Missouri State Representative Nick King represents district 17 which is in eastern Clay County, Missouri. This is his May 15, 2015 newsletter. In it he discusses the end of the 2015 legislative session in Jefferson City. For more information on our Opinion Section please click here.
Today the Missouri legislature has crossed the finish line; however, the final week of session has been tumultuous to say the least. Up until this closing week Missouri’s legislative branch was among the most productive in our state’s history. Unfortunately a series of events brought us to a grinding halt. After a controversial parliamentary motion, the Senate became gridlocked in a Democratic filibuster.
The quiet final week also took on a somber tone in the House as the Speaker stepped down from his position. The difficult moment brought members together to offer support to one another; and to regroup and refocus on the business of representing the best interests of their constituents. Members moved quickly to elect Floor Leader Todd Richardson as the new Speaker. As he then said to his colleagues and the members of the media, “It is time to get back to the important business we were sent here by Missourians to accomplish.”
The inaction of the Senate left many pieces of legislation that had been worked on for the entirety of the session in legislative limbo. It is unfortunate that a number of my senate colleagues chose to put partisan politics above the good of the people. Nevertheless, the legislature was able to pass a great deal of our priority legislation before this final week.
In my first session in the Missouri House of Representatives the Republican lead legislature passed a balanced budget in record time. As a member of the House Budget Committee it was an exciting process to take part in the crafting of our state’s $26 billion operating budget. This budget in particular made significant investments into public education with record levels of funding for K-12. While increasing our investment, we also passed a fix to our state’s transfer crisis. Last year several school districts in St. Louis lost their accreditation—forcing many students to flee to neighboring districts at a significant cost. The passage of HB 42 is an overhaul of our school transfer law that gives all Missouri children access to the quality education they deserve.
After unrest in Ferguson, it became clear that a number of Missouri municipalities have made it a practice to expand their budgets on the backs of poor Missourians. In response, the Missouri Republicans passed SB 5 which limits the practice of “taxation by citation.” SB 5 limits the amount fines and court costs that may be imposed for minor traffic violations and creates a tax refund setoff for unpaid court costs, fines, or fees. SB 5 is a dramatic step in the right direction in rebuilding trust between Missourians and the local police and judicial officials.
Further accomplishments by the legislature include Welfare Reform, Unemployment Reform, Medical Malpractice Reform, Data Center Economic Development, and the passage of the Dairy Revitalization Act.
With my first legislative session not far behind us I would like to hear your reactions to both the legislation I filed and the actions of the Missouri House of Representatives as a whole. As a freshman representative I filed four pieces of legislation. The largest was the Manufacturing Infrastructure Investment Act, HB 627, which would expand the successes of the Manufacturing Jobs Act. The legislation on which HB 627 is based has played a major role in the dramatic expansion of the Ford Motor Plant in Claycomo.
Due to resident suggestions I filed HB 566, which would, upon voter approval, allow citizens to vote on a public safety sales tax for the cities of Liberty and North Kansas City. More suggestions brought to me by constituents encouraged me to file HB 1118 which allows county collectors to forgive a tax penalty for long time taxpayers who made an error and HB 1153 which will help clarify the inspection process of Missouri’s hospice facilities.
I have devoted a significant amount of time and energy into learning the legislative process and becoming more in tune with the needs and desires of my constituents. As we enter our summer break, I want to hear about the issues that matter the most to you. Please let me know your thoughts and feelings about this past legislative session and what you would like to see accomplished in the future. I look forward to returning to Jefferson City next session as your Representative in the Missouri House.