In a recent appearance before the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce, newly elected State Representative Jim Hansen, of Frankford, said he learned two big lessons during his first session in the Missouri legislature.
“Everybody wants money,” but there is only so much to go around.
Secondly, the biggest challenge for a legislator is to “focus on big issues that impact the most people. Everybody wants to put amendments on bills and you have to spend time watching them.
The biggest disappointment for Hansen was the cutting of $1 million that he placed into a bill to rebuild the Pike-Lincoln Technical Center. It was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon.
“I’m mad, it’s ridiculous,” Hansen said. “One of the most important things we need is vo-tech training,” because local businesses need skilled workers.
But Hansen hasn’t given up. He said he was working with Rep. Chris Kelly of Columbia to get the $1 million reinstated.
“I’ll try to figure out how to get around it,” he said.
Hansen also said he didn’t understand why Nixon vetoed House Bill 253, which would have cut income and corporate taxes in exchange for a half-cent sales tax increase if revenues hit certain levels.
“This year the state had $401 million more (in tax revenue) come in than what we first thought. We’re also sitting on a $300 million reserve.”
In his letter of veto, Nixon said Missouri is already a low-tax state and that the revenue triggers for tax cuts would hurt during times of recession.
The legislator who represents Pike, Monroe, Ralls and part of Lincoln County said he voted against Senate Bill 125 that would have eliminated the tenure system for and turn schoolteacher evaluations over to the government.
“I said no because I’ve been in education,” as a long-time teacher, Hansen said. “I trust superintendents to do that job, not me.” The bill was killed twice but finally passed for the unaccredited school districts in Kansas City and St. Louis, he added.
The freshman legislator said he learned a lot in the first session with membership on the veterans, insurance and economic development committees.
Hansen said constituents can best get his attention through emails compared to phone calls. Emails leave a track record of a constituent’s needs and can be quickly sent to staffers and state departments, he added. He can be reached at email@example.com.