Weather-Related Disclaimer: missives from legislators concerning road conditions, although timely and important, should be considered snapspots in time. For the most recent travel information, please consult MoDOT's Web site at

except when the post starts "MO Expat", all content published on Missives from Missouri is written and supplied by the noted legislator. Said missives will not necessarily reflect the views of Kyle Hill, the operator of Missives from Missouri, and as such the operator does not assume responsibility for its content. More information
Share this missive:

13 February 2010

Schupp: Committee Notes, Freshmen Dems' Learning Sessions, Special Elections for State Office Vacancies

It is easy to stay busy at the Capitol.  Most of my meetings start at 8:00 AM and I usually get back to my apartment between 11:00 P.M. and midnight.  Time goes by quickly.  This past week, my travel buddy, Rep. Kirkton and I took the train to Jefferson City.  It is a wonderful way to travel.  It means a lot to have the ability to read or rest for those couple of hours each way.  Living within walking distance of the Capitol means there is really no need for a car.  It has worked out to be a terrific arrangement for me this year.

We will be focused on budget this week since the budget chair has given us a committee deadline of Feb. 18th to get our work done in our appropriations committees.  Having received the budget mark up booklets at the end of this week means a lot of us will be studying over the weekend.  I will be in Kansas City with Mark, helping move my father-in-law into a new place.  The drive time home will be a good time to continue budget review.

It was an honor to meet with members of the Hispanic Chamber and join in on a small group discussion about issues facing the Hispanic Community.  I thank Jorge Riopedre for the opportunity to be involved.

Thank you for your confidence and this opportunity to serve.  It is an honor to work for you and our state.



Of Note…

From my Committees

Rep. Schupp (middle), alongside Rep. Mary Still (left) and Rep. Sue Schoemehl (right), questioning a witness during the House Higher Education committee meeting this Tuesday.

Higher Education

The Higher Education Committee heard testimony on House Bill 1473 that lowers the grade point average required for renewing an Access Missouri Scholarship from 2.5 (C+) to 2.0 (C) for the first two years of the program.  Initially, I was opposed to this seemingly "dumbing down" of the GPA requirement, but testimony provided insights I hadn't considered.  First of all, this program is about access to college.  Student recipients are getting these dollars based on need, not because of merit.  State merit scholarships, by the way, also require a 2.5 GPA.  We want our students to be able to attend and successfully graduate from college.  Many of these recipients are the first generation in their families to go to college.  Freshmen come in learning to make decisions, juggle schedules and use their time without necessarily living under the watchful eye of their families.  Some have to work in addition to learning in this new environment.  A "C" average for the first two years of college is not unreasonable, and to take away the Access Missouri Scholarship would absolutely mean that many of these students who could go on to succeed and earn a degree would lose their opportunity because college simply would not be affordable without this aid.  This is not Lake Wobegone, "…where are the children are above average."

Appropriations for Public Safety and Corrections

The committee met for five hours to take a cursory glance at the hundreds of pages of budget descriptions from each department.  Through meetings with other ranking members organized by Rep. Sara Lampe, our Ranking Member of Budget, we reviewed the mark up process that will be used this year to make recommendations for movement of dollars within each of our committee areas.  This is a different process than last year, and will likely be more transparent.  Within each of our appropriations committees, we will have to offer decreasing amendments in order add increasing amendments, so within each department there will not be any net budget increases.  We are only allowed to move or manipulate the budgets within Public Safety and Corrections...we cannot look to other areas of the budget for increases or decreases.  Changes across budget areas can happen within the Budget Committee or on the House Floor.  Our Committee Liaison, Mr. Joe Roberts, has been generous with his time and met with some of us twice to address questions, help us understand how to look for areas where changes might be made, and prepare for the budget meetings.

Children and Families

This week, The Special Standing Committee on Children and Families heard testimony on two bills.  HB (House bill) 1365 was described by its sponsor as a bill that ensures that pharmacies are not required to stock abortafacients, but that is not what the bill states.  Currently, no pharmacy, or any business for that matter, is required to stock and sell a particular item.  What this bill does is incorrectly and inadvertantly lumps contraceptives in with abortafacients and allows the legislature to override the powers of the judiciary by exempting pharmacies from liability should a particular customer have a grievance.  I will be offering amendments to correct the inaccuracies and allow an agrieved consumer the opportunity to be heard.

We also heard House Bill 1546 that ask the woman choosing abortion to provide personal information about her decision in order for records to be kept as to why this choice was made.  The information will not be statistically significant, since women who choose to provide this information are a self-selected group.  The language is somewhat unclear in that the word "required" is used even though this participation is voluntary.  The bigger question is about the real purpose of the bill.  What problem does it seek to resolve?  If we find that unintended pregnancies are the result of lack of information about family planning and contraception, will we expand programs to help provide that information and access?  If we find that women are not choosing abortion due to coercion, will we quit hearing that type of legislation? If we find that women believe they cannot afford to have another child, will we help with family assistance and support for that woman and her family? Is this simply another attempt to intimidate women who are making a very difficult decision?

