Representative Jon Carpenter represents parts of Gladstone, Oakwood, and the Kansas City Northland in Clay County Missouri. For more information on our Opinion Section and why we post these updates please click here.
A WORD FROM JON
The Missouri legislature began the 2017 session on January 4th. I was honored to be sworn into my third term in office, alongside all the other new and returning House members.
I look forward to keeping you updated about the actions – both good and bad – of your state legislature in Jefferson City. In these tumultuous political times, it will be more important than ever for the citizens of this country to stay engaged and to hold those with political power to account by making their voices heard and their presence felt. That will be true at City Hall, in the State Capitol, and of course in Washington D.C. Ultimately it is up to us – we the people – to form our more perfect union. I will do my part, and hope you will too.
As always, thank you for reading.
UPDATES FROM THE CAPITOL
Eric Greitens sworn in as Missouri’s 56th Governor
Republican Eric Greitens took the oath of office as Missouri’s 56th governor on January 9th, promising a new direction for the state.
“For decades, Missourians have talked about change,” Greitens said. “Now it’s time to fight for that change. No one imagines that all of these battles will be won overnight – or over four years or even eight. But we begin today.”
Greitens will outline his policy agenda on January 17th during his first State of the State address, which will take place at 7:00 p.m. in the House chamber before a joint session of the General Assembly.
Breaking with longstanding practice, however, Greitens will not present his proposed state budget for the upcoming fiscal year during at the State of the State. Due in large part to several special-interest tax breaks the legislature has granted in recent years that are costing the state far more money than expected, the state is facing a $456 million revenue shortfall for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins July 1st.
The delay in announcing his budget appears to be an attempt by Greitens to focus on positive policy pronouncements during the State of the State while saving the dismal reality of Missouri’s financial situation for another day. However, the delay means the legislature will get a late start in beginning its work on the budget.
In addition to Greitens, four other new statewide elected officials, all Republicans, were also sworn into office on January 9th – Lieutenant Governor Mike Parsons, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, State Treasurer Eric Schmidt, and Attorney General Josh Hawley.
Right-to-work passes out of committee
“Right-to-work” laws make it illegal for companies and unions to negotiate labor contracts with each other that require workers, as a condition of employment, to pay dues for the union representation they receive. It was voted out of committee Wednesday, and will be taken up for a vote on the House floor next week.
During a hearing on the bill, HB91, before the House Economic Development Committee, State Rep. Doug Beck (D, St. Louis), offered an amendment to put the measure on the statewide ballot for a vote of the people, but it was defeated on a party-line vote.
HB60 passed the House Thursday – banning most gifts from lobbyists to elected officials, with exceptions. Amendments offered by Democrats calling for a simple, complete ban were voted down in committee. Still, as written, it should significantly reduce the current amount.
Coverage of the debate from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
For example, companies, universities and other interest groups will still be able to pick up the tab for an occasion so long as they invite the entire General Assembly, something they’ve spent an average of $250,000 on in the past five years.
“I understand that you have to compromise to get this across the finish line and maybe taking that out couldn’t be done,” said Rep. Jon Carpenter, D-Gladstone, who voted for the bill. “But I think we should be honest with the people of Missouri that … yes, we reigned in lobbyist gifts significantly, but we’re still taking $250,000 in free gifts from lobbyists.”
St. Louis Public Schools regain full accreditation
On January 10th, The Missouri State Board of Education voted unanimously to grant full accreditation to the St. Louis Public School District, effective immediately. The board took its action after the district scored in the fully accredited range on its state evaluation for two straight years.
The state took control of the district’s governance shortly after it became unaccredited in June 2007. The district regained provisional accreditation in October 2012. Despite the move to full accreditation, the district will remain under state control through at least June 30th, 2019.
I look forward to serving on the following House Committees during the 2017 session –
Professional Registration & Licensing (Ranking Democratic member)
General Laws (Ranking Democratic Member)