Each committee has a chairman and a vice-chairman, which are appointed by the Speaker, and each committee is assigned an analyst from House Research. The job of the analyst is to make sure all technical and legal procedures are followed during the course of committee hearings. All Representatives are appointed to three or four committees on which they have indicated a desire to serve.
Legislation that is being heard will be presented to a committee by the Representative who sponsors that particular bill. Committee members have the opportunity to ask questions about each bill, and the bill’s sponsor will respond to the inquiries. Additionally, the bill’s sponsor will have supporters of his or her legislation speak in favor of the bill. Those who oppose a bill are also given time to speak in opposition to the legislation. Others may address the committee, but they may speak for informational purposes only, not in support or opposition of a bill.
Bills can be amended during the committee process. Once the bill is voted out of committee, it will go back to the Speaker’s office and be placed on the calendar to come before the full House for debate.
I serve on four committees—the House Committee on Corrections, the House Ways and Means Committee, the Appropriations Committee for the Departments of Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources, and the Committee on Agriculture Policy, of which I am honored to serve as chairman. Here is a brief summary of these four committees.
The House Committee on Corrections will be referred those bills that relate to adult and juvenile penal and correctional problems. Legislation regarding administration of correctional institutions and state penitentiaries will be referred to this committee as well. This committee will be addressing the three main concerns facing the system today: over-populated prisons, rising costs of incarceration, and maintaining public safety while attempting to reduce prison populations.
The House Ways and Means Committee will have legislation referred to it that relates to our state’s taxation policies. This committee will look at tax credits, tax revenue, and public debt of the state, as well as the administration of taxation and revenue laws. Many legislators believe that it is time to reduce and reform Missouri’s tax credit policy, as well as take a hard look at corporate income tax, use tax, and sale tax. It might be noted that Kansas is considering doing away with its corporate income tax.
There are thirteen budget appropriation committees in the House. The committee I serve on—the Appropriations Committee for the Departments of Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources—is a part of the budgeting process and will make inquiries about the appropriation and the disbursement of pubic money as indicated in the budgets presented to us by these three departments.
The Agriculture Policy Committee will consider bills referred to the committee relating to the protection, promotion, and encouragement of agriculture in our state.
This committee holds public hearings on legislation, working with farmers and agribusiness groups from all over the state.
As the 97th Session progresses, it promises to present many challenging situations as we address the numerous important matters facing our state. I will do my best to keep you informed of the issues as the legislative process moves forward.