Freshmen Dems’ Learning Sessions

This week, we found our time well spent yet again as two highly informative learning sessions took place to help us make thoughtful and well informed  decisions when addressing future legislative issues.

Sallie Hemenway, from the Department of Economic Development (DED), talked to us about tax credits.  There were a lot of questions as legislators work to ensure they understand how the various credits work and what they do.  The focus of the discussion was on proposed legislation that would subject tax credits to the appropriations process.  DED has not taken a position on this legislation to date.  There were so many questions as we went through the topic (everyone felt they could have listened and learned from Sallie for hours, but we only had one scheduled,) that the question itself was only addressed in this way:  Subjecting tax credits to the appropriations process will change the time line for the developer(s) of the project.  The legislative body will have to determine whether that is something it feels is beneficial to impose.

Our second session for the day (we are fortunate to have a group of people who want to learn, and those who are willing to help us do so) included Dr. Jon Hagler, Director of Agriculture, and Davis Minton, Department Director of Natural Resources.  Our discussion and questions focused on CAFOS( Confined Animal Feeding Operations), local versus state control and information about "puppy mills."  Animal welfare groups and animal lovers in our district have been especially concerned about puppy mills in the state.  Under Dr. Hagler's leadership, a new program, Operation Bark Alert has been implemented.  It is the belief of the department that the big offenders and news headliners exposing  horrible breeding practices and accommodations under which man's best friends live  in Missouri are created by the unlicensed breeders.  Resources for the department are scarce.  It will require additional personnel (currently there are 11 inspectors for the entire state) to continue to inspect the licensed breeders, pounds and facilities and to seek out the unlicensed breeders and shut them down.  To learn more about the department's activities and innovations, you can "google" the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Next week the caucus will hear from Jason Hall of the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC), and Dr. Anthony Harris from the University of Missouri, about Missouri's advancement and opportunities in the biotechnology and plant, animal and life sciences fields, and Cynthia Kramer, executive director of SCOPE (Science and Citizens Operating for Purpose and Exploration.)

In the News...

Governor Nixon appointed Major Ronald Replogle as superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol on February 8.  He is a 26-year patrol veteran and currently is commander of its Criminal Investigation Bureau.

Congratulations to Major Replogle.

House Bill 1497 was approved by the house this week. It requires the governor to call a special election to fill a vacancy to the offices of lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer or state auditor. This would take away the governor's ability to appoint someone for the remainder of the term.  It has fiscal implications and time ramifications.  This bill will, for example, take the power away from the Governor to appoint a replacement should Secretary of State Robin Carnahan win in her bid for election to the U.S. Senate.

The House gave final approval for HB 1377, which requires that TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) recipients be screened and required to take a drug test. If found to be using an unprescribed drug, the $58/month received in benefits will be taken away for one year.  The people who receive TANF benefits are mostly (78%) women with an average in the range of 2-3 children.  This group is in the process of looking for work.  Should the State find them to be drug users, it does nothing to help them overcome drug addiction.  It is punitive, and places this poverty-stricken family in an even more tenuous situation by taking away dollars that could be going for rent and utilities.  This year's form of the bill also requires drug testing for state elected officials and judges.  What is lacking in that regard, is the same kind of punitive response to a positive drug-use finding than TANF recipients receive.

12 February 2010

Burlison: An Open Letter to the Federal Government: Balance the Nation Budget!

You are a hard-working Missouri taxpayer who has bills, expenses, and every day items which you budget for. For most of us, it’s a common occurrence to sit down at the kitchen table at the end of the week and balance our budgets. In state government, we do the same thing. Every year, we go through the budget line by line and make the tough decisions necessary to keep our state on track. It’s not easy, and no one likes to do it, but it’s the responsible thing to do.

For our federal government it’s a completely different story. A balanced budget seems to be a foreign concept to them. This has caused the national budget to be out of balance by over 40% this year. In December of 2009 and again this month Moodys Investor Services threatened that the United States would lose its triple A bond rating if the budget deficit was not reduced.

We are in the midst of what economists are calling, “The Great Recession” and spending our way to prosperity isn’t the answer. Instead, we need to be putting to use wise fiscal planning and responsible use of your tax dollars.

That is why, this week the House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution 34 and 35 sponsored by our Budget Chairman, Allen Icet and Representative Chris Kelly, asking Congress to balance the national budget.

