Sunday, March 2nd, 2014
Boosting Job Growth & Innovation
This week I sponsored two pieces of legislation to address job growth and innovation. The first bill, HB 2042, would require public schools to count computer science classes as math credits, rather than as electives. Computer science, specifically writing computer code, requires mathematical reasoning to design and implement computer algorithms. I have read of 17 other states trying this approach and I believe this is an excellent way to encourage more students to explore computer science. As a state, we often talk about creating a skilled, high-tech workforce—this is a small, but effective step we can take to make Missouri more competitive in the information economy.
The second bill I filed this week was HB 2043. This bill, known as the Education Innovation Investment Act (EIIA), will stimulate job growth and business development at public colleges and universities. Under the EIIA, public institutions may contract with new (non-retail) business startups to occupy vacant land or facilities on campus. To further encourage growth, for their first five years of operation, qualifying businesses may subtract 50% of their adjusted federal income when calculating their Missouri adjusted gross. Likewise, qualifying employees at those businesses may subtract $10,000 of their federal income when calculating their Missouri adjusted gross income for their first five years of employment.
The EIIA will directly benefit several groups:
- Entrepreneurs and their employees will have greater access to tax incentives and institutional resources
- Institutions will be able to monetize their vacant space and collaborate with innovative new businesses
- Instructors and their students will have access to real-world, hands-on learning and job opportunities
Building on Our Commitment to Public Education
As a member of the House Budget committee, I am proud to report that we will recommend a $100 million increase in funding for public education. Additionally, we will recommend a 5% increase to Missouri’s public colleges and universities.
Modernizing, Streamlining, and Lowering Missouri Taxes
The House gave approval this week to HB 1268 which ties Missouri’s tax brackets to inflation. Our state’s tax code has been unchanged for decades and, as a result, if you make more than $9,000 a year you fall in the top tax bracket. I supported this common sense, long-overdue change—it passed by 146-4.
To streamline your experience with the Department of Revenue, the House passed HB 1081—the Paperless Documents and Forms Act. The bill allows DOR to offer all tax forms and documents online and offer the ability to submit those forms and documents electronically. The bill would also allow DOR to send you notifications via email, if that is your preference. HB 1081 passed 146-0.
My colleagues and I also approved two tax cuts this week:
- HB 1253 deals specifically with taxes on business income. The tax cut is phased in over five years; each round of cuts can only go into effect if state revenues remain unchanged; if revenues fall, taxes will not be cut. For small business owners, this means the amount of business income you pay taxes on will decrease by 10% each round until you are only paying taxes on 50% of your small business income. HB 1253 also reduces the corporate income tax from 6.25% to 3.125% over five years. Again, if state revenues fall the remaining tax cuts will not take place. HB 1253 passed 106-49.
- HB 1295 deals specifically with personal income taxes. The tax cut is phased in over seven years in 0.1% increments. State revenue must increase by $150 million (compared to the highest collections of any of the three previous years) in order for each round of cuts to go into effect. Tax revenues will have to grow by over $1 billion before we ultimately reach the final tax rate of 5.3%. HB 1295 also includes a $1,000 deduction for all individuals with an adjusted gross income less than $20,000. To protect education funding, the bill requires 40% of new net general revenue to go to the foundation formula until our schools are fully funded. HB 1295 passed 106-47.
This Week’s Capitol Guests
Gifted students from Rock Bridge High School stopped by my office this week to talk about gifted education…we had a blast!
I had the pleasure of meeting the MU Tiger Volleyball Team this week. Congratulations ladies on winning the Tigers’ first SEC Championship!
If there is an issue that’s important to you, feel free to stop by my Capitol Office any time Monday afternoons through Thursday mornings. I’d be happy to meet with you!
Saturday, February 8th, 2014
My Legislation to Improve Government Accountability Moves Through the House
Back in January, I introduced several pieces of legislation to improve government accessibility and transparency. Last week I had the privilege of presenting a few of those bills to the House Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability.
HB 1433 would require the Department of Revenue to collect information about all taxing districts and display them in a searchable database on the department’s website. This database, as the Columbia Daily Tribune and Springfield News-Leader have pointed out, would bring consumers a little more clarity to tasks such as shopping or buying a home.
HB 1432 would require Missouri’s executive agencies to post, on their homepage, links to proposed language and easy-to-understand summaries of administrative rule changes. These rules carry a lot of weight and govern how you interact with agencies, such as the Department of Revenue for example; rule changes deserve as much public scrutiny as we can give them.
Both bills received a positive response in committee. Once these bills have been voted on by the committee—I am positive they will make their way to the House floor for debate.
Bill to Improve Disaster Response Times Fast-Tracked in the House
I am proud to report that HB 1300, which will help Boone County Fire improve disaster response times for Missouri Task Force 1, has been voted out of committee and recommended for “consent” status. Bills are only granted consent status if they are uncontroversial and will not cost the state any money. HB 1300 allows Boone County Fire to vote on disaster deployment funds immediately via any available form of communication. During the committee process, we strengthened the bill by adding language that would require the Fire Protection District to keep minutes of those meetings and make them publicly available. I am confident HB 1300 will become law this year.
