The 97th General Assembly, First Regular Session came to a close at 6:00pm, May 17, 2013. Mark Twain said, “No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.” That may have been the case when Mr. Twain was around but unfortunately our life, liberty and property aren’t necessarily any safer when the legislature is not is session these days.
The Long Nixon DOR Scandal
The 97th General Assembly started with a ticking time bomb that was not made known until a couple months into the session. A man in southeast Missouri brought to light that Governor Nixon’s administration was violating state law by scanning, retaining and sharing our personal data with a third party company and the federal government.
The Nixon administration has been working over the past few years to implement REAL ID in Missouri although the Governor had signed a law prohibiting it. The agencies deny that is what they did and still deny it but it quacks and walks like a duck.
After denying anything was going on, Governor Nixon was caught dead to rights. His administration was breaking the law but has refused to acknowledge or stop it.
You can find a lot of information about this by going to www.wrongwayjay.com.
The legislature responded in a number of ways in response to this issue. Countless hours of testimony was collected primarily by Senator Kurt Schaefer and the Senate Appropriations Committee. The legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 252 which would immediately end the activities of scanning, retaining and sharing of our personal data – if the Governor signs it!
While this is good and unfortunately necessary, it doesn’t solve the problem about who is responsible for this violation in the first place. Speaker Tim Jones has formed a commission to investigate this violation and identify actions that are needed to be taken to hold those responsible accountable.
You can read more information about this issue by clicking here.
State Income Tax Cut
House Bill (HB253) passed the legislature and is the first state income tax cut in almost 100 years. As you might expect, HB253 was immediately attacked as an assault on the state’s budget. You could almost see the Governor and his big government spending allies getting together the school kids, wheel chairs and other well worn props they have used in the past to say how drastic HB253 would impact state government. They ignore facts and rely heavily on scare tactics using the forgoing populations.
Fact is that HB253 is a modest tax decrease that will be yet another successful model in showing reducing income taxes bring in more, not less, revenue. Missouri need only look at our neighboring state of Oklahoma.
Like the Henny Penney’s in Missouri, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth when Oklahoma reduced it’s income taxes. Schools were going to close, services would be reduced or eliminated yadda, yadda, yadda. But as is the case time after time, the reduction in income taxes actually brought in MORE revenue for Oklahoma, not less! In fact, the results were so favorable, Oklahoma has passed another reduction. You can read more about the income tax issue by clicking here.
Obamacare Medicaid Expansion
Shortly after his re-election, Governor Nixon suddenly became a huge supporter of Obamacare! His biggest show of support came in the guise of encouraging Medicaid Expansion with several billion dollars of “free” federal money. Never mind that there is no such thing it sure sounds good!
Governor Nixon and the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA), whose members would have benefited extremely well under Obamcare Medicaid Expansion, put together a coalition of business groups including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and several local chambers in support of a failed, big government program. Some may recall that MHA was the a leader in opposing Proposition C in 2010 that prohibited the enforcement of the Individual Mandate on Missourians.
Fortunately, the legislature did not fall for the false claims of “free” money or there would be no health care in Missouri if we didn’t take the Obamacare dollars. The latter statement is only a slight exaggeration of what legislators were told would happen if they didn’t expand Medicaid under Obama’s terms.
Next year will be a huge battle to expand again. It’s an election year and legislators can get weak during those times fearful of not making it back to the Capitol. It’s was my experience that if you do the right thing, you don’t have to worry about coming back. And if you don’t come back, you have the knowledge you did the right thing! You can read more about why the legislature made the right decision not to expand Medicaid and some ideas of what should be done by clicking here.