HCR 34 & 35 is an official message from the Missouri General Assembly, and if adopted by Congress, has a chance of becoming an amendment to the United States Constitution. An official change will depend on ratification by ¾’s of our nation’s states. If passed Missouri would join thirty other states that have already made requests for a balanced budget amendment. Only three more states would be needed to urge congress to act.

With a budget that is over 40% out of balance, and a recent vote to raise the debt ceiling by 1.9 trillion dollars, we need to bring our elected officials in Washington DC back to reality.

You, as constituents, can help. If you agree with our resolution to require the national government to balance the budget, contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives and let them know you support us in this effort.

Congress needs to stop spending and start standing up for the future of America. This means sitting down at the table and making the hard decisions the responsible way.

11 February 2010

Rupp: Let’s Keep State Government Out Of Your Bank Account

We’re all starting to think about taxes, as the end of January signals the end of the mailings you get of all the different tax forms that apply to your finances. As sure as we’re quickly approaching spring, it won’t be long until the April 15th tax-filing deadline rolls around.

The governor has been thinking about your taxes as well. Individual income tax collections are down 11.2 percent for the year, from $3.23 billion last year to $2.88 billion this year. Individual collections are down 14.5 percent for the month of January, which led the governor to withhold another $73.8 million in order to keep the budget balanced for this fiscal year. For those of you counting at home, the governor has withheld more than $800 million in order to keep the budget balanced.

Now, instead of closing loopholes in the tax code, or determining a course of action in which the state government actually looks for even more ways to save money, our governor came up with a “big brother” idea. His thought: maybe the Department of Revenue should be able to get into our bank accounts and seize money when taxes go unpaid. Bank seizures are part of the proposed new laws the governor wants to balance his budget on, to the tune of $22 million this year and $49 million in 2012. Somehow I doubt that these new laws will get a warm reception in the Legislature.

There is no doubt that we might be coming out of a historic recession. While it is the time to rethink how we do business at the State Capitol, it is not the time to stick our hand into the pockets of those who might be distracted by record unemployment, 401K ruin, or health insurance benefits that are running out.

Since this idea of expanding the reach of government was floated out there, legislators like me have said we are vehemently opposed to such an idea. The governor is now saying that financial institutions that house your money can voluntarily offer your information, similar to what they do in the cases of failed child support payments.

Most Missourians are hard working people that pay their taxes on time, or, if they don’t, they have a valid reason, and it’s between them and the IRS and Department of Revenue. Missourians would prefer that no form of government have access to their money, without their knowledge or consent.

Just because there are extraordinary circumstances, that doesn’t mean we’re going to give extraordinary powers to the executive branch. I will be one of the first to sign up when it comes to keeping the government out of our accounts.

You can bank on it.


I will be hosting a Lincoln County Town Hall Meeting to hear the questions and concerns of citizens in my district on Monday, March 8, 2010. It will be held at the Lincoln County Health Department, Community Room #5, Highway H, Troy, MO at 7 pm.


Please save the date for a St. Charles County Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, March 6, 2010. More information will be forthcoming on time and location.

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.

Purgason: Building Castles in the Sky

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." -Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, May 28, 1816

As I mentioned in a previous column, the Governor and the House and Senate budget leaders have agreed upon the revised consensus revenue estimate (CRE) for the remainder of this fiscal year which ends on June 30, 2010, predicting that revenues will be 6.4% less than expected at $6.97 billion in general revenue. The fiscal year 2010 budget was passed based upon an overly optimistic revenue estimate of $7.76 billion.

They also agreed upon the consensus revenue estimate for the next budget year which begins on July 1, 2010, suggesting a growth in state general revenue collections of 3.5% resulting in $7.223 billion of general revenue.

It was revealed last week that January revenues are 22.36% less than they were in January of last year with year to date revenue collections now falling to a negative 12.55% down from 10.5% last month year to date. As a result, Governor Nixon announced another round of withholds from the current budget of $74 million.

Unlike Congress, we must have a balanced budget. The state of Missouri can't print money to satisfy unrestrained and politically motivated spending habits - even in an election year. To have a balanced budget, the General Assembly and the governor's office must build a state budget at or, preferably, below that target.

The Governor's budget proposal would spend $8.317 billion of general revenue, a number that exceeds the agreed upon CRE by $1.09 billion, or 15% - this is not a balanced budget proposal. The governor would pay for these excessive increases with federal "stimulus" money, which I contend is federal "dependence" money. This money, which Missouri is expected to receive, is about $900 million plus a phantom $300 million that might come from the federal government even though the legislation has not been passed by Congress yet.

After years of fiscal discipline, a budget is now being proposed that relies on significant one-time monies that may or may not materialize. Our budget difficulties earlier this decade stemmed from uncontrolled spending that relied on one-time monies. This can't be done, but politicians are often afraid of making the difficult decisions that require discipline, because they fear unpopularity, especially in an election year like this one.

