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16 January 2010

Ervin: House and Senate Priorities

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." -Thomas Jefferson

The second week of the session has concluded and business in the Missouri House is taking shape.  As bills begin to be referred to committees and committees begin public hearings, the legislative agenda takes shape.

The most notable event of the week occurred on Wednesday when visitors from across the state crowded into the Capitol Rotunda to hold the first ever Missouri State Sovereignty Rally.  The purpose of this year's rally was prompted by the massive opposition by Americans to the federal health care proposals and encroachment of the federal government into our private lives.

Those in attendance are concerned that the federal health care proposals would create an unfair tax on individuals who do not purchase health insurance and penalize businesses that do not offer it to their employees.  They oppose the massive expansion of welfare at the expense of the states and lack of fiscal restraint.  Their opposition is well founded after Democrat negotiators in Washington caved and exempted union health care plans from their proposed 40% tax creating yet another special class of Americans at the expense of the rest of us.

The week was also the scene of a joint press conference by House and Senate leaders outlining a joint set of priorities for this session.  First, and foremost, fiscal responsibility and passing a balanced budget will be front and center. Missouri's revenue collections continue to lag projections and difficult choices will be in store.  The fiscal priorities include:
  • Urging Governor Nixon to issue prompt income tax refunds;
  • Require legislative oversight for the spending of federal stimulus dollars;
  • Reduce fraud and abuse in the Medicaid system
  • That the state of Missouri will live within its means; and
  • Pledge that there will be absolutely no tax increases on Missourians.
In addition to passing a sound, fiscally responsible state budget so that Missouri continues to be solvent and viable for future generations, these priorities also include protecting our constitutional rights and Liberty; continuing to secure the health, safety, and welfare of all Missourians; and continuing to uphold traditional, common sense Missouri values.   Specifically, the House and Senate recognize these issues as necessary to reach these goals:
  • Ensure greater transparency and strengthen ethics in government;
  • Oppose a bloated and expanded government, support smaller government;
  • Oppose the federal government takeover of our health care system;
  • Call upon Congress to oppose job destroying cap-and-trade legislation;
  • Make certain that statutes pertaining to clean water are implemented to ensure public safety of our citizens; and
  • Require credit agencies to withhold reporting negative information if it is caused by identity theft.
As our state continues to face budget uncertainty and Missouri's unemployment recently inched up to 9.6%, Missouri must be wary of any proposal, state or federal, that would potentially cost Missouri financially or at the expense of our collective identify as Missourians.

These proposals are intended to allow people keep more of their own money, to allow them to make decisions for themselves and their families, to give individuals more liberty in their consumption, savings, and debt retirement.  At some point, we, as Americans, will decide whether Thomas Jefferson's maxim will prevail - will we allow Liberty to yield and government to gain ground?

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns.  LaTonya Percival, my Legislative Assistant, and I are always available to answer questions and address your concerns.  I can be reached in Jefferson City at (573)751-2238 or you can write me at doug{dot}ervin{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov or regular mail at 201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 412A, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

15 January 2010

Stouffer: Reject Tax Increase on Land Owners

There is rarely a good time for a tax increase, but some times are even worse than others. This is why I have introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 35 in the Missouri Senate, in an attempt to undo a bad decision that would be imposed upon many rural Missouri landowners.

In December, the Missouri State Tax Commission increased land valuations on productive cropland by up to 29 percent. Their decision was based on calculated land use formulas from the University of Missouri derived from 15 years of farm net income. The last increase came in 1997. Back then, a bag of seed corn cost $75. Today, that same bag costs $300. What has changed in 13 years? Technology. This is the real reason for the rise in farm income, rather than an increase in the productivity of land.

The Tax Commission's decision comes as the markets are volatile. We had two "high dollar" years, in 2008 and 2004. This has skewed the average farm income. The projected 2009 farm income is 35 percent below the net income from 2008. There is also a cycle for land prices, which peaked in 2008. To me, basing the increase on "skewed" years is not realistic and does not reflect what is happening in agriculture.

The Missouri Legislature has the option to reject the Tax Commission's recommendations, and can do so within 60 days.

Each county has its own method of measuring the productivity of cropland. To me, the most appropriate way to measure productivity is to use soil surveys and look at the soil's potential. However, not every county uses this method. No matter how we measure it, the productivity does not change; it is the technology we use to grow better crops and save the land that changes.

I would also like to point out the Tax Commission is trying to do its job. I merely disagree with the timing of a 29 percent tax increase on any Missourian, not just landowners. The economy still has a long way to go before it turns around. I think other sources of information should have more weight when determining land valuations and cropland productivity. There is too much emphasis on net farm income, and these types of decisions should be done in the middle of a land-price cycle, not at its peak.

I believe the Legislature will do the right thing and approve Senate Concurrent Resolution 35. We still have a month or so in which to reject the Missouri Tax Commission's decision and help ensure low taxes for rural landowners throughout the state.

Rupp: State's Rights Rally Held At Capitol This Week

There was a great turnout at the rally this week.  This was due to the hard work and great effort of the many supporters.  Thanks to all those who were able to attend.  We are getting our message out to the people of Missouri and the country! As you may know, I am a co-sponsor of the Health Care Freedom Act and a signer of the MO Sovereignty Pledge.  Below is some information on my efforts over the past few years to support state's rights and some actions for this legislative session.

I strongly support the conservative principles of limited government, state's rights, and individual liberties.  I will continue my efforts to preserve Missouri's sovereignty, protect Missouri taxpayers, and defend the individual freedoms of every Missourian.  Here are some of my accomplishments and positions:

State's Rights vs. Out of Control Federal Government

  • Senator Rupp is co-sponsoring SCR 34, which will affirm Missouri's sovereign rights under the 10th amendment and demand the federal government operate solely within its constitutionally delegated powers.
  • Senator Rupp is co-sponsoring SJR25, which will protect Missourians from any federal health care reform that Washington mandates and ensure Missourians maintain their individual freedom to make their own health care choices.
  • Senator Rupp has re-filed a resolution identical to one he filed in 2009 to rescind Missouri's 1983 call for a Constitutional Convention, recognizing that there could be no way to control a Constitutional Convention once called, which could threaten our Constitution's very existence. [SCR38]
  • Senator Rupp voted to reject the Real ID Act in Missouri, a massive unfunded mandate being forced upon states by the Federal Government that would have infringed on Constitutional rights and freedoms of Missouri citizens.
  • Senator Rupp co-sponsored efforts to reject the NAFTA superhighway, a plan threatening to make our nation's borders more open and viewed as the foundation for a North American Union.

