Legislative conference in Jefferson City informs city officials

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Even though it was a short month, February was very busy. Besides routine meetings and day-to-day tasks, there were quite a few special events. The month started with a retirement ceremony and reception on Feb. 1 at city hall for our longtime library director Sally Pierce.

The Missouri Municipal League always has its two-day legislative conference in February. This organization continually makes municipalities aware of legislative issues that affect their cities, provides training for local officials and staff and offers advice on particular city issues when requested to do so.

There are 673 municipalities that are members of MML, with the city of Jackson being one of them. I attended the conference in Jefferson City on Feb. 12 and 13. I learned a lot from the speakers, attended a special use tax workshop and had an opportunity to network with many officials from other cities.

Speaker of the House Tim Jones talked to us about some of the legislative issues the House considers a priority. He indicated lawmakers are working on the Three E's: energy policy, economic development and education. Another priority he mentioned was tax credit reform, which already is being addressed.

Our MML director Richard Sheets gave us a legislative briefing on pending bills of importance to municipalities. There are currently 14 bills that will have a direct effect on cities -- some good and some not so good. Getting an early update on the bills gives our local officials an opportunity to contact our legislators about concerns or support for the bills. We also heard from Gov. Jay Nixon and Treasurer Clint Zweifel on the second day of the conference.

We also had the long-awaited groundbreaking for the corporate office of Liberty Utilities in our north business/industrial park. This 22,000-square-foot corporate office will house 10 departments and the office of the regional president, David Swain.

Liberty already has begun hiring the 25 to 30 people who will fill these new professional positions, bringing total jobs to approximately 50.

In that same week, Wings Etc. had a ribbon-cutting and grand opening. Owners Joe and Michelle Hobbs reported a smooth opening while setting the opening day sales record for a Wings Etc. franchise.

The city hosted the opening session for members of Leadership Jackson, a program sponsored by the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce giving attendees an opportunity to learn more about our area. The first session was on local government, so members visited the county courthouse and city of Jackson. Topics for future study include education, business and industry, agriculture, health care, tourism and media services.

Community leaders attending these sessions are to be commended for taking a full day each month from their busy schedules to participate in this important program.

Barbara Lohr is the mayor of Jackson.

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