• Bill on 911 service under consideration

  • With less than two months to go in this year’s regular session of the Missouri General Assembly, area legislators have various pieces of legislation moving ahead.

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  • With less than two months to go in this year’s regular session of the Missouri General Assembly, area legislators have various pieces of legislation moving ahead.
    • Rep. Jeanie Lauer, R-Blue Springs, has a bill to address gaps in funding for 911 service.
    “We’re going to keep it moving,” she said last week.
    Officials have long warned that funding has been falling because in Missouri only land lines are taxed for that service despite the massive shift to cell phones.
    “The revenue stream is unstable and declining even though the needs are growing,” David Warm, executive director of the Mid-America Regional Council, told that group’s board last week.
    Lauer’s legislation would allow taxes on land lines, or on any mobile device that can call 911, or a general tax – but with caps so no local jurisdiction could stack all of those taxes on users. It would allow counties to work together to get 911 service going. There are still parts of the state without trained dispatchers who can, for example, help a caller dealing with a heart attack. Also, Lauer points out, the state doesn’t have 911 texting.
    Warm noted that Kansas, like most other states, has adopted more stable sources of funding. Now Missouri is looking at the issue.
    “Long way from here to there,” he said, “but it’s gaining momentum.”
    • Local Republican legislators say Gov. Jay Nixon's plan to expand Medicaid coverage in Missouri is not going to pass, and instead they say the focus should be on reforming the program before looking to add people to it.
    “We know that something needs to be done, but reform is the way we’re going to go,” says Rep. Donna Pfautsch, a Harrisonville Republican whose district includes Lake Lotawana and parts of Blue Springs, Grain Valley and Oak Grove.
    Nixon has proposed taking up the federal government’s offer of full funding for three years if the state widens Medicaid eligibility as envisioned under Obamacare. It would add about 260,000 people to the 900,000 Missourians already enrolled in the program. After three years, the state would begin to pay a share of that added coverage, capped at 10 percent by 2020 – but Republicans have expressed skepticism about Washington’s ability or willingness to keep that pledge.
    Democrats point out that most states are moving ahead with the change and they are pressing for it, though Republicans have large majorities in both houses of the General Assembly.
    State Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, pointed to a recent hearing in which 30 people testified in favor of the move and one testified against.
    “They brought the bill up to vote, and it died along party lines,” he said.
    LeVota noted that some states are taking alternatives to what Washington is offering.
    Page 2 of 2 - “There may be opportunities to get it done another way,” he said.
    • A bill to spur investment, sponsored by Rep. Noel Torpey, R-Independence, has won approval in the House.
    Torpey’s bill, the Missouri Angel Investment Incentive Act, would give a tax credit to individuals who give financing for emerging Missouri small businesses. The tax credit would be half of investor’s cash investment in a qualified business. The Small Business and Technology Development Center, which has offices across the state, would administer the program.
    Torpey’s bill now goes to the Senate.

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