The disciplined decisions of the past few years have put Missouri in better financial position to weather this economic downturn than most states. Missouri remains one of only seven states that still have a triple-A bond rating from the three major bond rating agencies.

The proposed budget suggests that $900 million of one-time monies be used to pay for ongoing operating costs of government and its programs. This money will not be available next year.

It may be considered good politics by some, but it is lousy fiscal policy. We can't allow the federal "stimulus" to lead us down the path to ever more federal dependency and greater threats to the pocketbooks of Missourians.

How out of touch with our existing economic situation can we be to accept a budget that requires 15% more in general revenue knowing that we are currently experiencing 9.6% unemployment in Missouri? It just won't happen - even the 3.5% CRE is too high and is setting us up for even bigger budget problems next year and for years after.

This is a time for restraint, a time to prioritize, and a time to drive efficiencies into the state bureaucracy. It is a time to shed the hindrances that hold back innovation and invention, a time to empower Missourians to build dreams, not sustain them where they are.

People are outraged with the unparalleled and unabated spending spree in Washington, D.C., that denies the economic reality that we live in. Missouri cannot, and must not, follow in those footsteps.

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

Tim Jones: Job Creation Taskforce Meets, Special Elections for Statewide Office, Telling Congress to Balance the Federal Budget

At right: Rep. Jones presents a bill relating to the financial & banking industry in the General Laws Committee.

Winter storms continued to roll across the plains and sweep through the Midwest before repeatedly pounding the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states as we all braved the highways and country roads on our return to a snowbound Jefferson City.  Conversely, debate and discussion continued to heat up within the halls of the Capitol as we considered several very necessary and very timely good government principles this week in passing legislation calling upon our federal government to pass a balanced budget amendment, in requiring welfare recipients to be drug tested and in offering our citizens the right to vote to elect any vacancies amongst our state wide office holders.  Looming large over all these topics is the continued debate over the most appropriate way to balance our state's budget during these difficult economic times…

"The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits." –Thomas Jefferson

Job Creation Taskforce Meets

House Republicans remain committed to ensuring there are high-paying, quality jobs available for every Missourian who wants one.  On Tuesday, the Speaker's Job Retention and Economic Growth Task Force met for the second time.  The panel includes approximately 25 people, experts in their respective fields, who have worked in Missouri economic development for years.  Their goal is to find ways the House can help make Missouri competitive on the national level for everything from manufacturing and major industry to small business.  Members were able to evaluate incentive packages that other states have successfully used to attract thousands of jobs.  The goal of House Republicans is to identify areas where the state could be more efficient and effective at putting Missourians to work.  We strongly believe in a robust free market where business thrives.  There is no better way to bolster Missouri's economy than through the efforts of personal initiative.

Special Elections for Statewide Office

Nothing is more important than the will of the people.  As elected officials, we serve for their well being.  This is why the House passed HB 1497 this week that will require the Governor to call a special election for any vacancy that occurs in a statewide office.  Currently, the Governor appoints the successor for the remaining balance of the term. We all saw what happened in Illinois when Governor Blagojevich attempted to sell a US Senate Seat to the highest bidder.  In the Missouri House we will not allow this to happen.  All political power originates from the people. Why should any particular governor's voice on who should be our State Treasurer or Secretary of State be more important than the voice of the people of Missouri at the ballot box?  It is not and that is why I supported HB 1497 and participated in a positive way during the debate on this measure on the House Floor.

Telling Congress to Balance the Federal Budget

For too long, Congress has continued to add billions, now trillions, of dollars annually to our federal debt.  Because the federal government is not constitutionally required to pass annual balanced budgets, like 49 out of the 50 states, this process has continued to spiral out of control.  The federal debt now exceeds 12 trillion dollars and Congress has shown no interest in putting a stop to this dangerous trend.  That is why the House Republicans passed Budget Chairmen Allen Icet's House Resolution 34 [HCR34] which urges the United States Congress to submit a balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification.  We must stop this trend of out-of-control deficit spending that passes the cost of our projects and programs on to our children and grandchildren.  With this resolution, the Missouri House calls on Congress to put a stop to the fiscal irresponsibility and urges them to finally pass a balanced budget amendment.

Few things frustrate the American people more than the out-of-control Congressional spending that has continued for decades.  Our families recognize that we must make enough money to cover our expenses and when times get tough, we must make tough decisions. But unfortunately, Congress has failed to recognize these common-sense values.

This week, Senator McCaskill criticized Missouri's General Assembly and Governor for utilizing the federal stimulus funds to plug major budget gaps that she forced on Missouri over a year ago.

