Kip Kendrick hosts first town hall of legislative session

Representative Kip Kendrick held a town hall this Thursday, touching on a variety of issues including the revenue shortfall, bridges and road repair, and Title IX.
Kip Kendrick is the District 045 Democrat Minority Whip in the Missouri House of Representatives. Courtesy of Facebook via @friendsofkipkendrick

Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, fielded questions ranging from MoDOT funding to the Title IX bill in the legislature Thursday at the ARC in Columbia.

Kendrick held his first town hall of the session with the the intent of educating his constituents on what was happening in regard to the budget. He sits as the ranking minority member on the budget committee.

Revenue in Missouri is down 6.4 percent, which was originally reported as being a result of a withholding error. It has since been uncovered that the shortfall is due to the federal tax cut, Kendrick said.

The budget chairman, Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, released his plan for the budget on March 6 to the budget committee and they begin creating amendments to modify the plan next week.

Some house members, such as House Speaker Elijah Haahr, have taken an optimistic look, saying that they are going to turn the negative percent into a 1.7 percent fiscal growth. However,’’’ Kendrick is skeptical.

“I am skeptical that we are going to hit that number, I don’t think we will stay negative, maybe flat growth,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick’s biggest concern regarding the budget is potentially taking money from the general revenue which is made up of unallocated funds from business and property taxes. In the chairman’s plan, instead of taking $350 million in bonds, he wants to take $100 million from tax revenue.

“It doesn’t do much to deal with our situation,” Kendrick said. “It won’t solve our infrastructure problem.”

Kendrick also worried that taking the money from the general revenue will cause cuts to other things, such as higher education. Missouri has never used general revenue for roads, and it makes up a third of the budget.

Funding MoDOT was a hot topic among the constituents in attendance. Most of the concern was centered around Proposition D not getting passed this past November.

“It was a lack of will on our part,” said Kendrick. “I would have voted for a 2 cents fuel tax.”

On the other hand, Kendrick also pointed out that there was concern in the house that the Hancock Amendment would have prevented it from passing. The Hancock Amendment puts limitations on how much the state and local governments can tax, according to the Missouri Constitution.

Kendrick has proposed an amendment that overturns language prohibiting looking into toll roads. Part of the reason behind this amendment is that even if the fuel tax had passed, constitutionally the money from that tax can’t be used for public transportation.

“We do have a significant problem,” Kendrick said of roads in Missouri. Missouri is the fifth ranking state in terms of the highest amount of state highways, according to MoDOT.

The town hall ended discussing the Title IX bill in the state legislature.

The bill, if passed, would make it so that a student could repeal a sexual assault case to a legal case and take it out of the university’s control. It would allow for the victim in the case to potentially be cross-examined by the alleged accuser, which Kendrick is against.

“It is the most atrocious piece of legislation I have seen in Jefferson City,” Kendrick said. “I think guns on campus bills are horrible but this Title IX bill is worse. It is keeping me up at night.”

“It’s a massive overreach of government,” Kendrick said. “This is a carefully coordinated attack on the process, on sexual assault survivors and colleges across the state.”

Mizzou’s “It’s On Us” organization, which works to raise awareness of sexual violence on college campuses, opposed the bill last month in a statement, citing that the proposed legislation would be harmful to survivors of sexual assault by retraumatizing survivors and discouraging them to seek protections.

Kendrick encouraged constituents to contact Sen. Speaker Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, who will be dealing with this bill next week.

Edited by Ethan Brown | ebrown@themaneater.com

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