This Week’s Guest Column from Sen. Will Kraus for the Week of April 3, 2017

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Senate Passes Pro-military, Pro-business Legislation 

Here in Missouri, we’re truly fortunate to have such a robust military presence. From our brave men and women in uniform at Whiteman Air Force Base and Ft. Leonard Wood to all those serving in the Missouri National Guard, our military personnel and military families are an essential part of who we are as a state. As both a lawmaker and veteran, creating policies that assist our military community has been a personal priority since my first day in office. I am therefore pleased to report that the Senate has approved legislation I’m sponsoring to make it easier for members of Missouri’s military community to start their own businesses.

New deployment orders generally mean it’s moving time for military families. For military spouses who happen to own their own businesses, moving often means closing their businesses’ doors. They face other challenges as well. For example, the unemployment rate for married military spouses is roughly triple that of married civilian spouses, and they tend to make significantly less than their civilian counterparts. Employers can also be reluctant to hire military spouses due to their frequent moves. Clearly, anything we can do to ease the process of starting over will be a tremendous help for our highly mobile military families.

Senate Bill 18 waives the secretary of state’s business startup filing fees for military spouses and veterans. It is an expansion of a 2014 measure (Senate Bill 600) that exempted members of the Missouri National Guard and any other active duty military from the same fees.

Military-friendly legislation is not only important in how it creates a more inclusive, welcoming environment for military members and their families, it’s also central to demonstrating Missouri’s commitment to keeping our military bases open and operating at full capacity. When it comes time to complete a round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) takes into consideration all the various efforts each state has made to support its military.

Consider this: DOD spending supports approximately 275,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout Missouri, with its total economic impact to our state calculated at nearly $40 billion annually. So should we ever lose a base or see a major reduction in our military population, our economy would take a substantial hit. Measures like SB 18 are a huge plus in Missouri’s column and can make all the difference in determining whether one of our bases will be included in the next round of closures.

Over the years, it’s been my honor to sponsor several successful policies aimed at helping our military. Senate Bill 18 is another means by which we can show our appreciation for our military community’s service and sacrifice while promoting job growth and economic development in the Show-Me State.

Join the conversation and follow me on Twitter @SenWillKraus. Pease feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and will try to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at (573) 751-1464, or email at Will.Kraus@Senate.Mo.Gov.

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Senator Will Kraus serves Eastern Jackson County in the 8th State Senatorial District.