Illegal Immigration

  • Senator Rupp wrote and passed Missouri's illegal immigration bill in 2008, which has been called by some one of the best in the country.  The abdication of duties by the Federal Government led him to action.  He has been on the Lou Dobbs Show and Fox News promoting strong illegal immigration reform.
  • Senator Rupp endorsed the Constitutional amendment to make English the Official language in Missouri

Protecting Life

  • Senator Rupp is sponsoring SB747 that strengthens Missouri's insurance ban on elective abortions.  If the federal government passes their "health care bill" Senator Rupp's bill will prohibit abortions being paid for by our tax dollars and will not allow the Federal Government health exchanges to offer abortion coverage.  Senator Rupp believes in the sanctity of every human life and has supported every effort to protect the unborn and provide alternatives to abortions.

2nd Amendment Rights:

Senator Rupp is a member of the NRA, voted for concealed carry and the Castle Doctrine, and strongly believes in our constitutional rights to bear arms.

Bill to Ban Insurance Coverage for Abortion in Proposed Health Exchanges

The bill (SB747) would expand Missouri's health insurance coverage ban on elective abortions by prohibiting any plans and policies offered through any health insurance exchange in Missouri from covering abortion.

We're not sure what kind of health care plan will come from the federal government, but this bill will make sure the citizens of Missouri will not subsidize abortions in policies offered through the health insurance exchanges currently being discussed in the pending federal health care bills.  I've already co-signed on to a bill that will allow Missourians to reject whatever health care Washington mandates. My legislation will continue to protect our unborn children.

Under current Missouri law, health insurance policies are barred from providing coverage for elective abortions except through separate optional riders (additional provisions to the insurance policy) that require an additional premium.  My legislation would eliminate concerns of public funds being used to purchase coverage for abortions through any plan or policy sold within any exchange in Missouri.

This bill is a proactive approach to combat any attempt to use Missouri taxpayer dollars for abortions.  When you combine it with my efforts to reject the federal health care plan, I think we can protect every Missourian, born and unborn, from a federal government that is overstepping its bounds.

Lindenwood University Hockey Team & Coaches Visit Capitol

On Tuesday, the Lindenwood University Ice Hockey Team and their coaches visited the Capitol.  I had a chance to visit with them while they were here.  They are a great group and I wish them well in their future endeavors.  Good luck to them on the ice!

Senator Rupp and Rep. Gatschenberger with Lindenwood University Hockey Team & Coaches

Autism Insurance Bill, SB 618

The Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee, which I chair, will hear public testimony on SB 618, Tuesday, January 19th at 2 pm in Senate Committee Room 2.  Senate Bill 618, which I sponsored, requires health carriers to provide coverage for he diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders under certain conditions.

Missouri is a Long Way from Wall Street, Washington, D.C.

As the dust hopefully settles from one of the worst economic crisis in our nation's history, there are quite a few things that stand out as evidence of where our country did things right and where things were done terribly wrong.

We all know by now that an overzealous Wall Street – combined with an inflated housing bubble and risky bank loans – had a major impact on where we stand today.  What gets lost in the examination, however, is that Missouri, with its sound, conservative financial practices, is in much better shape than most states when it comes to coping with the fallout.

According to Forbes magazine, three of the ten best-rated banks in the nation call Missouri their home. The ratings take into account the number of non-performing loans, size of the bank, interest margin and other measures, to determine the financial health of the institution. UMB Financial is listed number two, and Commerce Bancshares takes number three as the largest bank ranked in the top 10. Central Bancompany of Jefferson City ranked eighth. These banks are growing, but not beyond their means, and they place a premium on smart, prudent loans that make sense for both the recipient and the lender. If the banks our federal government "bailed out" would have followed these lessons, I doubt they'd be in the mess we're facing today.

The same sound fiscal principals have put our state in a better place than most. We were able to balance the budget last year, without raising taxes, and while fully funding priorities like K-12 education and higher education. We also were able to save nearly $1 billion dollars of stimulus dollars for this fiscal year. Your state government had to tighten the belt, for sure, but we did it with our eyes on priorities, just like your family continues to do throughout this tough economic time. As the session opened at the beginning of January, I noticed that many of my colleagues restated their desire to ensure that our goals remain the same: that we are smart and prudent, while collectively recognizing our priorities and ensuring we make the best decisions for the people that count on us.

I can assure you that, unlike Wall Street or Washington, D.C., and more like the best banks in the nation that call Missouri their home, I will remain dedicated to the fiscal conservatism and common sense that puts the priorities of the people, and not the pocketbook, first.

As the 2010 legislative session unfolds, I will continue to keep you, my constituents, apprised of all major developments, and I look forward to continuing to serve your needs and priorities in Jefferson City. As always, if you have any questions about this week's column or any other matter involving state government, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can reach my office by phone at (866) 271-2844.

