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11 March 2012

MO Expat: Capitulation

Cross-posted at

Two years ago, while enduring sunsets at 4 p.m. along the Kentish Riviera and a successful grassroots efforts to make an anarchist's breakthrough track from 1992 the top song the week of Christmas, I began work on a novel approach to connecting everyday Missourians with their already approachable state representatives and senators in Jefferson City. Over the course of 27 months, over 35 lawmakers submitted their weekly capitol reports and various news releases for publication in Missives from Missouri.

Unfortunately, as I am now in the second year of my full-time radio job (and by full-time, I mean 60+ hours of news writing, copy editing, Cool Editing (I'm not bothering to upgrade to Audition), driving to and from council meetings, running the board during high school ball games, even getting to call some ball games, touring battlefields and on and on), time has gravely diminished to the point where maintaining Missives has become impossible to keep current.

It is with grave reluctance and disappointment that I announce that I am discontinuing updates on Missives. While a novel concept and one I enjoyed performing for much the past two years, the time and incentive required to maintain it has proven insufficient to warrant its continuation. (And if such incentive or marketability were to come up, I am very much open to the idea.)

However, I can claim a minor victory: since starting this blog, increased interest has been paid to weekly columns. In this session, sign-up buttons have appeared on each state representative's page and state senators' columns now appear under their media section. Several other blogs have also taken to posting weekly reports, contributing these two cents to the political discussion. Of course, Missives took some of the legwork out.

I'll continue to read reports as they come in, and will likely weigh in on some from time to time in The Missouri Expatriate. And again, I'd love to bring this back up. But for now, it's time to dial things down.

26 February 2012

Tishaura Jones: Republicans Pull Health Care Funds From Blind To Cover University Deficits


With the unanimous support of its Republican members, the House Health, Mental Health and Social Services Committee on Feb. 16 voted to cut about $65 million from various social services programs, including $28 million for health care coverage for the blind Missourians. The committee’s Democrats unanimously opposed the cuts.

Committee Chairman Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, offered the budget-cutting amendment without informing the rest of the committee what it would do. Flanigan refused explain the amendment or allow any discussion and immediately brought the matter to a vote. In addition to eliminating health care coverage for the blind, Flanigan’s amendment also stripped $12 million in spending for child care subsidies and made cuts to numerous smaller programs, including services for rape victims.

Advocates for the blind converged on the Capitol the week following the committee’s action to urge lawmakers to restore the cuts. Flanigan said the savings would be used to avoid cuts to Missouri’s public colleges and universities, which are facing a $65.9 million reduction in their state appropriations under Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposed budget. Opponents of the committee’s action say stripping the blind and other vulnerable groups of vital services is the wrong way to fund colleges and universities.


After a marathon meeting that ended in the early hours of Feb. 23, the Senate Apportionment Commission voted 8-2 in favor of a tentative redistricting plan for the Missouri’s 34 state Senate seats. The commission consists of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. One commissioner from each party voted against the plan.

The commission must now wait at least 15 days to accept public comment on the proposal before voting on a final plan. If a final plan is adopted, it will be used to elect senators for the next 10 years beginning with the 2012 election cycle.

This is the second round of Senate redistricting following the results of the 2010 U.S. Census. A previous partisan commission failed to reach an agreement last year so, under the Missouri Constitution, the job passed to another commission made up of six judges of the state Court of Appeals. The appellate commission submitted a Senate redistricting plan in November, but withdrew it in December amid complaints that the plan violated the constitution’s general prohibition against splitting counties among Senate districts. The appellate commission then submitted a revised plan that fixed some, but not all, of the unconstitutional county splits.

The Missouri Supreme Court in January ruled the first appellate commission plan unconstitutional and said the panel had no authority to submit its revised plan. The high court’s action caused the constitutional redistricting process to begin from scratch with the appointment of a new partisan commission.


Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green on Feb. 20 ruled unconstitutional on technical grounds a 2011 law granting state incentives intended to encourage research and technology companies to locate in Missouri. The bill, which the General Assembly passed during a special legislative session in October, created the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act.

In enacting MOSIRA, lawmakers included a contingency clause stating that the bill could only take effect if the governor also signed into law separate job creation and tax credit reform legislation that had been the primary purpose of the special session. That legislation, however, did not pass. Because courts in the past have ruled similar legislative contingency clauses unenforceable, Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration proceeded to implement MOSIRA anyway after he signed it into law, which prompted anti-abortion groups that opposed the bill to file suit.

