The Chief Justice also stated his rationale for supporting Missouri's non-partisan court plan.
In a move applauded by those on both sides of the aisle, the Chief Justice announced that in this difficult economic environment, the judicial branch of Missouri's government will temporarily give up $2 million to the state to fill funding holes elsewhere until economic recovery progresses.
At the same time, he reminded the assembly that our state judges and public defenders are paid poorly based on the workload they are carrying. Attracting great legal minds to our state going forward must be considered as we budget for our future.
This situation is one of many that will be considered as we adjust our cuts and spending in this difficult budget year. As you know, Missouri's Constitution requires the state budget be balanced.
That explains why additional budget cuts were made by the Governor this week. With January revenues down over 22% from last year, there are few, if any areas of the budget that will not be affected. This most recent round of cuts come from areas including the Alzheimer's Association, Parents as Teachers, the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, and through additional elimination of about 120 governmental positions.
As we continue to hunker down and make decisions about how to best create jobs, boost our economy and take care of our citizens, I appreciate hearing from you.
Thank you for your confidence as I work to serve you and our state.
Needy Families and State Elected Officials Subject to Drug TestingTANF Bill Passes First Round Vote in House
Perhaps you remember last year when I testified against drug testing parents of needy families, who would be tested simply because of their need to turn to the government for assistance while looking for employment. Most recipients of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) are women, single heads of household in their families. The federal dollars they receive would be about $58 less per month for a period of a year if they were to test positive for drug use. My testimony last year was based on a trip to the grocery store where I purchased $58 dollars worth of food to demonstrate what this money might provide to the children of those in need. Last year, this legislation passed in the House and was defeated in the Senate.
This year, the recent passage of this legislation [HB1377] in the House includes the provision that officials (legislators and judges) elected to state office in Missouri will also be subject to drug testing. In other words, "What's good for the goose…"
In Memoriam: Melanie ShouseMemorial Service, Sunday, February 14, 2:30 PM Central Reform Congregation
Melanie Shouse will be missed by her friend and fellow advocate, LaDonna Appelbaum. Melanie will be missed by family and friends. Melanie will be missed by those who know of the work she has done, and those who may eventually benefit from it. Melanie will be missed, but not forgotten. Those who knew her, or those who are just learning about her are invited to a memorial service honoring Melanie's too-short life and inspired work.
We know we have lost a selfless and strong advocate for Health Care Reform as we remember Melanie Shouse. Melanie's personal battle with stage four breast cancer ended this past Saturday.
Her personal experiences unleashed in her a passion to bring about reform so that others would not have to suffer the way she did. Horrific enough to have cancer. Then, to suffer the additional burdens and hurdles through insurance and health care policies not designed to help those in the most dire circumstances simply adds deep insult to injury.
Melanie understood the meaning of advocacy and was determined to make the world a better place. She will be remembered and admired as an inspiring woman with unmatched strength, perseverance, and determination. Please join in the celebration of Melanie Shouse's life on Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.
Freshmen Dems' Learning SessionsThank you...Public Transit Officials
We had representation from around the state as our panel this week included Adella Jones from St. Louis Metro, Mark Huffer from the Kansas City Area Transit Authority, Deanna Borland representing the Missouri Public Transportation Association and Bob Jackson on behalf of Springfield Utilities.
It was informative to hear what the plans, both short and long term, are for public transit throughout the state. It is clear that public transit is essential to a state trying to attract new businesses, drive the economy and help get employees to work.
This Wednesday, we will hear from Department of Agriculture Director Jon Hagler on CAFOs and farmland property tax classifications and Sallie Hemenway from the Department of Economic Development on tax credits being subject to appropriations.
Disaster Relief Information
In the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or tornado, these are important tips to keep you safe. All of this information can be found on FEMA's (Federal Emergency Management Agency) website, http://www.fema.gov/hazard/index.shtm
If you are inside:
- DROP to the ground and take cover under a sturdy table or chair. If there is nothing stable by you, crouch in an inside corner. Cover your face and neck with your arms.
- Stay away from glass and windows, outside doors and walls.
- If you are in bed, stay there until the earthquake ends. If there is a heavy light fixture above you, move to the nearest safe place.
- Use a doorway for shelter only if it is near you and you know it is strongly supported.
- Stay inside until shaking stops.
- DO NOT use elevators
If you are outdoors:
- Stay where you are
- Move away from poles, wires, and buildings. The greatest danger occurs when directly outside buildings, at exits, and along exterior walls.
If in a moving vehicle:
- Stop as quickly as possible and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, tree, overpasses, and utility wires.
- Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped.
If you are inside:
- >Go to a predesignated safe room, basement, cellar, or lowest level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room. Put as many walls between you and the outside as possible. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
If you are in a vehicle:
- Get out immediately and go to a nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes offer little protection from tornadoes, even when tied down.
- DO NOT try to outrun a tornado in a car or truck
If you are outside:
- Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.
- Do not get under an overpass or bridge.
- Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
Honoring Our Veterans
Veteran George Newell, Senator David Pearce, Rep. Schupp, and Rep. Paul Quinn, District 9, at a reception honoring Missouri Veterans on Tuesday.
Conservationists and Environmentalists Visit
It was busy in the Capitol this week as so many of Missouri's conservationists joined forces! Thank you to those who came to the office. Efforts were focused on advocating for protection of Missouri's precious natural resources. Messages from advocates included efforts to increase energy efficiency, ensure water quality, protect state parks and promote LEED-certified buildings.