Rep. Falkner pleased with session, but sees missed opportunities

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By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

A St. Joseph state representative says the Missouri
legislature got a lot done in a little bit of time, but failed to approve a
major piece of legislation which would help the state right now.

Rep. Bill Falkner has been pushing for Missouri to approve
legislation to require online retailers to collect state sales tax as
authorized under the South Dakota vs. Wayfair decision by the U. S. Supreme
Court.

“I was disappointed that we were not able to get the Wayfair
bill across the finish line,” Falkner tells St. Joseph Post. “I think that is
one thing that is desperately needed. I am hopeful that maybe the governor may
call a special session for us to address that with a couple of other items.”

Falkner says the bill got ensnarled in a philosophical
argument within the General Assembly. He says some legislators want any
collection of state sales taxes on online purchases to be revenue neutral,
while others want any extra revenue to designated to specific spending.

Falkner advocates a plan that would funnel the money into General
Revenue with the House and Senate budget writers assigned the task of putting
it to the best use.

“Have it go to budget session every year and let’s figure out
where the money needs to go the most, because we have infrastructure needs that
need to be paid for, bonds that need to be paid for,” Falkner says.

Finances will be the key issue lawmakers face the next couple
years, according to Falkner, who doesn’t see a quick turnaround from the
economic downturn caused by restrictions imposed to lessen the spread of the coronavirus.

“The next two years are going to be very important in my opinion,
because we’re really going to have to dive into the budget and what we’re going
to be able to fund and which items we may not be able to,” Falkner says. “So,
it’s going to be very difficult, especially in the upcoming two years I
believe.”

Falkner says he’s also disappointed that the legislature
failed to approve a prescription drug monitoring program, which couldn’t
overcome a Senate filibuster. Missouri is the only state in the nation not to
adopt one, seen as a key in the fight against opioid addiction.

Still, the representative does see bright spots in the just
concluded session. Falkner points out legislators reached agreement on a nearly
$35 billion state budget by the constitutionally-imposed deadline, after
cutting $700 million. He is pleased workforce development measures passed along
with foster care system reform. Falkner also is pleased sexual assault victims
received more protection in a bill passed by the legislature. He says a bill
providing for state business license reciprocity will help military spouses
more easily find work in Missouri if licensed in another state.