Sen. Karla Eslinger’s Legislative Column for April 8, 2022

Planting Seeds for Growth in Agriculture

With the May 13 end of session already looming on the horizon, the Senate put the theatrics of recent weeks behind us this week and focused on advancing legislation. We moved a number of less controversial bills and resolutions out of the Senate and on to the House of Representatives. We also passed a comprehensive agriculture bill that includes language from bills I introduced. Meanwhile, the House worked toward crafting a budget for Fiscal Year 2023 against the backdrop of an encouraging state revenue report that reflects a healthy and growing economy in Missouri.

A delegation from the Ava chapter of FFA visited Sen. Eslinger as part of Farm Bureau’s Youth Leadership Day at the Capitol.

Among the legislation clearing the Senate this week, one bill promises positive impacts in rural areas of our state, including the 33rd Senatorial District. House Bill 1720 includes a number of provisions aimed at growing various segments of our state’s agriculture industry. Farming and food production remains Missouri’s No. 1 industry and contributes nearly $94 billion to the state’s economy each year. House Bill 1720 renews several important ag incentives, including tax credits for new-generation cooperatives and meat processing facilities, and creates new programs to encourage ethanol and biodiesel production and consumption. The bill also restores a lapsed incentive for wood energy production. That tax credit adds economic value to byproducts from timber facilities so piles of sawdust and scrap lumber are actually put to use.

A Senate substitute version of HB 1720 adds a new Rural Workforce Development Act, which creates incentives for investment in rural businesses. As the bill moved through the Senate, I was able to add language from two of my bills. A provision I originally introduced as Senate Bill 785 will simplify roadside inspections of commercial vehicles, specifically the trucks that haul logs on our state’s rural roads. This measure, which received support from Missouri’s timber industry, will make our roads safer for truckers, law enforcement officers and motorists alike. Also added to the farm bill was my legislation enacting a state sales tax exemption for utility vehicles used on farms. The amended House Bill 1720 passed out of the Senate this week, and now goes back to the House for a final vote on our changes.

Sen. Eslinger also welcomed FFA members from Mansfield and Hartville to the Capitol this week.

As the Legislature turns its focus toward finalizing the state budget, we received good news from the state budget director. According to the most-recent general revenue report, year-to-date revenue collections grew by 5.6% compared to the same point last year. The positive report doesn’t tell the whole story, however. Because tax filing deadlines were changed during the pandemic, a straight month-to-month comparison is skewed. Missouri’s true growth could actually be as high as 17%. Missouri’s economy is getting stronger all the time. Now it’s time to get our citizens back to work.

The new revenue figures arrived at a time when the House of Representatives is putting the final touches on its version of Missouri’s 2023 operating budget. In the coming weeks, I and my fellow members of the Senate Appropriations Committee will begin “markup” of the House budget bills and recommend changes. The Missouri Constitution imposes only one obligation on the General Assembly. We must pass a balanced budget each year. That process is getting a late start this year as the House is just now getting its bills done. The budget is due to the governor by May 6, so the Senate has many long days and nights ahead as we dig into the numbers to fulfill our constitutional duty.

Members of the Ava Tri-M Music Honor Society pose for a photograph at the Senate chamber dais with Sen. Eslinger and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe. The students were at the Capitol to advocate for music education in schools.

It is my honor to serve the residents of Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Ripley, Texas, Webster and Wright counties in the Missouri Senate, and it’s always a pleasure to hear from friends and family back home. If I can help you in any way, please call my Capitol Office at 573-751-1882, or my District Office at 417-596-9011.  You can also visit my webpage at, on Facebook: @SenatorKarlaEslinger, or follow me on Twitter: @seneslingermo.