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We have just begun this year’s Missouri legislative session. Budget hearings began last year and will continue throughout this session.  

This is my sixth year serving on the Budget Committee, and maintaining a balanced and conservative state budget remains one of our greatest responsibilities. State revenue for next year’s budget (July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025) is projected to be stable with only slight growth. In addition, the tax cut I worked on (and filed) was passed this past year as part of SB 190. Among other things, this new law eliminates all Missouri income tax on Social Security disability and retirement pay for the coming tax year and is projected to reduce our state appropriations over 300 million dollars. Bottom line, we will need to be especially thoughtful and careful this year in budgeting your hard earned tax dollars to fund our most important priorities.  

This past week I have also been working with my good friend Rep. Lane Roberts on public safety/law enforcement bills which will be part of our House 2024 priorities. Lane represents the Joplin area and is a retired police officer and police chief. He is chair of our House Crime Prevention Committee, and I’ll again be chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Lane and I share a common belief that public safety is one of the most important functions of all government. I’ll keep you updated on the public safety bills as the session progresses.

As I’ve mentioned before and will briefly highlight, I’m also vice-chair of the committee reviewing the entire Missouri criminal code. This is a joint multi-year committee with the Senate and other statewide stakeholders. State law mandates that our criminal code be reviewed on a 10 year basis and the chairmanship position rotates between the House and Senate. I’ll be chairing this joint committee for its final year next year.  

I think that one of the most important jobs at the Capitol is to work hard to keep our laws simple and clear, especially criminal ones. There simply cannot be any wiggle room in our criminal laws.

As another priority this session, I’m also filing what I like to call a “fix it” bill for part of last year’s tax bill (SB 190). The senior property tax part of the 2023 tax bill was added in the Senate and was intended to help protect seniors from being taxed out of their homes because of excessive local property taxes. It’s a great idea but needs better wording. Unless fixed, I fear the bill will be tied up in courts for years trying to figure out what the bill says.  

A group of county collectors and assessors from across the state (including our local county assessor, Daniel Franks) met and have proposed necessary changes to get this tax break law for seniors fixed and working as intended. I’ll be filing these proposed changes as a bill and will be working hard this session to help our seniors with this critical tax break.

To close for now, I’m also planning to file a bill that would ban invasive plant species, which ban has been suggested by several local citizens. If passed into law, this legislation would grant authority to the Missouri Department of Agriculture to prohibit the sale and transfer of invasive species, including callery pear (commonly called Bradford pear), burning bush, climbing euonymus, Japanese honeysuckle and sericea lespedea. For several years, these species have been out-competing other plants and causing a big problem for in our area and across the state. I’d appreciate hearing from you on this proposal.

Wrapping up for now, I again thank you for the ongoing honor to serve as your representative and to speak for your commonsense values. I will be filing for my fourth and final two year term in elections to be held later in the year. 

If you would like to schedule a specific time to meet locally or at the Capitol, please call Becky Connell at my office at 573-751-1455, or email my office at david.evans@house.mo.gov. We appreciate hearing from you.