We all survived the early morning earthquake to make it to the JCGDA Legislative Update in the Viking Room at the Hillsboro campus of Jefferson College. :) Mixing and mingling has begun.
We've enjoyed a tasty breakfast and expect the speakers to begin soon. This event is also being live broadcasted on 1400 AM KJFF. I am paraphrasing the speakers unless direct quotes are used.
Chris Hagen is introducing the event. Each legislator is given five minutes to speak. Rep. Tim Meadows, Rep. Paul Curtman, Rep. Ben Harris, Rep. Paul Wieland and then Rep. John McCaherty is the order of the speakers. Hagen commented on how this year is different as the legislators are not primarily from one party.
Representative Meadows - This is his seventh year reporting at the legislative update. This is his final term and he is the senior legislator for Jefferson County. It's been an honor serving with fellow legislators from Jefferson County. In this session we didn't complete a lot of things. One of the bad things in his opinion is that we didn't deliver on the trade / jobs package. He was a supporter of the airport trade package. "You have to spend money to make money." The airport trade bill would have been a huge step forward. He was saddened by the AmerenUE bill not passing - 25,000 jobs were at stake. Supplies would have been brought in by truck and that would have been 175,000+ truckloads of men and material. The jobs and the energy source would have been a positive. Jefferson County is "God's Country" and it hurt to see it cut in three with the redistricting plan. Hard to single out one good thing and don't want to be negative. It's been an honor to serve you and be one of your representative in Jefferson City.
Hagen extended well wishes to the Mayor of Hillsboro who is in the hospital recovering.
Representative Paul Curtman - He represents the 105th district. Only has 9 voters in St. Louis County, also covers parts of Jefferson County and Franklin County. This is his first legislative session. Purpose of government is to protect individual liberties. "Fix the Six" economic bills were passed by the House and some were killed by the Senate. Checks and balances are good because keeps government power in check. Economic development was the focus for this year - he serves on the economic development committee. There was a lot of bipartisan cooperation at work. Everyone does come together to try and make things better for their lives. Primary focus was personal freedom and sound financial principles. Worked on bills for economic freedom for family owned business. Looking forward to next session - now we know what to expect and how the process works a whole lot better. We all work together well for the betterment of Jefferson County.
Hagen discussed the movement of businesses from the St. Louis area to China and how it affect the commuting business people of Jefferson County. He supports a movement to make more clear in advertising where products are made so people can be more aware of job loss. JCGDA has a support local buying program where you can get a banner for $55 that says "Shop Jefferson County - It's All Right Here." Keep your money in the county when you can. Sales taxes supports local organizations like Comtrea.
Representative Ben Harris - It was his first year but had a great teacher in the 8 years his mom was up there. Supported passage of MO Rx bill. Extends to 2014 subsidies to elderly and disabled to help pay for prescriptions. Served on four committees and much of his work focused on agricultural issues. Was born and raised on a farm and these issues are close to his heart. Supported bills to benefit the small family farmer. Against eliminating the franchise tax. MO will lose over 80 million dollars in revenue that was coming from businesses with assets over 10 million dollars. Biggest challenges are balancing the budget and creating jobs. We will have less revenue in the coming years due to elimination of franchise tax and not passing the tax amnesty.
Hagen thanked the sponsors and other officials from community organizations.
Representative Paul Wieland - He served previously and some has changed but some has not. He was in the minority and now in the majority - is better to be in the majority to get things done. He was able to get a bill passed dealing with the insurance industry - nice to see it done. Also was able to get a bill passed that doubled the renewable tax credits to businesses which helped make it so Doe Run could finance their expansion in Jefferson County. It saved jobs here now and created new jobs for construction. Estimates are up to 400 million dollars of investment. A lot was left on the table with regards to economic development. That hasn't changed unfortunately. At the end of the session it is House versus Senate as opposed to issues related to partisanship. The Ameren plant passed out of the House was killed by the Senate. The House members need to "work better with the Senate colleagues to get things done." There were 70 freshmen in the legislature and all did a fantastic job. Was very proud until last day - tradition is to throw papers in the air when session closes. One legislator forgot to unstaple the bills and Wieland was bonked in the head by a thick one.
Hagen mentioned that Senator Ryan McKenna is on vacation. He discussed the Joplin tornado tragedy and how it affects us all. Take the opportunities you can to help - it is well needed.
Representative John McCaherty - It's a privilege to serve with guys like this. It all comes down to both sides working together especially with Jefferson County legislators. The budget was a huge crunch this year - came out with bipartisan support. Balanced it without raising taxes or placing undue burdens on schools, libraries, seniors and other programs. Still helped the people that need helping even with the balanced budgets. Do these community agencies like the libraries need this money? Yes. Also did small business tax reform - small business is the key to economic growth. We put money back in the pockets of small businesses to reinvest in their businesses. Another great thing is the expansion of the MO accountability portal. You can go online to see where your tax money is going. Has expanded to include local governments and school boards. A lot of economic development like the air trade package didn't work but we hope to get them addressed next session.
Hagen highlighted the JCGDA Golf tournament on 6/13 at Deer Creek Golf Course. $100 a golfer or $400 a team.
Ken Waller, County Executive - Ron Casey is ill and can't talk. We wish him well. We're doing our best everyday to lead this county in a direction it hasn't been before. It's about what is best for the county. Taking it one day at time and make good relationships with people. Charter government is a brand new government and it is different path for this county. County Council is the legislative branch for the county and they represent their districts well. It's been fun and interesting. We've done good things. We are getting a merit system for employees - will protect employees. Hired a new HR director. What can you do to help? Pray that more businesses decide to relocate to Jefferson County. Working on small business development to help them with online presences. I believe Doe Run will build the plant and that will be the linchpin for development such as the Port Authority. Not happy with the congressional districting that splits up Jefferson County. We would have had better representation with one district. Will work with the three now to get things done. Jefferson County's best days are yet ahead.
Hagen thanked the sponsors along with Jefferson College for hosting the event. This is all about Jefferson Countians reinvesting in Jefferson County.