Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, March 3, 2014
Encouraging Economic Growth in Missouri

Legislative News

The Missouri Senate debated number of different measures on the floor this week, including legislation to improve our state’s economy through tax relief. Job creation has remained one of my highest priorities since taking office in the Capitol.

Missouri has the potential to be a leader in economic expansion. Over the last few years, though, we’ve seen the growth our state needs go to other regions. A large part of this can be blamed on our current tax structure.

Shown above, Sen. Richard shakes hands with Blake Miller and meets with Jacob Davis and Clayton Bowman, who were at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 4, as members of TeenPact Missouri. 


Businesses and individuals move to states where they face a limited tax burden. Letting people keep more of their hard-earned money also encourages spending, which supports existing businesses. Tax relief is one of the greatest ways we can create the jobs in our state we need.

Toward this end, we debated a handful of bills this week aimed at providing that kind of tax relief. On Wednesday, we debated Senate Bill 509, which would reduce the individual income tax rate and grant a deduction for business income, but only if the state hits certain economic triggers, including increased general revenue collections and sufficient funding of the education foundation formula.

We also gave initial approval to Senate Bill 666, which offers a one-time refundable income tax credit to home buyers. Since 2008, Missouri’s real estate market has struggled to recover. We’re seeing signs that it’s slowly starting to bounce back. We need to support that trend.

This measure would encourage citizens to purchase new homes, which in turn supports the local real estate and the construction industries. It’s an innovative proposal, and I hope it’s given due consideration when it reaches the House.

In addition, the Senate continued debating Senate Bill 519, which would extend the current waiting period for an abortion to 72 hours. Currently, a woman seeking an abortion must wait 24 hours before obtaining the procedure.

The bill in no way prevents a woman from having an abortion. It only gives them a chance to truly weigh the consequences of what is an invasive procedure from which there is no going back. The legislation will likely be brought up again this session. The legislation has yet to receive approval from the Senate. I imagine we will continue working on this measure as session continues. 

District News

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is offering grants to assist government agencies, public schools, and non-profit groups with the management, improvement, and conservation of trees and forests on public land.

The Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) cost-share grants range from $1,000 to $25,000 and can help communities fund tree inventories, removal or pruning of hazardous trees, tree planting, and the training of volunteers and city and county employees to best care for community forests. Additional funding for emerald ash borer management is available through a grant from the U.S. Forest Service. The deadline for TRIM grant applications is June 1.

To assist grant applicants, MDC will hold a TRIM-grant workshop on Tuesday, March 5, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Wildcat Glade Conservation and Audubon Center, 201 W. Riviera Drive, in Joplin.

TRIM grants are administered by MDC in cooperation with the Missouri Community Forest Council and the U.S. Forest Service. The program provides reimbursements of $1,000 to $25,000 to grant recipients to fund up to 60 percent of money needed for projects. Projects located in communities with The Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA designation are eligible for an additional 10 percent in matching funds.

Proposals are assessed on a competitive basis for their value to the community; thoroughness as a tree-management program; the ability to promote, improve and develop a community's urban forest and economic feasibility.;

For more information, contact (417) 629-3423, ext. 27, or visit www.mdc.mo.gov.

Although winter seems far from over, summer is only a few months away. The Missouri Credit Union Association offers the following tips for planning a summer vacation this year:

  • Start Saving Today

    Saving money before you leave means less financial pain after you return. Many financial institutions offer savings plans specifically for a purpose like a summer vacation. Check your bank and see what the options are.

  • Prepare a Budget

    Don’t just save enough to cover your accommodations.  Factor in travel expenses both to and from and during vacation – flights, gas, rental cars, bus, taxi, etc.  Also add in expenses for your food and other little things you may want to splurge on like souvenirs or perhaps even a spa experience.  If taking a family vacation, ask each family member what they expect from the trip and budget accordingly.

  • Watch Out for ATM Fees

    Be aware of the costs of using ATMs.  Some places, like Las Vegas for example, may charge an ATM usage fee as high as $10.  High fees are an unexpected cost that can destroy your budget.

  • Let Banks and Credit Card Companies Know You’re Taking a Vacation

    When traveling away from the area, let your financial institution and credit card company know.  If a transaction occurs in an area uncharacteristic of your shopping patterns, it will raise a red flag and they may place a hold on your card or account.