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Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Speaker Jones Touts Completed Session, Addresses 2014 Priorities

Speaker Tim Jones points refers to a board outlining various bills passed inside Positronic Industries in Springfield

Nearly two weeks following the conclusion of the 2013 legislative session, Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones offered a report card to Springfield residents. As KSMU’s Scott Harvey reports, the hearing was one of 17 planned stops this week throughout southern Missouri.

Before a few dozen citizens inside Positronic Industries, the Republican from Eureka used two large poster boards displaying various legislative accomplishments as talking points. Among them were the approval of bills for paycheck protection, prevailing wage, and reform of the financially troubled Second Injury Fund, of which the Speaker says he’s most proud.

“So once again, it can become operable for Missouri’s workers, Missouri’s job creators, Missouri’s employers. And I’m proud to say that fund will become operational again in the very near future, once the Governor signs that bill.”

He says the priorities for next session include restoring caps in medical malpractice lawsuits, tax credit reform, identifying additional transportation funding, and enacting a bonding program for major infrastructure projects. And after the House flirted with a Medicaid transformation proposal from Rep. Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City), Jones says the legislature will again look at the issue next session, for which he’s formed a committee to examine during the interim.  

“Our Senate colleagues were, this year, extremely opposed to any sort of Medicaid expansion as well. And I thought their arguments were valid. Putting a billion dollar Band-Aid on an already broken Medicaid system was something we were simply not going to do. Reform had to be part of the equation.”

“It’s a real shame,” Harmon says.

Bradley Harmon with Communications Workers of America was one of a handful of demonstrators to greet Jones’ tour bus as it pulled up to Positronic Industries Wednesday. He blamed Medicaid inaction on extremism in the state’s House of Representatives, and hopes lawmakers can find a solution quickly.

“Next year is the beginning of when the federal government pays for 100 percent of the costs. And every month that we wait, puts Missouri further behind other states economically, and it makes more people have a harder time getting to health care, which is just wrong.”

Before departing from Springfield Wednesday, Jones ceremonially signed  HB253, a bill that would implement tax cuts for individuals and businesses. 

“This was the first cut to income taxes in nearly a century, providing relief to every single Missouri. Every farmer, every individual, every small, medium and large business owner, every job creator, will benefit,” Jones said.

Gov. Nixon has expressed concerns over how those cuts could hurt the state budget, projecting losses of more than $800 million a year, and could veto the bill.

The Missouri General Assembly, which was controlled by a record veto-proof majority of House and Senate Republicans, passed nearly 200 pieces of legislation, according to Jones.

For KSMU news, I’m Scott Harvey.