April 19, 2012

Representative Redmon Hosts Round Table Discussion in Memphis

On April 13th, Representative Craig Redmon presented a resolution to KMEM Radio Station congratulating them on their 30th anniversary as part of his stop in Memphis to host a round table discussion with area leaders. Redmon highlighted KMEM's importance to the region since the station's founding on March 30th, 1982. Through the years they have brought award winning coverage; reporting on events that range from educational issues to sporting events. Rep. Redmon stated he is proud to have such a unique and accomplished radio station in his district.

First District State Representative Craig Redmon met with Scotland County officials on April 13th in Memphis as part of the legislator's efforts to keep constituents informed through Round Table Discussions with area policymakers.

Redmon hosted the event at Keith's Cafe with city and county officials as well as area business leaders and representatives from the hospital and school district in attendance.

The lawmaker discussed a number of issues taking place during the current legislative session. He touched on plans for construction of a resort on Mark Twain Lake to boost area tourism. Redmon also highlighted efforts to promote Highway 36 as an alternative traffic route for Interstate 70, which is a hot button of discussion in Jefferson City as lawmakers seek to identify funding sources for needed repairs to one of the state's main highways.

Redmon also touched on ongoing efforts to produce legislation that could provide more flexibility for physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

"We are working to craft legislation that would allow these healthcare providers to be able to practice a little more independently," Redmon stated. "That's already the case in Illinois and Iowa, so we are looking at something similar, which should help rural Missouri."

He went on to praise the efforts of Scotland County Hospital CEO Marcia Dial, noting her strong advocacy for rural health care and extolling her assistance in weighing possible legislation's impact on his district.

"Obviously, there are areas where we are not experts," Redmon said. "So it pays to be humble, and go back to people in your district, like Marcia, who can show us how proposed legislation will impact our area."

He explained how hospital representatives helped reverse his opinion on proposed legislation that would have imposed further restrictions on Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA).

"CRNA's are very important to rural hospitals like ours," Dial said. "Basically there would be no rural surgery if that proposed legislation was passed."

Another ongoing battle in Jefferson City that the representative outlined for his guests, was the fight over sales tax on vehicles and boats purchased outside the state.

Redmon indicated he and fellow lawmakers are working hard to find a legislative fix for a court ruling in March that found that residents of the state who purchase vehicles or boats outside of the state, do not have to pay sales tax. They are required to pay a use tax, but Redmon noted there are just over 100 taxing districts in the state with use taxes on the books.

"Since March we have not been collecting any sales tax on these types of sales in the state, except the 100 or so areas that have a use tax in place," Redmon said.

He highlighted his home town of Monticello, where he said roughly 90% of vehicle purchases are made in neighboring Illinois.

"In our little license office in Monticello, we figured it up and the state is losing around $60,000 a month," Redmond said. "Then you consider a community like St. Charles, where the loss has to be in the millions."

Scotland County Presiding Commissioner Chipper Harris added that such a ruling puts businesses in border communities like ours at risk, as it offers an extreme price advantage to competitors outside the state.

Harris added that the county commission has been working on changing the language of the county's sales tax ordinances, to incorporate use tax language, which would eliminate this issue.

"I'd encourage every community and every county to do this," Harris said. "It's not a tax increase, it simply changes the wording from sales tax, to use tax, putting our local retailers on the same level playfield with out of state sales. In the past I was opposed to this, but if we don't want to shut down our local commerce and become an internet-based economy, we are going to have to do this."

The roundtable discussion then turned to state tax credit programs, as Scotland County is considering the creation of an Enhanced Enterprise Zone.

While Redmon praised the community's efforts, he noted that the state needs to be more progressive in this area in the future. The representative noted that times have changed for states. Thirty years ago, just a handful of states offered tax incentives for economic development. Now nearly all of the states have similar programs, Redmon said, noting Missouri needs to come up with something new to help entice economic development opportunities to chose Missouri first.

Other topics of discussion during the meeting included the debate about making Missouri a "right-to-work" state, like all the states surrounding it. The group also discussed the open enrollment debate in education and the future of charter schools.

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