by the revenues received by the city or county from any transient guest, state and local sales and use taxes that are collected from taxpayers doing business in that portion of the city or county redevelopment district. This bill provides another important economic development tool for local governments by providing a number of safeguards to make certain the project is worthy of bonding and can produce enough revenue to repay the bonds. Every single day Missouri competes with our eight surrounding states for jobs and business opportunities, and we must not pretend that this competition does not exist. We must provide Missouri's job creators with smart, sensible economic development tools to compete in the regional and national job market and STAR Bonds provide one of those tools.

Increasing security and transparency in the petition signature process by enhancing penalties for fraud and requiring a public hearing on a petition, HCS HB 1869, was Third Read and Passed. Our process is in great need of reform in this area and this is a step in the right direction.

Protecting Missouri workers, HB 1540, specifies that an employee will not be liable for a co-employee's workplace injury or death. However, an employee will not be released from liability for injury or death if the employee is engaged in an affirmative negligent act that purposefully and dangerously caused or increased the risk of injury. This is a major issue that is causing great uncertainty for all Missouri employers.

As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House. If you would like to discuss any issue, please call 573-751-3629. You can also email me at Kent.Hampton@house.mo.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.

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