Brandom: Legislative Priorities This Session

Last week the Second Session of the 95th General Assembly opened and we
are off to a busy start. This week the House and the Senate issued a list of joint priorities that will be pursued in the early weeks of this session. Some of our commitments as we continue this session include:
  • Pledge that there will be no increase of taxes for Missourians
  • Further reduce fraud and abuse in the Medicaid system
  • Require legislative oversight for the continued spending of
    our federal stimulus dollars
  • To urge the Governor to issue prompt income tax refunds
We will also work to support safeguarding our freedoms, protecting our families and upholding our values. We have pledged to do what we can to protect our vital constitutional freedoms and liberties. Specifically we promise to:
  • Ensure greater transparency in government
  • Oppose a bloated and expanded government
  • Oppose the federal government takeover of our health care system
  • Call upon congress to oppose job destroying cap-and-trade legislation
  • Require credit agencies to withhold reporting negative information if it is caused by identity theft.
Speaker Ron Richard created the House Special Standing Committee on Government Accountability and Ethics Reform to review all the rules governing the conduct of Missouri legislators. I believe I was fortunate to have been assigned to work in a committee of this importance to help craft a bipartisan piece of legislation that will help set the new ethic standard for our state’s legislators. This is an issue that transcends party lines and speaks to the integrity of the legislative process. I know both Republicans and Democrats want our government to be transparent and accountable to the people of Missouri. I promise you that my goal and my voice in this committee will be to set in place standards that eliminate even the appearance of impropriety in the lawmaking process. Backroom dealing, lobbyist buyoffs and general corruption may be customary in Washington D.C., but these methods are incompatible with Missouri’s values and unacceptable in this state. In other news, I introduced my bill [HB1377] requiring drug testing to all welfare applicants if there is reasonable cause to suspect drug use. The bill was successfully voted out of committee this week. I will now present it to the entire House for a vote.

This week we also sent a letter to Attorney General Chris Koster urging him to join with other State’s Attorney Generals across the nation in standing against the “Nebraska Compromise.” This deal would leave Missourians to pay the bill for
Nebraska’s Medicaid expansion. We hope that Attorney General Koster will review the constitutionality and legality of this compromise as it may violate the United States Constitution.

Burlison: Upcoming Legislation

Wednesday, January 6th, kicked-off the opening day of the second session of the 95th General Assembly. The Capitol halls were once again filled with legislators and staff all preparing for the work ahead.

The Speaker of the House gave his Opening Day Address in the Chamber at noon and outlined his priorities stating, "We must never forget we sit in the people's chamber and our sacred duty as their elected officials is the maintenance of the integrity and sanctity of the Missouri House of Representatives. We are here to make our state a better place for Missourians to work and live."

As the State Representative for our district, I am passionately committed to doing your work and serving you as I travel to Jefferson City each week. This is why I would like to take a moment and share with you some of the up-coming legislation I am proposing:
  • The "Show-me Green Initiative." This bill will allow any persons or entities to submit bids to mow grass, such as switchgrass or other vegetation, along state roadways to be used in bioenergy projects as a form of renewable energy. It will also help save MODOT important dollars by eliminating a portion of their roadway maintenance expenses. [HB1659]
  • Legislation to prohibit state departments from providing moneys to entities that are guilty of violating any election law, tax law, or immigration law of Missouri. [HB1660]
  • Increasing the period of time a concealed and carry endorsement is valid from three years to five years from the date of issuance or renewal. [HB1291]
As I work on this legislation I look forward to talking with you each week through my Capitol Reports in the hope to provide you with an inside look to the Missouri House of Representatives and the important issues we are discussing to make our state a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

Joe Smith: House Republicans Outraged with Washington DC

The people of Missouri have spoken, and we have heard what they have to say: We will not stand behind what's going on in Washington. The healthcare bill that the federal government is pushing can only hurt Missourians.  Federal mandates will increase costs to our state and on our citizens – WE DO NOT WANT A TAX HIKE.

This is what we're doing to stand up to the federal government; we held a press conference yesterday, vowing to bring a resolution to the House floor that would denounce a federal healthcare mandate – we want Congress to hear our voices! This week we had a letter hand-delivered to the Governor's office, urging him to take action against federal mandates that would lead us to a devastating financial crisis.  The Governor MUST speak out on this issue – he is the leader of our state and he owes us an answer.

This week we also sent a letter to Attorney General Chris Koster urging him to join other Attorney Generals nation-wide in standing against the "Nebraska Compromise", which would leave Missourians to foot the bill for Nebraska's Medicaid expansion.  It is our hope that Attorney General Koster will review the constitutionality and legality of this compromise – it may violate the United State Constitution.

This week, hundreds of concerned Missourians flooded the halls of the State Capitol to express their displeasure with the federal health care plan currently being considered by Congress.  Several members of the Missouri House spoke at the rally where the main topic of discussion focused on the unfunded mandates contained in the federal plan. Like me, they are concerned the federal plans would create an unfair tax on individuals who do not purchase health insurance and penalize businesses that do not offer it to their employees. It was energizing to see so many Missourians make their voices heard on this vitally important issue.

As our state faces budget uncertainty, we must be wary of any plan that would potentially cost Missouri taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The bottom line is that we must take a stand against the federal government in order to protect our individual rights to make our own choices when it comes to health care coverage.

Joe Smith: House and Senate Join Together; Common-Sense Solutions for Missouri’s Future

Both the House and Senate Majority Caucuses came together this week for a press conference outlining our joint agenda for this legislative session.  Overall, the press conference was an opportunity for both Caucuses to make our citizens aware of the fact that we don't like what we're seeing in Washington.  Out of control spending and making government bigger isn't the way to prosperity.  We will work to make Missouri a prosperous state for all of our citizens.

Lt. Governor Peter Kinder opened the press conference saying that in 2010, Republicans in the General Assembly would move with great fortitude in facing our state's financial crisis head on.  He explained that while politicians in Washington promote bigger government and more spending to fix problems, in Missouri we will remain committed to our core principles of life and liberty for all families.

Our Speaker of the House, Ron Richard, mainly focused on economic development for our state.  He said that we would work to serve the people and produce meaningful legislation that would create jobs, retain the jobs we already have in place and make Missouri an attractive business climate.  We must put people back to work and provide the tools necessary for Missourians to succeed and have the ability to provide for themselves and their families at home.

The Majority Floor Leader in the House, Steve Tilley, spoke about what we see going on in Washington DC and how it's unacceptable to us in Missouri.  We are making it very clear that in Missouri we are listening to our citizens and we are committed to taking a common-sense approach to solving our problems.  We are doing this through resolutions that would oppose the federal government take-over of our health care system as well as opposing cap-and-trade legislation.

The President Pro Tem of the Senate and the Senate Majority Floor Leader put a large focus on the fact that the Missouri General Assembly will not raise your taxes.  We are calling on the Governor to do his job and present us with a balanced budget that is not short-sighted.  All Missourians are owed an income tax refund and should get that money back as soon as possible.  Last year, the Governor held on to our citizens rightfully-owed tax refunds and that must not happen again.  He is essentially taking an interest-free loan on the backs of taxpayers without permission.

