The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

November 27, 2011

Susan Redden: Lawmakers preparing bills for 2012

JOPLIN, Mo. — It has not been the usual summer-fall break for members of the Missouri General Assembly this year.

Lawmakers wrapped up the regular session in May, then were called back for a special session that ended in October. Several legislators who were contacted last week said they are working on legislative proposals that they expect to file before the regular 2012 session convenes on Jan. 4.

Thursday is the first day that bills can be pre-filed for the session, and lawmakers said they are preparing bills that they hope to file on that day or soon after.

It will be one more time for some legislation that was considered in earlier regular sessions or the special session.

Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said he is working on a version of a bill that would allow for the creation of special tax increment financing districts to generate revenue in areas hit by disasters.

Richard promised to develop a tighter version of the legislation after a bill that was heard in the special session did not advance because of opposition from lawmakers who feared what they called “unintended consequences.”

Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, said he — for the third time — will introduce a tax amnesty bill that would encourage Missouri residents to pay overdue state taxes by forgiving payment of interest and penalties.

“I’m working on a couple different versions; it’s passed the House, and I really want to get it to the governor’s desk,” he said.

When work started on the bill, officials estimated it would boost state revenues by about $74 million in currently overdue taxes. That estimate has grown to more than $75 million, Flanigan said.

Flanigan, a member of the Joint Committee on Legislative Research, said he also will introduce a bill designed “to update their duties and bring them into the 21st century.”

Reps. Bill Lant and Bill White, both Republicans from Joplin, say they are working on prevailing-wage bills. The issue has surfaced locally in the wake of the May 22 tornado.

Lant said the measure he is helping to craft would give leadership in school districts, counties and city governments within an area declared a disaster the option of whether to use prevailing wage in reconstruction projects.

“It would be a local option thing, but of course it depends on what makes it out of committee,” he said.

Lant said he also is working on a bill that would offer tax deductions for the construction of storm shelters.

White said he is working on several prevailing-wage proposals, including one that would prohibit a requirement for prevailing-wage payments on projects funded by the Missouri Housing Development Commission. That mandate has been challenged by local lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who has said he will ask the commission to change the requirement when it meets in December.

Other legislation he intends to propose, White said, would clarify adoption law, modify state requirements on when adults must consent for medical treatment, and help in the funding of veterans homes in the state.

Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, said several bills will be filed early out of the Agriculture Policy Committee on which he serves.

Reiboldt also raised concerns about petition signatures being gathered for a ballot initiative called Your Vote Counts. Backers want Missouri voters to enact the measure, in response to action by the governor and lawmakers after voters last November passed the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act.

The measure would “greatly limit” the power of the Legislature on initiatives enacted by voters, Reiboldt said.

Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at sredden@joplinglobe.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258.

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