Friday, January 18, 2013
No railing at feds, waving guns like flags, or howling at the moon in Richard column
(I thought Turner Report readers would appreciate the opportunity to read a report from a Missouri state legislator who is not railing at the federal government, waving an assault rifle like an American flag, or howling at the moon. This one is the latest from Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin.)
This was the first full week of session, and much of our work was done in committees, which began meeting on Tuesday. Most of our focus will be on committee hearings with legislation slowly making its way to the floor for debate.
Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey announced committee appointments for the new General Assembly. This year, I will chair the Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee, which considers matters relating to ethics and the conduct of public officials and rules for the governing of the Senate.
I will also serve as vice chairman of the Administration Committee and the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee. The Administration Committee oversees all financial obligations and business affairs of the Missouri Senate, among other duties. The Gubernatorial Appointments Committee is responsible for approving the governor’s appointments to state boards and commissions.
On Wednesday, the Senate Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee heard legislation that would create a tax incentive to attract amateur sporting events to the state, similar to a bill I filed last year. The measure would help cities and communities offset the costs of hosting amateur sporting events, such as college sports tournaments.
These events are a huge economic boost to the areas that host them. Visitors spend money at hotels, restaurants and local stores, which in turn brings in more revenue for the state. The incentive would be capped at $3 million, and assuming each visitor spends more than $100 a day, the costs of the program would easily be offset by the additional revenue.
Next week the Appropriations Committee will begin hearing testimony from state departments on their funding needs for the next fiscal year. Crafting the state budget is one of our most important tasks, and, due to declining revenue in recent years, one of our hardest.
Things look to be a little better this year, though. Revenue collections were up during the first half of the current fiscal year, and we are on track to exceed earlier projections.
We are enjoying a slight increase in budgetary funds, but it’s important we maintain the fiscal conservatism that enabled us to weather the last few years. The overall market is still unstable, and uncertainty from the federal government has only exacerbated the problem. We have to continue looking for ways to make our state government more efficient and eliminate any waste.