May 18, 2018
Legislative Session Concludes – Part 1
Senate Bill 573 – Veterans Income Tax Deductions
Senate Bill 573 modifies several provisions of state law relating to tax deductions for National Guard and Reserve members. This legislation is a continuation of Senate Bill 814, which was passed and signed into law in 2016. Both of these bills are designed to exempt income of active military personnel and members of the National Guard and the reserve components of the Armed Forces.
It is important to recognize the huge impact of the military on Missouri’s economy. Between 2013 and 2015, military spending constituted more than $32 billion per year in goods and services purchased from Missouri companies and resulted in 183,000 jobs created in the state. This number has steadily increased over the last several years, and the economic impact of the military on our state is substantial.
As a member of the Missouri Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission, I had the opportunity to work with my colleagues to identify ways to improve Missouri’s tax code as it relates to veterans and military personnel. In 2016, Missouri was ranked 28th in military-friendly tax policies. After the passage of SB 814, Missouri rose to 17th place. Senate Bill 573 would place Missouri tied for 10th place nationwide, only being outranked by states with no income taxes. It is crucial we keep our place as a state that welcomes military personnel and veterans. After considering a variety of options, the Missouri Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission made SB 573 its top priority for the legislative session.
The United States Air Force recently selected Whiteman Air Force Base to house the new B-21 bomber. The B-21 Raider would be one of two nuclear-capable bombers in the Missouri Air National Guard. According to reports from Air Force officials, using the current bomber bases will minimize operational impact, reduce overhead, maximize re-use of facilities and minimize cost. The decision-making process involved in placing important assets, like the B-21, are based, in part, on the investment a state is willing to make in support of the armed forces.
There is fierce competition between states when it comes to attracting military personnel. Senate Bill 573 is one way we can continue to make Missouri a military-friendly state. I was proud to sponsor this legislation, and I am thankful for my colleagues’ support of these important proposals that sends a strong message to our country’s military –you are wanted and welcomed in Missouri.
Senate Bill 793 – Raise the Age
While our state is facing many challenges this year, juvenile crime continues to fall. In fact, over the last 10 years, the annual number of crimes committed by juveniles has dropped by more than 50 percent. With this in mind, I believe this year is the perfect time to join forty-five other states in raising the age of adult court jurisdiction from 17-years old to 18-years old. Currently, Missouri, along with only four other states, automatically tries 17 year olds as adults, no matter how minor the offense.
I filed Senate Bill 793, which raises the age to 18 years old in Missouri, except in the most serious offenses. The vast majority of 17-year-olds arrested are accused of offenses that are non-violent and involve no weapons. Missouri has been considered a leader in juvenile justice, but our state is falling behind. Enacting this legislation would allow these young people to have access to education and rehabilitation while being protected from the kinds of assault and abuse that are too common in adult jails and prisons.
A recent study conducted by Missouri State University details the economic benefits of raising the age of court jurisdiction. The study shows young people, who are retained in the juvenile system rather than the adult prison system, have better success as adults by working better jobs, paying more taxes and contributing to the local economy. Recidivism rates are also significantly lower for youth who are in the juvenile system rather than the adult system. These factors suggest that enacting this legislation would benefit our state’s economy.
Beyond the practical benefits to the state, raising the age also protects parental rights. In other aspects of Missouri law, 17-year-olds are considered children; however, if these individuals are arrested their parents suddenly lose their rights to support, defend and care for their child. These are the times when parents are needed the most, and denying them the opportunity to support and care for their child violates their rights as parents and harms the child in question. Additionally, juveniles in adult prisons are thirty-six times more likely to commit suicide. This statistic is shocking and we must take steps to protect our young people, and provide them rehabilitation and a path forward.
When implemented, SB 793 will also raise the age qualification from 17 years old to 18 years old for certain state services. Enacting this legislation also brings Missouri into compliance with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. This legislation provides practical benefits to the state of Missouri while promoting restorative justice for our young Missourians.
Stay tuned for more legislative updates next week! 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.
- Sen. Ron Richard’s Legislative Column for the Week of May 14, 2018
- Sen. Jay Wasson’s Legislative Column – May 18, 2018