New Jobs Coming to Centralia
Hubbell Power Systems, ABB, and General Cable have announced their partnership with CleanLine Energy to build a 750 mile direct-current transmission line, to carry renewable wind energy, from Kansas across Missouri. This huge project will bring 65 new jobs to Hubbell in Centralia.
You can read more about this exciting announcement onKOMU.
A Big Thank You to Law Enforcement, First-Responders, and Road Crews
I want to publicly thank Captain Lance McLaughlin, of the Highway Patrol, for his help after I blew a tire on the way to Jefferson City. The Captain saw me on the side of the road and stopped to assist me. As we endure more treacherous winter road conditions, I ask that you pray for those Missourians who put themselves in danger to keep us and our roads safe. Before you travel, be sure to check the road conditions at http://traveler.modot.org/map/.
Members of the Missouri Home Care Union stopped by my office this past week to advocate for home health care policies. If there is an issue that’s important to you, feel free to stop by my Capitol Office any time Monday afternoons through Thursday mornings. I’d be happy to meet with you!
Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
I had two bills heard in the House Gov’t Oversight & Accountability committee yesterday. HB1432 would require all state departments [DESE, Dep't of Eco Devo, etc] to prominently post proposed rule changes, as well as fiscal impact for those rule changes on their website. HB1433 would require the Dep’t of Revenue to collect taxing rates from all local taxing districts around the state and provide a searchable database on their website for Missourians to know exactly how much they are being taxed at ALL levels of government. Check out a couple of news articles below to learn more about the bills.
Friday, January 24th, 2014
Governor Nixon is Writing Checks Missourians Can’t Cash
In his annual State of the State Address, Governor Nixon laid out his legislative priorities for the year. Despite withholding over $130 million from the state budget last year under the guise of fiscal responsibility, he has proposed a spending plan this year that would be the largest in state history.
When crafting the state budget, it is customary for House and Senate budget staff, the Governor’s budget staff, and economists from the University of Missouri to collectively settle on a fiscally responsible revenue estimate for the year. It is that consensus revenue estimate, or CRE, that our entire state budget is based on. For the first time in 10 years, Missouri will go without a CRE because Governor Nixon has chosen, irresponsibly, to assume that Missouri will see over 6% growth this year. There is absolutely no evidence to support his claims. The economic experts have recommended a more modest assumption of 4.2% growth, and that is the estimate the legislature will use going forward.
Writing checks we can’t cash is nothing new for Governor Nixon. Every year, the State of the State Address has served as a platform for him to pander to and promise increased funding for one interest group or another. And every year, the governor withholds millions of dollars from higher education, infrastructure improvements, and other critical needs around the state. This year the promises have reached a reckless fever pitch.
As the owner of a startup company and as a member of the House Budget committee, investments in jobs and education are near and dear to my heart. I campaigned on those issues and I believe that when talking about the economic future of our great state, we cannot separate the need to attract jobs from making a significant commitment to education.
I look forward to supporting investments in education and infrastructure, and creating an economic environment in Missouri that will encourage growth. I will, however, be operating within the reality of our’s state’s current fiscal situation. House and Senate Republicans have increased funding for education for years and have done it with balanced budgets.
Legislation I Have Filed
Ethics Reform (HB 1258)
As some of you may know, I have introduced a bill that would fill some holes in Missouri’s existing ethics laws. The bill:
- Caps lobbyist gifts at $50 and would prohibit legislators from accepting more than $500 in gifts per quarter. There are currently no caps on lobbyist gifts.
- Requires lobbyist expenses for committee meetings held outside the Capitol building to be reported on legislators’ individual ethics reports. Currently, lobbyists may report those expenses (usually for taking the committee out to dinner) as going to the whole committee—but not to the individual committee members.
- Prohibits members of the legislature from serving as a lobbyist or soliciting future clients until two years after leaving office.
- Requires state legislators and statewide office holders to report any campaign donations over $500 within 72 hours
I chose to address these issues because of their simplicity and because they have the greatest chance of becoming law this session, not years down the road.
You can read HB 1258 and follow it through the legislative process HERE.
Missouri Task Force 1 (HB 1300)
This bill would allow fire boards that host an urban search and rescue task force, such as Boone County Fire and Missouri Task Force 1, to more quickly deploy first responders in the event of a disaster. When an organization such as FEMA requires support from the task force, it is the fire board’s responsibility to allocate money to pay for the team’s deployment; this is legally required to happen within a very narrow timeframe. After the deployment, FEMA then reimburses the task force’s deployment expenses.
