State Associations Map Legislative Agendas
by Collin Reischman
The Missouri Times created a list of 55 state associations, lobbyists, non-profit organizations and other groups active in Jefferson City politics. We asked identical questions to representatives from each group. Below you’ll find the agenda’s and priorities of the organizations we were able to contact for the new legislative session.
Introducing legislation to create new jobs is the goal of the AFL-CIO according to Secretary-Treasurer Mike Louis.
“We whiffed on the new nuclear plant and the legislature failed to get us anywhere with the airport hub,” Louis said. “But [the legislature] can’t afford to fail Missouri again, we need to be involved in a process that is creating job opportunities.”
-Opposing Right-to-Work legislation
-Supporting Prevailing Wage
American Council of Engineering Companies Missouri
ACEC of Missouri President Bruce Wylie said that better infrastructure funding was key to the upcoming session.
“Infrastructure spending benefits everyone,” Wylie said. “There is a general reluctance to move on things that require new funding, because that means taxing and bonding, but there are places where the need is proven and where it can be important to our economic development.”
-ACEC will be supportive of any legislation that increases bonding authority for cities, counties, school districts, etc. Low interest rates and more bonding authority would be exactly what Wylie is looking for.
-Wylie said the gas tax failed to keep up with inflation, and also indicated that a bill featuring a half-cent sales tax would not be unwelcome.
There is nothing immediate on the agenda for AFSCME, said Executive Director Jeff Mazur. But increasing public employee salaries is always a goal.
“We want to seek, through the budget, a fair and appropriate way to increase salaries for state workers in Missouri,” Mazur said. “We also want to ensure the safety of our employees in veterans homes and mental health facilities.”
-Pushing legislation that will keep employees [in veterans homes and mental health facilities] safe and help them provide service at the highest level, Mazur said.
-Protecting home and community based programs providing assistance for Missourians with disabilities in their homes.
Vice President of Government Relations Jack Atterberry said their first priority would depend largely on legislative action.
“We have an agenda, but it depends and it set largely by what the legislature generates,” Atterberry said. “Transportation will obviously be important, not just to us but to the safety and well-being of Missouri.”
-Supporting the Prevailing Wage
Missouri Association of Realtors
Lobbyist Sam Licklider said newer regulations on home inspectors were desired by the Association in approaching the new legislative session, despite the “current philosophy of less government.”
“Like many other groups, we’ve got some concerns about how you pay for state government and how much you pay for state government,” Licklider said. “But we want to preserve government programs that protect re-investment, like the Historic preservation tax credits and the Low Income Housing tax credits.”
-The Realtors have serious concerns with any new sales tax proposals that might come to a vote in the legislature, or in the general election.
– Licklider said there was concern that legislators would seek tax policies similar to that of Kansas, which he said “seem like a good idea at first, but now [Kansas] is looking at a pretty significant shortfall of state funds.”
Missouri Association of School Administrators
Executive Director Roger Kurtz echoed concerns of other education organizations, citing an immediate need for increased funding for the Foundation Formula essential and “urgent.”
“The legislature hasn’t met it’s commitments to local school districts, and many of these officials are heavily involved in their local communities,” Kurtz said. “I think it’s time we demanded a serious commitment to the fund, and this isn’t a political need, it’s a social need.”
-MASA supports the original recommendation of the Tax Credit Review Commission. However, the revised recommendations of the commission “sadly, backtracked” Kurtz said.
-Increased reimbursement for transportation expenses of teachers and school districts
-Increasing stipends for teacher salaries, the Career Ladder Program, is a major concern.
Executive Vice President Bill Ratliff said the organization was introducing legislation that would make state law supreme to local law with regard to banks. According to Ratliff, current Missouri law in unclear and a recent unfavorable ruling at the circuit court level prompted the MBA legislation.
“Saint Louis County passed a law requiring mandatory mediation before foreclosures could take place,” Ratliff said. “We believed this is in violation of state law, and that state law should clearly trump county or city laws with respect to banking regulations.”
-Ratliff said they were working on legislation that would be a “cheaper alternative to overdraft fees and payday loans.”
-Technical changes to the uniform commercial code.
Missouri Cable Telecommunications Association
Chuck Simino, President of the MCTA, said that preventing “double taxation,” was always a primary concern of the organization.
“We are always on the lookout for any new tax legislation,” Simino said. “We don’t want our customers to be double taxed. Not to be too technical, but when our customers pay a franchise fee and then we talk about new taxes on businesses, you’re looking at paying taxes twice on the same service.”
