House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, told reporters in his end-of-week press availability that components of his “Triple E” agenda – encompassing economic, education, and energy issues – had all made significant progress.
In response to questions, Jones explained his reasoning for removing state Reps. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, and Jeffrey Messenger, R-Springfield, from the Fiscal Review Committee. According to Jones, Messenger and Hoskins voiced concern about some education reform legislation that was based in policy, not in fiscal concerns.
“The purpose of the fiscal review committee is to review the fiscal note associated with a bill,” Jones told reporters. “The two representatives voiced concerns to me about policy, and that’s simply not the purpose of the committee.”
Jones replaced them with freshmen Reps. Sonya Anderson, R-Springfield, and Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau, telling reporters they understood the purpose of Fiscal Review was not to voice policy concerns.
Jones became frustrated when questions came about the removal of the Minority and Women Business Enterprise language in his bonding measure, HJR14. Rep. Gail McCann-Beatty, assistant minority floor leader, walked out of the House Rules Committee hearing over the measure, implying racial motivations to the removal of the language.
When pressed by reporters about the language change, Jones said he did not know why the provision was removed, and that he wasn’t present at the committee hearing. A visibly frustrated Jones refused to comment further.
Here are some highlights from this week in the state House:
HCS SS#2 SCS SB’s 26, 11 & 31 — The sweeping tax cut bill that originated in the senate moved through the House this week by a 90-68 vote after long floor debate. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, R-Kansas City, would reduce the maximum tax rate on personal income by two-thirds of a percent over a period of five years, reduces the tax rate on corporate income by 0.75 percent over five years, and increases the exemption for personal income tax for those making less than $20,000 per year by $2,000. The bill would also institute an increase in the sales and use tax rates in the state, among other provisions.
HB 986 — A bill aimed at expanding access to MO Healthnet benefits passed through the House this week. An amendment offered and eventually withdrawn by sponsor Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, included expansion of Medicaid access to families at 100 percent of the federal poverty level or less, well short of the 138 percent sought by the Democratic supporters of Medicaid expansion. Democrats opposed the measure and, when Barnes withdrew his amendment, declared any expansion of Medicaid “dead.”
HCS HB 455 & 297 — A bill changing the eligibility and availability of Temporary Assistance for Need Families funds moved through the House and was first read in the Senate this week. If it becomes law, the bill would prevent any TANF funds to be used at casino or gambling establishments, as well as liquor stores. The bill allows for the state to declare an individual ineligible for TANF funds for three years if found to be in violation of this policy and directs the state to seek a waiver from the federal government to mandate photo-identification use to continue eligibility in state directed food stamp programs.
Collin Reischman is the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. To contact Collin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @CMReischman