Speaker Ron Richard responded, "Last year, we wanted to send the federal bailout funds back to Washington, DC – but that was not acceptable to Senator McCaskill.  Then, we wanted to send the bailout dollars back to Missouri taxpayers in the form of a tax rebate – that was not acceptable to Senator McCaskill either.  Since the bailout dollars have been received, Missouri has lost an additional 62,600 jobs and the unemployment rate sits at 9.6%.  Senator McCaskill's federal bailout has not worked.  I urge you to stop spending and start following the fiscally conservative lead that Missouri Republicans in the House of Representatives have practiced for nearly a decade."

Currently, our federal government has racked up an estimated 100 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities that our nation's children and grandchildren will be left to pay.  Unfortunately, just this week, President Obama submitted his budget recommendations to Congress which included 3.8 trillion dollars in spending; 1.6 trillion of which we cannot afford and will be piled on top of the more than 12 trillion dollars of national debt that we already have.

Requiring the federal government to balance its budget each year is long overdue.  For decades, efforts to pass a balanced budget have come up short.  I believe that to ensure a fiscally stable future, our federal government must begin to live within its means and it must start down that long road now and without further delay.


I am the chief sponsor of HJR 57. 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 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:


Thank you all very much for your continued support of this very important resolution and I will continue to keep you posted on its progress.


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 February 20, 27; March 6, 13, 20 and April 3, 10 and 17.  For more information, please visit:


Scott Joplin, who lived in both St. Louis and Sedalia, was known as "The King of Ragtime".  He wrote the famous "Maple Leaf Rag" after a club in Sedalia.  Josephine Baker, a St. Louis native, was a civil rights activist who used her musical talents to help the African American community.

IRS Free File Program

All taxpayers making less than $57,000 in 2009 can visit and use the industry's top tax preparation software for FREE.  Users receive step by step assistance to prepare, complete and file tax returns online…and at NO COST!

Tim's Legislative Platform for 2010

So far this year I have sponsored and filed thirteen 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:

Over the past two weeks, another of my bills was heard in committee and several of my bills continue to move steadily through the legislative process.  I will continue to work hard to advance good government legislation that benefits all Missourians and will continue to keep you updated on the progress and status of the bills.

Personal News & Notes

I have returned to the very busy routine of extremely full weeks of practicing at my law firm, legislating and debating at the Capitol and of course spending as much quality time as possible with my wonderful family.  I must continue to thank my wife Suzanne and daughters Katie and Abby for all of their continued sacrifices.  Their support and encouragement sustain me in the long days and nights as Session begins to pick up steam.  This will be an exciting and busy year and I encourage all of you to participate in this excellent adventure and journey that we call democracy!

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.

Stouffer: Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients

We hear a lot about people taking responsibility. In an age where government is monitored for the amount of money it spends, and on what, it is time to ensure all of us take responsibility. I believe those receiving help from the state should help themselves.

I am sponsoring a bill that would require drug testing for those who apply for, and are on, temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) — formerly referred to as welfare. Senate Bill 607 states if a TANF applicant or recipient tests positive for drug use, he or she will be ineligible for the benefits for three years, when a second review would be held. If a parent is deemed ineligible for TANF, benefits for his or her child would not be affected. The program would be developed by the Missouri Department of Social Services.

Drug testing happens throughout the real world. Most employers use it. For instance, Wal-Mart drug tests people before hiring them. Over-the-road truck drivers are required to take drug tests at random. I take a drug test at least once a year in order to keep my commercial driver’s license. Athletes also have to take random drug tests. In this case, we are talking about people who either are on or want to be on public assistance. To me, this is a common sense issue. Why is it okay for somebody on public assistance to be abusing drugs? It should not be. Senate Bill 607 simply requires the same standards to be used for TANF as are applied to most every other aspect of our lives.

I realize there are some folks who think I am simply picking on a certain percentage of our population. This is not the case. Senate Bill 607 has a clear goal: to help some of the less fortunate in Missouri help themselves. Drug testing will move our welfare population toward a healthier and less costly lifestyle. As I stated earlier, funding for eligible children would continue. There is no need to punish them for something that is not their fault.

There are some other bills that are similar to this proposal. Whether or not the bills are combined into some sort of compromise remains to be seen. There is still much left to be done on this bill for passage out of committee, onto the Senate floor and eventually to the Missouri House. I truly believe, in this time of economic uncertainty, we have a duty and an obligation to the taxpayers of this state to show we are spending their money wisely. Letting folks get away with abusing drugs while they are receiving government money is not the best way to do things. I pray this issue gets the attention it deserves as we continue in this legislative session.

Joe Smith: Job Creation Taskforce Meets

House Republicans remain committed to making sure there is a high-paying, quality job available for every Missourian who wants one. On Tuesday, the Speaker’s Job Retention and Economic Growth Task Force met for the second time. The panel includes approximately 25 people, experts in their respective fields, who have worked in Missouri economic development for years. Their goal is to find ways the House can help make Missouri competitive on the national level for everything from manufacturing and major industry to small business.