Green did indeed rule the contingency clause unconstitutional, as the administration had hoped. However, instead of severing the offending provision and preserving the rest of the measure, which is the remedy courts often choose, Green concluded that the General Assembly wouldn’t have passed the bill without the contingency clause and invalidated the entire legislation. Attorney General Chris Koster plans to appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court. The case is Missouri Roundtable for Life v. State of Missouri.


The House of Representatives on Feb. 23 voted 93-63 in favor of legislation that would prohibit the state from offering driver’s license exams in languages other than English. The state currently offers written tests in 11 languages. The bill, HB 1186, now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

The insurance industry opposes the legislation, which it says will make it harder for non-native English speakers to obtain a license, thus increasing the number of unlicensed and uninsured motorists on Missouri roadways. The Missouri State Highway Patrol has said the bill would not enhance driver safety since most road signs are based on internationally recognized symbols. Other opponents have simply labeled the legislation as a xenophobic effort to punish legal immigrants with no legitimate public policy purpose.

Supporters of the bill said people who want to get Missouri driver’s license should be proficient in the state’s dominant language is order to better assimilate.


The House of Representatives on Feb. 23 voted 98-55 in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would modify term limits for state lawmakers. If the Senate also approves the measure, it would go on the November statewide ballot for voter ratification.

Under the Missouri Constitution’s existing term limits provision, lawmakers typically are restricted to a total of 16 years of legislative service but no more than eight years each in the House and Senate. HJR 41, sponsored by state Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, would retain the existing 16-year overall limit but allow lawmakers to serve it in any combination between the two chambers.


A few Republican senators who are upset over a tentative new Senate redistricting plan are threatening to throw the state’s candidate filing period into chaos by refusing to allow a final vote on legislation that would delay the opening of filing for the August primaries. Under existing law, candidate filing is scheduled to begin on Feb. 28, but Senate districts have yet to be finalized and court challenges to new congressional and state House of Representatives districts remain pending.

As originally passed by the Senate on Feb. 16, SB 773 would have delayed candidate filing by a month so that it would run from March 27 through April 24. If the House had passed the bill without changes, it immediately would have gone to the governor to be signed into law. The bill contains an emergency clause so it would become law immediately upon receiving Gov. Jay Nixon’s signature.

When the House took up the bill on Feb. 23, however, it made changes, including shortening the revised filing period to run from March 19 through March 30. As a result, another Senate vote is required for final passage. Although the Senate began debating the revised bill shortly after the House approved it on a vote of 147-4, Republican Sens. Jim Lembke of Lemay, Jane Cunningham of Chesterfield and Brian Nieves of Washington were filibustering it as of late in the afternoon in an expression of anger over the proposed Senate map.

To reflect population changes under the 2010 U.S. Census, state legislative and congressional districts were redrawn last year. The new Senate map, however, was ruled unconstitutional. A replacement map received tentative approval on Feb. 23 but still needs to be finalized. The Supreme Court heard arguments in a challenge to the new congressional map on Feb. 16 and is expected to rule at any time. A trial judge upheld the validity of the new House map on Feb. 14, but the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the appeal on Feb. 27.

If legislation delaying the filing period doesn’t pass before the scheduled opening of filing on Feb. 28, it will create numerous problems for election officials and candidates since there currently are no valid Senate districts and might not be valid congressional or state House districts in the near future, depending how the court cases play out.

23 February 2012

Ridgeway: Mid Continent Library

The Mid Continent Library system has announced the proposed new library design for the facility to be attached to the antebellum home known as Woodneath on Flintlock Road. I am sending you this design plan to keep you informed upon issues that impact our neighborhoods.

Please direct any questions or concerns you have regarding this plan to me so that I may facilitate direct contact with your Clay County Representatives on the Board of Trustees which include Treasurer Marvin Weisharr, Noel Shull and Trent Skaggs.

Your tax dollars are paying for this facility so I thought you would like to see and comment upon the proposals they have shared with me.

