The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 12, 2013

Susan Redden: Lawmakers cite last-week priorities

By Susan Redden
news@joplinglobe.com

— Joplin-area lawmakers are celebrating some successes and holding out hope that other bills they favor can be passed in the final week of the Missouri General Assembly’s current session.

Contacted Friday, Sen. Ron Richard and House members from the region said they will be working on behalf of bills involving economic development and jobs, taxes, farm issues and veterans’ benefits as this year’s session draws to a close at 6 p.m. on Friday.

As majority floor leader in the Senate, Richard, of Joplin, will be spending much of his time in the last week keeping bills moving through the upper chamber.

But Richard said he also will be focusing on economic development measures and reforms to workers compensation and the Second Injury Fund. There are “details to work out” on the proposals, he said, “but those are the things I want to see get done.”

Rep. Bill Lant, of Pineville, who is chairman of the House Workforce Development and Workplace Safety Committee, said he is hopeful a Second Injury Fund bill will be passed and signed by the governor.

“We’ve been working on this for several years. The bill is Senate Bill 1, if you want to know how long we’ve been working on it this session,” he said.

Lant said he also is optimistic about the prospects for a prevailing wage bill that has been sent to the governor. The bill, which Lant described as a “good compromise,” would allow school districts in 2nd and 3rd Class counties — and Newton County — to opt out of prevailing wage requirements for school construction and maintenance projects.

Rep. Tom Flanigan, of Carthage, said his last-week efforts will be on behalf of a bill that would allocate state funds to Joplin for tornado recovery and on behalf of a taxpayer amnesty bill he has sponsored for the past several years. Both measures are proposed as individual bills and attached to other measures.

Rep. Bill White, of Joplin, said he will continue to push for passage of a bill that would give tax credits to weapons manufacturing companies if they would move to the state. White said he proposed the bill because he does not believe right-to-work and tax reform measures aimed at attracting more employers to Missouri will pass this session.

“Tax credits would get their attention, and we need that to happen before they’ll consider coming to the state,” he said.

Rep. Charlie Davis, of Webb City, who is chair of the House Veterans Committee, said he has been pleased with the approval of several measures designed to help veterans and is hopeful a couple more will be passed by Friday.

He said lawmakers had “finally” passed the Military and Overseas Voter bill, which is something the U.S. Department of Defense “had been asking for a long time.

“We worked with the secretary of state’s office to get the bugs out, and now it’s on the governor’s desk,” he said. “The whole crux of it is to make sure service members get their ballots on time, so their votes count.”

The House also passed a bill to exempt proof of residency requirements for children of deployed veterans if they have to change school districts, and Davis said he also is working for passage of a measure that would give military veterans college credit for courses or training completed in the military.

Rep. Bill Reiboldt, of Neosho, who is chairman of the House Agriculture Policy Committee, said House and Senate conferees are working on language that would put a proposed “right to farm” constitutional amendment before voters.

“We’re close to coming up with language everyone can agree on,” he said. “If it passes the Senate, it would have to come back to the House, but the House has already passed it twice.”



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