Thursday, January 14, 2016

House Speaker: Ethics legislation passes, Voter ID sails through committe

(From Speaker of the House Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff)

The Missouri House took on the task of passing four pieces of ethics legislation. The Government Oversight and Accountability Committee on Monday passed House Bills 1452, 1575, 1979 and 1983. The bills then made their way through the House with bipartisan support. These bills ranged in purpose from increasing the number of times a legislator must submit a personal financial disclosure per year to banning elected officials from working as paid political consultants. One of the key pieces of legislation (House Bill 1979) bars elected officials from becoming a lobbyist until one year after the end of their term.

Discussion on HB 1979 centered around two different issues. The first issue was determining the length of time before an elected official could become a lobbyist. Critics believe that one year is not long enough. They proposed the waiting period to be two or even three years. Others were concerned that one year was too long and impeded on the first amendment rights of private citizens. Also a second issue dealt with when this law would be implemented.

These are the first ethic bills to be passed during this session, as more have been filed and should be heard in committee in the near future.

Voter ID Passes Committee

Representatives Justin Alferman and Representative Tony Dugger worked together in navigating Voter ID legislation through the Standing Committee on Elections and the Select Committee on State and Local Governments. Rep. Alferman brought forward House Bill 1631 which would require a photo ID in order to vote. In recent years, concerns of voter impersonation and voter fraud have grown across the country. In Missouri, the legislature attempted to remedy this issue with the passage of a voter ID law. However, the Missouri Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional under the Missouri Constitution.

Representative Dugger hopes to see this portion of the law change with House Joint Resolution 53. Should HJR53 pass, it would propose a constitutional amendment specifying that a person seeking to

vote in a public election may be required to provide a valid photo ID. With the passage of HJR 53 the Voter ID issue would be brought to a vote of the citizens of Missouri. Special provisions would be put into place for people born before January 1, 1946 or ID’s will be issued to those who are unable to pay for a birth certificate or other documentation to get a government issued photo ID.

Lawmakers Working to Block Tax Increase on Farmland

Every two years the Missouri State Tax Commission makes recommendations to raise, lower or retain the current rates of assessment on our state’s agriculture land. These proposals then go before the General Assembly where they have 60 days to either act to block the change or allow it to go into effect. In 2012, lawmakers blocked the commission’s proposals, and in 2014 the legislature did not challenge the proposal. These proposals may increase taxes in some categories of farmland while decreasing them in others.

In 2016, the tax commission is considering an increase on certain grades, namely those used for limited cultivation but are more suited for livestock and hay. Rep. Bill Reiboldt has filed House Concurrent Resolution 58 which would block the tax commission’s proposal. HJR 58 passed the Standing Committee on Agriculture Policy and Select Committee on Agriculture. It could be debated on the House floor as early as next week.

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