Kelley: Missouri School Read-In March 9

The Missouri General Assembly passed HB 795 last year in a true bi-partisan fashion declaring the 2nd Friday of March, “Missouri School Read-In Day.” We are approaching the first annual Missouri School Read-In Day this year on March 9th. I am sending this email to encourage you to participate in your schools and community to make this event a great achievement! Below you will find several ideas to help make this a successful day. I have also included plans which other groups are intending to do. I am pleased to be teamed up with the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in promoting this event. The only way this program will have an impact on our children is to have everyone work together to promote the importance of reading! Reading is a fundamental part of education and the data shows that children who enjoy reading are more successful!

Here are some ideas:
  • Author or illustrator visit the schools -- Could perhaps do via Skype
  • Get MASL's (Missouri Association of School Librarians) buy in and involvement
  • Have kids produce READ posters (I know Barton Co. Library has/had the software).
  • Promote bookmark creation contests with students
  • 0
  • Have local business people go into classrooms to read their favorites to students (short time frames -- 15 minutes)
  • Promote reading competitions between students/classrooms --
    • Number of pages
    • Number of books
    • % of students participating
    • % of families who participate at home that day
  • Get schools to devote the whole day to Reading and Reading Activities -- i.e. no Math, Social Studies etc. that day

  • With enough prior prep -- give a book to each student (similar to RIF- Reading is Fundamental program, but for all grades)

  • Coordinate with the RIF program

  • Have Truman Birthplace sponsor an after-school reading program/crafts -- a Story and Craft Time?

  • Get businesses to support student who reach some sort of reading goal on that day -- discount, small prize, etc. Many of the Fast Food places will give a coupon for reading books.

  • Create a visual display of the books read during that day -- something like the library does for summer reading -- Book Titles entered on some shape of paper and then posted on the walls.

  • Have principals or other public figures "do" something (shave head, pie in face, something embarrassing) if their students reach some large goal having to do with the day.
Anyone that has suggestions or ideas please share them with me. I would appreciate any schools or towns that plan on participating to contact me. I would like to have a list of all the schools, towns, officials and businesses that helped make this first annual read-in a success. It would be great to do a press release about the success of the first annual state wide school read-in. Please feel free to call my Capitol office at (573) 751-2165, my cell at 417-483-7456 or email at mike{dot}kelley{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.

17 February 2012

Schaefer: Mizzou Women's Club Soccer Team Visits

This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee heard testimony from Department of Public Safety, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Conservation.

I greatly appreciate the time these departments spend in organizing their testimony and taking the time to meet with our committee. The commitment of these organizations and their members to help their fellow Missourians does not go unnoticed.

I also had the pleasure of introducing the University of Missouri Women’s Club Soccer team on the Senate floor Tuesday morning (2/14). Congratulations to these ladies for their first place finish at the 18th annual NIRSA National Soccer Championships. Melissa Murphy, Nicole Newell, Lauren Stockell, and Alyssa Weatherly were all awarded all-tournament honors and Mariah McClain was named all-tournament goalie at the national tournament. I believe I speak on behalf of all of University of Missouri alumni when I say thank you for representing Mizzou so well on a national level.

Pictured are Lorin Opfer, Captain; Katelyn Fitter; Andrea Boone; Ciara O’Shea; Nicole Newell; Melissa Murphy; Kelsey Whittet; Alyssa Weatherly; Mackenzie King; Stefani Burt; Sarah Sanguinet; Director of Mizzou Rec Services, Diane Dahlmann; Club Sport Coordinator, Melissa Operle; and Assistant Director of Recreation Services, Laura Salerno.

The Mizzou Club Sports Federation is committed to enhancing students’ college experience by giving students the opportunity to participate in numerous club sports and encouraging healthy lifestyles. Their official website can be found here.

The University of Missouri was given the honor of hosting the Missouri Grand Prix last weekend in Columbia at the Mizzou recreational complex. This event brought numerous international Olympic swim teams and Olympic hopefuls for the upcoming summer Olympics to be held in London. The meet held in Columbia was one of seven stops in the U.S. Grand Prix Series for these athletes. Their visit to the University of Missouri campus was met with excitement by many Mizzou students and visitors. The official website for the USA swim team and information concerning the Missouri Grand Prix can be found here.

Thursday morning (2/16), I filed Senate Bill 812, which would establish the Missouri Electronic Prior Authorization Committee. This committee would facilitate and monitor Missouri-based efforts to contribute to the establishment of national electronic prior authorization standards concerning prescription drugs.

