Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, April 18, 2013
State Committed to Helping Joplin Rebuild

Legislative Update

The Senate passed this week legislation that would help Joplin continue to rebuild after the 2011 tornado. Senate Bill 366 creates the Rebuild Damaged Infrastructure Program, which would provide funds to help communities rebuild infrastructure damaged by natural disasters.

Joplin’s recovery from the 2011 tornado has been nothing short of miraculous. However, there’s still a lot to be done. A bulk of the aid Joplin received went towards immediate necessities, like food, water temporary shelter, and clearing away the debris. There was little left over for the reconstruction and repair of the city’s infrastructure. This bill will provide those funds to help Joplin and other cities struck by natural disasters rebuild.

On Tuesday, the Senate gave final approval to legislation that would help prevent fraud and abuse in our Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. We’ve received reports in recent years that this money was used in casinos, adult-entertainment establishments, and liquor stores.  These funds are meant to support families going through rough times, not used for gambling, or for vacations, paid by taxpayer dollars.

Senate Bill 251 prohibits recipients of TANF benefits from using those funds in any liquor store, casino, adult business or any other place primarily marketed for adults or that is not in the best interests of the children or household. The legislation ensures the funds will be used as they are intended. The bill is in the House for consideration.

We also approved Senate Bill 112 this week, which reauthorizes the News Markets tax credit. This program helps encourage private investment in innovative businesses, like bio-tech companies, that can’t get capital from traditional sources. Since its creation, the program has encouraged the private investment of more than $1 billion, or $20 for every one state tax dollar. It’s one of the most successful tax credit programs in the state. In fact, other states are currently examining how we run this program so they can imitate it.  The measure will help businesses and citizens throughout Missouri. It now goes to the House for possible debate.

Update on Department of Revenue

There were major new developments this week in the ongoing investigation of the Department of Revenue. As I’ve written about in the past, the Senate has led the inquiry into allegations that DOR was scanning and collecting citizens’ private information. Last week we discovered discs containing a list of more than 160,000 CCW holders were sent to the federal government. We were assured, though, that the list was inaccessible because of a computer error.

This week we learned the files were accessible, and that the encryption used to protect them was nothing more than a password, which was written on a sheet of paper included with the discs. We also found out the information was possibly sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in addition to the Social Security Administration.

Missouri citizens’ trust in their government has been seriously damaged. Their privacy was knowingly violated with a complete disregard for the law by a state agency. We will not stop until we get to the bottom of this and those responsible are held accountable.

District News

MoDOT Traffic Alert: Jasper County Route P CLOSED near Belleville on Tuesday, April 23, for Drain Pipe Work

  • Where: Jasper County Route P between Jasper County Route JJ and the Missouri/Kansas state line west of Belleville

  • When: Tuesday, April 23, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • What: MoDOT crews replacing a drain pipe underneath the road

  • Traffic Impacts: Drivers will have to find an alternate route around the closing.  Drivers will be able to get to driveways and other entrances on either side of the closing.  However, they will NOT be able to travel through the work zone. Weather and/or construction delays could postpone the project.