Thursday, May 29, 2008

Senate Leader Signs Passed Bills

JEFFERSON CITY — Today Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons (R-Kirkwood) returned to the Capitol to sign off on the legislation that received final approval from the General Assembly during the 2008 Missouri legislative session.

Sen. Gibbons, whose service in the Senate draws to a close this year, added his signature to several bills ranging in topic from property tax reform to illegal immigration. The bills he signed were delivered to the governor for approval. A signature from the governor turns the legislation into law.

The 2008 regular session concluded May 16. For more information about the events and legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, call (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Senate’s Hot Weather Rule Clears House

JEFFERSON CITY — Missourians in need of relief during the state’s hot and humid summers may soon be protected under Senate Bill 720, which today was passed by the Missouri House.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Maida Coleman (D-St. Louis), creates a hot weather rule for utility companies by prohibiting them from shutting off service to past-due residential customers on days when the temperature is forecasted to rise above 95 degrees or the heat index above 105 degrees. The rule takes effect between June 1 and September 30.

Sen. Coleman’s proposed law is similar to the cold weather rule already in place that prohibits utilities from shutting off service between March and November when the temperature is forecasted to dip below 32 degrees.

Senate Bill 720 now returns to the Senate for approval of any changes made by the lower chamber.

The 2008 regular session runs through May 16. For more information about the events and legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, call (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.

Senate’s Property Tax Reform Passed by House

JEFFERSON CITY — Property tax relief is one step closer for Missourians after the Missouri House today passed Senate Bill 711, a long-awaited initiative that changes how property taxes are assessed in the state.

Senate Bill 711, sponsored by Senate leader Mike Gibbons (R-Kirkwood), requires all taxing jurisdictions, regardless of whether they are operating at or below their tax rate ceiling, to roll back their tax rate to counter reassessment increases. Under current law, only taxing jurisdictions operating at their tax rate ceiling are required by Missouri's Constitution to roll back to protect taxpayers, leaving taxing entities operating below their ceiling to approve undisclosed tax increases with no legal recourse available for taxpayers.

The legislation would also close a gap in Missouri law that allows taxing districts to apply new voter-approved levies to future assessments that remain unknown. For example, currently taxing jurisdictions can take a tax increase approved by the voters in 2008 and then apply that new tax rate to the higher reassessed value in 2009.

It also requires that taxpayers receive more information in the mail regarding their property tax responsibility in the form of a projected tax liability statement along with their reassessment notices. Charter counties would provide these in 2009, with all other counties participating by 2011. Additionally, SB 711 increases the Senior Citizen Property Tax Credit from $750 to $1,100, and expands those eligible to include homeowners with an income of up to $30,000 for singles and $40,000 for married couples.

Members of the Senate and House will meet in a conference committee to reach a compromise on the legislation between the two chambers. Following approval from the conference committee, SB 711 will be sent back to the Senate and House for a final vote of approval before moving to the governor’s desk.

The 2008 regular session runs through May 16. For more information about the events and legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, call (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Senate’s Rebuild Missouri Schools Program Moves to House

JEFFERSON CITY — Today the Missouri Senate gave a second vote to the Rebuild Missouri Schools Program — legislation that allows no-interest funding to rebuild certain damaged school facilities in the state.

Senate Bill 1170, sponsored by Sen. Rob Mayer (R-Dexter), would allow the state board of education to distribute no-interest loans to school districts that have sustained significant building damage or destruction due to catastrophic events. The bill gives school districts with one or more school facilities declared a disaster area by the governor or president the opportunity to apply for no-interest loans through a 20-year repayment agreement.

Under the program, schools districts eligible for the Rebuild Missouri Schools Program must have experienced a pre-set level of damage or destruction as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency due to an “act of God.”

Two years ago, a devastating tornado nearly destroyed the school in Caruthersville, which is located in Sen. Mayer’s district.

The 2008 regular session runs through May 16. For more information about the events and legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, call (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.

Senate Adopts Horse Processing Resolution

JEFFERSON CITY — Today the Missouri Senate adopted a resolution urging Congress to support the continuation of horse processing in the United States.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 35, sponsored by Sen. Wes Shoemyer (D-Clarence), asks Congress to support the continuation of horse processing in the U.S. and offer incentives to help create horse processing plants throughout the country. It also encourages Congress to oppose two federal bills, S. 311 and H.R. 503, which relate to the slaughtering of horses and other equine animals for human consumption.

In 2006, Congress voted to ban the transport and slaughter of horses for human consumption, forcing horse processing plants to close and eliminating the export of processed equine meat. The Horse Welfare Coalition estimates between 90,000 and 100,000 unwanted horses are now exposed to abandonment and neglect.

The 2008 regular session runs through May 16. For more information about the events and legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, call (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Senate Bill Reducing Tuition Rates for Veterans Passed by House

JEFFERSON CITY — Legislation establishing the “Missouri Returning Heroes Act” today was passed by the House and now moves back to the Senate for the approval of any changes made by the lower chamber.

Senate Bill 830, sponsored by Sen. Maida Coleman (D-St. Louis), requires any public university or college that receives state funds to provide certain combat veterans with lower tuition rates for programs leading to a certificate, or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Institutions of higher education may charge no more than $50 per credit hour to qualified combat veterans.

Eligible veterans include those who served in armed combat after Sept. 11, 2001, who were Missouri residents when first entering the military, and who were honorably discharged from military service. To continue receiving reduced tuition rates, a veteran must maintain at least a cumulative 2.5 GPA. Eligible veterans have 10 years from the date of their last discharge from service to receive lowered tuition rates.

If the Senate and House reach an agreement on SB 830, it will move to the governor’s desk for signing into law.

The 2008 regular session runs through May 16. For more information about the events and legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, call (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.