Thank you for your continued interest in the issues that affect the citizens of Boone and Randolph counties. If you have any questions or concerns throughout this session, please contact my office.

Lampe: Education Committee Hearing On Two Measures

It was great to see outreach from so many different groups at the Capitol this week. The Missouri Retired Teachers Association made me feel right at home. It was wonderful to see former co-workers and others who share my love for education.

Another group that I met with this week was the Missouri Main Street Connection, a group that enhances the economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being of historic downtown business districts in Missouri. It is impressive when so many people support upcoming legislation. Thank you to eveyone who made the trip to Jefferson City to advocate for the issues that concern you.

Elementary and Secondary Education Committee

There were two bills discussed this week in the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. The first was House Bill 1629, Virtual Schools, which would allow students to enroll in a school district other than their own for the purpose of attending virtual courses or programs. To find out more on this legislation click here.

The second bill that was talked about in the Education Committee was House Bill 1425, Student Academic Progression. This bill requires each school district to establish a comprehensive program for student academic progression. If you would like more information on this bill it can be found here.

On the Floor this Week

House Committee Subsitute House Bills 1186 & 1147 dealing with English-only drivers examinations were discussed this week and the amendments were heard on the house floor on Tuesday. However, the legislation remains on the calendar, and will brought up again at a later date. More information about this legislation can be found here.

There were several House Consent Bills that were passed on the floor this week including HB 1188, Administration of Asthma Medication, and HB 1128, National Guard Ribbons and Awards. To find out what other Consent Bills were passed this week click here.

Former Student Spotlight

Former student Nick Henderson is now a senior at Truman State University in Kirksville. He is currently working hard as an intern in the office of the Secretary of State, Robin Carnahan, here at the Capitol.

It was great to reunite with friends from the Missouri Retired Teachers Association!

Tishaura Jones: Ethics Law Invalidated, Attorney General Asks For Hammerschmidt's Reversal


The Missouri Supreme Court on Feb. 14 invalidated a 2010 ethics and campaign finance law because it violates the state constitution’s prohibition against legislation being changed from its original purpose. The court’s action had been widely expected given that the law in question originally passed the Senate as a one-page bill related to government procurement practices before House Republicans transformed it into a 66-page ethics and campaign finance bill.

The court unanimously struck down all of the provisions of the 2010 legislation, SB 844, except for the original section relating to government procurement. The invalidated provisions include those giving the Missouri Ethics Commission increased investigative authority, prohibiting the transfer of campaign contributions between campaign committees and requiring candidates to publicly disclose contributions in excess of $500within 48 hours when the donation is made during the legislative session. In the wake of the court’s decision, lawmakers are considering new legislation to reinstate many of those provisions.

Starting with its landmark 1994 ruling in Hammerschmidt v. Boone County, the Supreme Court has vigorously enforced previously ignored provisions of the Missouri Constitution that lawmakers from changing bills from the original purpose or lumping together unrelated issues in the same legislation. Under Hammerschmidt and the numerous related cases that followed, the court’s decision invalidating SB 844 had been considered a foregone conclusion.

Attorney General Chris Koster, however, added a new twist to the case on appeal when he asked the court to uphold SB 844 by reversing its nearly two-decades of precedent on the issue and returning to pre-Hammerschmidt interpretations that mostly allowed lawmakers to ignore constitutional limitations on legislative procedures. In its opinion in the latest case, Legends Bank v. State of Missouri, the court made no mention of the attorney general’s request and continued to follow its recent precedent.


Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Joyce on Feb. 14 ruled that a new redistricting plan for the state House of Representatives passes constitutional muster, prompting an immediate appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court, which hasn’t yet accepted the case. If the high court upholds the redistricting plan, it will be used beginning with this year’s election cycle.

The bipartisan group of plaintiffs argued the House redistricting plan created late last year by a commission of six state appellate judges violated state constitutional requirements that districts be compact, contiguous and as equal in population as possible. The plaintiffs also argued the appellate commission violated the state’s open meetings law by conducting its work in secret. Joyce rejected all of those claims.


With a new state Senate redistricting plan already invalidated and the fate of new congressional and state House districts still to be determined, the Senate on Feb. 16 gave final approval to legislation that would delay the start of the candidate filing period for the August party primaries from Feb. 28 to March 27. The bill, SB 773, now goes to the House of Representatives.

