JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The halls of the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City are bustling with activity. Lawmakers are over the hump and into the thick of the Missouri legislature’s centennial session and a legislative agenda is beginning to take shape for the ruling Republican party.
KMZU’s Brian Lock was joined in this week’s installment of the KMZU Capitol Conversation by Rep. Dean Dohrman (R-La Monte), representing Missouri’s 51st legislative district, who discussed falling state revenues and what a proposed bill sponsored by his office and an identical bill introduced in the state senate would change regarding Title IX.
Click below to hear their conversation, which aired Thursday on KMZU.
Last week, Rep. Dohrman introduced legislation on the floor of the Missouri House which, if approved by both chambers and signed off by Gov. Mike Parson (R), would give accusers and the accused in sexual misconduct cases what he insists is “due process”.
Dohrman’s umbrage with Title IX is not with the protections it grants victims, or complainants, but with the streamlining of cases under Title IX guidelines, a policy change dating back to 2011 under then-President Barack Obama.
“In 2011, the Obama administration sent out what’s called a ‘Dear Colleague,” letter,” Rep. Dohrman said. “[That letter] said these complaints need to be taken seriously – I don’t think any of us would disagree on that. You know, there was kind of a veiled threat that if some of these were not dealt with in a decisive manner, there could be loss of federal funds.”
Dohrman’s proposal, paired with identical legislation in the Missouri Senate sponsored by Sen. Gary Romine (R-Farmington), would bring due process back into the legislative mix.
Opponents of the plan insist that such a move by the Missouri legislature would disenfranchise victims, whose claims supporters say should be handled in a private manner.
Many detractors and surviving victims tell experts a due process law would make potential victims increasingly unlikely to come forward with their claims.
Dohrman and his colleagues in both chambers and across all echelons of state government are dealing with a new headache – falling state revenues.
At a senate hearing in Jefferson City in January, Director of the Missouri Department of Revenue Joel Walters said that the trend of falling state revenues is here to stay. “This is the new normal,” Walters told the stone-faced committee.
Walters’ claims have been met with push-back among Republican lawmakers, who blame his agency for a major formula error in last year’s income tax brackets. That error resulted in thousands of Missourians under-withholding a considerable amount from their personal income taxes.
“I think that we do have a growing economy, our unemployment is down considerably,” Dohrman said. “So I don’t know that lower returns of taxes or revenue is going to be the new norm. In fact, that’s not our intention at all. But how can we make that statement at this point, when we don’t know how short that error has left us?”
Following the defeat of Proposition D by voters in November 2018, the state saw $300 million-plus shortfall for infrastructure funding. In his State of the Sate Address in January, Gov. Parson announced the state would borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to help pay for improvements to Missouri’s failing roads and bridges.
As lawmakers mull their options for covering the remaining shortfall, a central question remains: whose prognosticating is correct, Director Walters, or Republican state lawmakers? Only time will tell.