Listening to Our Military Leaders
This week at the Capitol, the Senate and the House held our annual Missouri Military Awareness and Appreciation Day, where we invited top military leaders from around the state to meet with lawmakers and discuss their concerns about Missouri’s future. I was honored to welcome Maj. Gen. Kent Savre, U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence at Fort Leonard Wood, Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets, Whiteman Air Force Base and Brig. Gen. Greg Mason, Missouri National Guard to the Capitol during their visit to Jefferson City.
Every year, Military Appreciation and Awareness Day offers lawmakers and military leaders a wonderful opportunity to get together and discuss how best to utilize Missouri’s resources and improve the futures of our state’s service members. For example, this past week, members from both the House and Senate Veterans Committees came together with the visiting generals to discuss issues such as helping our service men and women transition into careers after the military, offering programs in school districts to support military children and how to best allocate state funds for the future of Missouri’s defense infrastructure.
Some of the most chronic issues for American military members surround adjusting to life and work after service. As a veteran myself, I know first-hand just how difficult it can be for some men and women to find and maintain success after their military career has ended. One of the ways the Legislature is able to help active and veteran service members is by providing financial assistance and compensation, through programs such as tax deductions, tuition grants and allowing in-state residency status for service members looking to enroll in school.
I am extremely excited to tell you that one of my own military-friendly pieces of legislation, Senate Bill 814, was perfected and passed in the Senate on Thursday, March 3 by a vote of 31 in favor and none opposed – a total majority. This Senate bill would allow active duty Missouri residents who are stationed within the state to deduct any military income from their gross state taxable totals. This bill would be a big step toward making Missouri as military-friendly as possible, and would help our military families achieve and maintain the successful futures they deserve. Under current law, in-state service men and women have to file military incomes on their state tax returns, but this is no way to repay the sacrifice and dedication of our state’s bravest citizens. I am confident that my bill will be passed in the House and move to the governor’s desk to become law. This is just one step the Legislature can take to help our active and veteran military members, and it can make a large difference in ensuring a brighter future for military families throughout Missouri.
I was recently honored to become the new Missouri Chairman of Vets4Energy, which is a group of volunteer veterans who advocate for energy policies that sustain our national security. The group’s main goal is to help service members transition their careers in the military to careers in America’s oil and natural gas industry. This is one of the largest fields in the country, and it is a great opportunity for service men and women looking to begin new lines of work after their service has ended. Over the next five years, the oil and natural gas industry is expected to create around 1 million new jobs, and it’s the group’s mission to help former military members step into those positions. I am very proud to be a part of such a wonderful organization that is dedicated to helping American military families.
On a non-military-related note, my Senate Bill 794, which deals with tax exempt medical equipment purchases, was also perfected and passed in the Senate by a total majority vote. This bill creates a sales tax exemption for all sales, rentals, parts and repairs of durable medical equipment and health care equipment parts. Under SB 794, elderly, disabled and medically disadvantaged Missourians would have better access to the expensive medical equipment they need. I’m confident that this bill will also pass through the House successfully.
I urge you to contact me with any questions or concerns you have about state government so I can better represent you during the 2016 legislative session.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Wayne Wallingford, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101, or email at email@example.com or www.senate.mo.gov/wallingford.
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