Encouraging Missouri’s economic development was the first topic introduced at Friday’s legislative breakfast in Blue Springs.
State Sen. Mike Cierpiot began by talking about his priorities for making the state economically competitive. The chairman of the Senate’s Economic Development Committee, Cierpiot is carrying Senate Bill 56, which affects the Missouri Works program. The program provides payroll withholding and tax credits to aid in the creation of high quality jobs in Missouri.
Senate Bill 56, according to Cierpiot, would take some of the money from the Missouri Works program, approximately $35 million, and use it to create a closing fund, essentially an incentive package for new businesses looking to set root in Missouri.
“We have found a lot of states have this offer,” said Cierpiot. “We have lost many, many jobs because of it.”
Cierpiot also referenced a bill in the House, which would allegedly reduce competition between Missouri and Kansas as bordering states, according to him. Currently, states are allowed to offer incentives to businesses to encourage them to move across state lines. The bill Cierpiot mentioned would disallow that for Jackson, Cass, Clay and Platte on the Missouri side, and Johnson Wyandotte, Douglas and Miami counties in Kansas.
“We’ve spent between us a little over $300 millioin in the past eight years, incentivizing companies to move back and forth,” Cierpiot said.
State Rep. Dan Stacy spoke of his desire to see the state move to a closed primary election. Stacy referenced his bill currently moving through the House, HB 26, which would require voters to register with a specific party by a certain date in order to participate in its primary.
“Open primaries allow non-party members, including individuals actively hostile to the party’s interest, to participate in that party’s nominating process,” Stacy said, claiming open primaries encourage what he described as tactical voting, or voting for a specific opposing candidate in the primary and voting against that person later.
The bill states that “no person shall be entitled to vote in a primary election of an established political party unless he or she is affiliated with such party.”
Also moving through the House is HB 922, sponsored by Rep. Jered Taylor, which also would create closed primaries.
“Our bills, HB 26 and 922, intend to end the charade and bring some integrity into the political party voting process,” Stacy said.
And despite the weather taking a turn toward the warmer side, snow was still the prevailing topic at the end of the legislative breakfast, with attendees asking if any progress had been made on allowing schools to forgive a certain amount of days lost due to snow so they wouldn’t be forced to extend the normal school year too far into the summer. Rep. Jeff Coleman, along with Cierpiot and Stacy, were unable to speak to any actions being taken for the 2019-20 school year, but said there is a bill currently being moved that would give the schools more power over their snow days in the 2020-21 school year.