We are confident, that along with our friends in the Senate, we will be able to pass meaningful legislation that will promote job growth, wise fiscal policies, no tax increase and safety and prosperity for you and your families.

Ruestman: Fighting Back

With the second week of session finishing up, we cannot help but notice a change in the Capitol this year.  There seems to be a new energy buzzing among our visitors.  Patriots have renewed their old flame and are excited about a new year and a new chance to take back government for the people.

On Wednesday a rally was held in the Rotunda for states' rights and healthcare freedom.  Many State Representatives and Senators attended on behalf of their constituents as well as many others who drove from all over the state just to be present.  We are sending a loud message to everyone else in the Capitol including our governor.

The rally supported two measures which are before the House and Senate this year.  The first one, House Joint Resolution 57, would be submitted to the voters to amend the Constitution.  It states,

"To preserve the freedom of citizens of this state to provide for their health care, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly or through penalties or fines, any person, employer, or health provider to participate in any health care system.  A person or employer may pay directly for lawful health care services and shall not be required to pay penalties or fines for paying directly for lawful health care services.  A health care provider may accept direct payment for lawful health care services and shall not be required to pay penalties or fines for accepting direct payment from a person or employer for lawful health care services."

This is an effort to protect our rights to be in charge of our own health care and how we choose to pay for it.  The liberal majority in Washington wants to fine and possibly jail you for not having health insurance.  As one of the 66 cosponsors of this bill, I am confident we can pass it through the House and send it on to the Senate.  It will then go to you, the voter, to approve it on the ballot.

The other resolution being supported by the rally patriots has yet to be filed.  I have signed on as a cosponsor already and we know our constituents will get behind it as well.  This would also add a new measure to the Missouri Constitution with a vote of the people.  It simply says "The state of Missouri hereby enforces its constitutional sovereignty…under the Tenth Amendment."  You will hear more about this resolution after it has been submitted.

It is important now for everyone to stay fired up!  The Federal Government continues to push beyond its limits.  The health care reform proposal in Congress is not what the people want and it SURE isn't want Missourians want.  The Majority in Jefferson City has chosen to take a stand on these issues and others in D.C., but remember we cannot do it without YOU, the voter!

If you have problems, questions or wish to express concern over an issue, please do not hesitate to contact me or my Legislator Assistant, Jonathan, at my Capitol office either by phone 573-751-9801 or by e-mail at Marilyn{dot}Ruestman{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.

Keeney Files Legislation to Prevent Tax Increase for Missouri Farmers

State Rep. Shelley Keeney (R-Marble Hill) has co-sponsored legislation in response to a recent approval of new, increased productive values for taxation of farm land by Governor Nixon's State Tax Commission which would go into effect on January 1, 2011.  House Concurrent Resolution No. 3 would reject the commission's decision to increase the new values.  By successfully passing the HCR, legislators can reject the Commission's recommendation; and thereby, keep the current productivity values in place.  Both the House and Senate must approve the HCR within sixty days after the first day of session.

Missouri farmland is valued for its productivity rather than its market value.  The Tax Commission voted on December 15 to increase productivity values used in determining property tax on farmland in Grades 1-4, which includes most of the state's cropland.  The increase would be almost 29% or an average increase of 90 cents per acre.  Grades 5-7, which include pasture, the recommended productivity values would decrease by about 24%, or an average tax decrease of 20 cents per acre.

Statewide, the total value of farmland using the new productivity values and corresponding property tax paid would increase 11.5%.  I want my constituents to know that I oppose this recommendation based on today's economic climate for farmers.  I believe that failing to pass this resolution means we are failing to keep the promise of working to prevent tax increases.

The Missouri Farm Bureau is also against the Commission's change.  FB made its recommendation at the annual mid-December meeting and presented a 15-year study of average land values.  The study had been done by the University of Missouri's Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute.

Extreme market volatility, record input cost increases combined with an unusually wet year and weak product demand equals hard times for Missouri farmers.  Governor Nixon's tax commission is recommending the exact wrong thing for Missouri's farmers and ultimately Missouri's consumers who can not afford an increase in food costs.  Farmers cannot afford a 29% increase in taxes on their property, and I will work diligently to overturn this heavy-handed tax increase.

Agriculture is an ever increasing competitive business, not only in Missouri but also the nation and certainly internationally.  Missouri's farmers have seen commodity prices fall over the last 18 months at an alarming rate, when at the same time input costs have increased to the point where farmers are leaving the business in droves.

Aside from the fact I find it wrong that a governor's administration has an authority to impose assessment on local authorities, it's astounding they would impose such an increase in today's economy.  "Now is a bad time to increase taxes on any Missourian, including our state's landowners," said Keeney.

14 January 2010

Engler: Major Issues Considered

The second week of the 2010 legislative session brought discussion on several big issues that affect our state and the country. As we make job creation our top priority, discussion is just beginning on many issues that could affect Missouri’s economy. I am sure we will see these most pressing topics pop up again and again throughout the session.

Considering New Tax Structures

Job creation will be a major focus of our efforts in the Missouri legislature. Despite the flawed actions of the federal government, we will work hard to make sure Missouri’s on the right track. One idea that I find especially interesting is repealing the state income tax. Also called a “fair tax” or “flat tax” this idea replaces the state income tax with higher and expanded sales taxes. This plan ensures that Missourians are only taxed on what they consume, enabling workers to keep more of their paychecks and bringing transparency to tax policy. States that do not have income taxes are continually among the best in the country in job creation and consistently have below average unemployment. Businesses would not have to deal with the state dipping into their earnings, property, and savings, and Missouri could see more companies investing in our economy. This, like any new proposal, has a lot to be worked out if the state were to move forward. One idea that should help reduce the impact on the poor would be to allow for a “prebate” cash card that would help them handle any increases on consumable goods. I look forward to vigorous debate as we think of new tax structures that could create jobs and turn our economy around.

