"Thank you for allowing me to serve you in the Mo. House of Representatives. I look forward to continuing to serve you in the new 97th District " John McCaherty
Thank you for the vote of confidence in the election. I am honored to serve the people of our district, and will continue to do the best job I can for the all the great people of the district.
House Approves Several Measures to Promote Economic Growth and Job Creation
The members of the Missouri House came together this week to approve several bills designed to help grow Missouri’s economy and spur new job creation in the state.
One of the proposals (HB 1310 and HB 1501)advanced this week would create the Missouri Angel Investment Incentive Act to be administered by Missouri Technology Corporation. The primary goal of the act is to encourage individuals to provide seed-capital financing for emerging Missouri businesses engaged in the development, implementation and commercialization of innovative technologies, products and services. We have seen states like Kansas and Wisconsin use similar incentives with great effect in getting new companies up and running. The end result is more good-paying jobs. Because we want these kinds of family-supporting jobs here in Missouri, we voted to approve these powerful incentives this week.
Another proposal advanced this week (HB 1495)would require the Missouri Technology Corporation to distribute money to early stage business development corporations for grants to newly formed businesses that have the potential for national or international sales or the development of new technology. Supporters say that the bill is an important economic development tool for businesses. This program requires community involvement to help the new business raise initial capital similar to a program in Massachusetts.
Also approved this week, the Bring Jobs Home Act(HB 1089) would allow businesses that move back to Missouri to take a one-time deduction from their taxes of 20 percent for the incurred expenses of relocating. To qualify, a business has to have operated in Missouri and closed a portion of their facility and moved it out of state or out of country. The bill also includes several safeguards to ensure companies cannot exploit this incentive, as well as a sunset clause that will cause the incentive to expire after six years. The primary goal of the bill is to make certain that we bring jobs back to our country, and specifically to the state of Missouri. This is a simple but effective step we can take to help create more of the good-paying jobs Missouri families need and want.
In addition, another proposal (HB 1501) would create a tax exemption for the costs associated with setting up a data storage center. States surrounding Missouri, such as Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, are currently home to data storage centers, which generate millions of dollars of revenue for those states. These states provide robust incentives. Missouri does not currently offer any tax incentive for data storage centers to relocate to Missouri, making it more expensive for a data center to be built within the Show-Me state. It currently costs around $1,500 per square foot to construct a data center compared to $50 per square foot for normal construction, making it a very expensive venture for data storage companies. By putting an incentive in place we can make it more affordable for these job-producing operations to set up shop here in Missouri.
HB 1501 also contains incentives for businesses that forward freight internationally through any Missouri airport. Under this legislation, qualified freight forwarders would receive tax credits against income tax, based on the volume of outbound air cargo. The bill also would revive the “distressed areas land assemblage” tax credit. It would be redefined to include engineering, site and redevelopment planning, and it would expand coverage of maintenance costs from five years to 12.
Oral Chemotherapy Parity Bill Receives Final Approval (SB 668)
Missouri will soon be the 29th state to enact a law to ensure cancer patients have affordable access to life-saving oral chemotherapy medications. The Missouri House gave final approval this week to legislation that would eliminate the co-payment cost disparity that currently exists between orally and intravenously-administered chemotherapies.
Given the fact that orally-administered treatments are actually cheaper than those administered by IV, it is hard to rationalize how oral medications are far more costly for many patients here in Missouri. When you also factor in that many cancer treatments currently under development are oral in nature, it becomes even clearer that something must be done to ensure access to these treatments. The bill we passed this week will bring insurance coverage parity to both forms of chemotherapy – intravenous (IV) and pill form – by simply requiring plans that already cover traditional chemotherapies to also cover oral chemotherapy products.
This is a simple change that will have a huge impact on the lives of Missourians battling cancer who want nothing more than affordable access to these life-saving treatment options. We also know the requirement will not cause the cost of insurance premiums to increase significantly based on an actuarial study that was done. The bill now moves to the governor’s desk where it will become law with his signature.
House Approves Bill to Lengthen Waiting Period for Individuals Seeking an Abortion (HBs 1307 &1313)
My House colleagues and I gave initial approval this week to legislation that would lengthen the waiting period for anyone seeking an abortion in the state. Specifically, the legislation would extend Missouri’s current waiting period from 24 to 72 hours.
