The second regular session of the 96th General Assembly began last week. I am pleased to see a quick start on important issues – this might have something to do with the inspiration and encouragement from the attendees of the Consent of the Governed Rally!

The Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee conducted a hearing on Senate Bill 464 prohibiting the establishment of an insurance exchange by the governor and/or unelected bureaucrats! If you are unaware of the shenanigans that have been attempted to bypass the legislature on this issue, you will want to read Missouri Health Insurance Exchange Back in the News! to see what is going on.

An Action Alert will go out today to give you an opportunity to let the committee members know of your support for voting Senate Bill 464 out of committee and letting the full Senate vote on the issue.

The House has also been addressing important issues. We all know that the federal government has a spending problem.  We don’t always think of state and local governments as having a spending problem – but they do. Rep. Eric Burlison has proposed the Taxpayer Protection Act (House Joint Resolution 43) as a tax expenditure limitation measure.  The House Budget Committee heard the bill today and voted to send it on to the full House.

The measure limits the growth in state spending to the growth in population plus inflation. It also establishes a true rainy day fund, and when state collections outstrip the state spending limit and all emergency funds are full, the state income tax rate will be reduced by the nearest .25%!  The full House will likely take HJR43 up next week. Via an Action Alert, you will receive the opportunity to let your state representative know that you support this reasonable limit on growth in state spending.

The House Rules committee heard House Bill 1140, which would expand the level of local government reporting on the state’s accountability portal. The Office of Administration would be required to maintain public school and county government information, including detailed employee compensation data and operating budgets as well as bonded indebtedness levels.

I don’t think anyone would be surprised that there are some who are opposed to doing this. Our experience providing this service for free to local governments shows that many are not all that anxious to share taxpayer data with the taxpayers themselves. We will be supporting this effort as it moves through the legislature.

We have had two local government entities step up to the plate to provide this information to their taxpayers via our Transparency Portal project. The Mehlville Fire Protection District has the most comprehensive data available. The Liberty Public School District provides expenditure data but no salary data – but it’s a start!

To be sure, there has been some bad stuff proposed, as there is every year. But so far, with six legislative days completed, we’re off to a good start.