In the event that members of the fire board are absent or inaccessible, the task force cannot deploy in a timely manner. This bill gives the fire board the ability to vote to spend money on disaster responses by any electronic means necessary. This exception will only apply to these deployments. No other fire board business may be conducted this way.
You can read HB 1300 and follow it through the legislative process HERE.
Administrative Rule Changes (HB 1432)
State agencies are government by a number of administrative rules—often times, people know very little about them or know when they change. This bill would require all state agencies to post, on the front page of their websites, a link to any pending rule changes. Each rule change must include a fairly worded, easy-to-understand summary. This bill will bring greater transparency to the executive branch and give you a better idea of how new rules will affect your interactions with our state government.
You can read HB 1432 and follow it through the legislative process HERE.
Taxing Districts (HB 1433)
This is the second time I have filed my taxing districts bill. This legislation would require the Department of Revenue to keep a database of all taxing districts in the state. These local entities account for a growing portion of your tax burden. This database would be searchable by your address and give you a clear picture of all of the taxes you pay where you live.
You can read HB 1433 and follow it through the legislative process HERE.
Live Streaming the Legislative Process (HB 1544)
This bill would require a live video/audio stream of all floor proceedings and committee hearings at the Capitol to be broadcast on the internet. We currently only stream audio from the House and Senate chambers. This bill would dramatically increase your access to the legislature and to its committee hearings—and hopefully make legislators more accountable to their constituents, many of whom live hours away from Jefferson City.
You can read HB 1544 and follow it through the legislative process HERE.
Sunday, January 5th, 2014
On Wednesday, 44th District State Representative Caleb Rowden will file an ethics reform bill that he hopes will “close some holes” in Missouri’s current ethics law. Rowden’s bill will do a number of things, including:
- Capping any individual lobbyist gift at $50, and capping the total amount of gifts a legislator can receive at $500/quarter.
- Implements a two year ‘cooling off period’ before a legislator can become a lobbyist.
- Specifies that all dinners/activity outside of the Capitol building must be reported individually by lobbyists and may not be reported as a group or committee.
- Specifies that any campaign contribution received above $500 during session must be reported within 72 hours to the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Rowden comments, “I think the General Assembly has a good chance this year to clean up our ethics laws, and ensure our constituents can look at Jefferson City and be proud of what they see. The goal of this legislation is to bring a higher level of transparency and accountability to our legislative process. I believe there are a few holes and areas of concern that we as legislators need to address, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to see this become law in 2014.”
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Wednesday, January 1st, 2014
Take a moment and fill out Caleb’s legislative survey by CLICKING HERE. This year’s session will undoubtedly be filled with debate on big-ticket issues, and having your input is invaluable as Caleb navigates these tough issues.
Wednesday, January 1st, 2014
Saturday, December 21st, 2013
If you’d like to learn more about what to expect in the 2014 Legislative session, check out this segment with Caleb and his colleague, Representative Chris Kelly.
Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Caleb has been in the news recently for his effort to attract alienated gun companies from other states that have passed ‘gun-control’ legislation. He was recently on KMOX Radio in St. Louis w/ Mark Reardon talking about the latest efforts and the possibility of some of these companies making Missouri their new home. Click on the link below to hear the interview.
Thursday, July 4th, 2013
I went back and read the Declaration of Independence this morning and was reminded again about why the country we live in is so amazing. Words like “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them” and of course “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” truly define the principles and foundation on which this country was built. I’m not sure any of us living in modern-day America can really even begin to fathom what our founding fathers went through to secure our freedom from Great Britain. Imagine giving up everything you’ve ever known as comfortable…and simply because you had a dream of something better. Of a freedom that, until that moment, had eluded you. These men had a vision of a land where faith would be their guide and freedom their conscience.
I don’t know about you, but I am thankful that they had that vision, and more importantly, they did something about it. The phrase ‘American dream’ is used a lot in today’s world. And I think that’s OK. Because the American dream isn’t some shallow political view or pigeon-holed ideology. The American dream is the reality that, if you have a vision for your life or the lives of those around you, living in this country affords you every resource you need to pursue making that vision a reality. It sounds too good to be true…and maybe it is! But it is absolutely true, and we have our founding fathers to thank for that.
I am a person of faith. I thank God every day that he offers me grace I don’t deserve. In that vein, I am reminded of the millions of people around the world who woke up this morning in slavery, or without food or water, or without two parents who love them and care for their future. I could have been born into one of those situations. Nothing makes me any better than anyone else in this world. Why am I here and why are they there? Only God knows the answer to that question. But I do know this…I don’t want to take one moment of my life for granted, and I challenge you to do the same. I believe we are living in the greatest era in the world’s history, while also living in the greatest country in the history of the world. While we will undoubtedly disagree on trivial things, it is our charge and absolute responsibility to pass a better world off to the next generation. In 2030, I want my little Willem to be be able to say the same things about the country he lives in. That’s my motivation, and that was the motivation of our founding fathers. I am sure thankful today that is true!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!