Local state legislators report that they were able to get some bills and amendments passed in Jefferson City during this year’s legislative session.
Following is a breakdown of some of the highlights State Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, saw in the session, which ended last week.
A story on legislation pushed by State Reps. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, and Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, will appear in next Wednesday’s edition of The Missourian.
Income Tax Decrease
Hinson said he thinks this year’s legislative session resulted in the passage of the “first income tax decrease in over 80 years.”
Gov. Jay Nixon has indicated that he is unsure whether he will sign the bill, Hinson said.
Under the reduction, the income tax would go down half a percent over 10 years based on the state’s current growth rate.
Hinson explained that the income tax reduction would be tied to the state’s financial growth. This is more fiscally responsible than just reducing the rate because it will prevent the state from getting in a situation where it is financially strained by the reduction, he said.
For instance, if the state brings in an extra $100 million a year in revenue, a portion of that will be returned to the taxpayers in the form of a tax decrease, he said.
It will probably take two years before the reduction kicks in, he said.
Juvenile Sex Offenders
In other matters, Hinson sponsored legislation dealing with sex offenders who commit offenses while they are juveniles.
Under the amendment, sex offenders who commit offenses while they are juveniles will not be listed on the adult sex offender website available to the public.
He said there are adults on the website who were convicted as juveniles, and they will be taken off of the site if the governor signs the bill.
Child advocacy groups pushed for the change, arguing that child offenders should not be treated the same as adults, he said.
In addition to the sex offender website that can be viewed by the public, there is a separate registry for law enforcement where the offenders are listed.
Under the legislation, sex offenders who committed their crimes while they were juveniles can also petition a court to have their names removed from the law enforcement registry five years after being found guilty or released from custody.
Now, juvenile offenders can get a second chance, he said, adding that a judge would decide whether the juvenile offender’s name should be removed.
Hinson also supported an amendment to change the way trailers used by 18-wheeler trucks are assessed for taxes in Franklin County.
If the bill is signed by the governor, the trailers will be assessed based on the amount of road miles they travel in the state.
This is how other counties in the state assess trailers, but Franklin County was not, he added. Franklin County was the only county in the state that did not do it this way, he said.
Franklin County was charging 100 percent assessment on trailers even if they only spent a fraction of time in the county, he said. The change will result in savings for companies, Hinson said.
He also worked on a bill with State Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, to change the way vehicles are assessed. Vehicles, he said, have been assessed on the basis that they are in excellent condition. But under the bill, the vehicles will be assessed on the assumption that they are in average condition unless the assessor can prove otherwise.
Finally, Hinson said he was able to get a bill passed that allows first responders to be politically active when they are off duty. This way the emergency responders can exercise their free speech rights by running for office or supporting candidates, he said.