May 3, 2014    5th Edition
Spring is finally here! And Missouri 97th General Assembly Second Regular Session is coming to a close. Once the session is completed, you will be receiving a more detailed report in the mail, but here are some of the issues that are still on the burner.
Medicaid Expansion
The outlook isn’t overly optimistic, but there is still a very slight chance for passage. Governor Nixon spoke to a large crowd at Greater St. Mark’s Family Church in north St. Louis County at the invitation of the pastor, State Representative Tommie Pierson. Several representatives, myself included, and a couple state senators were in attendance. It was good to see so many people who support accepting more of our Federal tax dollars meet our health needs.
SB 509 Tax Revisions
This year’s tax cut effort originated in the Senate; however it is as problematic as the one last year that was vetoed by the Governor. Senate Bill 509 would primarily benefit the wealthy at the expense of public education and other vital services. It features tax cuts on pass-through business income, the kind often reported by individuals organized as LLC’s or corporate partnerships.
Missouri's per capita state tax burden ranks 46th in the nation.

45 states place a higher burden
on their citizens.
US Census
State Government Tax Collections Tables
For example, under Senate Bill 509, an individual with $500,000 in business income could write off $125,000 of income and receive a tax cut worth $9,100. And there’s no limit to these windfalls – the more income they make, the bigger the tax cut they would receive.
By contrast, a family making $44,000/year would see a tax cut of only $32 when the bill is fully implemented in 2022.
Moreover, the effect on Missouri’s educational system could be disastrous. First the state underfunds the schools at the rate of $600,000,000 a year. Now with the tax bill SB 509 the schools are once again the target of cuts in funding. I voted against this bill and I most certainly hope it comes back vetoed by the Governor so I can vote to sustain the veto.
Revising the Criminal Code
An 8 yearlong effort to update Missouri’s Criminal Code is only a gubernatorial signature away from completion. The first updating of the criminal code in decades, this bill strengthens the penalties for drunken driving and crimes against children; and was passed by both the House and the Senate. Existing criminal statutes were modernized, along with the creation of new classes of felonies and misdemeanors. While the Governor has expressed reservations regarding the complexity of the bill, the hope is that he will sign it shortly.
Right to Work
This is another issue that has caused some agony in the House. It did pass the House (I voted no) but not with enough votes to override a veto. Many of you wrote to me expressing your feelings on the issue. The more I hear from you the better I feel casting a vote on your behalf. Keep writing.
The current education bill has parts I like and parts I really don’t like; and I want to hear from you. These changes are statewide and all public schools can be affected. Here are some of the highlights.
  • Accreditation will change to 4 levels
    • Accredited with distinction
    • Accredited
    • Provisionally Accredited
    • Unaccredited
  • Vouchers for Charter schools are included in the plan
  • Sending students to private non-sectarian schools also with a voucher plan
  • Help will be available to schools to improve their ratings. As schools show signs of failing they will receive help and guidance.
Other So-Called Priorities
It seems we spend a lot of time on what can be considered silly stuff like taking time and money to establish a state exercise (the jumping jack). Ceremonial and symbolic bills are fine, but not when there are more pressing issues to be addressed.
Another bill was passed to allow a child eating a pop tart in such a manner that it resembles a gun. Does the legislature really need to address this issue‌ I think there are better, less expensive, more effective ways to handle these kinds of issues.

