Legislative session

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Missouri Speaker of the House Tim Jones stopped in Cape Girardeau last week as part of his statewide tour to talk about his plan for the legislative session beginning in January.

Jones, R-Eureka, mapped out a three-part agenda he coined the "Triple E Plan." The plan, he said, deals with economic development, energy and education issues.

Among the issues Jones noted at the local stop were tax credit reform, health-care tort reform, removing regulations on businesses and lowering taxes.

"Reducing taxes where we can is going to be a top priority," Jones said.

Though specifics have not been completely defined, we are encouraged by the speaker's overall agenda. Much of the media attention lately has been on the national level, including the upcoming "fiscal cliff." But there are things that states can do to make government work smarter.

One example of this is the recent actions by the legislature and governor in Michigan on right-to-work. The legislation will make Michigan more competitive with neighboring states like Indiana, which also is a right-to-work state. Though it appears unlikely Missouri will follow Michigan's lead on right-to-work, the example remains as a way to make a state more competitive.

Missouri has a similar issue with its neighbors to the west on caps for medical malpractice damages and taxes.

The Kansas Supreme Court upheld caps on medical malpractice in October. Missouri, which approved similar legislation under Gov. Matt Blunt, saw its Supreme Court strike down the law.

On taxes, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed legislation earlier this year that will reduce the state's top individual income-tax rate to 4.9 percent. At least one Missouri business near the state line has said it will move operations with 150 jobs on the Missouri side to Kansas.

These are just a few things legislators and the governor must consider in the coming months. There are ways to make Missouri more competitive. Other states like Kansas have done so. Whether the issue is taxes, tort reform, education or any number of other topics, Missouri lawmakers should look for ways to remove government red tape, make the state more business friendly and provide necessary services in a smart and efficient manner.

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