Members were able to evaluate incentive packages that other states have successfully used to attract thousands of jobs. Missouri has been competitive and successful in many instances at recruiting quality employers for the state, but the goal of House Republicans and the Speaker’s Task Force is to identify areas where the state could be more efficient and effective at putting Missourians to work. We strongly believe in a robust free market where business thrives, especially Missouri’s small businesses. There is no better way to bolster Missouri’s economy than through the efforts of personal initiative.

Joe Smith: House Leaders Respond to Senator McCaskill’s Criticisms, Urge Her to Stop Wasteful Spending

On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill publicly criticized Republican leaders in Missouri. She said we shouldn’t complain about the federal bailout dollars sent to our state because those dollars were meant to help us and create jobs. I’m afraid that Senator McCaskill didn’t do her research before making this unfounded assertion. Since the bailout dollars have been received, Missouri has lost an additional 62,600 jobs and the unemployment rate sits at 9.6%. The bailout didn’t work.

Last year, when Republicans in House of Representatives heard that a federal bailout package was headed to our state, we wanted to send it back. We don’t agree with the bailout mentality and we don’t believe that spending our way out of the recession is the answer.

When we asked to send the money back, we learned that the money, which are Missouri tax dollars, would be sent to other states. This was unacceptable to us – we shouldn’t be bailout out the states around us with our own tax dollars. Senator McCaskill criticized us and called us, “short-sighted” for wanting to send back the bailout. We were ridiculed by Congress. Then, we decided to take the bailout money and send it back to the people of Missouri in the form of a tax rebate. Well, Senator McCaskill didn’t like that either. In fact, Washington DC sent us a very clear message that sending the money back in a tax rebate would be illegal and not what the bailout was intended for. This left us with one of two choices: sending the money back and allowing Missouri tax dollars to flow to other states, or using the bailout for the state of Missouri and do what the federal government told us to do. As you can see, we didn’t have much freedom with our own tax dollars.

This is not a partisan issue. This is a very serious issue concerning the future of the prosperity of our country. I am a firm believer that Senator McCaskill, who voted to raise the debt ceiling by 1.9 trillion dollars, needs to listen to what the citizens of Missouri are saying and stop trying to win a political battle. We don’t want tax dollars sent to our state in the form of a bailout – we want Congress to balance the national budget and use our tax dollars wisely.

Each year for nearly a decade, House Republicans have worked in a responsible fashion to balance our state budget and use wise fiscal planning. We don’t spend money we don’t have – it’s that simple. We are calling on Senator McCaskill and her DC cohorts to follow our lead. Please spend less time criticizing us, and more time focusing on what our citizens want.

Joe Smith: State-Wide Vacancies Deserve a Vote of the People, not an Appointment from the Governor

As the people of Missouri, we elected our Senators, Representatives, Auditor, Lt. Governor and so forth. Election results are decided by the voting majority, and frankly, that’s the way it should be. We the people make appointments in state government.

Due to various reasons, there are times when those we elect can’t complete their term. There are times when impeachment occurs, which is very rare. Elected-officials can face tragedies or personal family matters that prevent them from fulfilling their time in office. When these rare instances occur and a state-wide seat is left vacant, our current law gives the governor the ability to appoint his or her choice for a replacement.

It doesn’t seem right for a state-wide office that Missouri citizens elect in the first place to be filled by the governor’s special appointment when these instances take place. I think if the seat becomes open, a special election should be held to fill that position by a vote of the people – not an appointment by the governor.

That is why Representative Jason Smith District 150 introduced a bill that puts the power back in the hands of the people. House Bill 1497 states that if there is a vacancy in a state-wide office, the governor can make a temporary appointment to the seat, but only until a special election can be held. When the election results are official, the governor’s temporary appointment will be replaced by the individual that Missourians elect to office. If there is an impeachment, the Governor will temporarily administer the duties of the office until the trial. If there is a conviction, the vote will be put in the hands of the people of Missouri.

We live in a country that gives us freedom, and those freedoms should be honored in state-government – especially when it comes to a decision on who will run our state-wide offices. I am happy to report that Representative Jason Smith’s HB1497 was brought to the floor and passed this week.

We are hopeful that it passes the Senate and is signed into law by the Governor.

Joe Smith: A Balance Budget

When it comes to the federal government, few things frustrate the American people like the out-of-control Congressional spending that have continued for decades. Our families recognize that we must make enough money to cover our expenses and when times get tough, we must make tough decisions. But unfortunately, Congress has failed to recognize these common-sense values.

Unlike 49 out of the 50 states, the federal government is not currently required to pass a balanced budget. Because of this, Congress has, for too long, neglected to make the tough decisions necessary to balance the budget. The federal government continues to spend money that it does not have and these reckless habits continue to threaten the long-term economic and fiscal stability of our nation’s future.

