Fewer bills; less government
June 08, 2008

When Less Is More
by Missouri Rep. Ed Emery (R-126 including the counties of
Barton, Dade, Jasper and Polk)

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” -Thomas Jefferson

Some core priority legislation was passed in 2008 as well as a $22.4 Billion State Budget. A forgotten principle of American government is that “less is more;" in other words, citizens are best served when the Missouri General Assembly restrains itself and focuses on “fewer and better laws.” Too many bills are filed that benefit specific interests rather than the general population, and these may cause unintended consequences. Successful legislation this year included property tax reforms, comprehensive immigration reforms, mortgage fraud protection, and education benefits for veterans. We also successfully defeated a House Bill seeking a $1 billion income tax increase and another bill that would have legalized marijuana with virtually no limits on its use.

For several years Missourians have needed real reform of the real estate property tax system. SB 711 requires that property tax increases exceeding inflation be automatically rolled back to the previous year’s tax rate. Additionally, the bill requires that counties refund fees or interest arising from the county’s own mistake. SB 711 also increases tax credits for seniors and disabled Missourians struggling to afford to stay in their homes. Single homeowners making less than $30,000 and married couples making less than $34,000 will be eligible to receive up to $1,100 in tax credits.

Immigration Reform

Indecision at the federal level has made immigration an issue at the state level. After hundreds of hours of committee hearings, debates, and legal analysis, the General Assembly passed a local level immigration reform bill to protect citizens from those who are in this country illegally. HB 1549 authorizes the Missouri Highway Patrol to train and coordinate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, requires verification of citizenship status of anyone under custodial arrest, and bans sanctuary cities.

HB 1549 bans public assistance or welfare benefits to illegal immigrants and criminalizes those who transport illegal immigrants in violation of human trafficking laws. The bill also sanctions employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and penalizes employers who falsely classify employees as contractors.

Mortgage Fraud Protection

HB 2188 lets those looking to take advantage of home buyers know that Missouri will not tolerate mortgage fraud. The legislation places local prosecutors on the same footing as federal investigators who were the only ones that were able to prosecute offenders and were extremely inefficient. It also creates civil and criminal penalties for residential mortgage fraud.

Support for our Military Heroes

SB 830 creates the "Missouri Returning Heroes' Education Act" to assist veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. It controls the cost of higher education by limiting tuition public universities can charge.

SB 830 creates a tuition grant for survivors of veterans who are disabled or killed in combat and seeks to improve educational opportunities for the sons and daughters of military personnel by removing barriers placed on them because of the frequent moves associated with military service.

A Balanced Budget and No New Taxes

The $22.4 billion 2009 budget reflects a steady economy here in Missouri despite national trends. It includes an increase of $136.7 million to public elementary and secondary schools; a $43 million increase for Missouri’s colleges and universities; a $334.4 million increase for state Medicaid, and $155.4 million more for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s construction program. This record funding under Governor Blunt is without a single tax increase, and we are putting money away for the future; this budget includes $150 million for the emergency reserve fund.

Editor's note: These are bills that Emery chose to discuss. More than these passed over the governor's desk for his signature.

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