Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, Feb. 25, 2013
Senate Passes Economic Development Bill

On Tuesday, the Senate gave first-round approval to legislation that addresses two of our biggest priorities for this session:  job creation and tax credit reform. Senate Bill 120 places caps on two of the state’s largest tax credits—Low-Income Housing and Historic Preservation. These two programs alone account for a huge chunk of the money Missouri spends on its tax incentive programs. As we heard in debate, reining in their growth will save taxpayers an estimated $800 million over the next 15 years.

At the same time, the bill creates a tax incentive for data storage centers, similar to legislation I’ve filed in recent years. These centers house computer servers that store digital information for credit card companies, online retailers and Internet search engines. By bringing these centers to Missouri, we can create high quality jobs, not only at the centers themselves, but also for their construction and the ancillary businesses that support them, such as electrical maintenance companies.

These measures are designed to spur growth in 21st century industries, but in a way that can benefit the entire state. Senate Bill 120 will save taxpayer dollars, encourage job creation and grow our economy. It’s an important bill that tackles critical issues in Missouri. It now goes to the House for consideration.

We also approved legislation this week to name the new Mississippi River Bridge in St. Louis after Stan “The Man” Musial, the legendary Cardinals baseball player who passed away earlier this year. Musial was a fantastic baseball player, but it was his actions off the field that made him a beloved figure. He treated everyone he met with respect, from world leaders to young baseball fans. Naming the bridge in his honor would be a fitting tribute to a great man.

Every year, the Missouri Department of Conservation issues Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) grants to government agencies, schools and non-profit groups to help with the care, management and conservation of publicly owned trees and forests. These grants were critical in helping Joplin rebuild its parks after the 2011 tornado.

To assist potential grant applicants, the department will host a TRIM-grant workshop at the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center in Joplin, 201 W. Riviera Drive, on March 26 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Registration is required. For more information, contact (417) 629-3423 or visit the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website at www.mdc.mo.gov.