Currently, our federal government has racked up an estimated 100 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities that our nation’s children and grandchildren will be left to pay. Still, it appears Congress does not intend to work to repair this damage. In fact, just this week, President Obama submitted his budget recommendations to Congress which included 3.8 trillion dollars in spending; 1.6 trillion of which we cannot afford and will be piled on top of the more than 12 trillion dollars of national debt that we already have.

We, in the Missouri House, recognize the danger of continually passing unbalanced budgets and adding trillions of dollars each year to our national debt. That is why, this week, we passed House Concurrent Resolution 34 & 35 which urges the United States Congress to submit a balanced budget amendment to the states. Should Congress pass the proposed amendment, it would need the ratification of three-fourths of the states to become an amendment to the United States Constitution.

Requiring the federal government to balance its budget each year is long overdue. For decades, efforts to pass a balanced budget have come up short. I believe that to ensure a fiscally stable future, our federal government must begin to live within its means. In light of the recent increase in deficit spending and the growing national debt, we must act now.

Nodler: Keeping Don't Ask, Don't Tell

In 1993, then-President Bill Clinton made efforts to lift the military’s ban on homosexuals serving in the military. His efforts did not receive a positive reaction from the public or from Congress, and the result was the policy that came to be known as “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” which prevents homosexuals in the military from openly serving.

Recently, there has been discussion on the federal level about repealing this policy. This week, the discussion moved to the state level, when two resolutions were presented to the Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee, of which I am vice-chairman. I am against changing the current policy on homosexuals in the military, and I think it is important for Missouri to send a message to Congress that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is an effective policy.

A concurrent resolution expresses the opinion of the Missouri General Assembly and urges action from Congress. Senate Concurrent Resolution 45 would encourage Congress to support the current policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, while an alternative resolution, SCR 44, asks Congress to repeal the policy. As a former member of the military, I am supportive of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I think that repealing the policy would be detrimental to our military.

Morale is one of the most important concerns for military commanders, especially in a time of combat. The military is currently involved in two major conflicts, and I cannot support any policy that could negatively affect our troops during this critical time. During the Senate hearing on these resolutions, we heard from Sgt. Paul Curtman, who recently retired from the Marines. During his testimony, he stated he was against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would disrupt combat readiness. He described the experience of finding out that a fellow Marine was a homosexual as disruptive to his unit and detrimental to the missions that they were trying to complete.

When the president discussed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, many people throughout the country began discussing and debating the policy. The most important issue, however, is the safety and readiness of those serving in our military. I feel strongly that changing this policy would be disruptive to our military, and I will support the passage of SCR 45 so that we can make this view clear to Congress.

Ervin: Drug Testing and Welfare

"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means.  I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it." –Benjamin Franklin, "On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor", November 1766

This week, the Missouri House passed legislation [HB1377] which prevents drug-users from receiving welfare benefits.  The legislation calls for the Department of Social Services (DSS) to establish a drug-testing program for work-eligible applicants and recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.  This is a cash-aid program and currently has NO restrictions for those who may use illegal substances.  If passed and signed by the Governor, Missouri would become one of eleven states that practices drug testing provisions for welfare applicants - it's about time.

The legislation says that to be tested, there must be "reasonable suspicion" to believe a person is using illegal drugs.  After an administrative hearing, applicants or recipients who test positive will be declared ineligible for benefits for one year.

This legislation is long over-due.  Most employees, including the military and federal employees, are required to take a mandatory drug test.  Why shouldn't welfare recipients who receive support from OUR hard earned tax dollars be held to the same standard?

The bill also directs the department to develop, implement, and enforce a policy requiring the immediate termination of an employee who fails to report any suspected illegal use of a controlled substance or fraud of the TANF Program by any applicant or recipient of TANF benefits.

In addition, the bill also subjects elected officials to a drug test prior to taking office and once every two years after that while they remain in office.

This legislation will help encourage people using drugs to stop and get help.  It is a necessary intervention.  If people want to receive welfare benefits, they have to be drug-free.  The Senate needs to pass this bill and the Governor should sign it.  This legislation will begin to help and enable our citizens to live a clean and productive lives rather than harming themselves and those around them.

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns.  LaTonya Percival, my Legislative Assistant, and I are always available to answer questions and 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.

09 February 2010

Nodler: Video of testimony for Tenth Amendment Commission

Senator Gary Nodler presented Senate Bill 587 in the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee yesterday. The bill would let voters approve the creation of a 10th Amendment Commission. (Windows Media Video from Sen. Nodler's office)

(Video also appears below by clicking play.)