Dropping the income tax is one of several ideas to solve the problems our economy is facing, but we can be sure that throwing money at the problem is not the answer. Unemployment numbers for Missouri are soon to be released, and while Missouri is fairing much better than many other states, it looks like the federal stimulus plan has yet to create a single job. In our state, we have to make sure the investments we make result in a return for Missouri’s economy and for taxpayers.

Federal Unfunded Mandates

Last year, the Senate held a series of Senate Seminars to allow lawmakers to have open discussions on issues important to Missourians. This year, we continued this practice, and one of the seminars dealt with the national healthcare plan that is currently being debated in Washington. I see many things wrong with the various proposals being rammed through the U.S. Senate and House, but one of the most pressing concerns for Missouri is the cost. The Medicaid expansions in the proposed bill could cost Missouri anywhere from $250 million to half a billion dollars. Recently, I read that the democrat governor of Tennessee called it the largest unfunded mandate ever passed down to the states. If Missouri has to pay this exorbitant amount to add people to welfare, we would be forced to make drastic cuts to education or raise taxes, and not to mention decrease our investment in job creation just to balance our books.

Protecting Taxpayers

The budget is going to be a major challenge for the Legislature as the state’s finances continue to suffer. We must ensure that Missouri taxpayers are protected. With tax season underway, I am calling on Governor Nixon to make sure that Missourians receive their state tax returns on time. Holding this money hostage in order to plug holes in the state’s finances would be completely unacceptable. He did this last year, and I do not want to see taxpayers wait for months to see their refunds again.

The 2010 Census

With 2010 upon us, the United States Census is fast approaching. Done every ten years, the census is another opportunity for our voice to be heard. As discussion began on this important topic this week, every projection that I have seen has Missouri right on the brink of losing a seat in Congress. It is extremely important we make a concerted effort to make sure we are filling out our census forms because losing a Congressional seat means Missourians losing a voice in Washington.

This week’s work is just the beginning of what is sure to be extended discussion on many of these issues. I will continue to let you know as we make progress on the legislation and policies that affect our state.

Nodler: Urging Congress Towards Common Sense Regulatory Practices

The national economy continues to suffer and while some areas have seen signs of recovery, the banking industry continues to falter. This is especially concerning because the state of the commercial real estate credit market is directly tied to the health of local economies, especially in Missouri where our state’s economy hinges on the financial strength of small businesses and family farms. This week, I introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 33 to discourage Congress from continuing to throw money in the form of bailouts at the failing banking industry, and to instead give community banks the right tools to start lending again.

The Federal Reserve and Congress have become increasingly focused on the future of commercial real estate and the possibility of failure in this important sector of the market. Fewer small businesses are able to get loans to continue business, causing serious problems for local economies. However, many of the over-regulatory policies proposed by the feds could very well create long-term consequences and inflation. As we have already seen, bailing out big banks is a quick fix that puts a bandage over a problem that continues to get worse.

Community banks today need better access to credit, but regulations are holding them back. A bank’s health, for regulatory purposes, is interpreted by calculating a series of ratios. Damaged ratios cause a bank to look fiscally unstable. The country’s economic dilemma has placed severe financial pressure on a number of small businesses and family farms. The result is escalating levels of loan defaults and depressed property values, and our community banks are limited in the ways that they can react to these situations. The banks may want to hold on to these loans or modify them to restructure debt, but these actions can have a negative affect on their ratios.

Up until now, the government’s solution to this problem has been to throw money at big banks, allowing them to have more cash on hand to lend. This, however, does not solve the problem of the so called “toxic assets” that continue to be passed around the market. Instead, the answer is to relax this ratio system and allow community banks to make decisions locally on their assets, allowing them to restructure or hold onto debts that they would otherwise have been forced to dump into the market.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 33 formally encourages the federal government to allow well-managed local banks to maintain lower levels of capital, restructure debts, and properly classify loans. Allowing smaller community banks this freedom will give them the ability to once again issue loans, enriching our local economies and encouraging economic recovery.

In order to tackle the economic challenges that are facing Missouri, there needs to be new solutions. If we continue to rely on the policies of the recent past, we are not truly solving the problems of today and could in fact, make the situation worse for the future. I will continue to fight for common sense regulatory practices and for progressive solutions that will move Missouri forward.

Nance: "Show Me State" rally, LIHEAP, Visitors

"If the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, warned the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions' authors (James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, respectively), it will continue to grow – regardless of elections, the separation of powers, and other much-touted limits on government power." –Thomas E. Woods

On Wednesday there was a "Show Me State" rally at the Capitol on state sovereignty. Over five hundred filed the rotunda to ask the state to take a stand against federal government interference with states.

That issue will be vetted early in session. Many states are discussing this important issue. The bill does not carry the force of law, but is intended to be a statement of the legislature of the Missouri to the Federal Government to stop these activities outside its constitutional powers.  A Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR 34) is an effort to push back against unconstitutional federal laws and regulations on a state level. The Federal Government regulating state healthcare by requiring persons to acquire health insurance is the concern.

There will also be a House Joint Resolution which if passed by the House and Senate would put the issue on the ballot this November. HJR 57, a constitutional amendment would prohibit any person, employer, or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system. Individuals and employers may pay directly for lawful health care services, and health care providers can accept payment for health care services from individuals or employers without being subject to fines or penalties. The purchase or sale of health insurance in private health care systems could not be prohibited by law or rule.

There will be debate on these resolutions concerning the cost that will be extracted from our state to pay for the program in not only our state, but also paying for Nebraska, Louisiana, and Florida who are receiving special exemptions. Whether it is a premium increase or a tax increase on your healthcare plan, costs will rise immediately and full implementation of the program will not begin until 2013.

LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)

You or someone you know may be eligible for help with home heating bills. LIHEAP is a Federally-funded program that helps low-income households with their home energy bills. The federal government does not provide energy assistance directly to the public. Instead, LIHEAP operates in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Indian tribes or tribal organizations, and the U.S. territories.

You can call the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) project. NEAR is a free service providing information on where you can apply for LIHEAP. You can speak to someone at NEAR Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m.- 6 p.m. (Mountain Time). Call the toll-free phone number at: 1-866-674-6327. You may obtain more information at


Youth with Vision from Ray and Clay County visited Wednesday to share their priorities for this session.

Editor's note: this missive has been edited to correct mention of proposed legislation.

