State Representative Don Mayhew is starting work on an emerging technology credit measure to assist with innovation already underway in Rolla. Mayhew hopes it will encourage more investment in the area.

Representative Mayhew stopped by the Rolla City Council and discussed his plans for the upcoming legislative session as well as his thoughts on this past session. Representative Mayhew was sworn in as the elected official to represent parts of Phelps and Pulaski counties as the state representative for House District 121 in the 2018 general election.

He said, “We pre-file bills the first week in December. And since this is the second half of a fresh freshman class, which was the biggest freshman class in the history of the state of Missouri, you can expect to see a lot more bills filed this time through than there was last time.”

The Missouri General Assembly convened for its first regular session in January. Legislators remained in session until late-May before they were called back into session on Sept. 9 to address taxes on vehicle sales as well as the annual veto session mandated by the constitution.

Mayhew said the House filed around 1,300 bills and the Senate filed about 500 bills by the end of the regular session. Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed 46 of nearly 1,800 bills filed by both chambers and vetoed a handful of them.

Mayhew attributed the governor’s vetoes to amendments tacked onto the bills, and not the underlying bill. He said the measures would probably come back again when lawmakers meet in January for the 2020 legislative session.

As far as Mayhew’s plans for the upcoming session, he said he'd started work to address emerging technology credit.

“It will take advantage of some of the innovation that is happening right here in our district. Hopefully, that will help to encourage more investment in our area,” Mayhew said.

Mayhew hopes to highlight the area as a technological center of the U.S. and envisions a silicon prairie, a term he coined.  

“We have a rare opportunity here, and it’s time the state of Missouri knew about that. That’s what I plan on focusing on in the next legislative session and into the future,” Mayhew said.

Rolla City Councilor David Schott asked Mayhew what he thought the likelihood was for other communities throughout Missouri to have an interest in emerging technology credit.

“They will be on board, especially if it’s coming to their town. We’ve already got it. We’ve got the infrastructure; we’ve got the college here, which is a big innovator,” Mayhew said. “We’ve got the pieces; we just need to get them all together and make our silicon prairie. I would love to see that. Obviously, those are things that take years to do, especially with the slow motion of the government.”

By the same token out of the nearly 1,800 bills, community members probably wouldn’t have wanted them all to pass, Mayhew said.

"The 46 bills the governor signed into law was probably the right number," leading to a conclusion, Mayhew said he came to during his first year in the state’s House of Representatives.

“Our No. 1 job is to keep bad legislation from passing, not necessarily to pass legislation because we do see plenty of that, as some of you probably witnessed yourself in looking at some of this stuff,” Mayhew said. “It’s an interesting place; it can get on your nerves sometimes. There’s a pretty high frustration level, especially when it comes down to the last two weeks.  You’ve probably heard that before, but it’s absolutely true.”

In his first term, Mayhew earned praise from House leadership for his efforts to promote policy to give Missouri students a better chance to succeed academically. He was recognized for his efforts by House Speaker Elijah Haahr. Haahr presented Mayhew with the Freshman Legislator of the Year Award for Advocacy of Student Success.

Mayhew said he plans to visit the council in 2020.