One thing missing from Gov. Jay Nixon’s special session call was anything related to disaster recovery. And for House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, that’s OK. Schoeller - the chairman of a committee looking into disaster recovery options - sent out the following letter yesterday to members of the Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery: I just finished a call with the Governor’s office and he has decided to not include accessing the Budget Reserve Fund in the up and coming special session. Members of the legislature have considered tapping into the so-called “Rainy Day Fund” to pay for recovery efforts in, among other places, Joplin, southeast Missouri and Sedalia.
As our committee had previously discussed during our last hearing in July, it is premature to think we may know the extent of the costs related to the disasters that have affected, and continue to affect, the State of Missouri and the Governor has adopted our concern. Including accessing the Budget Reserve Fund in the call to special session was made in good faith that a firmer number would be available from the Governor closer to veto session. I am pleased the process is slowing down until more information is known. I firmly believe it is vitally important to include accountability in the process through a joint committee between the House and Senate and by gathering better information that will help ensure every precaution is made to be fiscally responsible with every taxpayer dollar.
Not including disaster recovery in the current call to special session does not remove the possibility that we still may be called at a later date this year or that we will not seek to make a response when regular session begins in January. We will continue to work with our communities as they implement their recovery plans. It is imperative that we stand ready to offer what assistance is necessary during their rebuilding process as related costs and requirements are confirmed.
We will also keep an open dialogue as we look into allowing assessors of occupancy counties to provide property tax abatements for commercial properties as is already allowed to residential properties, as well as looking into a streamlined method of credentialing medical professionals that travel from other states, out of kindness, to assist us if we are afflicted with such a tragedy in the future.
I look forward to continuing to work with you as we prepare our final recommendations of necessary legislative changes. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the Governor’s decision or the work we have yet to complete.
One thing missing from Gov. Jay Nixon’s special session call was anything related to disaster recovery.
And for House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, that’s OK. Schoeller - the chairman of a committee looking into disaster recovery options - sent out the following letter yesterday to members of the Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery:
I just finished a call with the Governor’s office and he has decided to not include accessing the Budget Reserve Fund in the up and coming special session.
Members of the legislature have considered tapping into the so-called “Rainy Day Fund” to pay for recovery efforts in, among other places, Joplin, southeast Missouri and Sedalia.
Got word last week that the Missouri State Society will be holding a benefit for Joplin tomorrow in Washington, D.C.
The event will benefit a few charities from the area, including the Greater Ozarks Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Heart of Missouri United Way, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Joplin Business Recovery Fund.
All 11 members of the Missouri congressional delegations are expected to attend the event, as well as community leaders from Joplin. And Bret Funk - a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, who serves as Congressional Relations Chair for the society - said in an e-mail that the freshman lawmaker will personally auctioneer off items to support the charities.
Long, of course, was a successful auctioneer in southwest Missouri before becoming a congressman. He gained a bit of press when he demonstrated his skills on the House floor.
House Speaker Steven Tilley created an interim committee aimed assisting regions of the state hit hard by natural disasters.
Tilley, R-Perryville, announced Tuesday the creation of the House Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery. The committee will look at ways to assist places such as Joplin and southeast Missouri recover from recent natural disasters.
“With the flooding in southeast Missouri and the massive tornado that hit Joplin, the tornado in St. Louis … we need to know where we stand and what needs to be done to get Missourians back on their feet,” Tilley said in a statement. “This committee will be tasked with creating a plan and seeing what we in the legislature can do to help.”
The committee - which will be chaired by Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-Willard - will look at whether a special session is needed to assist Joplin and southeast Missouri. It also will develop a strategy on how the state can be ready for future disasters.
“While we do our best to have plans in place for the moments when tragedy strikes, the devastation in Joplin is one such event that could not have been foreseen in its impact and overall enormity,” said Schoeller in a statement. “As we begin to help rebuild this community we need to look thoroughly into the effects this tragedy will have on the families, businesses, faith and civic organizations who call Joplin home. We also must ensure the state has a plan in place to help rather than hinder the process for any Missouri community that is trying to rebuild after suffering the effects of a natural disaster.”
The committee must send a report to Tilley by July 31 on whether a special session is needed.
Associated Press reporter David Lieb writes this week on the enormous cost this spring’s disasters will have on Missouri.
Here’s a snippet from Lieb’s AP Monday analysis:
Thirty days of destruction in Missouri. Billions of dollars of damage. And it may not be done, as communities along the Missouri River from St. Joseph to St. Louis brace for a new round of flooding.
The economic aftershocks of Missouri’s spring of disasters may be felt for years, even by many who weren’t personally affected by the storms. Insurance premiums are likely to increase for home and vehicle owners. Restaurants and retail shops are likely to see lower sales in southeast Missouri. Utility rates are likely to rise in the southwestern part of the state. And Missouri’s budget — already out of balance — now is tens of millions of dollars deeper in the hole, which could lead to more cuts to government services and schools.