Capitol wrap-up: Week of March 9

Sexual assault bill passes the U.S. Senate

A Missouri senator’s proposal to tighten military sexual assault protocol cleared the Senate 97-0 on Monday.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who co-authored sweeping assault reforms last year, saw to the end of the “good soldier” defense, which allows a defendant to cite his or her military skill and experience when on trial.

That defense, McCaskill said, is ridiculous. A serviceman’s ability to fly a plane, she said, shouldn’t affect whether or not he’s found guilty of a serious crime.

Similar legislation written by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., that would have also stripped commanders of the ability to decide whether or not to charge an offender for sexual assault, narrowly failed last week.

McCaskill said stripping the commanders of the power would leave the decision up to military prosecutors, whom she said are often less likely to take on a case unless they know they’ll win.

Gillibrand argued some commanders could side with their subordinates and derail an otherwise viable investigation. It’s an affront, she said, to the victims.

Proposal would cut taxes for families

State Sen. John Lamping, R-St. Louis, proposed a new kind of tax cut: a $400-per-child credit for middle-class families.

Lamping’s bill would give an economic booster to families making less than $92,000, or single adults making less than $46,000. It’s a matter of bringing in new business. A middle-class family with two children, he said, would now have an $800 incentive to move to Missouri.

The plan comes as other tax cut proposals — like those of state Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, and Gov. Jay Nixon — take up much of the Senate dialogue. Lamping and other conservative legislators have said that passing his measure isn’t necessarily their priority, and a business tax cut would have a greater impact on Missouri businesses.

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