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15 April 2010

Tim Jones: State Sovereignty, Constitutional Amendment on Amending the Constitution

Smooth sunshine flowed down upon the State Capitol this week, warming the limestone walls of the Capitol Building as thousands of visitors flocked to Jefferson City, taking advantage of the beautiful Spring weather.  Inside the Chambers, the Senate diligently worked hard and late into the night hours, crafting a balanced State budget that will make its way back to the House next week as the House continued to work on late Session priorities…

"Our properties within our own territories should not be taxed or regulated by any power on earth but our own." –Thomas Jefferson

HJR 88 State Sovereignty

Over the years, the federal government has continued to grow out-of-control through wide-ranging federal programs, overreaching regulation, and costly unfunded mandates that infringe on the sovereignty of our states.  As a result, many states have stood up for their rights by proposing numerous measures aimed at reasserting the state sovereignty that is provided by the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.  This week, the Missouri House passed House Joint Resolution 93 [sic], which is a proposed amendment to Missouri Constitution that reasserts the sovereignty of the State of Missouri and its citizens under the Tenth Amendment.

The powers of the federal government are clearly established in the Constitution.  They include establishing currency, post offices and roads, creating federal courts, entering into treaties, declaring war, and providing for our national defense.  Under the Tenth Amendment, those powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved for the states.  But unfortunately, through programs like the new federal health care laws, the federal government has continued to expand beyond its constitutional authority and infringe on the rights of the states.  Programs like this are not only beyond the authority of the federal government and infringe on the rights of the states, but the billions of dollars in unfunded mandates within them are devastating for state governments.

We believe it is time for the federal government to respect the authority of the states provided by the Tenth Amendment by returning to its constitutional responsibilities.  With the passage of House Joint Resolution 93, we sent Congress a message that Missourians have had enough of Congress' continued neglect of the protections of the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Right of a Mother to Protect her Child

The House Rules Committee passed House Bill 2081 this week.  House Bill 2081 gives pregnant women the right to protect their unborn children with the use of deadly force.  This problem arose after a Michigan woman found herself in a legal battle after defending herself when her boyfriend struck her in the stomach.  The sponsor of the legislation, Representative Jeanie Riddle, wanted to make sure that this situation could be avoided if it were to happen in Missouri.  Right now in Missouri, women are not legally allowed to use force to defend their unborn children.  Hopefully, in the near future this bill will receive debate on the House floor.  Women must have the right to protect not only themselves but the lives of their unborn children.  I hope you will join me in support of this important bill to protect Missouri's women.

Three/Fifths Majority to Amend the Constitution

This week the Missouri House passed legislation that would require a three/fifths majority of voters to amend the Missouri Constitution.  Our Constitution is an important document and it should be protected.   HJR 78 requires at least a 60 percent vote in favor of the amendment for it to change the Constitution.  This is higher than the simple majority vote currently required.  Missouri is one of the easiest states to amend the Constitution in.  This has led to over a hundred amendments being added to our Constitution since 1904 with an average vote of 53.0%.  By contrast, the U.S. Constitution requires either two/thirds of both houses of Congress before being approved by the states, or two/thirds of the state legislatures to apply to Congress for a constitutional convention, which are then again sent to the states for approval.  To me a simple majority is not good enough to amend the Constitution, the most important document in our state government.  This document is the foundation for our system of governance and only the most important precepts should be in it.  Requiring a three/fifths majority is not out of line.  In the same period when Missouri had its Constitution amended by over a hundred times, the U.S. Constitution has been amended twelve times (16th to 27th Amendments).  This bill is an example of good governance that protects our Constitution and ensures that future amendments to our state Constitution are supported by a super-majority of Missourians.

Early Voting and Photo ID

In our nation, one of the most basic responsibilities of government is administering the election process because few rights are as sacred as our right to vote.  To ensure free and fair elections in Missouri, the Missouri House of Representatives gave initial approval to House Bill 1966 and House Joint Resolution 64 this week, important legislation that would establish procedures to allow early voting and require voters to produce photo identification before voting.

