I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to spend time with family and friends. I am reminded to be thankful year-round for the many blessings we enjoy as free citizens in this great country. It is also always a good time to remember those less fortunate than ourselves and to give back to the community. Food pantries are especially in need of food items this time of year.
This time of year, we in the Senate also turn to preparing legislation for the 2012 legislative session starting Jan. 4. On Dec. 1, we begin the next step in the process known as prefiling, when the Secretary of the Senate is allowed to start numbering our bills. Because prefiling leads to a bill being introduced more quickly on the Senate floor, and, hopefully, assigned to a committee and on its way, most senators will try to get bills filed on this day. Each senator is allowed to file up to three bills per rotation of the seniority list. I am filing three bills important to District 8 and Missouri.
- Tax Credit Reform
For many years, I have believed that the state’s 61 tax credit programs were in need of review and reform. Many do not offer much return on each state dollar given up, whether in the form of jobs or economic activity. In addition, tax credits chew up about $500 million in money that could be going to education and other critical programs.
Therefore, my first bill offers substantial and far-reaching improvements to tax credits. If passed, it would prohibit the authorization of further tax credits for some programs after Aug. 28, 2012; other tax credits would be ended on Dec. 31, 2012. The cap on low-income housing and historic preservation credits would be reduced, and stacking between these two programs prohibited. Finally, after Aug. 28, 2012, the act would also prohibit any new agreements with qualified manufacturers under the manufacturing jobs act.
- Federal Enforcement of Immigration Laws
I have been very disappointed that federal immigration laws are not being enforced. If passed, this bill contains a provision to allow voters of the state to vote on a requirement that the attorney general seek appropriate relief to compel the federal government to enforce immigration laws. The bill also compels the state auditor to provide information on the costs incurred by Missouri and its political subdivisions due to the lack of enforcement. In this time of decreasing state revenues, we need to know how much we end up spending when the federal government is not doing its job.
- Photo ID for Food Stamps
If passed, this act would require the Department of Social Services to request the federal Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service to mandate the use of photo identification for food stamp recipients in Missouri. Without a photo ID, recipients can sell their food stamp EBT card to someone else, who can then turn around and use the benefits for their personal use. This is a mandate that should have been done by now; it is a needed step to ensure that food stamp funds are not abused.
This is just the beginning of a long and busy legislative session; I’ll keep you informed of legislation via this newsletter. You can also go to my Senate web page, www.senate.mo.gov/kraus, hover over “Legislation,” click on “Sponsored Bills,” and be able to read in entirety each piece of legislation that I file.
Please feel free to contact the 8th Senatorial District’s Capitol office with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and answering any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at 573-751-1464, or e-mail at email@example.com.