Category Archives: Legislation

Recent U.S. Votes

Recent Senate Votes
Friedland Nomination – Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (51-40, 9 Not Voting)

On Monday, the Senate approved the nomination of Michelle T. Friedland to be a judge on the 9th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted NO
Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES


Minimum Wage Increase – Cloture – Vote Rejected (54-42, 4 Not Voting)

Senators failed to invoke cloture for a bill that would have raised the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 last Wednesday.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted NO
Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES


Recent House Votes
Mil Con/Veterans Affairs Appropriations – Passage – Vote Passed (416-1, 14 Not Voting)

The House approved a bill on Wednesday to provide $165 billion in fiscal 2015 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, military construction, and military housing. The bill would provide $58.7 billion in advance appropriations for fiscal year 2016 for certain VA medical care programs. Only Rep. Raul Labrador, R.-Idaho voted against the measure.

Rep. William Lacy Clay voted YES


Legislative Branch Appropriations – Passage – Vote Passed (402-14, 15 Not Voting)

House members voted to approve $3.3 billion to fund the legislative branch of the federal government, excluding the Senate, in 2015. The bill includes money for the Library of Congress, Government Accountability Office, Architect of the Capitol, and Capitol Police.

Rep. William Lacy Clay voted YES

Missouri Legislature overrides Nixon’s tax cut veto

Once more, I am embarassed to be a citizen of Missouri.  Shame on that Democrat who went along with the Republican’s tax cuts.

via StLToday:

JEFFERSON CITY • Republican legislators stood together and a lone Democrat bucked his party’s governor on Tuesday to give Missourians their first state income tax cut in nearly a century.

In the most far-reaching move since Republicans took control of the Legislature 12 years ago, the House mustered the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat.

Exuberant Republicans, who gathered in the ornate House Lounge after the vote, called the day historic.

“Today, we lived up to the promise to Missourians, to provide hardworking Missourians some of their money back so they can grow their families, their farms and their small businesses,” said House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka.

The vote was 109-46, with Rep. Keith English, D-Florissant, walking into the chamber at the last moment to provide the pivotal vote. The Senate had voted for the override Monday on a straight party-line vote of 23-8.

Drama of the moment aside, the tax code changes will take effect gradually.

In five annual steps beginning in 2017, the bill will cut the state’s top personal income tax rate to 5.5 percent from 6 percent and provide a new 25 percent deduction for business income reported on individual returns.

The cuts will be implemented only if state general revenue grows by at least $150 million a year compared with the high-water mark of the previous three years.

English said in an interview that the tax cuts were needed to help small businesses grow and that the bill had safeguards to protect education. He contended that Nixon had spread “misinformation” about the bill.

Nixon, who has called the bill unaffordable, unfair and reckless, issued a subdued statement Tuesday, saying that it failed to protect education funding and threatened the state’s AAA bond rating.

In his veto message last week, Nixon portrayed the tax cut as benefiting the wealthy.

He said 52 percent of the tax savings would go to the top 7 percent of taxpayers. Meanwhile, a family making the median income of $44,000 a year would receive a tax cut of only $32, Nixon said.

The bill is projected to cut income taxes by $620 million a year by 2022, though Nixon has warned that the tab could be much higher.

The governor contends that unclear wording appears to get rid of state income taxes for about 2.5 million Missourians. He cited a line in the bill that says that the top income tax bracket — which applies to people earning more than $9,000 — will be eliminated.

House Majority Leader John Diehl, R-Town and Country, led the charge to marshal votes for the override. He called Nixon’s argument “laughable” and dismissed it as “scare tactics.” Diehl said Republicans had no plans to address the unclear provision by passing another bill this session.

Nixon’s argument did win one convert: Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart. Roorda had backed the tax cut when it initially passed but voted Tuesday to sustain the governor’s veto. Roorda called the apparent elimination of the top tax bracket a “fatal flaw.”

Republicans used timing as their ally, passing the tax cut early enough in the session that they had time to consider the veto before they adjourn on May 16. That way, Nixon couldn’t campaign against the bill all summer, as he did last year when he fended off an override of a broader tax cut at the September veto session.

