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Late in the evening on Monday, April 22, the Missouri Senate gave its approval to the state operating budget for FY 2014, which will last from July 1 to June 30, 2014. The 13 core budget bills (HBs 1-13) reflect the Legislature’s principles of fiscal responsibility. Although it’s not always easy making decisions about the funding of state programs and services, lawmakers understand that unrestrained spending (like what happens in the hands of the federal government) cannot take place in our state. Missouri prides itself on wise financial decisions and operating within a balanced budget.

The Senate’s version of the FY 2014 budget proposes some funding eliminations for Department of Revenue (DOR) services. As many Missourians know, DOR has violated citizens’ privacy by making a list of Missourians with concealed carry permits (CCWs) available to federal entities in efforts to prevent fraud. The Legislature has not been pleased about the level of cooperation executive branch officials have provided regarding the DOR investigation, and hopefully the Senate’s bold proposals will send a message to the executive administration.

To reflect lawmakers’ interest in removing DOR from the equation with regard to CCWs, the Senate budget plan includes funding for local sheriffs’ offices to solely administer the CCWs. Current law states that citizens seeking CCWs have to apply to the sheriff for a certificate of qualification for a CCW endorsement. When a Missourian is issued the certificate, he or she must present that document to DOR, which issues driver’s or non-driver’s licenses with a CCW endorsement. A bill passed by the Senate (SB 252) would repeal this provision and, instead, the permit issued by the sheriff authorizes the person to carry concealed firearms.

Now that the upper chamber has given its stamp of approval to its version of the budget, the 13 budget bills will be sent back to the House (where the measures originated) for consideration. If the Senate’s revisions are not approved by the House, then changes made between the House and Senate’s version must ultimately be approved by a conference committee made up of three representatives and five senators. The constitutional deadline to hand the FY 2014 budget to the governor is Friday, May 10.

If you have any questions about the state’s operating budget, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office. You can review the budget notes on the measures by visiting the Senate Appropriations Committee website, located on the “Standing Committees” page under the “Committees” tab on the Missouri Senate website (www.senate.mo.gov).

Welcoming Guests to the Capitol

As always, I’m glad to see groups from our community and around Missouri at the State Capitol. This week, I had the pleasure of meeting former Howell County Collector Wayne Scharnhorst, members of the Howell County Extension Center, Chancellor of Missouri State University-West Plains Drew A. Bennett, representatives of Webco Custom Industries and the University of Missouri Extension, members of the Missouri Rural Water Association, and numerous firefighters from our community. I also had the pleasure of meeting several members of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, who had their yearly meeting in Jefferson City this week and provided a delicious fish fry lunch in front of the State Capitol.

If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.

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