Legislative Column for the Week of Jan. 5, 2015
Senate Convenes for the 2015 Legislative Session

Shown above, Senator Richard and his family during the Grand March on the evening of Jan. 7. From left to right, Amy Greer, Natalie Greer, Patty Richard, Sen. Richard, Molly Greer and Chad Greer.

Lawmakers returned to Jefferson City this week as the 98th Missouri General Assembly convened at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 7. During the next five months, my colleagues and I will focus on passing legislation that addresses complex issues and aims to better the lives of Missourians across the state.

Every two years, the legislative session begins with all the newly elected and re-elected senators being sworn in by a guest judge. I was honored to be sworn in this year by Chief Justice Mary R. Russell of the Supreme Court of Missouri.

I was happy to have as my guests for the day’s events, my wife, Patty; my son, Chad Greer, and daughter-in-law, Amy Greer; and my two beautiful granddaughters, Natalie and Molly Greer. Capping off the first day of session was the Grand March and Legislative Ball held in the Capitol Rotunda. It was a great evening, enjoyed by all who attended. I especially want to thank my granddaughters for escorting me down the grand staircase.

Committee Appointments

While most have not yet been announced, the President Pro Tem submitted several committee appointments during the first day of session. I am pleased to be returning for the new General Assembly as Chair of the Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions & Ethics Committee; Vice-chair of the Administration Committee; and Vice-chair of the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee. More committee appointments will be announced in the coming legislative days.

Legislative News

As in previous years, job creation is again my top priority. There is much more we can do to ensure that Missouri is an attractive place for the business community to call home. Providing tax relief to our citizens and businesses in a fiscally responsible way is just one avenue we can take when it comes to growing our local and state economies. I look forward to working with my colleagues to see meaningful business legislation passed this session. 

I have already filed three pieces of legislation relating to ethics reform, tax credits for business facilities and limits on punitive damages. Senate Bill 11 bars members of the General Assembly and candidates for such office to act as paid political consultants for a candidate for state representative or state senator, or the candidate committee of such candidate or officeholder. The bill also imposes a two-year cooling off period for members of the General Assembly before they may become lobbyists.

Currently, certain employee-owned businesses may qualify for a tax credit for building a new facility or expanding an existing facility. These businesses must commence or expand operations by Jan. 1, 2020 to qualify for the tax credit. Senate Bill 194 extends the date by which they must commence or expand operations to Jan. 1, 2025.

Finally, Senate Joint Resolution 7 is a constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would cap the award for punitive damages to $500,000 or five times the net amount of the judgment awarded to the plaintiff against the defendant. The limitations may be reduced by law and shall not apply if the defendant pleads guilty to or is convicted of a felony arising out of the acts or omissions pled by the plaintiff.

Along with ethics reform and job creation, other important issues that are likely to be brought up for debate this session include the ongoing problems associated with student transfers from unaccredited to accredited districts and Medicaid reform. As my second Senate term begins, I remain committed to working each and every day for the people of the 32nd District.