Community Activities
Social Services
I have been working on understanding this web of social services we have in our state. We have a lot of different providers of different services and all need state support. Some assistance is paid for by the state, some by the county and others by federal or other funding.
I have found that St. Louis County funds some services differently from most counties in the state. The Productive Living Board for St. Louis County Citizens with Developmental Disabilities was established in 1979 to provide a planned program of Residential and Vocational services for St. Louis County citizens with developmental disabilities. St. Louis County voters passed a property tax levy to develop services and supports for residents with developmental disabilities. The present tax is set at 8.5¢ per $100 assessed value and generates approximately $16 million annually. The PLB is to coordinate contracts with different agencies that will provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities in St. Louis County. This is strictly for St. Louis County residents.
I am trying to determine how this system compares with those in other counties and how the costs compare as well as the services provided. I will follow up on this more after session is over and I can spend more time in town.
Jobs With Justice held a public meeting Saturday March 22nd in conjunction with Communications Workers of America Local No. 6355 at Overland Baptist Church to discuss issues encountered by both workers in the Department of Social Services and Clients applying for assistance. The Department of Social Services is reorganizing statewide and those responsible for managing the department tell the House it will be more efficient and save money while providing better services. There have been many complaints because forms are to be completed on computers and often there is no live person available for assistance. We need to keep a close eye on this new system to make sure that when the dust settles there are fewer cracks for people to fall into and get lost in the system. I will be watching this closely.
Harris-Stowe State University
I attended an open house and informational reception at Harris-Stowe State University. I was very favorably impressed with the instructors/professors and the programs. The atmosphere is very student oriented with a focus on helping students succeed. I was surprised to learn they offer on-campus housing, a varied athletic program and a diverse student body. Harris-Stowe offers more opportunities beyond its traditional emphasis on training teachers and educators.
Orchard Lakes
There was an attempt made to buy out the homeowners in the Orchard Lakes subdivision, replacing it with a big box shopping center. The subdivision is adjacent to the east side of Hwy 270 between Olive and Page. A number of residents did not want to sell. Due to complications with the natural lake, three St. Louis City water pipes (each 6 foot in diameter) located under the subdivision and a variety of traffic issues, the project was dropped by the developer.
McKelvey Woods Trail
On April 5th I attended a ribbon cutting near the Maryland Heights Aqua Port to open this new trail. The trail currently runs from the north entrance of the Aqua Port about 1 mile toward Creve Coeur Lake. Volunteers have been removing invasive bush honeysuckle and other non-native plants; the City of Maryland Heights built the trail. The plan is to eventually connect with the walking paths around the lake. The project is a partnership between the City of Maryland Heights and Great River Greenway. There is also a new dog park at the trail head.
A.T. Still University Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health’s (MOSDOH)
We have a new dental school in town! The groundbreaking was held Saturday, April 27th for the A.T. Still University Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health’s (MOSDOH) new dental education and oral health clinic – a pioneering collaboration with Grace Hill Health Centers Inc. Located just north of the former City Hospital near Lafayette Square, this will be a great asset to both the neighborhood and the St. Louis region as a whole.
Rory Ellinger
June 13, 1941 - April 9, 2014
This year was a very emotional one particularly on the Democratic side of the House. The Honorable State Representative Rory Ellinger was in the second year of his second term this session and was recently elected to a leadership position in the Democratic caucus. He was a champion for the rights of individuals and as an attorney understood the real world ramifications of legal actions. Rory had a bill before my Children and Families Committee to allow a nursing mother the option to not serve on jury duty due to the demands of nursing her child. In mid-February Rory seemed to be losing some of his zest and appeared tired. He was diagnosed with congenital heart disease and made the decision to remove his name from the ballot for the 2014 election. A week later it was discovered he had a very aggressive type of liver cancer.
Governor Jay Nixon and Representative Rory Ellinger
at the signing of HB1320.
The House voted unanimously to pass his nursing mother bill and the Senate quickly followed suit. Governor Nixon signed the bill almost immediately at a ceremony in the University City Hall in Representative Ellinger’s district. Representative Ellinger was there along with many of us, his colleagues and admirers on a stormy Thursday afternoon. Rory passed away the following Wednesday morning.
Rory never complained, he just kept on working toward his goals no matter how difficult the opposition. He was always courteous and never raised his voice no matter how heated the discussion. He truly set an example as an ethical, moral, humane and kind gentleman. He could disagree without being disagreeable. He was a man of honor.
In Closing
One final thing… Glenda Blattel is my Legislative Assistant, my one and only staff member. Please feel free to talk to her if I am not available, she is a great resource and shares all messages with me.

Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.

Take care, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to represent you in Jefferson City.

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