Senator David Sater’s Capitol Report for the Week of March 20: Missouri Senate Wraps Up Successful First Half of Session

Sater - Capitol Report Banner - 010913 copy

This week marks the traditional halfway point of the annual Missouri legislative session at the State Capitol. The Senate and House adjourn for the week to give legislators the opportunity to return to their districts, meet with constituents and local leaders and brief them on the progress of the General Assembly on the issues important to them. This is essential in reminding lawmakers who they really work for — the people. Too many go to Jefferson City or D.C. and forget the reason they are there or the promises they made to the people who sent them. Lawmakers close to and informed by their constituents is the model our Founders intended, and to do otherwise will lead to the breakdown of our democratic form of government.

With that in mind, I always strive to vote the way the people who elected me would expect me to vote. Sometimes that is easier to determine than others, but I do know that creating jobs and growing our economy is what is important to the people of southwest Missouri. One of the pillars of a strong economy is a low, fair tax structure that ensures everyone pays their fair share but not more than they should. To this end, the Senate has already passed legislation re-exempting delivery charges from sales and use taxes. This is necessary because of a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling that opened the door to more taxes on these services. Senate Bill 16 clears up any confusion on the collecting of sales tax on delivery charges and ensures the Department of Revenue cannot overstep its authority again by unfairly and unnecessarily taxing consumers and businesses.

A skilled workforce is another important part of a strong economy. Employers increasingly are demanding more skilled workers and the complexity and know-how needed for a growing number of jobs these days means we need the right tools to supply employers with the skilled workers they need. Just last week the Senate passed Senate Bill 10, which will make it easier for businesses to work with our network of community colleges to get their employees trained or retrained in whatever capacity they need to succeed. Currently, the Missouri Works Training program is a complicated and difficult program. A company collects withholding tax on their new employees and remits it to the state each quarter; the tax is then redirected to a job training fund. The money from that fund then goes to a community college to cover the costs of a job training project. This requires a company to have significant accounting capabilities in order to meet reporting requirements. This often prevents small and medium-size businesses from participating in the training program.

Senate Bill 10 will instead move us to a system where the state is able to provide up-front resources to employers. For every year the state has more money for job training, a business will be able to reduce the amount of withholding tax they are required to collect. One of the advantages of upfront funding is that the job training will actually get done, and the community or technical college can be paid up front for the project, which means they won’t have to wait months, or even years, to be fully compensated. Another advantage of SB 10 is that it would only require companies to report back to the state at the end of the year, rather than quarterly. This will open the door for companies of all sizes to take advantage of the great job training opportunities our community colleges can offer. Senate Bill 10 will make it easier for businesses to access customized job training programs and employees will come away with a new trade or an enhanced skillset — making them more marketable and, ultimately, more successful.

I also know that the people of southwest Missouri respect the rule of law and expect their fellow citizens to respect the law. During the first half of session, the Senate approved Senate Bill 34, which would crack down on previously deported illegal aliens who come back and commit assaults or other dangerous felonies. These individuals would face three to 10 years in prison. Most Americans see the benefit of and support legal immigration but cannot and will not support illegal immigration, which is a deliberate violation of the law. You couple this with an individual who commits a serious felony and was already deported once and then re-entered the country and committed another crime, and you have a situation where the state must step in and ensure our laws are enforced and people are held responsible for their actions.

As always, I welcome your ideas, questions and concerns about Missouri government. You may contact me at the State Capitol as follows: (573) 751-1480, or by writing to Sen. David Sater, Missouri State Capitol, Room 416, Jefferson City, MO 65101.