Currently, there are thirty-two states that allow early voting.  But unfortunately, Missouri is not yet one of them.  This legislation would create a four day early voting period for those individuals who choose to vote before Election Day.  It would also establish regional voting centers to ensure broad access to the early voting process.  By giving voters a wider opportunity to vote, access to the electoral process will improve and voter participation will increase.

An unfortunate reality of recent elections increased instances of voter fraud.  For a country that cherishes the right to vote as much as America, this practice is troubling.  This important legislation would require voters to produce a form of photo identification when voting to help reduce fraud and abuse in our elections.  We believe that in this day and age, requiring photo identification to vote is a common sense requirement.  To ensure that this measure does not discourage voting, we have created exemptions for the elderly, the disabled, and those unable to afford the documents necessary to obtain proper identification.  With the photo identification requirement, we have established necessary safeguards to help prevent voter fraud and ensure the integrity of our elections.

For too long, Missouri's election laws have lacked many of the statutory provisions available to other states that encourage electoral participation and provide the necessary safeguards to prevent voter fraud and abuse.  With the initial passage of House Bill 1966 and House Joint Resolution 64, we are one step closer to real elections reforms that will effectively promote increased participation and ensure free and fair elections.


As many of you know, 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.  As we have seen, the disastrous aftermath of the passage of ObamaCare continues to dominate our headlines and continues to show us how truly flawed this new federal entitlement is.  HJR 57 was "third read and passed" out of the House several weeks ago 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).  You may view the legislation at this link:  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!

Regulatory Reform Imperative in Economy-Busting Tax-and-Spend Era

Federal regulations cost a whopping $1.187 trillion last year in compliance burdens on Americans.  That's the finding of a new report, Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, from the Competitive Enterprise Institute that examines the costs imposed by federal regulations.

"Trillion-dollar deficits and regulatory costs in the trillions are both unsettling new developments for America," said report author, Clyde Wayne Crews. "It is sobering to note how both dwarf the initial $150 billion 'stimulus package' of early 2008."

The costs of federal regulations often exceed the benefits, yet receive little official scrutiny from Congress.  The report urges Congress to step up and take responsibility as lawmakers to review and roll back economically harmful regulations.  "Rolling back regulations would constitute the deregulatory stimulus that the U.S. economy needs," said Crews.

Among the report's findings:
  • 3,503 new regulations took effect last year. The burden of government is heavier than ever.
  • How much does government cost?  Government is spending $3.518 trillion of our money and imposing another $1.187 trillion dollars in the form of regulatory compliance costs.
  • How much of our economic output should be eaten by regulatory costs?  Regulatory costs now absorb 8.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.
  • What's the federal government's total share of the economy?  Regulations + spending combined puts the federal government's share of the economy at over 30 percent.
  • Regulations cost more than the income tax.
  • New rules that cost at least $100 million increased by 13 percent between 2007 and 2008.
The report urges reforms to make the regulatory costs more transparent and accountable to the people, including annual "report cards" on regulatory costs and benefits, and congressional votes on significant agency rules before they become binding.


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. Six Flags is NOW OPEN on the weekends!  Six Flags will be hosting job fairs to fill these positions on April 17th.  For more information, please visit:

Tim's Legislative Platform for 2010

I have sponsored and filed sixteen individual pieces of legislation this Session.  I have co-sponsored numerous other bills.  To review all of the bills that I have sponsored or co-sponsored, please follow this link:

Personal News & Notes

The last four weeks of Session always seem to be the most interesting and the most intense.  Long days and hectic schedules become par for the course as bills fly back and forth between the Chambers and everyone looks for a good legislative vehicle to complete their priorities.  I want to thank all of the great folks who support me back home as we become fully immersed in our work at the Capitol, especially my family and my colleagues at my law firm, DosterUllom.  It is hard to believe that in thirty days the Session will be over and summer will be upon us!

Feel Free to Contact Us!

If my extremely dedicated (and very busy!) Legislator Assistant, Jody Williams, or I can be of any assistance throughout the year, please do not hesitate to contact us at 573.751.0562 or by email at jody{dot}williams{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov or at tim{dot}jones{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.  We have had many visitors to the Capitol so far this year; if your travels find you anywhere in or around Jefferson City, please do not hesitate to stop by and visit us in Room 114!  Until our next report, I remain, in your service.

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