Even if the bill passes and is signed into law by the governor before Feb. 28, it is uncertain if new districts for the Senate and, if necessary, the other offices will be finalized by the end of March. Population shifts under the 2010 U.S. Census required that legislative districts be redrawn to reflect those changes.

A commission consisting of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans will meet on Feb. 18 to begin the process of creating new Senate districts but that process could take months. The Supreme Court heard arguments in a challenge to the congressional districts on Feb. 16 and is expected to rule quickly. If it strikes down the new congressional map, the General Assembly would have to enact a new plan that meets constitutional muster. A trial judge upheld the House redistricting plan on Feb. 14 but an appeal to the Supreme Court is pending.

16 February 2012

Korman: Appropriations Committees Conduct Bill Mark-Ups

Welcome to the Missouri 99th District’s report on activities of the seventh week of the Session. This week in the Appropriations Committees we worked on what is referred to as “mark-up of the bills”. This process involves making changes to departmental budgets presented to Legislators by the Governor. Both the Appropriations-Agriculture & Natural Resources and Appropriations-Transportation & Economic Development Committees completed their mark-up. I had a few amendments in committee that passed. The appropriations bills now move to the Budget Committee for their review.

With two of my committees completing their work this week, I will be able to focus more attention on proposed legislation. My bill (HB 1395) to improve the quality of the Land Survey Program is currently in the General Laws Committee and I hope will make it to the House Floor for debate in the coming weeks.

MoDOT’s dialogue about local transportation issues and concerns will be held on Thursday, February 23, from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Warrenton High School in the commons area. I plan on attending and encourage you to also attend.

We had several visitors to the Capitol this week including members of Missouri Retired Teachers Association, Friends of Missouri Midwives, Second Amendment Coalition of Missouri and Missouri Propane Association.

I am happy to be here serving the constituents of Montgomery and Warren counties. Please feel free to stop by or contact your 99th District office at:

201 West Capitol Avenue
Room 114C
Jefferson City, MO 65101

Mayer: Measure Making College Student Transfers Easier and More Affordable Advances

Bill Improves Transfers Between Two- and Four-Year Colleges and Universities

JEFFERSON CITY— It may soon be easier and more affordable for Missouri college students to transfer college credits between two- and four-year universities based on legislation the Missouri Senate today advanced to the House. Senate Bill 455 would also enhance the retention of college students and improve remediation practices. Sponsor Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, said the changes were important to help students obtain their associate and four-year degrees.

“Our higher education students deserve every opportunity to succeed,” said Pearce. “Continuing education can be difficult enough without encountering obstacles. That is why schools should be able to offer the services students require to ease the process of transferring credits.”

Senate Bill 455 would require the creation of a library of at least 25 core courses that would be transferable between two- and four-year institutions. Those courses would be considered general education requirements, such as English, math, and science. In addition, it would call for development of a policy to encourage reverse transfer, allowing students who have collected enough hours to transfer from a four-year school to a two-year school in order to earn an associate degree.

The measure would also modify the current duties of the Missouri Coordinating Board of Higher Education by requiring the board to develop policies for all two- and four-year institutions to replicate the best practices in remediation from sources across the country.

“I sponsored this bill advocating for Missouri’s higher education students because I believe in the students of our state,” Pearce said. “This legislation is now one step closer to benefitting those hard-working students.”

Senate Leader Robert N. Mayer, R-Dexter, said making college more affordable and available to Missouri students is a priority of the Senate.

“These are common-sense steps that will ease the process of obtaining an associate or four-year degree for students whose path causes them to have to transfer, or even pause and restart their post-high school educational goals,” said Mayer. “As someone who returned to college later in life, I know firsthand how these simple changes can help more Missouri students graduate from college.”

The measure now moves to the House for similar consideration. To learn more about this bill or to track its progress, visit

Neth: Elections Committee Approves Bill Concerning County Office Vacancies

We finally got some winter in Missouri. On Monday, after first heading to my "normal" job at the farm to scoop snow and load out some cattle I got on the road to Jefferson City. The storm at that point had lessened around Liberty and driving conditions were pretty good until I reached Boonville, in which I caught back up with the storm- white out conditions and slow speeds. Not great, but much better than all the snow we had to face last year. We'll see what winter has in store for us yet.