-Streamlining the sales tax is on the MCTA radar.
-The MCTA will support Senator Lager’s legislation, Senate Bill 6, which was pre-filed in December and gives telecommunications and broadband providers to “attach equipment to rural electric cooperatives’ utility poles,” according to the language in the bill.
Missouri Catholic Conference
Protecting the conscious rights of healthcare providers in light of new state and national legislation is the most important item for Executive Director, Mike Hoey.
“We overrode [Governor Nixon’s] veto of SB 749, so that was a huge win for us,” Hoey said. But now it is being challenged in Federal court, so our opposition and our defense of the right of conscious is ongoing,”
-Enhancing enrollment at elementary and secondary Catholic schools.
-Hoey said they were also tentatively exploring a proposal for a tax credit that would create a foundation for Catholic schools to develop better curriculum.
-Payday lending reform would also be on the radar of the MCC.
President and CEO Dan Mehan said identifying a first priority was difficult because the legislature has to reach a consensus on tax credit reform.
“[The legislature] has been stymied by the inability to reach common ground on this issue, and that has prevented all kinds of good things from happening,” Mehan said. “Obviously we are extremely interested in any kind of omnibus or economic development package. We haven’t had an economic development bill in 5 years, and that needs to change.”
-The Chamber will be watching any medical malpractice reform the republican majority might bring to a vote that would undo a recent court decision abolishing caps on malpractice lawsuits. Mehan said trial attorneys used the courts to remove the caps when they lost in the legislature, something the Chamber intends to correct.
-The Chamber would like legislation similar to that vetoed by governor Nixon adopting the Federal standards for discrimination in employment policies in the state of Missouri.
Missouri Club For Growth
Directing an agenda that makes Missouri competitive with Kansas in light of Kansas decision to abolish income taxes for small businesses is the focus of the Club For Growth, according to Executive Director Melanie Abrajano told The Missouri Times.
“If you own a business in Kansas City on the Missouri side and you move a few blocks to the Kansas side, suddenly you have no income taxes, which is very attractive for businesses,” Abrajano said. “We want to direct the legislature to achieve meaningful gains in tax reform so that we can fix that discrepancy on our boarder and bring more jobs and development to Missouri.”
-MO Club for Growth is worried that the tobacco tax narrowly defeated in 2012 could make a resurgence, and they intend to fight it.
-Abrajano said the organization wants to educate the public about tax reform in an effort to create more revenue in the state. “There is a hesitance about tax reform because changes make people uneasy, we’d like to help clarify what those reforms would mean.”
Along with all other educationally focused organizations, the MCCA wants more adequate funding for the Foundation Formula, said Zora Mulligan, Executive Director.
“We have many strong advocates in the legislature for higher education, Mulligan said. “Many community college alums as well, but it has been years since our last investment in college and university buildings. We have a dramatic increase in enrollment in community colleges but no money for the increases. Our biggest obstacle is the limited availability of funds.”
-Keeping the A+ promise for students attending community college.
-Identifying sustainable sources for capital improvements
Missouri Family Network
President Kerry Messer said his organization didn’t consider any single issue the most important in the upcoming session, but said his organization’s top concern was protecting traditional conservative ideology.
“We represent the traditionally conservative, pro-family perspective on broad range of issues,” Messer said. “We represent the consensus conservative viewpoint on policy.”
-Protecting unborn life
-“Protecting and advancing religious liberties,” according to Kerry
-Ensuring Second Amendment rights. “Disarming a family isn’t pro-family,” Messer said.
Better funding for Medicaid will be taking up plenty of the resources of the MHCA as Executive Director Jon Dolan said it was “key to providing the best care.”
“We are in a coalition involved in the expansion [of Medicaid],” Dolan said. “What we want is a pro-Missouri system, which lets her make her own decisions and let her citizens decide their own welfare. We appreciate the difference of opinion and ideology, but we believe we can find a solution that is not one extreme or the other. We can’t wastefully spend, but we can’t act like Texas.”
-Full and effective enforcing of reimbursement and fraud, which Dolan said would make care less costly.
-Dolan said he would be watching the possible vacancy of Lt. Gov. Kinder’s seat, should he ascend to a congressional race, and that keeping Speaker Jones and Governor Nixon working together would be a primary concern.
Missouri Home Builders Association
Stimulating construction of new residencies can help cure Missouri’s economic woes, according to Executive Vice President of Saint Louis and Eastern Missouri, Patrick Sullivan.
