Missouri lawmakers focused on foster care, sales taxes and Gov. Greitens
Your Missouri lawmakers are tackling a wide range of issues this week, from foster care to sales tax; all while many are working to oust the Governor.
The top issue at the statehouse continues to be the accusations against Governor Eric Greitens (R-Missouri). He's charged with two felonies. A second report from a special committee this past week is putting even more pressure on him to resign, but some aren't waiting for him to take action.
Missouri Speaker of the House Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) says he will have enough signatures to call a special session this summer, to possibly impeach the governor. But, the minority whip, Representative Kip Kendrick (D-Columbia) says democrats want to move forward with impeachment proceedings even before the session ends later this month, "We still believe that we can move forward at this point with an indictment; with an impeachment. An impeachment is nothing but an indictment."
Other work is still being done in the Statehouse, including Representative Jim Neely's (R-Cameron) comprehensive bill on improving foster care. "The reason I came down here, as a physician, I didn't come down here because of healthcare issues. I came down here because of children, and the things that I've seen over my years."
The legislation would allow abuse investigations outside the state, update background checks on foster families, expand treatment for children in foster care, and much more. Neely says the changes would help foster kids who are falling through the cracks. The bill sailed through the House, and is in the Senate now.
Another interesting bill would create an online map of all of the state's 2200 special taxing districts. Those are taxes in specific areas meant to fund things like fire stations or sidewalks. In some places, so many of them overlap, you have sales tax close to 12 percent. Representative Phil Christofanelli (R-St. Peters) says, with this map, people could find out exactly what their tax dollars are paying for, and which store would charge them the lowest amount of taxes, "If you're going to buy something that's of a sizeable amount, to just go on to the website, and see that if you buy it in this Best Buy or the one down the street, you could see a 2 percent difference in your sales tax rate. That could mean a significant amount of money to a taxpayer."
The bill is in a conference committee now, as members the House and Senate work out the bugs.
Work continues on the state budget, as well. The Senate's version of the budget has about $50 million dollars less for K-through-12 education, than what the House passed. But now, the House and Senate will come together to hammer out a final budget. Housemembers vow that $50 million extra for education will be there in the end.
The regular legislative session is scheduled to end no later than May 30th.