We are hearing more and more bills in the House. A lot of Consent bills. Consent bills are ones that are "non-controversial", have no fiscal note and do not involve a penalty. Good examples are naming roads and minor technical changes to existing statute. In order to pass consent they must "Do Pass Consent" unanimously out of committee and pass the House with a simple majority. Admittedly, there are some bills that come to the floor and there is controversy whether it should be consent or not. Sometimes the concern is very legitimate. If it is, people are sure to make that known in debate.

Visitors to the Capitol

A few folks from the City of Liberty were at the Capitol to meet with other city leaders from around the state. Stopping by to see me were Mike Snider, Liberty Fire Chief; Shawnna Funderburk, Asst. to the City Administrator; and Paul Jenness, City Council.

Gordon Hadden and Vicki Vance from Historic Downtown Liberty (HDLI) were in Jefferson City with the Missouri Main Street Connection, an organization dedicated to the vitality of downtown communities in cities around Missouri. Liberty was recently given the distinction of being an Accredited Main Street Community,one of just few around the state.

This Week in Committee


HCS HB 1340: Specifies that the county commission must appoint an interim county official when there is a vacancy in the office of county clerk, collector, or assessor (Do Pass Consent).

HCS HJR 47: Proposes a constitutional amendment changing the number of voter signatures that are required to place an initiative petition or a referendum on a ballot (Do Pass)

Elementary and Secondary Education

HB 1425: Requires each school district to establish a comprehensive program for student academic progression (Hearing only)

HB 1629: Allows a student to enroll in a school district other than the student's school district of residence for the purpose of attending virtual courses or programs (Hearing only)

This Week in the House

The following are bills that were Perfected and Third Read this week and head now across the Rotunda to the Senate for consideration.

HB 1041 is sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-04). Currently, only the Board of Governors of Missouri Western State University may transfer property, except in fee simple, without an authorizing act of the General Assembly. This bill restores that ability to the board of governors of the other state universities and changes the expiration date of those provisions from August 28, 2014 to August 28, 2017.

HB 1103 sponsored by Rep. Sandy Crawford (R-119), relates to certain banks, savings institutions, and credit unions which are exempt from the Missouri Appraisal Management Company Registration and Regulation Act

HB 1251 sponsored by Rep. Don Ruzicka (R-68), extends the authorization for the Department of Natural Resources to impose fees regarding the federal Safe Drinking Water Act from September 1, 2012 to September 1, 2017.

The following were passed Consent:

HB 1075 sponsored by Rep. David Sater (R-68), prohibits a licensed pharmacy from being required to carry or maintain in inventory any specific prescription or non-prescription drug or devise.

HB 1192 sponsored by Rep. Andrew Koenig (R-88), changes the laws regarding investment contracts of the Missouri Higher Education Saving Program, by requiring the state Treasurer to have more investment options.

HB 1185 sponsored by Rep. Mark Parkinson (R-16), adds citizenship information to the sexual offender registration form and requires the State Highway Patrol to report to the federal government any non-U.S. citizen on the sexual offender registry.

Lant: Wading Through Muddied Waters Of Unclear Intent In Legislation, Redistricting Battles

We were busy with committee work most of the week. My committees include Workforce Development, where we heard a proposal to provide clarification to some prevailing wage provisions dealing with definitions of "maintenance work" vs. "construction". It seems that another of the unintended consequences of a bill from a few years past was to muddy the waters about what was what. We also find the need to better define the term "major alteration". These seem on the surface to be nit picking, but the interpretations of these terms can either cost or save the taxpayers many dollars. We passed it out of committee and it will now have a chance to be heard on the House floor. Another of my committees is Appropriations for Transportation and Economic Development. We held several meetings this week to finish hearing testimony from the Department of Transportation and I have to admit they were certainly entertaining. The budget process is tremendously complex in that what appears to be is not always what is! We asked the departments to remove any estimated increases in the budgets and restricted overages to 10% instead of the customary 25%. We passed the budget bill out of committee and sent it to the Budget Director for further adjustments. This is the culmination of about 50 hours of testimony and question and answer sessions. This is really only the beginning of the process of budget, as the Senate conducts their hearings and then the House and Senate committees get together to form a bill to send to the Governor. Then the Governor has the option of withholding up to 3% of the budgeted amount just because. I have to wonder how in the heck they ever came up with this process? I am also on the Professional registration Committee. Every person who holds a license issued by the State is regulated by this department. We are currently hearing testimony that deals with the "Pain Control Clinics". We have heard so far from witnesses on both sides of the issue and it looks like the solution may be in changing some of the wording so the legislation being proposed doesn't affect anyone other than those working in the pain control fields. The trick to good legislation as far as I can tell, is to word it so that anyone can understand what the intent is, and close all the loopholes to keep the lawyers out!