Tim Jones: House & Senate Priorities, Safeguarding our Freedoms, Health Care Freedom Act

The second week of Session has been a busy one to say the least.  We returned to the Capitol on Monday still braving frozen temperatures and snow covered sidewalks.  By weeks end though, everyone was enjoying a momentary winter thaw as temperatures rose above the freezing point for the first time in many weeks.  The Capitol swelled with citizens from across the State as the high point of the week saw hundreds of Missourians attending the first ever Missouri State Sovereignty Rally in their support of the House and Senate Health Care Freedom Acts.  Next week will be even more fast paced as committees gear up and begin holding regular hearings on a variety of legislation…


At right: Rep. Tim Jones addresses the media at the joint house/senate press conference on 13 January.

This week, the House and Senate issued a list of joint priorities that they plan to pursue in the early weeks of Session.  As each Chamber begins the intense work of Committee hearings and debate, they intend to keep these priorities in mind as these goals will benefit all Missourians all across the State.

Protecting Your Tax Dollars

Fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets have been a hallmark of the General Assembly for nearly ten years.  The reason that Missouri's budget is not suffering as much as most of the other States in the Union is because of careful planning and wise use of your tax dollars over the past several years.  Missouri will have its budget challenges this year, however, if we tighten our belts and spend our money wisely, making the difficult choices that you have had to make in your family and your business's budget, we will continue to weather this economic storm.  Specific items that we will be pursuing to safeguard and protect your tax dollars include:
  • Urge the Governor to issue prompt income tax refunds;
  • Require legislative oversight for the spending of federal stimulus dollars;
  • Reduce fraud and abuse in the Medicaid system; and
  • Pledge that there will be absolutely no tax increases on Missourians.

Safeguarding Our Freedoms, Protecting our Families, Upholding our Values

In addition to continuing to operate your State Government in a fiscally prudent, conservative fashion so that our State continues to be solvent and viable for our children and grandchildren, we have pledged to do what we can to protect our vital constitutional freedoms and liberties, to continue to secure the health, safety and welfare of all our citizens and continue to uphold our traditional, common sense Missouri values.  Specific items that we will pursue to reach these goals include:
  • Ensure greater transparency and strengthen ethics in government;
  • Oppose a bloated and expanded government, support smaller government;
  • Oppose the federal government takeover of our health care system;
  • Call upon Congress to oppose job destroying cap-and-trade legislation;
  • Make certain that statutes pertaining to clean water are implemented to ensure public safety of our citizens; and
  • Require credit agencies to withhold reporting negative information if it is caused by identity theft.


As I previously discussed, I have sponsored House Joint Resolution 57 which would, if passed and approved by the voters, secure the current rights and freedoms that Missouri citizens have to choose to participate in whatever health care system or care that they want.  Seventy five of my colleagues have co-sponsored this legislation and I am very grateful to them for their support.  You may view the legislation at this link:  On Wednesday, we had a very large turnout here at the Capitol for a rally in support of the bills in the House and the Senate on this very topic.  Passionate Missourians rallied at the Capitol in support of this cause and then toured the entire Capitol and professionally and skillfully made their case for support of the bill to all of the Senators and Representatives in the General Assembly.

The healthcare bill that the federal government is pushing can only hurt Missourians.  Federal mandates will increase costs to our state and on our citizens and we do NOT want any tax hikes, especially during an economic recession.  The results of a tax hike on hard working Missourians would be devastating.

This week we had a letter hand-delivered to the Governor's office, urging him to take action against federal mandates that would lead us to a devastating financial crisis. The Governor MUST speak out on this issue – he is the leader of our state and he owes us an answer.

This week we also sent a letter to Attorney General Chris Koster urging him to join other State's Attorney Generals nation-wide in standing against the "Nebraska Compromise", which would leave Missourians to foot the bill for Nebraska's Medicaid expansion.  It is our hope that Attorney General Koster will review the constitutionality and legality of this compromise – it may violate the United States Constitution.

And as I have mentioned, hundreds of concerned Missourians flooded the halls of the State Capitol to express their displeasure with the federal health care plan currently being considered by Congress.  I was honored to speak at the rally where the main topic of discussion focused on the unfunded mandates contained in the federal plan.  Like me, the folks who attended the rally are concerned the federal plans would create an unfair tax on individuals who do not purchase health insurance and penalize businesses that do not offer it to their employees.  It was energizing to see so many Missourians make their voices heard on this vitally important issue.

As our state faces budget uncertainty, we must be wary of any plan that would potentially cost Missouri taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.  The bottom line is that we must take a stand against the federal government in order to protect our individual rights to make our own choices when it comes to health care coverage.

Tim's Legislative Platform for 2010

So far this year I have sponsored and filed nine 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:

Personal News & Notes

At right: The latest family photo, Christmas 2009

This was our first full week back at the Capitol.  While I am away each week, I owe a major debt of gratitude to so many people back home who continue to make the true sacrifices so that I can continue this journey of public service.  My wife Suzanne and daughters Katie and Abby continue to be a source of great inspiration for me as they maintain the homestead and manage their very busy lives.  My partners at my law firm of Doster Ullom continue to help me manage my caseload and take excellent care of my clients while I work on passing more laws for them to read (they may not be laughing at my little joke).  I want to thank my family and everyone at my law firm for all of their continued generous help and support.

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. And if your travels find you anywhere near the Capitol, please do stop by and visit us in Room 114.  Until our next report, I remain, in your service.

Purgason: The budget in an uncertain economy

Another session of the Missouri General Assembly has begun in Jefferson City with another year of budget and legislative agendas being put forward.  This is shaping up to be a very tough year when it comes to the budget of the state.

To give a brief history of the last two years of our budget, we began the 2010 budget year looking at an $800 million revenue shortfall to try to manage.  But as you remember the federal government came to the state's rescue by sending us around $2 billion of budget stabilization funds.

These funds did nothing to fix our budget problems, but only delayed tough decisions that will have to be made by the legislature in future years when that credit card can no longer be used.  Around half the money was used to cover shortfalls in the 2010 budget with approximately $900 million dollars carried over in reserve to help cover some of the 2011 budget shortfall that is expected this year.