Supporters of the change believe the 72-hour period represents a reasonable time requirement to ensure the woman gives ample time to considering the ramifications of a decision that could end in the termination of the life of her child. As with any medical issue, they say it is natural to take time to consider the options rather than make an immediate decision. When it is a matter of life and death, they say it becomes even more imperative that the process be slowed down so that every step is taken to ensure this life-altering decision isn’t rushed.
An amendment added to the bill on the House floor would require the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to develop a video that would be included in a packet of material provided to a woman who considers an abortion. The bill now needs one more vote in the House before moving to the Senate for consideration.
Missouri House Approves Supplemental Budget Bill (HB 2014)
One of the bills approved by the House this week would provide much-needed funding to our public education system. The supplemental budget bill addresses some of the funding shortfalls for various state services so that these programs can make it through the end of the fiscal year with adequate appropriations. While supplemental budget bills aren’t always necessary, lower-than-expected revenues from the tax our state has on casinos has contributed to the need to shore up funding for our K-12 education system.
The bill we approved would dedicate another $22 million in funding for the foundation formula that provides basic state aid to our schools. The bill also includes a $5 million payment to the Normandy School District. As you may know, the district is currently unaccredited and teetering on the edge of insolvency because of a state law that requires the district to pay for students who transfer to neighboring districts. The additional funds will help the district to make it through the school year.
While the education dollars represent an important part of the bill, they are only a small percentage of the more than $343 million in funding contained in the bill. The bulk of those dollars would go to our MO HealthNet System which provides access to care for many Missourians who could not otherwise afford it. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Missouri’s System of Education to Receive Funding Boost under Spending Plan Introduced by House Budget Chairman Rick Stream
Also this week, House Budget Chairman Rick Stream unveiled a proposed spending plan that would take funding for K-12 education to record levels, provide a significant funding boost to all public universities and community colleges, and dramatically increase financial assistance to Missouri students who seek a college education in the state.
The spending plan introduced in the House includes a $278 million increase for the school foundation formula, which would make the K-12 education budget the largest in state history. Under the plan, $122 million of the increase would come from General Revenue with another $156 million from a Surplus Revenue Fund that will be created to hold any revenues above the estimates agreed upon by the House and Senate. Monies placed in the fund would have to be used for education and one-time projects.
The plan also calls for a 2 percent increase in core funding for every public university and community college in the state, and another $10 million in equity funding for community colleges. In addition, it includes approximately $63 million in funding for the backlog of capital improvement projects at higher education institutions around the state.
The House budget proposal contains an additional $20 million for the Access Missouri Scholarship Program, which represents a 20 percent funding increase, and an additional $6.7 million for the A+ Scholarship Program, which will fully fund the program. Stream’s plan also would provide for the largest expansion of the Bright Flight Scholarship Program in state history. The plan would add a new forgivable loan program that would be available to students scoring in the top 5th percentiles on the ACT or SAT. The loans would cover all tuition and fees at any public university in Missouri and would be forgiven for students who stay and work in Missouri upon graduation.
We know that we need a dedicated, educated workforce in order to attract new employers and grow our economy. Keeping our best and brightest here in Missouri is a vital component to that effort. By investing heavily in our scholarship programs we can open the doors of opportunity for even more students to obtain a college degree, and by augmenting our Bright Flight program we can give our best students a strong incentive to stay right here in Missouri. This is a win-win for Missouri families and our state.
The House Budget Committee is expected to consider the appropriations bills this week and next. The goal is to have the bills to the House floor for discussion the week after the Legislative Spring Break, which runs from Mar. 13 – 24.
This Capitol Report is a weekly column by Representative John C. McCaherty, from the 97th District, covering events in the Missouri Legislature and district wide issues.
It is an honor to serve as your Missouri State Representative, and I do appreciate your input on matters of importance to you, your family and community. Please feel free to contact me at 573-751-3751 or John.McCaherty@house.mo.gov. Thank you for taking an active role by voicing your opinions on our state and national governmental matters.
John C. McCaherty
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