August 23, 2001

Rep. Berkowitz Announces Special Legislative Session

State Representative Sam Berkowitz, D-Memphis, reminds residents of the first district about the upcoming Special Legislative Session scheduled to begin Wednesday, September 5. Governor Bob Holden has called the special session for the Missouri General Assembly in order to address escalating prescription drug costs for Missouri's senior citizens.

Rep. Berkowitz and the Missouri House placed an emphasis on this issue during the regular legislative session. The result was approval of Governor Holden's budget request for prescription relief. However, the money remains unspent because a bill revising the current drug tax credit program failed to make it through the Senate.

"Our seniors cannot afford to wait until January for this issue to be resolved," said Rep. Berkowitz. "Our current situation finds some seniors forced to choose between basic necessities and the drugs they are prescribed. Such a choice should never have to be made, and our goal during this special session is to take action to ensure it does not."

During the special session, the General Assembly also will consider compromise legislation to end a dispute over livestock-buying practices and to prevent producers from losing millions of dollars in livestock sales. Major meat processors have stopped buying Missouri livestock on the cash market because of a law passed in 1999 that was designed to make those processors pay uniform prices for livestock unless certain market conditions prevailed. The legislature's goal is to pass legislation that will revise this law so it is fair for all parties.

The House and Senate also will consider a one-time change in state tax law to ensure state tax is not applied to approximately 1.8 million federal tax rebate checks being mailed to Missourians. With this change, the maximum amount of state tax Missourians could expect to pay on rebates is $18 for a single filer and $36 for a married couple.

"We have some very important issues to address in this special session, and it is my hope we can deal with them in a timely and fair manner that will produce legislation that benefits the people of this great state," said Rep. Berkowitz.

The special session will run until these various issues are resolved. The emphasis is on dealing with the issues quickly and efficiently in order to save taxpayer dollars.

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