Friday, January 22, 2016

Speaker of the House: We will work on legislation banning lobbyists' gifts

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

Thoughts on the Governor’s Final State of the State Address

This week the governor delivered his final State of the State Address before a joint session of the General Assembly. Although I disagree with this governor on many things, I think it is important to recognize and thank Jay Nixon and his wife, Georganne, for their more than three decades of public service to our state.

Just as he has done with his addresses in the past, his speech this year was filled with inspiring words and some lofty spending goals, but it lacked specific plans to accomplish these goals. Once again this governor called for Medicaid expansion despite the out of control growth that Missouri is seeing in the current system. During Nixon’s seven years in office Medicaid enrollment has grown more than 11 percent, and Medicaid spending is up more than 27 percent, which equates to hundreds of millions of our tax dollars going into a flawed system.

It was refreshing to see the governor come out in support of the legislature’s work to take care of people with developmental disabilities. In the past his administration has been a roadblock to our efforts as a Republican legislature to increase funding for the developmentally. If the governor is serious about his commitment he will be a welcome partner in our fight for those who truly cannot take care of themselves.

Highlighting the Accomplishments of Republicans in the State of the State Response

I was honored to be asked by my fellow Republicans to give the response to the Governor’s State of the State address. If you would like to view my response this is the link to the video:

The main focus of my response was highlighting some of the good work the Republican majorities have accomplished over the last few years. We have much to be proud of, including the first tax cut in more than ninety years and reducing the number of abortions in Missouri by more than 30 percent over the last ten years. I also talked about some of the serious challenges we face like updating Missouri’s ethics laws and restoring the public trust in our State government.

House Continues to Move Priority Legislation

The House is already making huge strides on ethics reform. For the second week in a row ethics bills moved through the Government Oversight and Accountability Committee and will be ready for floor debate as early as Monday of next week. Last week the House sent four pieces of legislation to the Senate that updated reporting requirements for legislators on financial disclosures; prohibited legislators from also being political consultants; and closed the revolving door of legislators leaving and becoming lobbyists. Next week the House will consider a measure that would ban lobbyists from giving gifts or meals to legislators.

The House has wasted no time in moving other common sense legislation like Voter ID. Two pieces of legislation that would make it more difficult to commit voter fraud received House approval and now will be sent to the Senate. The House also gave initial approval to a resolution rejecting a tax increase on agriculture land that had been recommended by the State Tax Commission. If approved by the Senate the resolution would ensure that taxes on farmland are not increased this year.

We will continue working on common-sense solutions to Missouri’s problems. If I can be of service to you please feel free to contact my office.

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