Sen. Jay Wasson’s Legislative Column – May 18, 2018

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May 18, 2018

Sen. Wasson’s Column for the Week of May 14, 2018


This week marked the end of the 2018 legislative session and my final session as a state senator. I believe the General Assembly had a successful session and worked together to create good policies for the state of Missouri. Legislation I filed was truly agreed and finally passed either amended onto other Senate bills or included in House bills, but the end result is the same: we passed good policies to improve the lives of Missourians living and working in our state.

House Bill 1415 – Professional Development and Work Training

House Bill 1415 includes provisions regarding professional development opportunities for teachers, workforce development for students and a reauthorization of the Missouri Works Program.

The Missouri Works program helps businesses access capital through withholdings or tax credits. This capital allows businesses to purchase equipment, build expansions and create jobs. One of the most crucial aspects of the Missouri Works Program is the Missouri Works Training program. It focuses on developing a competitive workforce through various training programs. Partnerships with community colleges and technical schools throughout the state provide employers with flexible and effective training options for their employees. These programs assist with the creation of thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in capital investment for our state.

Under this legislation, students will have the opportunity to choose between taking the ACT WorkKeys Assessment or the ACT assessment. The WorkKeys assessment measures foundational skills required for success in the workplace.  By allowing students to choose which exam they would like to take, schools can facilitate better preparation for students entering the workforce directly after high school.

House Bill 1415 also includes new provisions incentivizing schools to offer industry certifications and apprenticeship programs in addition to a high school diploma and dual credit opportunities. In an increasingly competitive work climate, it is becoming more important than ever that students are fully equipped to enter the workplace if they so choose after graduating from high school.

HB 1415 provides teachers the opportunity to count hours spent in a local business externship as hours of professional development; thus allowing teachers to use their time effectively and encouraging them to work in the community to learn the newest developments in their field.

Senate Bill 894 – Incentivizing STEM Careers

Senate Bill 894 includes several provisions encouraging STEM and computer science training in Missouri. Language from my bill, Senate Bill 1056, allows Missouri taxpayers who hire a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) student for an internship or a full-time STEM position to apply for $10,000 of their state tax liability to be placed in the Missouri STEM Fund. Employers can choose to direct some of their tax dollars toward the STEM fund to aid in future training and development.

Young Missourians have a vested interest in developing their skills in science and technology, but many of them do not have ample opportunities to expand their knowledge in these areas. The bill also creates the STEM Career Awareness Program to encourage middle school students to consider pursuing careers in STEM related fields.

Senate Bill 894 also requires new computer science standards to include coding and programming along with guidelines designed for K-12 schools. This will encourage more Missouri students to study computer science by allowing these courses to count toward high school graduation.

The job market for individuals with STEM and computer science skills is booming, and new technologies are creating more job opportunities each day. Encouraging individuals of all ages to consider STEM and computer science education will ultimately aid in the economic development of our state.

Senate Bill 807 – Higher Education Reform

One of the most important aspects of economic development is establishing a highly trained workforce. This is why I filed Senate Bill 807 which increases the efficiency and accessibility of degree programs offered through the University of Missouri System. These measures would allow working Missourians to pursue high-level degrees without needing to relocate or quit their jobs.

Another provision in the bill allows students attending certain virtual education institutions to participate in the Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program. Additionally, SB 807 requires all college students attending a University of Missouri institution to pass a test on the provisions and principles of American Civics as a condition of graduation.

Senate Bill 807 is a positive step toward spreading out the educational resources in Missouri and encouraging collaboration between state colleges and universities.

Senate Bill 629 – Incentivizing Job Creation

Senate Bill 629 is designed to ensure the Missouri Supplemental Tax Increment Financing Fund continues to incentivize job creation in Missouri. The proposal restructures the current state TIF to allow more developers to take advantage of this redevelopment tool without increasing the overall cap.  This ensures that several companies can take advantage of this incentive program at the same time and bring more jobs to Missouri. This bill received support from industry leaders and policy analysts.

Economic development and job growth are my top two priorities and I believe this bill will continue to provide the tools necessary to attract new businesses and job creators to Missouri.

House Bill 1288 – Benevolent Tax Credits

The General Assembly also approved House Bills 1288, 1377 and 2050, proposals that extends the availability of tax credits intended to benefit benevolent organizations. One organization benefitting from this legislation is Care to Learn based out of Springfield. The mission of Care to Learn is to provide immediate funding to meet emergent needs in the areas of health, hunger and hygiene so every student can be successful in school. I believe offering this tax credit ensures that those who provide vital services for their communities, can continue to support their mission.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any other matter regarding your state government, please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-1503; you are also welcome to e-mail me at