By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
A new Missouri legislative session gets underway in Jefferson City today as lawmakers gather to consider legislation over the next four-plus months.
St. Joseph Rep. Brenda Shields serves on the House Budget Committee and says a strong state economy has resolved some difficult budget issues and should allow the legislature to avoid having to cut budgets.
“The last thing I believe that you like to do is appropriate money and then take it away and that’s what we’ve had to do in the past,” Shields tells host Barry Birr on the KFEQ Hotline. “I think this will be the first year that the talk is right now that we won’t have to take any money away.”
Lawmakers will again consider whether to require online retailers to collect state sales taxes on Internet purchases made by Missourians. Some lawmakers say that if the state begins collecting online sales taxes, it should cut taxes elsewhere.
Only Missouri and Florida have failed to follow up a United States Supreme Court ruling allowing states to impose sales tax collections on online retailers.
State Rep. Bill Falkner of St. Joseph begins his second year in the General Assembly after getting a wake-up call in his first year there.
“When I first got down there, first three or four weeks I was down there, I asked myself what am I doing here? Because I was kind of disgusted in some of the tactics and some of the ways,” Falkner says on the Hotline. “It seems, at times, to be always about St. Louis, St. Louis trying to get something done and I thought that the whole state was being short-changed.”
Falkner says a group of legislators outside of the state metro areas formed to offset the power of the St. Louis delegation. Falkner will once again sponsor legislation which would require online retailers to collect the state sales tax, saying not requiring it of online retailers gives them an advantage over brick and mortar stores.
This year, the legislative work will be overshadowed by politics, with the 2020 elections overshadowing their work.
State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer of Parkville is entering his second session without the experience of working at the Capitol during an election year.
“But I’ve heard from other folks that whenever you’re in an election year just expect less stuff to happen,” Luetkemeyer says on the Hotline. “People tend to be more focused on campaigns and they want to make sure that they’re keeping all their election promises and so the more aggressive of a legislative agenda you have the more likely it is you’re are going to come up empty handed and disappointed at the end of the session.”
Luetkemeyer expects several issues to be prominent during this year’s session. He says he will concentrate on an anti-crime package that he proposes to deal with the growing problem of violent crime, especially in the state’s metropolitan areas.