Legislative leaders said that delaying the tax cut’s impact until 2017 will allow time to fully fund the aid formula for K-12 public schools. They also touted the requirement that state general revenue must grow by $150 million a year before the incremental cuts are triggered.

Those changes helped the GOP win over the renegade Republicans who scuttled an override last year.

“This is a bill that is fair and responsible,” said Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville, one of the former dissidents.

Critics said the trigger was inadequate.

Missouri needs $250 million a year in general revenue growth just to maintain current levels of service, according to a statement by the Missouri Budget Project. That analysis doesn’t count annual increases in the number of people who depend on various social programs. The budget project is a liberal-leaning organization that advocates for policies that help low- and moderate-income Missourians.

Other opponents questioned whether the bill was the first step in a bigger plan to replace income taxes with consumption taxes, a move long championed by political mega-donor Rex Sinquefield of St. Louis. They noted that the Legislature is advancing a sales tax increase to pay for transportation projects.

“It’s almost a little experiment,” part of an attempt by proponents to implement a tax shift, said Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis.

Sinquefield made a fortune in the investment business in California, then returned to his native St. Louis about eight years ago. Since then, he has donated millions of dollars to politicians and issue-oriented campaigns aimed at revamping the tax code and public education.

Grow Missouri, a group partly funded by Sinquefield, praised the Legislature’s action Tuesday. Group treasurer Aaron Willard said the legislation “will go a long way toward helping stimulate Missouri’s economy.”

The tax cut’s backers said that many of Missouri’s neighboring states had cut their taxes in recent years and that Missouri must follow suit to compete.

“Half the states in the union have done this,” said Dan Mehan, president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We’re very happy.”

Brad Jones, who lobbies for the state arm of the National Federation of Independent Business, predicted that businesses would use the extra money to give employees raises or help pay rising health insurance costs.

“Any time you put money back into the hands of a small-business person, they take it and put it back in the business,” Jones said.

Even so, some said boosting the economy wasn’t the main goal. Rather, downsizing government is at the heart of the plan.

“The real fight here is how much does government need,” said Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah. Because the bill provides only a 25 percent tax deduction for business income, he said, it “is not an economic development tax cut. It is a limit-the-growth-of-government tax cut.”

The bill is SB509.

Recent Votes – US House and Senate

Recent Senate Votes

Unemployment Benefits – Cloture – Vote Agreed to (61-35, 4 Not Voting)

Senators voted to invoke cloture on an amended bill that would extended eligibility for long-term unemployment benefits through May 31, 2014.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted NO

Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES

Recent House Votes

Ukraine Aid – Passage – Vote Passed (378-34, 19 Not Voting)

On Tuesday, the House agreed to concur with a Senate amendment and pass a package of $150 million in aid and loan guarantees to the Ukrainian government. The vote required a two-thirds majority under the suspension of House rules. President Obama signed the bill into law on April 3.

Rep. William Lacy Clay voted YES

Employee Hours Rules – Passage – Vote Passed (248-179, 4 Not Voting)

House members voted on Thursday to change the number of hours employees must work to qualify for mandatory employer coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The law would define full-time employees as those working 40 hours a week, ten more hours than as defined under current law.

Rep. William Lacy Clay voted NO

 

Recent Votes – US House and Senate

Recent Senate Votes

Military Sexual Assault Prosecutions – Passage – Vote Passed (97-0, 3 Not Voting)

Senators finished work on reforming the military’s practices for reporting and prosecuting sexual assaults within its ranks on Monday, passing a bill written by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-MO. The bill would amend the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 to require special victims’ counsels in sexual assault cases and forbid using the defendant’s military record in defense arguments. The bill would also require the evaluation of whether commanding officers have established a climate in which allegations of sexual assault are properly managed and fairly evaluated and a victim can report criminal activity without fear of retaliation or ostracism.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted YES

Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES

Child Care Block Grant Reauthorization – Enzi Amendment – Vote Agreed to (98-0, 2 Not Voting)

