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30 December 2009

Stouffer: Avoiding Congress' Mistakes on Healthcare

The idea to takeover 20 percent of the nations' Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be done without your input, if our nation's leaders pass health care legislation currently being debated in Washington, D.C. The idea to opt out of the federal takeover of health care should be left up to you.

Many believe the U.S. Constitution provides no authority for Congress to enact this type of legislation and ignore states' rights. I agree.

I, along with 16 of my colleagues in the Missouri Senate, am co-sponsoring Senate Joint Resolution 25, which would attempt to allow Missouri to opt out of any federal laws that would interfere with your freedom of choice in health care.

Unlike the so-called health care "reform" measure that is being debated in the U.S. Senate, the constitutional amendment we are introducing in the Missouri Senate would go to a vote of the people. If the resolution passes out of the General Assembly, and voters approve the measure as well, it would not affect laws or regulations that are on-the-books as of January 1, 2010.

As I have discussed in the past, the current plans on Capitol Hill are filled with tax increases. Even though health care reform would not start until 2013, the tax hikes would take effect immediately, creating a pool of money for the federal government to utilize in order to start the ball rolling in four years.

These proposals have a direct and indirect effect on all taxpayers in Missouri and our state budget.

Some of the tax increases include penalties for not signing on to whatever plan the federal government mandates, taxes on doctors and hospitals for not cooperating and new fees on things like wheelchairs and hearing aids. Everyone would be hit by these outrageous penalties — not just tax hikes on the rich — all in the name of "reform."

When Congress went home for its summer break earlier this year, most members held town hall meetings. These gatherings were filled with people who had a great deal of concern about what was in the bill. Unfortunately, most Congressmen had not read anything in the bills, much less bill summaries, and had no idea what was in the thousands of pages contained in the bill.

But, citizens have been reading the bills, staying up-to-date on this issue and they are not happy. Sadly, Congress is continuing to move ahead with this and ignoring the American public.

I have every confidence Senate Joint Resolution 25 will pick up more co-sponsors and more momentum as the session progresses next year, making its way to your November, 2010 ballot. I pray the men and women in Congress will wake up and understand that taking over one-sixth of the GDP and controlling health care issues, such as who can see their doctor, is NOT a part of the America I know and love.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will write more about health care "reform," what states plan to opt out of the plan and what ideas are out there that are better than what the president says he wants and our country needs.

Senator Stouffer serves the counties of Carroll, Chariton, Cooper, Howard, Lafayette, Macon, Ray, Saline, and a part of Clay.
If you have questions or comments about this or any other issue, please call toll free (866) 768-3987 or by e-mail at bstouffer{at}senate{dot}mo{dot}gov

28 December 2009

Kander: 5 Jeff City New Year's Resolutions

Dear Friends,

As 2010 approaches and everyone is thinking of their own new year's resolutions, I thought I should list mine.

1. Pass comprehensive ethics reform

Rep. Kander with Rep. Tim Flook.Many important issues confront the state of Missouri in 2010, but I believe that we can more effectively address every issue if we make needed reforms to our political system.

In September, I wrote a thirteen-page memo to my colleagues on this topic. A few weeks later, the Kansas City Star ran a feature story about loopholes in the system.

On December 14th, I joined with Rep. Tim Flook (R-Liberty) in announcing House Bill 1434 which, should it pass, will substantially change Missouri politics.

As has been widely reported, our bill would . . . (READ MORE ABOUT NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION #1)

2. Help to pass agile job creation tools and preserve important programs in a very difficult budget year.

In a previous newsletter, I wrote about the need for new economic development tools to help Missouri compete internationally. It is, obviously, one of my new year's resolutions – and I know the majority of my colleagues share this same priority.

Since my last writing about the subject, the Governor weighed in heavily in favor of the bipartisan Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act. I enthusiastically supported last year's bill and am hopeful that we can pass it in 2010.

While we work on creative ways to increase state revenue through job creation, I will work to preserve vital state services in one of the most difficult budget years in a long time. I trust that I won't be the only member of the budget committee to work toward this goal.

3. Strengthen or preserve laws that protect Missourians at home and in court.

I am currently working with other lawmakers to draft Sam and Lindsay's law, named in honor of Sam and Lindsay Porter, who died by their father's hand in 2004. Their mother, Tina Porter, approached Jackson County Prosecutor Jim Kanatzar about changes she felt were needed to protect Missouri's children from parental kidnappings. Jim then approached me, Sen. Victor Callahan (D-Independence) and Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharpe about the legislation. We announced the proposed changes last Wednesday during a press conference at the Jackson County Courthouse.

Also, I will re-file bipartisan legislation in 2010 that I first pushed in 2009 to strengthen domestic violence laws, and I will once again co-sponsor bipartisan efforts to mandate insurance coverage of autism treatments.

Next, although I was the only Democratic co-sponsor of the False Claims Act last year, I'm hopeful that it will receive support on both sides of the aisle in 2010.

Finally, I will continue to fight for the preservation of the Missouri non-partisan court plan.

4. Do the impossible: stay fit while living in Jefferson City.

This is a pretty big goal. Thanks to the ongoing requirements of the Army National Guard, I do manage to stay in pretty decent shape year-round, but the legislative session in Jeff City from January to May really presents a challenge. These last two months, Diana and I have been getting up early for some pretty serious "extreme" morning workouts and we feel pretty good about it. She can do A LOT of pull ups. It's pretty impressive actually.

But EatingContestmy schedule in Jeff City is so insane and the junk food is so quick and easy . . . it's going to be a real test.  (The picture on the right is from a charity eating contest and is not to be taken as an accurate reflection of my normal diet.)

Heading back to Jeff City, I feel kind of like those contestants on "The Biggest Loser" who have to "leave the ranch" for a few weeks and try to do it without their trainers or their helpful dieticians.

So if you're reading this and you're one of the people who works with me in Jefferson City, here's how you can help me with this resolution. If you see me about to eat pizza or some other quick and unhealthy snack, please do your best to shame me and, if necessary, attempt to physically steal the food. If nothing else, I'll burn some calories fighting for my junk food.

So those are my resolutions. As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you. Happy New Year!



P.S. I almost forgot new year's resolution #5: WIN RE-ELECTION!