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16 September 2010

Kraus: Veto Session

On Wednesday, September 15, I was back in Jefferson City for veto session.  If the governor vetoes any bill passed by the General Assembly, we are required by the constitution to return for a formal veto session.  It is part of the constitutional checks and balances that are in place to maintain a balance of power between the governor's office and the legislature.

This year, the House initiated an override effort on HB 1903, a bill that sought to create two funds.  One, the Federal Budget Stabilization Extension Fund, was to receive money from any legislation enacted by this Congress to assist states in budget stabilization or that extended the temporary increase in certain Medicaid funds.  The second fund, Race to the Top, was to receive money from the federal program of the same name.

In creating special funds for receipt of these federal monies, House members wanted to be more involved and therefore bring more openness and transparency to decisions regarding the use of federal stimulus money.  One concern is the handling of $209 million in enhanced Medicaid payments coming to the state from Congress.  In addition, federal stimulus funds were recently spent to sponsor a film festival and expensive meals – showing a huge lack of oversight of how these funds were meant to be used for job creation and economic development.

The effort fell short by 24 votes out of the 109 needed.  While in regular session only a simple majority of both Houses is required to pass a bill, veto session demands that 2/3 of each chamber vote to override the governor's veto.  Because the bill originated in the House, any override effort had to be initiated and passed in the House, and therefore the Senate was precluded from considering this bill.

On the Senate side, only SB 777 was vetoed.  SB 777 allows for the sale of certain financial products and plans associated with certain loan transactions.  The Senate took no action on the one bill on which it could initiate an override.

Of the over 100 bills passed by legislators, Gov. Nixon vetoed only five and part of one more, HB 2007.

I was excited to be back in my legislative seat to conduct the people's business.  For the rest of the year, I will be in Eastern Jackson County to serve you.

Public Service Commission Invites Comments On Telephone Service

We now refer to the old fashioned telephone as a "land line."  For many of my constituents, it is still their primary means of communication with the outside world, and often, it is their only method.

They may not be able to afford the modern technology or they may feel overwhelmed by it and prefer to stick with what they know.  For some, their land line is their communication with medical alert systems, and therefore extremely necessary that their telephone service be reliable and clear.

If you are having problems with your land line, now is the time to speak up.

The Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) has opened up a comment period to determine if residents of Missouri are receiving poor service with their land lines.  Because the PSC has received some complaints, staff is trying to find out if there are widespread or frequent problems that may be due to deteriorating facilities that can result in poor quality of service.

Comments can be submitted to the PSC.  There are two ways to do it.  By mail, you can send written comments to the Missouri Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 360, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102.

Electronically, you can go to the PSC website at, click on the EFIS/Case filings link, scroll down to "Submit Public Comments," and click on the public comment link. 

Either way, the reference case number to use is TO-2011-0047.  All comments become a matter of public record.

Any findings will be reported to the Public Service Commissioners, a group of five people who are appointed by the governor.  The PSC regulates investor-owned electric, steam, natural gas, water and sewer and telephone companies. Its job is to ensure safe, reliable and reasonably priced utility service while allowing utility companies to earn a reasonable return on their investment. The PSC makes the final decisions on utility rate increases.

I always want to see people participate in their government.  If you are having problems with your telephone service, I hope you will take this opportunity to let the PSC know.

No Call List for Cell Phones

Recently, I received a complaint about telemarketing calls to cell phones.  While the Missouri Attorney General's office does not register cell phone numbers, these numbers can be registered on the National Do Not Call Registry.  You can register your home or mobile phone for free.  Most telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days, and if they do, you can file a complaint from the website.  Here is the link to the website:  National Do Not Call List.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Comes to Blue Springs

Don't forget to visit the Wall That Heals, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall located in Washington, D.C.  It is coming to Pink Park in Blue Springs from September 30 to October 3.  The free traveling exhibition allows veterans, families, friends and students to honor the 58,000 men and women whose names are inscribed on the Wall.  A video about the exhibit is available at Blue Springs "Wall That Heals."

With the ending of the 2010 Legislative Session, the Capitol Report will be issued about twice a month. During this time, if you have an event that you would like me to attend or speak at, please contact my office at 1 (573) 751-1459 or e-mail at will{dot}kraus{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.

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