On the House floor, we passed several "Consent" bills. A consent bill is one that has no cost to the taxpayers and is unanimously voted out of committee. Typically, they are naming highways, declaring special days, or adding and subtracting language in an existing bill to clarify it. We passed a dozen of these on Wednesday afternoon. We have a committee whose job it is to do nothing more than get rid of antiquated bills. Some of these are fun just to read. There are still laws on the books outlawing spittoons in hotel lobbies. That had to be a good thing in its day! I was talking to a senior representative last week who told me that just eight years ago there were only about ten books of Missouri Law, today there are over twenty. I think we need to spend more time making sure our bills are written and punctuated properly to make sure we don't have to enact two new laws to correct one mistake. Even a comma placed incorrectly will make a law do something that was never intended.

Last week the Appellate Court ruled that the House Maps are correctly drawn. The Supreme Court still has to rule, but I think they will uphold the lower court decision. The Senate Maps are still unfinished and I have heard talk about extending the filing date to give the commission more time to re-draw their maps. With filing less than two weeks away, they had better get moving or they will have to extend the date. This will create a hardship on those who are running for Senate seats as they won't be able to start campaigning until they know the boundaries of their districts. I think I'll be all right for my House District as long as I don't get over into Oklahoma or Arkansas!

I visited with several Representatives on both sides of the aisle last week about what I consider to be a broken system of dealing with neglected and abused children. The difficult part is that no one department is at fault. We are going to have to look at the entire system in order to find out what is, or is not being done. I have intentions of forming a interim study group to meet with department heads and other interested parties to look for ways to improve, or if necessary, overhaul the current system. I received an E-mail from an old friend last week which spelled out yet more problems I was unaware of. It's amazing what you find out once you start looking into problems. You will be hearing more about this as I learn more. I will also be sharing thoughts and ideas as we begin meeting with the departments.

There is going to be a Storm Spotter Training Class March 9th. at 6:30 in the McDonald County High School Cafeteria. If the past several years are any indication, we need all the storm spotters we can get. There will be more information in the Press this week, if you can go, it sure will be worthwhile. I'll have more next week, until then, I am, and remain, in your service.

Burlison: Maintaining Honest Elections

Last week, while the media lambasted the General Assembly for failing to eliminate our State's non-binding primary, Republicans fought to strengthen electoral accountability by passing a crucial election reform. In the House, we have a history of fighting to strengthen our State's elections; in fact, last session we passed two crucial pieces of election legislation. SB 282 would have tied the choosing of our delegates to the primary results by moving the election to March to ensure that all of our State's delegates were counted.

Similarly, to address fraudulent voting, we passed a Voter Identification Bill which would have created fairer elections. Unfortunately, by vetoing both pieces of legislation, Governor Nixon neglected the growing problem of fraudulent voting and required our State to face losing half of our delegates at the party conventions.

Voter fraud is not a mythical issue. In its majority opinion upholding Indiana's Voter Identification law, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that flagrant examples of voter fraud are real and could affect the outcome of a close election. This month, the Pew Center released a study revealing that approximately 24 million active voter registrations are invalid or contain significantly innaccuracies. With1 in 8 active voter registrations flawed or invalid, there is no time for indecision. If this problem remains unchecked, it will erode the democratic principles of our elections by diluting the voice of legitimate voters. HB 1104 takes steps to protect the integrity of our elections by requiring voters to prove their identity. This ensures that all eligible votes can be cast without fear of fraud.

I sincerely hope that Governor Nixon will consider this bill on its own merits when it reaches his desk. Though he vetoed a similar bill last session, the current version takes strong precautions to prevent voter disenfranchisement. Critics of the bill argue that requiring voters to show a photo ID will suppress the vote of elderly, minority and poor citizens who they claim are less likely to have photo identification. In an effort to alleviate these concerns, HB 1104 allows all citizens without the proper photo identification to obtain one free of charge from the state or their local license bureau.