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May God bless you - Representative Bill Reiboldt
One of the top priorities of this year’s legislative session was to pass a state income tax cut for all Missourians. This week the Missouri House gave final approval to Senate Bill 509, a bill that seeks to reduce state income taxes for the first time in over ninety years. SB 509 previously passed the Senate and was voted out of the House by a vote of 104 to 48. It is now on its way to Governor’s Nixon’s desk for either his signature or his veto. The way this bill is structured, the governor will either have to sign it or veto it within the next two weeks. If he chooses to veto it, the General Assembly could attempt an override before May 16 when Session ends.
Currently, the Republicans have 108 seats, down two (because of resignations) from the 110 with which they started the Ninety-Seventh General Assembly in 2013. One Democrat resignation has taken place since then, but none of the three positions have been filled as yet. It takes a two-thirds majority to override a governor’s veto—or 109 votes. If there aren’t 109 votes before the end of Session, we will have to wait until results come in from the August Special Election to fill the vacant seats—in the hope of re-establishing a two-thirds majority before the September Veto Session.
Members of the Missouri General Assembly are beginning to feel the pressure from both sides of an on-going argument over the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), an agreement that was entered into in November of 1998. This agreement was between the four largest United States Tobacco Companies, Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard, and the attorney generals of 46 states, including Missouri’s AG. Previously, there were 4 states which had already reached an agreement with the tobacco industry; these states were Texas, Mississippi, Florida, and Minnesota.
In the lawsuit against the tobacco companies, the states were trying to recover some of their Medicaid cost for tobacco-related healthcare illnesses. As a part of the settlement, big tobacco companies were exempted from private tort-liabilities brought by individuals against these companies for harm caused by tobacco use. In exchange, the tobacco companies agreed to stop certain marketing practices, as well as to pay annual payments to compensate the states for the medical cost of smoke-related diseases. These payments were to be paid over a period of 25 years.
We have finally made it through the tough winter with its bitter cold and extremely low, record-setting temperatures. To keep comfortable this past winter, thousands of Missourian’s enjoyed the warmth that can only come from wood heat. However, today many of us are concerned about the new EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) emission regulations and the rumored possibility of the outlawing of wood burning stoves. In February the EPA announced new, proposed emission regulations—regulations on wood stoves and fireplaces—that would replace the current guidelines adopted in 1988.
In the 1970s, with the increased cost in fuel prices, many consumers turned to a more economical heating alternative—wood (a resource that has been around since the beginning of time). Consequently, in the early 1980s, federal EPA and state environmental offices set up air testing stations around our nation to study wood stove particulate pollution. Then on July 1, 1988, the EPA announced Phase 1 of its regulations to go into effect. All wood stoves manufactured after July 1, 1988, must have emitted fewer than 8.5 grams of particulate per hour. Existing inventories of non-approved stoves could be sold until July 1, 1990. On that date, Phase 2 of the EPA regulations went into effect, allowing new limits of 7.5 grams of particulate to be emitted. Existing inventories of Phase 1 stoves could be sold for the next two years, ending on July 1, 1992. After that date, all wood stoves sold in retail in the U.S. had to come into compliance with Phase 2 standards.