The Missouri General Assembly has ended its session, and its members are now on their way back home. As usual, the City’s lobbyists (see them named below) and I have had a busy week tracking the fate of legislation important to St. Louis and its neighborhoods.
I have written about some of this legislation here in the past.
Legislators approved and sent on to Governor Matt Blunt a bill that would add funding to Project Re-Connect, an important program I support that helps former prisoners re-enter the community as productive members and stay out further trouble; a bill that would slightly increase the amount the state reimburses the City for costs associates with state prisoners; a bill that improves the state Brownfield tax credit program; a bill that would set tougher penalties on bad scrap metal practices; and a bill that would allow the Central West End neighborhood to establish a community improvement district. These bills — none of them high enough profile to end up in a TV news story — are sorts of bread-and-butter bills that help the City deliver services and balance its budget.
A bill passed in the session’s final minutes will give taxpayers across the state the assurance that local governments will roll back their rates when property values skyrocket as they did last year.
As usual, a great deal of last-minute effort went into stopping some proposed bad changes: a plan to cut the number of circuit judges failed; an effort to make red light cameras into a taxpayer funded program from a violator funded program failed; and a plan that would created higher barriers to the right to vote also failed to pass.
A change I have hoped to make in several past legislative sessions to the state’s charter school regulations failed again this year. Since charter schools are only allowed in St. Louis and Kansas City, getting outstate legislators to understand their importance is a multi-year process. I know that we will try that one again next session.
(I want to acknowledge the great lobbying effort this session on dozens of different issues by Rodney Boyd, Brian Grace, and Megan Werner.)