"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks!" –Samuel Adams
BALANCING THE STATE'S BUDGET: HOUSE REPUBLICANS DO THE HEAVY LIFTINGIt is no secret that we are facing the worst economy since the Great Depression. Projected state revenues are down nearly 14% over the past fiscal year. Our State budget in FY 2010 was $23 Billion and our income no longer permits either sustaining that budget or increasing our next year's budget. We are facing a $500 M to $800 M revenue short fall in FY 2011 and an additional $900 M in FY 2011. Raising taxes will severely cripple businesses big and small and cause more long term unemployment. But many people in our state have grown accustomed to various programs and spending commitments. We have been flooded with emails from various parties asking that we not make reductions to their program. Each program has its supporters and its critics. We all know we need to reduce spending but we have had a hard time reaching an agreement about which programs should stay, go or be reduced. Unfortunately, however, the work of securing individual legislator agreement to reductions is a hard task.
The Missouri House successfully passed a $23 Billion 2011 budget today. This budget draft contained spending reductions of over $220 Million. This may be short of the total reductions that actually need to be made for the next fiscal year. The House was unable to agree on making any additional spending reductions at this time but we will revisit each line item when necessary. The Senate has agreed to make up differences with additional spending reductions when they receive the budget as passed by the House. Governor Nixon has also proposed $500 Million of reductions including reductions to K-12 education. This means the State Senate members have agreed that they will find a way to reduce spending even more than what the House has done. Under the Missouri Constitution the Missouri General Assembly must pass a balanced budget and the budget must be delivered to the Governor for signature by May 7th. It is imperative, therefore, that we not only balance the budget but also deliver the budget on time under the law. Therefore, the Missouri House voted and passed the Budget and moved it into the Senate for its final phase of spending reduction analysis so that we can reach a final balanced budget on time by May 7th. It was very difficult to make the spending reductions that were made and it was more difficult to pass the budget out of the House knowing that there is more that needs to be reduced. Even so, it is critical that we keep the budget process moving forward so we can reach the next level of debate and the next round of reductions.
Sadly, House Democratic Leadership played politics with our budget and refused to join in the effort to balance the budget. House Democrats voted against all significant spending reductions and even rejected Governor Nixon's proposed reductions in spending. Our state is facing a serious budget crisis and a bi-partisan effort, not Washington style politics. We in the House made the first major rounds of spending reductions for this Budget process. We will now continue with our negotiations with the Senate for further reductions so that we can balance our budget, keep our state debt low, and set a climate where we can help our economy recover.
Protecting the Lives of the Unborn, Expecting MothersI am firmly planted in my belief that we should do everything in our power to protect the sanctity of life. In addition to the lives of the unborn, we must remember to shield expectant mothers from harm. On Monday, we perfected House Bill 1327 and 2000, which changes the laws regarding the consent requirements for obtaining an abortion and creates the crime of coercing an abortion. Many times, women who seek an abortion only do so because they are forced or pressured to do so by their husband, boyfriend or any other outside force. This is wrong and should be against the law.
If a person is found guilty of this despicable behavior, he or she will be subject to face a class A felony with a maximum prison term of 10 years, a fine of up to $10,000 or both. The responsibility does not just fall on the coercer, however, but the doctor performing the abortion as well. Any person who performs or induces an abortion and knows that the pregnant woman has been coerced will be guilty of a class C felony (except in the case of medical emergency).
The bill also takes steps to protect the lives of the unborn through requiring a thorough checklist of items that must be completed before an abortion is performed or induced. Abortions cannot be performed or induced without the voluntary, informed and uncoerced consent of the expecting mother at least 24 hours prior to the abortion. The physician must provide orally and in writing the following items: The physician's name, medically accurate information including the abortion method, any risks associated with the method being performed, alternative to abortion and follow-up care information.
Physicians must also provide prominently displayed statements encouraging a pregnant woman seeking an abortion to contact agencies that help women carry an unborn child to full term and statements that inform the women that no one can coerce a person to have an abortion. A facility must maintain a toll-free, confidential, 24-hour hotline telephone number for callers to obtain regional information about abortions, risks and alternative to abortions. This information must also be available on the facility's website.
Through these important steps, we are hopeful that expecting mothers will be fully informed about abortion and the risks that may result from the procedure. Most notably, we hope that this legislation will save lives of the unborn and allow expectant mothers to have the care, attention and resources they need to carry their unborn child to full term.
HEALTH CARE FREEDOM ACT UPDATEAs mentioned above, I am the chief sponsor of HJR 57, the "Health Care Freedom Act". As I have discussed, if it is passed and approved by the voters, it will secure the current rights and freedoms that Missouri citizens have to choose to participate in whatever health care system or health care that they want. The bill was "third read and passed" out of the House last week by a vote of 109-46. The bill is now pending in the State Senate and the Senate is also debating their version of the Health Care Freedom Act (SJR 25) as well. You may view the legislation at this link: http://house.mo.gov/content.aspx?info=/bills101/bills/HJR57.htm Thank you all very much for your continued support of this very important proposed constitutional amendment, and I will continue to keep you posted on its progress!
SIX FLAGS ST. LOUIS IN EUREKA IS HIRING!!I am very excited to report that Six Flags St. Louis, which is located in the heart of the 89th District, is hiring more than 3,000 employees to fill positions for the 2010 season which begins on April 2nd. Six Flags will be hosting job fairs to fill these positions on April 3, 10 and 17. For more information, please visit: http://www.sixflags.com/stLouis/index.aspx
MODOT Traveler Information MapFor work zone location, flooding information and weather-related road conditions visit MoDOT's Traveler Information Map. It's your first source of information when planning your trip across the Show-Me state.
Tim's Legislative Platform for 2010So far this year I have sponsored and filed fifteen individual pieces of legislation. I have co-sponsored numerous other bills. To review all of the bills that I have sponsored or co-sponsored, please follow this link: http://www.house.mo.gov/content.aspx?info=/bills101/spon/spn089.htm
Personal News & NotesAt right: Rep. Jones welcomes his daughters Abbey & Katie to the House floor.
We are now firmly in the second half of Session and the days at the Capitol will grow much longer. Passionate debate will be held on many important pieces of legislation and we will also continue to have to keep an eye on Washington DC where the rights and liberties of Missourians continue to be at risk every day. I want to thank everyone who supports me and sacrifices so much during these days of Session, especially as we begin our marathon sprint to the final weeks.