State Rep. Bill Falkner’s journey to the state capitol wasn’t as overwhelming as it typically is for an incoming freshman lawmaker.
“Serving as mayor for eight years sure gave me an advantage,” said Falkner, a Republican who was St. Joseph’s mayor from 2010 to 2018. “But there also was a learning curve.”
That learning curve included the bill process, and trying to figure out how to get the information that was needed on any given legislation.
“As mayor, a lot of the information came to me and through me, so I had a good handle on everything that was going on.” Falkner said in an interview with News-Press NOW. “Down in Jefferson City, you have to go find the information that you need, it doesn’t come to you.”
Falkner said there were roughly 1,300 bills filed on the House side, making it difficult to keep track of everything from changes to the bills and any committee action.
The freshman lawmaker sponsored three bills in his first session, but none made it to the finish line. However, Falkner believes one of his measures regarding online sales tax is going to be a major issue going forward.
“I think one of the number one things we need to address this next session is how we are going to do internet sales tax,” he said.
Currently, Missouri doesn’t have a mechanism in place to collect online sales tax on products purchased by Missourians through out-of-state retailers.
As for what surprised him after his first session, Falkner said it was a one-size-fits-all mentality.
“I was taken aback that if (lawmakers) had one problem in one part of the state they thought they had to do it for the whole state,” he said. “That causes problems for other communities.”
Despite that view, Falkner said that all of his colleagues were there for the right reasons and trying to do what’s best for their communities.
The mayor-turned-legislator has put forth a focus on local and municipal issues while in his first year in Jefferson City. He helped former a local government caucus, which looks at legislation that affects municipalities and tries to work with the bill’s sponsor to address issues that local governments may have with the measure.
In Addition, Falkner’s committee assignments include a seat on the Local Government Committee as well as a Special Interim Committee on Oversight of Local Taxation. He is also the vice-chair of the Special Committee on Small Business.
One thing Falkner said he wished his fellow lawmakers and him had more time to do was perfect legislation during the committee process, but overall, he calls his first year in the Missouri Legislature a positive experience.
“I’ve really enjoyed working for the citizens of St. Joe and trying to lookout for our best interest on things,” he said. “It’s also been a pleasure to work with the other legislators from our area.”