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March 25, 2016  16th Edition
Happy Springtime everyone!
Announcement
  I have filed for re-election to a third term. I hope to continue representing you in Jeff City.

I have a Democratic opponent in the Primary election and a Republican opponent in the General Election, so you will see me walking in your neighborhood this summer. I look forward to meeting you again and sharing ideas.

It is amazing how much one learns in this job; to say nothing of the fascinating people you meet.
Free Tax Preparation
  With April 15th fast approaching, take advantage of free tax preparation and e-filing services available through the IRS Free File program by visiting www.IRS.gov/freefile. Powered by The Free File Alliance, a coalition of 13 industry-leading tax software companies partnered with the IRS, the Free File program provides free access to the industry's most innovative and secure tax software.

Through Free File, all taxpayers who made $62,000 or less in 2015 can visit www.IRS.gov/freefile to prepare and e-file their federal tax returns at no cost. About 100 million Americans — or 70 percent of taxpayers — are eligible. In addition, Free File offers a basic e-filing service for everyone, regardless of income. Taxpayers can also use Free File to e-file an extension.

Free File is made possible through a public-private partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a non-profit coalition of leading tax software companies. To learn more about the program, visit www.freefilealliance.org or www.IRS.gov/freefile.

As We Go Slogging Through the Muck

  It is a busy time in the House, but it also seems that we are not accomplishing much. A number of bills with little substance or relationship with the best interests of the state (in my opinion) have been passed. We have approved a number of honorary street and highway names. And we have seen the creation of a number or new committees, sub-committees, joint committees and task forces that sound good, but are redundant and have no real function other than create solutions that are looking for a problem.

A great deal of time has been spent seeking ways to punish Mizzou. Yes, the protests at Mizzou (and the conditions leading to them) were poorly addressed. But removing $1,000,000 from the University’s budget hurts students across all four campuses (Columbia, UMKC, UMSL and Missouri S&T in Rolla).

There is still the Planned Parenthood unicorn hunt that has found no credible evidence of the selling of fetal body parts; and yet the hunt continues.

There are far more important issues to address. Polls tell us that ethics reform and campaign contribution limits are a huge priority for all Missourians. Our deteriorating roads and bridges need repair, and there is no consensus regarding how to pay for those repairs. And the list goes on; providing health care for more people, funding our schools and public safety. The excuse given for the failure to address these problems is lack of funds. And at the root of that problem is a collection of tax cuts and tax credits that have lowered state revenue. We could eliminate the tax credits for starters, or raise some taxes. Consider that Missouri’s 19¢ tax on fuel ranks as the 48th lowest in the nation; and our 17¢ cigarette tax ranks dead last!

After the last day of session in 2015 I really had hoped we had bottomed out as a Legislature and things would be more reasoned and professional. Sorry to say I was wrong. Now even the Senate has become more unruly when a 39 hour filibuster over a law that would legalize discrimination was ended with the use of a bullying parliamentary rule known as Calling the Previous Question.

You can learn more about what's happening with these and other bills, by visiting the News/Issues page on my website at http://suemeredith4rep.com/issues.html. To look up specific bills that you care about, visit http://www.house.mo.gov/. Use the Bill Search feature in the upper right hand corner and type in a key word or phrase. We have 7 weeks left in the session and if something is not yet assigned to a committee it is pretty much dead, it may come up, but not likely.

Keeping Busy

  I still like my new office, even if it is not ADA compliant. We will work on that when we get new office assignments in December.

My Legislative Aide Kathy has worked in the Capitol a long time and loves to dig in and research issues. She is well respected and is a straight up, tell it like it is person. As you know I like to ask a lot of questions and she likes finding the answers. They might not be the answers we want to hear, but we can be sure that they are factual. Feel free to talk with her anytime. She is definitely not a bureaucrat or puppet.
  Congratulations to Dr. Mike Fulton of Pattonville. He has been selected as the Missouri Schools Superintendent of the Year by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA).

As your representative, I sit on the Pattonville Parent Advisory Council, the Ritenour Legislative Advocacy Committee and the Parkway School Legislative Committee. While these three districts seem each very different from the other, when you look at the big picture the issues are all a bit similar; yet comparing our schools with outstate rural districts, they are worlds apart. We are all so fortunate to have really good schools in our area that are supported by residents who place a high value on education.
  Since my last newsletter I've met with a number of diverse groups, learning about their views and priorities. The following are a just a few of them:

New This Year — Budget Implementation Oversight by the Legislature

  In the past, once the budget was approved by both Chambers of the Legislature, and signed by the Governor, the Governor had the authority to withhold budget item funds if projected revenue was insufficient. If additional funds became available, the withholds would be released.

This year the Governor withheld $575,000 of the $750,000 appropriation from the Missouri Fine Arts and Scholars Academies and $350,000 of $350,000 from the Brain Injury fund. This funding was withheld due to the rate at which revenue was being collected and the withholds could possibly be restored.

In November of 2014, the voters of the state approved a constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to override the withholding of funds. This means that if the Governor wants to withhold funds, the Legislature can step in and release the money anyway, whether the state's cash flow will support it or not. The House overrode those withholds and sent the bill to the Senate for a vote. If the Senate also overrides the withholds the funds will be released.

Here comes the big question. If the Governor releases the funding, where will the $925,000 come from to close the gap? Will the Governor then need to make other withholds? Will the Legislature vote on those items also? It's a tug of war affecting the balance of powers. Meanwhile we are not the Federal Government and, by law, must maintain a balanced budget.
As always

Thank you for your support, and for giving me the opportunity to represent you in Jefferson City. Keep in touch and give me your thoughts on potential town hall topics.

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Paid for by Friends of Sue Meredith, Pam Crowley — Treasurer