With that in mind, the 2011 budget we will begin working on is expected to begin with an over $1 billion shortfall.  So even with the $900 million of federal money, the state will still be in position of cutting at least over $100 million from this budget.

The biggest problem of all, however, is the 2012 budget which we will begin working on next year.  We will have no reserve funds and an estimated shortfall of over $1 billion if the economy does not make a tremendous turnaround and get back to good positive growth.

Will the economy turn around to save severe budget shortfalls?  Let's look at some other numbers.  Every year before the legislature begins its annual session, the House and Senate budget chairs and their budget staffs, the Governor and his staff, and other economists meet and come up with a consensus budget revenue estimate.  This estimate of state income is what the Governor and the House and Senate base the coming year's budget on.  They then write the budget based on those numbers.

It was quite a shock to me when the estimate was based a 3.6% growth in revenue.  When you think of the past down turn in the economy and the things that caused this downturn, what problems have been fixed?  We still have job losses, the banks still have toxic assets, banks are still not loaning money, businesses are not expanding, home foreclosures and bankruptcies are still happening, our federal Government has spent, promised and printed over $12 trillion, the problems we had a year ago are still with us, and unemployment is still rising.

Remember, the people who now say we are coming out of a recession are the same people who did not see this one coming.  If we allow ourselves to base our budget on unrealistic growth, we will cause more problems when funds needed for our state obligations are withheld because of nonexistent growth in revenues.  I believe a more accurate growth would be at break even especially when this year's growth is at -10.6%.  This means we would require a turnaround of 14.2% to balance the state's budget figures.

Until we face the fact that our national philosophy of borrowing our way to prosperity is proven to be a failure we will continue to struggle as a state and continue to dig ourselves into a hole that it will be impossible to climb out of.

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns.  I can be reached in Jefferson City at (573)751-1882, e-mail to chuck{dot}purgason{at}senate{dot}mo{dot}gov or regular mail at 201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 420, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

Keeney: House Priorities for 2010

First, from my family and my legislative staff; I want to wish you and your family a very Happy New Year with wishes for a blessed, safe and prosperous 2010! Needless to say, yet another legislative session has begun at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City.

House Speaker Ron Richard (R-Joplin) dropped the gavel and opened the Legislative Session with a concise speech that set the agenda for our work this year. The economic challenges continue to be a concern in every household and business across the state. Among the House’s priorities will be, to do what it can, to assist individuals and businesses lift themselves out of this recession and provide them the necessary tools to spur economic growth. The forces of personal initiative and the free market will be the true forces that take us back to growth and prosperity.

Government must spend within its means and keep from running budget deficits like the federal government. Now is the time to make wise fiscal decisions and leave our children and grandchildren with a bright future, not with mountains of debt.

The House has worked passionately for several years to boost economic development in Missouri. That effort will continue this year as we craft an economic package that will aim towards making Missouri a more attractive place to conduct business. We are focused on keeping the jobs that are currently in place, in addition to bringing new jobs to our state.

We are also taking a very close look at revising our state’s ethical standards for elected officials and looking closely at government accountability across the board. The task of the newly created Special Standing Committee on Government Accountability and Ethics Reform will be to create one, bi-partisan House Bill that will restore the public’s trust in its Government by seeking to remove even the appearances of impropriety.

Finally, I remain firmly committed to not raise taxes on working Missourians. Families all over the state are tightening their belts when it comes to their budget, and in Jefferson City we will do the same. Fiscal discipline and prudence will become the bywords for this year’s session. You demand nothing less with your hard-earned tax dollars.

Our House is composed of responsible, hard-working members, and I trust that this will be a productive session that all Missourians can be proud.

We are collecting names of civic groups, local organizations and churches for a “district” directory which will be published later this year. Please call or email my office to provide a phone number and address for a civic group you would like considered.

As always, please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-5912 or by fax at 573-526-9804. You may also write me at: Shelley Keeney; Missouri House of Representatives; State Capitol 409B; Jefferson City, MO 65101-6806 or e-mail me at: Shelley{dot}Keeney{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov

13 January 2010

Engler et al: House and Senate Leaders Announce Shared Priorities

JEFFERSON CITY – With a focus on Missouri's future, House and Senate leaders, joined by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, today announced their shared priorities they plan to accomplish early in the legislative session. Those priorities include protecting Missouri taxpayers and families, ethics reforms and urging Congress to act in the best interest of Missourians.

"In 2010, we will move with great fortitude in facing our state's financial crisis head on," said Kinder. "I am encouraged by our legislative leaders and their commitment to find common-sense solutions for Missouri families.  As politicians in Washington promote more government to fix our problems, we will remain committed to our core principles of life and liberty for all Missouri families.

Speaker of the House Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said together they will take every step they can to keep hard-working Missourians' pay in their own pockets. Richard also placed an emphasis on economic development and job creation in Missouri.

"The General Assembly serves the people of Missouri, and we will work to produce meaningful legislation that directly improves the lives of our citizens," said Richard. "Creating jobs, retaining the jobs already in place and making Missouri an attractive business climate is the key to the success of our state and the heartbeat of Missouri citizens – this has been, and will continue to be a primary focus."

Senate Leader Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, reinforced the call to protect taxpayers. He added that Missouri's best economic development tool is an educated work force.

"We must not raise taxes and we must continue our commitment of making education our top budget priority," Shields said. "We are facing an on-going budget crisis and to succeed, we must have a governor who will do his job and present a balanced budget that is not short-sighted."

Senate Majority Floor Leader Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, and House Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, said the Senate and House would continue to build a partnership that will get things done for the people of Missouri.

Engler added that the House and Senate will call on the governor to issue prompt income tax refunds.

"Every Missourian owed an income tax refund should get that money back as soon as possible," Engler said. "When the governor holds onto rightfully owed refunds like he did last year, he's essentially taking an interest-free loan on the backs' of taxpayers without their permission."

"Unlike Washington D.C., we want to make it very clear in Missouri that we are listening to our citizens and committed to taking a common sense approach to solving our problems," said Tilley. "Because I believe, despite a tough environment and issues with the federal government, that we are going to be successful in Missouri because our state legislature will work together for our citizens.  Whether it's greater accountability, more transparency, or prudent fiscal spending we will deliver for Missouri."

