Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, Feb. 24, 2014
Senate Takes on School Transfer Issue

Legislative News

The Missouri Senate spent an extensive amount of time this week debating legislation addressing the ongoing problems with unaccredited schools and the transfer law. At the very beginning of the 2014 session, myself and numerous legislators pledged this would be one of our highest priorities. And that’s what we did.

Shown above, Sen. Ron Richard met with Cherith E. Parnell and Kelsey Frost from Carthage High School. The two students were named State Medalist in the National History Day competition in Missouri sponsored by the State Historical Society of Missouri.  


The Education Committee spent weeks considering a number of bills addressing the problem. Those measures were eventually combined into Senate Bill 493, which contained multiple provisions to both deal with the immediate school transfer issue, but also prevent an educational disaster like this again.

On Thursday, we approved the legislation. The bill goes far in ensuring we uphold our duty to the students of this state by giving them every opportunity at a solid education in a good school.

It wasn’t easy. It took hours and hours of floor debate. Legislators had to compromise and listen to one another. And as a body, the Senate rose to the occasion. I was proud to be a part of a true bi-partisan effort.

Many of us might have different stances on public policy, but we all agree that the students of our state deserve the best education we can give them. It’s encouraging to know that when the stakes are high, we can set aside those differences to do what needs to be done for the people of this state.

The bill still has a long road ahead. A measure containing this many parts, and affecting major metropolitan areas in the state, takes time to pass. It’s an uphill battle, but I know that if the legislators in both chambers remember that our primary duty is to the students, we will get a measure on the governor’s desk.

In other news, we’re continuing to look at bills this session to expand our economy. One of the surest ways to do that is by letting hard-working tax payers keep more of their money. Those dollars are then reinvested in our economy through spending and investment.

Citizens carry a heavy tax burden these days. In addition to federal and state income taxes, they also have to pay property taxes. If they own a house, land, or certain other kinds of property, they have to pay local taxes just for owning it. It discourages people from buying things like new houses and cars, from spending the kind of money that can bolster our economy.

Senate Bill 666, which is up for possible debate before the full Senate, creates a refundable income tax credit for residential real property owners in an amount equal to 0.75 percent of the assessed value of the residential real property they own. The bill eases the local tax burden on citizens in the state without harming local budgets. It’s a way to encourage growth in real estate and strengthen our economy. It’s a proposal well worth considering, and I hope we give it fair consideration on the Senate floor.