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December 21, 2017  26th Edition

I want to take this opportunity to wish you Happy Holidays. We have much to celebrate and a new year ahead of us with innumerable challenges. I hope that your holidays are everything you want them to be!
REAL ID Extension
  Missouri has an extension for REAL ID enforcement, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver's licenses and identification cards from Missouri at Federal facilities, nuclear power plants and federally regulated commercial aircraft until October 10, 2018. Whether or not the Department of Revenue will need more time is hard to say. If you have any questions about how this will affect you and your family, you can visit the Department of Homeland Security by checking out their FAQ page here.
Missouri State Teacher of the Year — Beth Davey
  This year's Missouri State Teacher of the Year is Beth Davey, K-5 Music Teacher at Iveland Elementary School in the Ritenour School District.

As recognition of her achievement, I was honored to present her with a proclamation from the Missouri House. Within minutes of being welcomed into her 2nd grade music class, it was obvious as to why she is so deserving of this award. Her interaction with her students is something to see.

The best part was the impromptu performance by her class. These kids may be young, but they have some serious musical ability.

You can learn more about the Teacher of the Year Program and the selection criteria by clicking here.

Ritenour Superintendent Dr. Kevin Kilbride,
Missouri Teacher of the Year Beth Davey,
Rep. Sue Meredith, Iveland Principal Amanda Connelly
Missouri Teacher of the Year Beth Davey, Rep. Sue Meredith, and the second grade music class at Iveland Elementary School
Looking to the New Year and a New Legislative Session
  The Legislature will be back in session starting Wednesday, January 3rd, We will be in session for 1 day then adjourn until Tuesday, January 9th. The rest of the session will continue with sessions Monday through Thursday until mid-May. The last week will run though Friday, May 18th. I am sure the theme of the session will be the upcoming elections to be held in August (primary) and November (general).

While it is not a presidential election year, Missouri will be electing a US Senator (a seat currently held by Senator Claire McCaskill) and eight members of congress. There will apparently be a competitive race in the 2nd Congressional District, currently held by Congresswoman Ann Wagner. This Congressional district includes more than half of our 71st State Representative District. State races will include our State Senator (currently State Senator Jill Schupp) and all State Representatives. We will also be electing our State Auditor.

Please keep in mind. The people we elect get to make the rules. If we are not happy with election results, we should do more to support the candidates we do like. If nothing else, tell your friends and neighbors what you think and share your ideas.

I expect some of the following issues are going to be a primary focus for the majority party.
  • Several bills have been filed related to elimination of the prevailing wage statute.

  • A push will be made for “school choice” also known as charter schools paid for with public funds.

  • Elimination of the right to women's health care based upon the health and personal needs of the women involved.

  • The budget will be even more difficult than usual, due to the effects of the new Federal Tax Bill. Since we have reduced our own state income (thanks to a major tax cut passed in 2014, and fully in effect this year) we will once again have to reduce state expenditures.

And speaking about the new Federal Tax Bill
  You can learn more about the new Federal Tax bill by clicking here. But here are some of the highlights and lowlights:
  • Individuals and Families —Individual brackets will see some reduction, however these cuts will expire after 2025. Moreover, there are a number of deductions that will affect the higher tax brackets with no benefit to the middle class.

  • Corporations — Business corporate tax rate is cut to 21% from 35%, beginning 1 January 2018. However, while the tax rates for individuals expire in 2025, these cuts are permanent.

  • Standard deduction — In a change that will affect millions of Americans, the bill would increase the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals, and to $24,000 for married couples. That might well eliminate ability for some families to itemize their deductions.

  • Child tax credit — Doubles the child tax credit to $2,000 per dependent child under age 17, with a refundable portion of $1,400. The refundable portion allows families to lower their tax bills to zero and receive a refund for the remaining value.

  • Mortgages — The bill suspends the deduction for interest on home equity loans from January 1, 2018 until 2026. You will still be able to deduct the interest on your mortgage, however, the interest on that home equity loan that pays for the new roof will not be deductible.

  • Property Disasters — Uninsured losses from a fire, storm or theft used to be deductible, assuming they exceeded 10% of adjusted gross income. But now through 2025, people can only claim that deduction if they've been affected by an official national disaster. Damage from earthquakes, wildfires or floods would likely be deductible. An isolated house fire or mudslide... no.

  • Obamacare mandate — Repeals a federal fine imposed on Americans under Obamacare for not obtaining health insurance coverage, this change will reduce the pool of participants and is expected to undermine the 2010 healthcare law.

  • Arctic National Wildlife Reserve — Allows oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic national wildlife refuge.
The Department of Revenue Reopens the Tax Assistance Office
  The Missouri Department of Revenue has reopened its Jefferson City Tax Assistance Office. Located in the Harry S. Truman State Office Building at 301 West High Street, Room 330, the office is open to the public from 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Tax experts are available to provide assistance with business tax registration, income tax compliance, corporate income tax questions, lien/garnishment resolution, and electronic filing for online filing and payments, among other services. The Jefferson City Tax Assistance Office was one of seven such offices that were closed in 2014.

“A principle focus of the leadership of the Department of Revenue over the last year has been to dramatically enhance our level of customer service from where it has been in the past,” said Joel Walters, director of the Missouri Department of Revenue. “Reopening the Tax Assistance Office is part of a larger, renewed commitment to serving our customers better. We understand and appreciate what a void closure of this office left, as well as the tremendous value bringing back face-to-face expert assistance provides.”
As always
  Thank you for your support, and for giving me the opportunity to represent you in Jefferson City. Keep in touch and share your thoughts on potential town hall topics.

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