“3 jobs are created per-year for every new home built,” Sullivan said. “But we’re bleeding jobs and businesses into Kansas because of their major tax changes. We’re working on legislation now that is still developing, we’re thinking of calling it the ‘New Homes Equal Jobs Now’ act. We want to incentivize home buyers, incentivize it in the marketplace and allow the natural market to begin to grow.”
-Keeping incentives for buyers and not for developers is a primary area of focus according to Sullivan.
Missouri Hospital Association
Potential expansion or reform of Medicaid is a primary area of concern for MHA, according to Daniel Landon, Senior Vice President of government relations.
“It will be a heavy lift, I think, to convince the general assembly on Medicaid expansion,” Landon said. “But I think we’ve got some good arguments and I think we’ve got good information and a strong case.”
-The MHA would like to see the medical malpractice caps invalidated by the Missouri Supreme Court reinstated through the legislature.
-A hospital licensure reform bill, which has been around for several years, has gained support in the House, but continues to struggle in the Senate.
Medical malpractice legislation and tort reform are the areas of focus for the Coalition, according to Executive Director Calvin Call.
“We would strongly support re-instating the caps that the [the Missouri Supreme Court] knocked down, we believe that decision was not in the best interest of Missouri,” Call said.
-Prescription Drug Monitoring Legislation: “Missouri is the only state that has not created a statutory fix to that uniform drug-monitoring measure nationwide.”
-Playing defense against “insurance and the Plantiff’s bar,” in handling the upcoming session.
Like most of the associations with an emphasis in education that spoke with The Missouri Times, the Foundation Formula is the top priority of the MNEA, according to legislative director Otto Fajen.
“The state legislature needs to step up for adequate funding for the school districts,” Fajen said. “The [Foundation] formula has been flat for four years running. The state is not pulling their weight. From our perspective, the only answer is enhancing revenues to get back on track to fully fund the formula.”
-Fajen said the state wasn’t in need of much new school law, but that teacher tenure needed to be upgraded. Fajen called tenure in Missouri “pretty weak compared to other states.”
-The MNEA would not be opposed to online sales taxes or general sales taxes to improve school funding.
Missouri Municipal League
Executive Director Dan Ross said there were “two main thrusts” to the League’s approach to the session.
“First, we are worred about any kind of unfunded mandates coming out of Jefferson City and second, we want to maintain local control of ourselves in any number of ways,” Ross said.
-MML is looking to oppose an attempt to cap or reduce the Low Income tax credit and the Historic Preservation Tax Credit.
-Prevailing Wage Law.
Executive Director Tom Lansford said successfully passing legislation for a more-effective call center was the main item on the agenda.
“Currently, the law has a lot of references to wording that is just plain dated, and we need some clarifications and some changes to be more effective in that area,” Lansford said”
-Lansford did not indicate any other major priorities for the 2013 session.
Missouri Pharmacy Association
MPA will be closely watching any legislation for Prescription Drug Monitoring, which CEO Ron Fitzwater said the organization had supported for five years.
“We’ll be working with other organizations on [drug monitoring] because we feel Missouri needs to join the other states on the issue,” Fitzwater said.
-Legislation making sudafedrin a prescription-mandatory drug.
-Medicaid expansion, which Fitzwater said would closely involve the governors office. “[Governor Nixon] has been very aggressive on the issue, we know the legislative leaders will say no, but we believe we can make an effective argument.”
Brent Ghan, Chief Communications Officer at MSBA told The Missouri Times that funding the Foundation Formula was the top priority for the 2013 legislative session.
“The formula is about 400 million short of where it should be,” Ghan said. “For the most part, the scheduled increases have not taken place and we would like to see modest increases. We understand that it is likely there won’t be enough revenue to fully fund it, but that is ultimately what we advocate for.”
-Tax Credit Reform: Specifically low-income housing tax credits and historic preservation tax credits, which Ghan said were “out of control.”
-Increased Borrowing Authority: Relating to bond issues for local districts, the MSBA wants to increase the current limit of 15% of the total assessed valuation of the district to 20 or 25 percent.
David Stokes, policy analyst, said the Institute wants to remain competitive in tax policy with neighboring Kansas, and that they would support measures to cap, limit and ultimately rollback select tax rates.
“We want Missouri to remain competitive and we want to supply ideas to that end,” Stokes said. “We’ve seen what Kansas has done and the success they’ve had, it’s important that Missouri explore solutions within our tax code to optimize our success.”
