Ann Kelley's Capitol Connection

September 14, 2023

What’s Going on in the Capitol

House Votes in Favor of Veto Overrides, Senate Does Not

With more than 60 bills finally signed into law and taking effect last month, the Missouri General Assembly returned to the Missouri State Capitol on September 13 for the annual veto session. During the legislative session each year, which runs from January through May, legislators from all corners of the state work to create and modify laws and provisions to better our state, improve programs, and cut red tape. After the legislative session ends, the governor has the hard decisions to make regarding which bills to sign into law or veto, but as part of our system of checks and balances, the Missouri General Assembly is given the chance to override any vetoes they may choose in September of each year.

This year, the governor vetoed 201 line-item vetoes to the FY 2024 operating budget, adding up to $555.3 million cut from our $51 billion state operating budget. Governor Parson also vetoed one legislative bill, SB 189, which deals with public safety and crime prevention measures, many of which had broad support from both the legislature and the executive branch, such as Blair's Law, Max's Law, increased penalties for violent repeat offenders and gun crimes, and strengthening the public defender system.

Members of the House on Wednesday, September 13, voted on 21 items and overrode 10 items, including the following:

· $28 million for Interstate 44 improvements (Line Item 19.303)

Under this plan, a nearly five-mile stretch of I-44 would receive a facelift in order to reduce congestion. These funds would add lanes to a busy section of this widely traveled interstate and help ensure the safety of our roadways while still providing the access needed to keep commerce flowing.

· $2,018,000 for National Guard Reenlistment Incentives (Line Item 8.501)

The work and service provided by the brave men and women of the Missouri National Guard and Missouri Task Force One can often be a thankless job, with a long time away from family and friends. These men and women dedicate their lives to serving the state and country. These overrides would provide $2 million to assist and recruit more of these brave and selfless citizens to the National Guard by increasing the reenlistment incentives offered.

· $1.9 million for Missouri Task Force One equipment and training (Line Item 8.270) The roughly $1.9 million for equipment for Task Force One helps ensure that they have the tools they need to do the life-saving work with the extensive training and specialized equipment to perform urban search and rescue missions. The House believes that this investment shows support to ensure that when the tough times come, we always have Missourians ready to answer the call.

· $11,476,436 for Missouri State Highway Patrol Pay Plan Increases

(Line items 8.05, 8.090, 8.095, 8.125, 8.130, 8.140, 8.215, 8.220)

The House also voted to override another veto, choosing to support a pay plan to increase the salaries of those who serve the state in the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The override puts back in place a 20 percent increase across the board to recruit and retain troopers for the Patrol.

· $13 million for police center in St. Louis (Line Item 19.504)

The House also voted to override another veto, choosing to put back in $13 million for the planning, design, and construction of a police center in St. Louis.

Following the House’s actions to override, House Speaker Dean Plocher said he was pleased with the legislature’s efforts this session to ensure that Missouri is continuously growing and thriving for all who live in the Show-Me State while standing in support of those who protect, defend, and serve.

“Our budget priorities in May are still our priorities now, we took action to once again stand and support our men and women in law enforcement, our veterans, and our most vulnerable. We stand behind our investments in our state’s infrastructure and today we took action to keep our state moving forward.”

“We respect the Governor and his veto decisions, but we believe these items are necessary for the good of the state and can have a long-lasting, positive impact,” Plocher continued. “Once the day is done, next year’s legislative efforts begin, and we will immediately get to work meeting the challenges our state faces and seeking the opportunities to make Missouri the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Governor Parson’s vetoes prevailed, however, as the state Senate refused to consider any of the overrides approved by the House before adjourning.

Special Committee Looks at Earnings Tax

The Missouri House of Representatives’ newest interim committee began its work with the first hearing on Tuesday, September 12. The Special Interim Committee on the Earnings Tax met to review and evaluate the earnings tax, which is a one percent tax on salaries, wages, commissions, tips, and other compensation paid to a person who lives or works in a designated city, such as St. Louis or Kansas City.

Representatives heard testimony from members of St. Louis City and Kansas City local governments on how the tax is collected and used, as well as the effect it has on the region. Those testifying spoke of the importance of the revenue collected through the earnings tax, but the committee’s role is to evaluate not just the importance of the revenue, but also how that revenue is collected, and whether there is an alternative way to generate and collect that revenue.

The earnings tax for St. Louis has been in existence since the 1950s, and the committee’s goal is to see how the tax might be modified to meet the changing times. The committee asked to see what percent of the earnings tax is coming from residents, non-residents, and remote workers to compare. Members of the committee reiterated that their goal is to work as partners to find what would work better for both the city and the state together.

Taking Care of YOU

Resolutions: My office offers Courtesy Resolutions for birthdays, deceased loved ones, Eagle Scouts, Girl Scouts, Glory Awards, Marriage, Retirement, Sports, Wedding Anniversary’s, and Veterans. To request one, please call my office at (573) 751-2165.

Flags: Are you in need of a new flag? I offer new Missouri State and United States flags upon request. If you need a flag for a special circumstance, we can even fly it over the capitol for you. These flags are available for any non-profit organizations and groups.

Scheduling a Capitol Trip: If your school is traveling to Jefferson City, contact my capitol office to set up tours times for the Capitol, Supreme Court, and Missouri State Penitentiary. These tours fill up fast in a first come first serve basis. Please give us a months’ notice in order to ensure you get tours of everything.

I am always in your service,

State Representative

Ann Kelley

Proudly Serving District 127