Earlier this month, lawmakers returned to Jefferson City to begin the Second Regular Session of the 101st General Assembly. Since the start of the legislative session, my colleagues and I have begun hearing bills in committee and engaging in floor debate on proposed legislation. I’m excited to share with you several of my top priorities for this legislative session.
Income Tax Cap
Senate Joint Resolution 33 is a constitutional amendment that will prohibit the General Assembly from setting an income tax rate exceeding 5.9%. Missourians’ hard-earned dollars are already spent on numerous taxes, and it is time we limit how much of their income itself is taxed. If this legislation passes, voters will have the opportunity to vote on this measure.
School Freedom Act
Senate Bill 646 establishes the “School Freedom Act,” which states that no public or charter school can implement or enforce COVID-19 preventative measures, such as wearing a mask, or enforce vaccine or testing requirements for school attendance or participation in extracurricular activities. A recent Cole County Circuit Court judge’s ruling stated that public health authorities and school districts must end pandemic-related public health mandates and stop enforcing mask mandates, quarantine orders and any other public health rules considered void under the judge’s ruling. With this decision, schools must cease enforcing these mandates, or face legal consequences. Parents should have the right to make the best medical choices for their family, and I support efforts to stop these unnecessary mandates.
Let Them Learn Act
Senate Bill 645 prohibits K-12 public schools from teaching divisive and racially-charged concepts. I strongly believe our curriculum should be comprehensive and well-balanced. This legislation is about ensuring there is accountability and transparency at the local level regarding what is being taught in classrooms. Under this legislation, each local school board would be responsible for approving and adopting curriculum used by their school district. This will also require all curriculum be available for free.
Parents’ Bill of Rights
Senate Bill 810 establishes the “Parents’ Bill of Rights for Student Well-Being.” This act creates a series of rights for parents regarding their children’s education, including the right to approve the topics and information that will be discussed in class. It also creates a process for parents to object to the use of certain classroom materials and withdraw their child from certain sexual education coursework. Parents deserve to know exactly what their child is being taught and should have the right to approve certain topics and materials.
Missouri Pandemic Property Tax Refund for Shut-Down Businesses
Senate Bill 736 allows a taxpayer whose business was shut down by a city-wide or county-wide health order or ordinance to receive a credit against their property taxes on that affected property. During the pandemic, St. Louis County government officials imposed egregious health lockdowns that severely impacted small businesses and restaurants by reducing their capacity, or even forcing them to shut down completely. However, these taxpayers were still required to pay property taxes, sometimes without revenue from that business. This legislation is a small way to pay back some of the income they missed because of pandemic lockdowns.
The SACRED Act
Senate Bill 737 establishes the “Safeguarding All Children’s Remains to Ensure Dignity Act,” or “SACRED Act.” This act adds to the informed consent procedures prior to an abortion and requires physicians to give a mother printed materials regarding the final disposition of the remains of the unborn child. Unborn children deserve the same respect and rights we give any other person who passes away.
Closing Missouri’s Primaries
Senate Bill 907 states voters may only cast a ballot in the primary of the political party that is listed on their voter registration. I am hopeful this will help prevent “spoiler votes,” or votes cast from a member of another political party in a primary to help decide which candidate will win, with the hopes of giving their own party’s candidate a better chance to win the general election.
Getting Missourians Back to Work Act and Work Modernization Act
A provision in Senate 808 establishes the “Getting Missourians Back to Work Act of 2022.” Under this provision, the Division of Employment Security will establish a process to share open positions submitted to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations with individuals who have made unemployment claims. A provision in Senate Bill 809 creates new provisions regarding the regulation of home-based work, prohibiting municipalities from enacting a zoning ordinance or regulation that restricts the hours of operation for home-based work, restricts the amount of floor space for home-based work, prohibits or requires structural modifications to the home, as well as several other provisions.
Sales Tax Exemption for Food in Community Improvement Districts and Transportation Development Districts
Senate Bill 735 states that the sales tax in Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) and Transportation Development Districts (TDDs) will not apply to food. In addition to providing public notice to establish or amend a new CID or TDD, Senate Bill 908 requires the governing body of a city or county to submit the boundaries of the district and the rates of property and sales taxes of the district to the state auditor and the Department of Revenue. That requirement also extends to the proposal or redevelopment of a Tax Increment Financing District (TIF), and the governing body must submit the boundaries of the redevelopment area, estimated development costs and the date on which the redevelopment terminates to the state auditor and the Department of Revenue.