-Eminent Domain is always carefully watched by Show-ME.
-TIF abuse is “wild,” and they need to be better regulated, Stokes said.
Executive Director and CEO Dale Ludwig said nothing qualified as a serious priority for the MSA.
“Obviously we’ll spend a great deal of time dealing with Obamacare,” Ludwig said. “Mostly we’ll be concerned with how, or if, it will affect us and how we will respond as a state. But we don’t anticipate a great deal of [agricultural] legislation this year.”
-Ludwig said the MSA was always on the look out for Humane Society legislation. “We kind of slapped those guys around the last few years,” Ludwig said. “You think they’d give up.”
Missouri State Teachers Association
Lobbyist Mike Wood said that adequate funding for public schools along with a balanced budget was the ideal outcome for the MSTA.
“The funding for public education just isn’t getting it done,” Wood said. “But we can’t just make more money out of the air, we need the legislature to balance the budget to ensure the funding can be consistent and meet the needs of Missouri teachers and Missouri students.”
– The “25-and-out” retirement fund for teachers spending more than quarter decade in public schools is set to sunset at the end of the year. Wood made it clear the MSTA would like to see it, as well as other benefits set to sunset, become permanent.
-MSTA also wants to clarify to legislators the cost-saving measures associated with retirement benefits and funding for public schools.
Missouri Transportation Alliance
The Alliance will be seeking more funding for MODOT and other transportation needs as the session begins according to Bill McKenna, a spokesperson for the Transportation Alliance.
“MODOT hasn’t always been loved, but in the last few years they’ve done some really good work,” McKenna said. “And we think there is a clear need for more transportation money, we know it can bring jobs and development to our state, and it is one of the few areas where many people agree. Democrats and Republicans need transportation, urban areas need it just like rural areas need it. Business and labor agree on the need, we really think now is the time we’ll see serious discussion about funding for roads and bridges.”
-McKenna sited 15 percent unemployment in the construction industry as an immediate concern that needed to be remedied, in part by creating and funding new roads projects.
Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys
Sara Schuette, Executive Director told The Missouri Times MATA would be working to defend injured workers by correcting the now-insolvent second injury fund.
“This session we will be focusing on the issues of workplace discrimination and we’ll be battling for injured workers rights in the herculean challenge to solve the problems in the second injury fund. “
Missouri Trucking Association
A concrete proposal for transportation funding is the primary concern of Tom Crawford, President and CEO. Crawford said there was no silver bullet for transportation, but that plenty of options existed.
“For years we’ve said we’ll do it next year,” Crawford said. “But we can’t kick the can down the road like that, we want to work on a package that has the best chance of being successful.”
-The MTA is supportive of sales or diesel taxes to create more funding for transportation.
-The MTA does not favor tolling the interstates, and would not want it included in any transportation package.
Missouri Workforce Housing Association
Executive Director and former state senator Jeff Smith told The Missouri Times that the MWHA had no primary agenda, but was “carefully watching the legislature,” for when the time comes to enter the discussion.
“We’re watching or monitoring any action around a bill focusing on tax credits,” Smith said. “We’d like to build decent, affordable housing for people either homeless or living in dilapidated or dangerous places.”
-Preserving the Low Income tax credit will be a major battle for the MWHA.
-Educating the legislature on tax credit reform. “Many of our seniors are in their homes receiving this [Low Income] tax credit. If they were to be placed in homes funded by the state, it is actually more expensive than the tax credit is,” Smith said. “We need to communicate with legislators that think rhetoric is the gospel.“
The following Associations did not respond to press inquiries:
Missouri Auto Dealers Association
Missouri Anesthesiologists Association
Association of Missouri Cooperatives
Missouri Medical Association
Missouri Biotechnology Association
Missouri Dental Association
American Cancer Society of Missouri
National Federation of Independent Businesses Missouri
Saint Louis Civic Progress
Missouri Right to Life
Missouri Energy Development Association
Missouri Regional Business Council
Missouri Sheriffs Association
Missouri Association of Counties
Missouri Budget Project
Americans for Prosperity Missouri
Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
The following Associations could not be reached.
Missouri Farm Bureau
Missouri Primary Care Association
Missouri Credit Union Association
Missouri Corn Growers Association
Missouri Public Utility Alliance
Missouri Petroleum and Convenience Store Association
Missouri Right to Work
Missouri for Fair Taxation
St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association