By Kathy Sweeney
Missouri lawmakers are back home for their weeklong Spring break, but not before wrapping up what state Senator Jason Crowell calls an extremely busy week.
From spending restrictions to tax credit caps, a lot of issues hit the House and Senate floors this week that could impact your family. Read three of issues below and let us know what you think.
Budget Spending Restrictions
Missouri's government spending could soon be restricted--if the Senate approves a proposed constitutional amendment.
The measure would prohibit lawmakers from increasing spending by more than the annual rise in inflation plus population growth.
But budget cuts wouldn't need to be made if a drop in consumer prices or population make that a negative figure.
The house approved the measure. If the senate passes it, you'll see it on the November ballot.
Supporters say the measure encourages prudent budgeting. Critics fear it would too tightly bind the decisions of future lawmakers.
State Senator Jason Crowell says he does not believe the Senate will pass this measure. He feels that elected officials should exercise self-discipline in spending taxpayer money and that artificial constraints should not be placed in the state constitution. What if an earthquake occurs in SE Missouri and we have a constitutional cap on state spending and can not appropriate life saving and life rebuilding services?
Tax Credit Reform
Senate bill 45 calls for broad tax credit reforms along with incentives for job growth. State Senator Jason Crowell wants all tax credit authorizations to go through an appropriations process where they would face accountability and oversight. Senate colleague Brad Lager introduced a 242 page Senate Substitute on SB 45 this week. Lager's version puts a $50 million hard cap on historic preservation tax credits. Several historic rehab projects in the Heartland use these tax credits and those involved in that effort fear any kind of cap would halt the kind of work you can find in several Southeast Missouri cities, including Cape Girardeau.
Senator Crowell does not support Senator Lager's Substitute. Crowell tells Heartland News he finds Lager's positions "extreme". Crowell believes Lager's Substitute will be amended when the Senate convenes following the Easter recess.
Registering All MO Sex Offenders
There's an effort in the Senate right now to pass a constitutional amendment regarding the registering of sex offenders who committed crimes prior to 1995. Under current law, those offenders do not have to register with local law enforcement.
Senator Jason Crowell supports this effort. Crowell says in Cape Girardeau County alone, there are 55 people who do not have to register as sex offenders because their crimes were committed prior to 1995.
"Our children deserve that protection and I am working to pass a constitutional amendment this session that will allow Missourians to let their voices be heard on this issue," Crowell said.