The leaders said other early priorities would include requiring more oversight of federal stimulus dollars spent in Missouri, preventing double-dipping into state unemployment benefits, and stopping Medicaid crooks.

The Second Regular Session of the 95th Missouri General Assembly began Jan. 6. The leaders outlined their shared priorities one week before the Governor is anticipated to unveil his budget in the State of the State.

12 January 2010

Rep. Joe Smith honors Military Veteran

From the Missouri House of Representatives Communications Office

Kraus: 2010 Session Priorities

Three overall priorities are in place to guide the 2010 session.  In brief, the state budget must be balanced despite severe fiscal constraints, our economy needs revitalization, and our work at the Capitol must be conducted with the highest ethical standards.

In devising the state budget, I take very seriously the responsible management of our tax dollars.  Washington may spend as if there is no tomorrow – but that is not how we have managed the budget in my five years in the Missouri House of Representatives.  You can also be confident that we will not raise your taxes.  I know that families all across the state are tightening their budget and cutting expenses, and we must follow their lead.  I do not want to burden our citizens with higher taxes; a better solution is to control spending.

Last session, the House of Representatives crafted and passed a comprehensive jobs bill that was eventually passed by the Senate and signed into law by the Governor.  In 2010, our effort to grow Missouri's business climate continues to be a top priority. In this effort, I look forward to joining my colleagues in the House to boost Missouri's economy and put our citizens back to work.

This year, another big issue will be ethics reform.  In crafting legislation, the goal is to remove even the appearance of impropriety in the legislative process.  Regardless of party affiliation, we all can agree the sanctity of the legislative process must be preserved so that this and future legislatures can honorably serve the will of the people. This is also a bipartisan issue as members from both sides of the aisle want to ensure our system of government has the level of transparency and accountability that the people of Missouri deserve.

The Nuts and Bolts

With the session priorities in place, bills filed, and Capitol halls crowded and noisy, we now allow time for democratic representation to work.  The first two weeks of session are mostly devoted to setting up the process.  After a bill is filed, it is usually assigned to a relevant committee for discussion and public hearing.  All committee hearings are required to be announced with a 24-hour advance notification.  At these meetings, not only do we as legislators have a chance to debate and question a bill, but the public is always welcome and given the opportunity to both listen to the debate and offer comments.

Some of the most important work on a bill is done through the open and transparent process of committee hearings.  If there is an error in the bill or public input brings up an issue that needs to be considered in order for the bill to be effective to its purpose, an amendment can be written, debated, and incorporated into the bill at that time.  Sometimes the discussion leads to major changes in the legislation and leads to a House Committee Substitute.

I look forward to this work and to hearing the differing views on legislation brought before the committees on which I serve.  I want to ensure that, if new legislation is brought to the floor, it is based upon sound conservative principles that most help the citizens of Missouri and lead to a prosperous state.

2010 Open Forum

I am always looking for opportunities to hear from my constituents.  Open forums are a great opportunity to let me know your concerns about state government.  This year, I will be hosting one at John Knox Village. The forum will start with a short presentation on legislative work and then the floor will be open for questions and comments.  If you have any questions about this event, please contact my office at (573) 751-1459.  I hope to see you there.

Open Forum
Places Manhattan Room
John Knox Village
1001 NW Chipman Road
Lee's Summit, Missouri 64081
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

With the beginning of the 2010 Legislative Session, the Capitol Report will be issued about once a week. 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.

11 January 2010

Ruestman: Making Property Tax Predictable

Missourians expect the government to spend their tax dollars wisely.  The Republican Majority in Jefferson City has taken a strong stance against tax increases over the past eight years.  After gaining the majority in 2002 the atmosphere in Jefferson City changed for the better.  I was newly elected at that time and I vowed to represent the taxpayers who had no lobbyist(s) protecting their interest.

Over the past few years I have heard increasingly from senior citizens and young families who are unable to budget for large property tax increases at a time when many are fighting to pay their mortgage.  The burden of ever increasing property taxes makes it even more difficult to meet other family needs as well.

This session, I have proposed House Bill 1350 which would offer some relief to those struggling against increasing property taxes.  Under the bill a homeowner would be able to choose how their property is assessed from three options:
  • The assessment from the assessor;
  • The purchase price; or,
  • The appraised value as determined by a certified appraiser.
After choosing an option, the assessment would remain the same except for an increase of the lesser of 2% or the Consumer Price Index on the assessment.  When the deed to the property is changed or the property is sold, the new owner would then choose one of the three options and reassessment would occur.  It is important to note that this would not decrease revenue to taxing entities, but simply slow the growth of revenue.  This would make property taxes more predictable and allow a stable budget process.  It would also prevent spikes in the amount of taxes you would owe from one year to the next.

Property tax is an issue that needs to be addressed.  I would like to hear from constituents who have concerns about their property taxes.  This is an important issue that members of the General Assembly should hear about from their constituents.

If you have problems, questions or wish to express concern over an issue, please do not hesitate to contact me or my Legislator Assistant, Jonathan, at my Capitol office either by phone 573-751-9801 or by e-mail at Marilyn{dot}Ruestman{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.

Cunningham et al: Notice of Health Care Freedom Act rally

Friends of the Health Care Freedom Act (SJR25 Senators Jane Cunningham & Jim Lembke, HJR57 Reps. Tim Jones & Brian Nieves):

There will be a rally for the legislation, seminars and lobbying of legislators this Wednesday at the Capitol starting at 10am sponsored by a number of grass roots groups which are listed on the flyer below.

For locations of carpools and caravans from the St. Louis area go to: and click on the 10am event on the Jan. 13th calendar entry.

Come if you can to all or part of the event.  The more the merrier.  There will likely be other rallies during the session as well as hearings on these bills because the interest in this issue is growing thanks to good folks like you who are letting your voice be heard.

The Health Care Freedom Act will shield you from the federal mandates by protecting your right to make your own medical and insurance choices.  This legislation is being introduced in over half the states in the nation and is THE sovereignty line in the sand.

Sen. Jane Cunningham