Do you know your state representative, Mike Haffner, and what he stands for? The Raymore Journal caught up with Rep. Haffner and had him break down every bill he has introduced during the current session of Missouri’s General Assembly.
Elected to his first two-year term in 2018, Haffner is poised for reelection this November as he is running unopposed for District 55’s seat in the Missouri House of Representative. What can Cass County residents expect from Haffner during his next term?
The Raymore Journal reached out to the Cass County Democrats for comment on Haffner’s bills and received the following statement:
The bills Rep. Haffner has introduced this session pale in comparison to the bill he co-sponsored in 2019, HB 126. As of Friday, with the trigger law of this bill enacted, a person’s reproductive rights are now illegal in the state of Missouri, even in the case of rape or incest. The only exception will be if a doctor in Missouri, who will be under intense scrutiny, proves that the mother’s life is in imminent danger.
We wish we could have found someone to run against Rep. Haffner in HD55 as a Democrat. Rep. Haffner is a part of the extremist right in Missouri. We are still hopeful that an Independent candidate can gain the signatures required by August 1 to oppose him on the ballot in the general election on November 8th.
Below is a summary of half the bills Haffner has introduced to the House during the second regular session of the 101st General Assembly. The second half will be featured in next week’s issue of The Raymore Journal.
HB 2006 – Modifies and creates offenses involving arrests, stops and detentions – Referred to Public Safety Committee in May – Two cosponsors (all Republicans)
According to Haffner, HB 2006 is “one of the top priorities for law enforcement across the state of Missouri, as well as the prosecuting attorney’s office.” Currently, fleeing in a vehicle from law enforcement is a misdemeanor. Consequently, criminals have an incentive to flee from law enforcement. Subsequently, those cases clog up the court system.
Haffner’s bill changes fleeing from law enforcement from a misdemeanor to a Class C felony. If the criminal’s actions result in bodily injury or death, charges move to a Class D felony.
Furthermore, once a case makes it to the court, there is a difference from fleeing from arrest and fleeing from custody. Depending on the situation, a prosecuting attorney could choose the wrong option, resulting in a failure to convict based on a technicality. HB 2006 combines the two sections of statute to avoid that outcome.
HB 1874 – Modifies provisions relating to taxation – Referred to Ways and Means Committee in May – Two cosponsors (all Republicans)
Essentially, this bill will impose a 1.9% tax on the endowments of institutions of higher education that are affiliated with abortion facilities.
“This bill is about protecting innocent lives,” Haffner said. “It’s about morality. It’s about transparency. It’s about consistency.”
Haffner claims that institutions of higher learning within Missouri “are training abortion doctors and literally shipping them all over the country.” HB 1874 creates what Haffner refers to as a “net neutral” in terms of taxes.
Critics claim that levying a tax on the endowment assets of a nonprofit organization is unprecedented and will alter the mutually beneficial relationship between the state and its charitable organizations. Opponents also claim that a tax on the endowment is a tax on students and groundbreaking research.
However, Haffner says that former President Donald Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act imposed an excise tax on investment income of certain institutions and endowments. HB 1874 follows that same model.
HB 2007 – Modifies provisions relating to traffic violations – Referred to Administrative Oversight committee in February – No cosponsors
Currently, if someone in Missouri is charged with a traffic violation, there is no effective deterrent to skip the court date and ignore the fine. Theoretically, one can skip court on dozens of traffic violations and continue to drive with a valid driver’s license.
HB 2007 gives municipal courts the option to suspend the license of anyone who fails to appear for court twice. However, the court must also immediately issue the driver “limited driving privileges.”
According to state statute, limited driving privileges allow operating a motor vehicle for the following purposes:
In addition to the above conditions, Haffner wants to include family convenience trips, e.g. grocery shopping.
Centering on municipal court reform, HB 2007 has roots in the 2014 Ferguson unrest. A taskforce derived from the protests and riots discovered certain municipalities used traffic fines as a disproportionate source of revenue. Consequently, the General Assembly passed a law restricting the amount of money a municipality can collect from traffic fines.
HB 1876 – Modifies provisions for eminent domain for utility purposes – Placed on House calendar in May – Six cosponsors (all Republicans)
To understand HB 1876 and HB 2005, you need to understand the Grain Belt Express, which is a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) electric transmission line that will span nearly 800 miles between Kansas and Indiana.
Many in Missouri, including Haffner, believe the Grain Belt Express is bad for Missouri. Essentially, only 6% of the power will be used in Missouri, and that power is not compatible with residential power without a converter.
When the Public Service Commission issued the certificate allowing the utility to build the transmission line, the utility company was granted the authority of eminent domain. However, landowners are not receiving fair market value, according to proponents of HB 1876.
To start, valuation of land is being done on a county-by-county basis. However, the productivity of agricultural land can vary significantly over the distance of just 20-30 miles. For example, a village in one county may be on rocky land, whereas another village 20-30 miles down the interstate in the same county is more optimal for farming. Additionally, farmers are handing over 20-30% of the payout to attorney fees.
HB 1876 is an effort to clamp down on issues landowners are facing as the transmission line is being constructed.
Firs requires that negotiations begin at 150% of fair market value.
Where is this concern coming from?
First, it requires that “just compensation” for land must start at 150% of fair market value for agricultural and horticultural land. Condemnation proceedings for those properties must include a disinterested commissioner that has at least 10 years of farming experience in that county.
Second, the bill will require the utility company provide a resolution of support passed by the affected counties’ commission before being granted authority of eminent domain. Those commissions will consider the economic value of the utility to the county, among other factors.
All of these protections will apply to any acquisition that begins on or after Aug. 28, which would include all future Grain Belt Express acquisitions.
HB 2005 – Modifies provisions for eminent domain for utility purposes – SIGNED INTO LAW
HB 1876 has little chance of being signed into law as opponents have pointed out many legal flaws that would likely lead to its ultimate demise. However, Haffner is not letting go of the lessons learned from the Grain Belt Express.
That being said, Haffner also wanted to be clear that the House of Representatives is “all about economic development, especially when it comes to our electrical grid.”
“What we will not do is allow that to happen at the expense or on the backs of the agricultural community and the Missouri farmers and ranchers,” Haffner said. “That’s what this bill was all about.”
Whereas HB 1876 attempts to address the Grain Belt Express retroactively, HB 2005 applies those standards to any project application after August, leaving the controversial project exempt.
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