Legislators discussed issues such as a proposed fuel tax and MU's NCAA sanctions Friday morning at the 11th annual Missouri Legislative Forecast Breakfast.
The breakfast, held at Stoney Creek Conference Center in Columbia, featured a panel of Boone County legislators discussing various issues and proposals going into the new legislative session. The session began Wednesday, where the Boone delegation laid out their priorities.
Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft started the panel discussing his office's priorities at both the state and federal level.
Ashcroft emphasized confidentiality programs, where individuals can protect themselves from abusers. Ashcroft said that he was hoping to get federal legislation proposed for the issue.
"It is a program for victims of rape, domestic violence, human trafficking and stalking," he said. "All we do for maybe $100 a year is we give them a substitute address that they may use when interacting with the government and businesses. We forward their mail along to them so that their abuser can't just Google their name to find out where they live."
Ashcroft mentioned that he will renew efforts to get rid of Missouri's presidential preference primary.
"In Missouri, we take 9.1 million of your dollars and we hold an election where your vote really doesn't matter," he said. "And then we have a caucus where the delegates are actually chosen."
Ashcroft also hopes to see changes with the Senior Savings Protection Act, which gives broker-dealers more tools to protect senior citizens and people with disabilities from financial abuse.
Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, discussed his new House bill that would increase the state's fuel tax by 2 cents. Kendrick has said that his bill, one of four proposed to raise the tax, would not be a permanent solution but a step in the right direction.
"What my 2 cent fuel tax increase does is it triggers a $450 million bonding program," he said. "And the two cents that we're raising will go to pay down the bond over a 10-year period. Once the bonds are paid back over 10 years, I sunset a penny of that and leave one cent in perpetuity."
Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, discussed sentiments in the legislature around MU, in comparison to three or four years ago in the aftermath of a series of racist incidents on MU's campus, which led to the resignation of former UM System President Tim Wolfe.
"It was really hard to represent the University of Missouri in Jefferson City in 2015 and 2016," he said. "Some of it was justified and some of it was not."
Now, Rowden described the feelings of legislators around the university as "infinitely better" than in previous years, and praised MU leadership.
The panel also seemed to agree that a sales tax on online purchases would be favorable for the state.
"This is hurting our local brick-and-mortar businesses," Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, said. "We need to level the playing field."
NCAA's sanctions on MU, which came after a tutor was found to be completing coursework for 12 student-athletes, were also a subject of discussion.
"Clearly the NCAA had the opportunity to make the right decision as it related to MU and set the precedent moving forward that if you self-report, if you cooperate, we will work with you," Kendrick said. "They chose the other path and they set a horrendous precedent, and I think it will eventually be their undoing."
Supervising editors are Fred Anklam Jr. and Galen Bacharier.