On Wednesday, the Senate agreed to an amendment (S.AMDT.2812) offered by Senator Michael Enzi, R-Wy., to the reauthorization of child care block grant programs. The amendment requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with the Secretary of Education, to conduct a review of Federal early learning and care programs and make recommendations for streamlining the various programs. The block grant program was reauthorized through Fiscal Year 2019 on Thursday.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted YES

Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES

Flood Insurance Rates – Passage – Vote Passed (72-22, 6 Not Voting)

Senators approved a bill to slow National Flood Insurance Program premium increases that are needed to achieve the program’s full actuarial rates. The measure would also require the Federal Emergency Management Agency to certify its flood mapping approach before raising insurance rates in the future.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted YES

Sen. Claire McCaskill voted Not Voting

Recent House Votes

Ukraine Resolution – Passage – Vote Passed (402-7, 1 Present, 20 Not Voting)

The House overwhelmingly passed a resolution Tuesday condemning the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity by military forces of the Russian Federation for their actions in Crimea.

Rep. William Lacy Clay voted YES

Federal Water Rights – Passage – Vote Passed (238-174, 19 Not Voting)

On Thursday, House members passed a bill that would prohibit Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from making any transfer, relinquishment, or other impairment of any water right a condition of the issuance of any permit, lease, or other use agreement concerning federal lands. The law would apply to lands covered by interstate water rights compacts as well.

Rep. William Lacy Clay voted NO

Medicare Doc Fix – Passage – Vote Passed (238-181, 12 Not Voting)

On Friday, the House agreed to repeal the sustainable growth rate model of physicians’ compensation rates under Medicare. The bill would establish a single conversion rate of cost increases for physicians’ services at .5 percent through 2018 and would completely freeze updates thereafter through 2023. The bill would also require certain federal agencies to perform studies of access to health care and cost controls for some procedures under Medicare.

Rep. William Lacy Clay voted NO

The City Journal – March 11, 2014

The City Journal contains the minutes from the past week’s Board of Aldermen meeting as well as notices of hearings, public notices of hearings and permits, RFPs, City job openings, and other official records.  I use it to keep track of what is happening downtown and am glad to have it available online for free.

https://stlouis-mo.gov/internal-apps/city-journal/upload/city-journal/96_51_a.pdf

Recent Votes – US House and Senate

Recent House Votes
Cellular Phone Unlocking – Passage – Vote Passed (295-114, 21 Not Voting)

On Tuesday, the House passed a bill that would reverse a 2012 decision by the Library of Congress that made “unlocking” cell phones for use across wireless carriers illegal as of last January. HR 1123 would allow consumers to disable software protections on their cellphones and connect to mobile carriers of their choosing once their original contract expires.

Rep. William Lacy Clay voted YES

Eminent Domain Authority – Passage – Vote Passed (353-65, 12 Not Voting)

The House passed a bill Wednesday that would withhold federal economic development funds, for two fiscal years, from states and localities that seize property for private economic development using eminent domain. The bill would also allow landowners to sue if state or local governments wrongfully take their property in such situations.

Rep. William Lacy Clay voted YES

Federal Rule-Making Process – Passage – Vote Passed (236-179, 15 Not Voting)

A bill that would make a number of changes to the federal rule-making process passed the House on Thursday. The bill, passed mainly along party lines, would require agencies to consider the costs and benefits of rules and alternatives when issuing regulatory directives. The bill would allow the Small Business Administration to intervene in another agency’s rule-making process and would expand the ability of small businesses to challenge federal rules in court. Federal agencies would also be required to make monthly reports of rule-making and post rules online.

Rep. William Lacy Clay voted NO

Recent Senate Votes
Veterans Benefits — Cloture – Vote Agreed to (99-0, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate agreed to invoke cloture and proceed on a bill that would extend and expand health care and education benefits for veterans and their families.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted YES
Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES

Veterans Benefits – Motion to Wave – Vote Rejected (56-41, 3 Not Voting)

On Thursday, the Senate rejected a motion by Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., to waive all applicable budget laws when considering a bill to expand veterans benefits. The motion required a three-fifths majority to waive applicable budget laws under Senate rules.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted NO
Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES