May 16 marked the end of the 2008 legislative session and with it the culmination of several months of debate and discussion on issues that will impact the lives of all Missourians.

We worked hard to find a way to offer substantial relief to all Missouri homeowners who want nothing more than to be able to afford the tax bill associated with a home they may have paid off years ago. The legislation we agreed upon provides the kind of relief I believe will keep people in their homes and keep the property tax bills from inducing sticker shock. Senate Bill 711 requires all taxing jurisdictions to roll back their tax rate to counter reassessment increases regardless of whether they are operating at or below their tax rate ceiling.

Another piece of priority legislation deals with illegal immigration. There are several components to illegal immigration reform, including a need to empower our law enforcement, protect taxpayer benefits and remove the magnets that attract illegal immigrants to our state. In our final hours of session, we were able to agree on a bill that addresses all of these issues and protects Missourians from the threat of illegal immigration.

House Bill 1549 et al will require the Highway Patrol and other law enforcement to verify the immigration status of any person arrested, and inform federal authorities if a person is found to be here illegally. It will allow additional Missouri law enforcement officers to receive training to enforce federal immigration laws. Our legislation also makes it clear that illegal immigrants will not have access to our taxpayer benefits, such as MO HealthNet and food stamps. I am confident this legislation will reduce illegal immigration in our state and hopefully encourage our federal government to take action.