Kraus: Ethics at the Capitol

Ethical standards of conduct are one of the most important underpinnings of a representative government.  They are essential in conducting the people's business and ensuring that it is the people who benefit from our decisions in the Capitol - and not entrenched interests with lots of money to spend.  I have filed legislation, HB 2039, that thoroughly addresses the much-publicized ethical issues that have tarnished the integrity of the legislative process at the state Capitol.  This problem must be fixed.

The ethics of a legislator acting as a paid political consultant for another legislator or a statewide elected official has sparked conversation both in the Capitol and in the media.  It is particularly dicey when the consultant is also a legislator who holds a position in the House, such as Speaker, who has a great deal of power over how bills are handled.  It creates the appearance, if not the fact, of a legislator feeling forced to use another legislator's consulting firm in order for bills to be moved successfully through the legislative process.  Therefore, HB2039 prohibits a legislator and other family members from receiving compensation during the legislator's term of office for acting as a paid political consultant.

In the past, campaign contribution limits have been removed by the legislature.  The thinking at the time was that these limits actually created a shell game of laundering large contributions through various committees.  Transfers kept the public from following the activity and who paid for whom.  I believe that this problem also must be addressed to maintain above-board politics in the State Capitol.  Therefore, my legislation prohibits a Continuing Committee from donating to another Continuing Committee or a Continuing Committee from donating to a Candidate Committee.

For those not familiar with the terminology, a Candidate Committee is formed by a candidate to receive contributions or make expenditures in behalf of the individual's candidacy.  A Continuing Committee, as its name implies, continues to exist independent of a particular election and is not formed, controlled or directed by a candidate.  Its purpose is to receive contributions or make expenditures to influence the action of voters.  For example, both businesses and unions form continuing committees that accept contributions that can be used to promote a particular point of view.

My bill creates a Class D felony offense for those who transfer funds through political committees with the intent to mask the original source of money. I am also calling for more transparency in government by seeking to require all committees to file electronically and be subject to online searching. However, in order to control even the appearance of "money talks" in running campaigns and being beholden to donors who made large contributions to a campaign (and not as much to those who voted one vote at a time like you) my bill reinstates upper limits for campaign contributions.

Other provisions of my bill:
  • Prohibit members of the General Assembly from acting, serving, or registering as a legislative lobbyist during their terms as well as for two years following their service,
  • Prohibit legislators from accepting an offer or promise of a favor from the governor in exchange for a vote, and
  • Clarify existing law so that "pay for play" prohibitions include the exchange of campaign contributions for legislative actions.

I remain hopeful that these ethics problems can be fixed in this session.  I intend to work hard to ensure that significant legislation gets passed.  It's the ethical thing to do.

Lincoln's Birthday

On Friday, Feb. 12, most state offices, including the General Assembly, will be closed in memory of Abraham Lincoln.  Born in 1809 just over two hundred years ago, this humble man is still honored by our nation.  Following a two-hour speech by an eloquent orator, Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address, only minutes in length, endures on to this day.  His simple words gave tribute to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people and conceived in liberty for all.

Titan Robotics

This weekend, I attended an open house of the Lee's Summit West Titan Robotics Club.  Each year, club members design a robot and then can enter it into a competition.  I was fascinated to learn about the robotic "Guitar Hero" that the club has constructed in the past.  Through this club, students can become excited about the possibilities for their future in engineering, science, math, and technology.  As they enter this year's competition, I'm excited for them and wish them all the best in their efforts.

Roorda: State of the Judiciary, Free Tax File, Liberty Memorial Resolution

Chief Justice William Ray Price, Jr. delivered the State of the Judiciary Address to a joint session of the Missouri legislature this week. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ray Price told state lawmakers that the Missouri court system cannot absorb any more budget cuts, that they must rethink criminal law and that politics must not become part of the process of choosing judges.

To read the Chief Justice's State of Judiciary Address click here.

IRS Free File Program

As tax season approaches I wanted to make you aware of a service offered by the IRS. The service is called the IRS free file program. This service is available to all taxpayers who make less than 57,000 dollars annually. The IRS offers free use of the industry's top tax preparation software. Users have free access to step-by-step directions on how to file federal tax returns online. Since the start of this program in 2003 more than 25 million tax returns have been filed using this service. To access the free file program you can visit or for more information on the program visit

National Recognition for Liberty Museum

Missouri House Democrats have proposed a resolution asking the United States Congress to declare the Liberty Memorial as the National World War I Memorial. All 72 House Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution. In 1919 Kansas City residents raised over 2.5 million dollars in ten days to create a memorial for veterans of "The Great War." In 2004 Congress designated the Liberty Memorial as the National World War I Museum while it was undergoing a 102 million dollar renovation. The resolution is simply a recommendation to Congress, which is presently considering establishing a National World War I memorial. Both of Missouri's U.S. senators have sponsored legislation ask that Liberty Memorial be designated the national memorial. I am proud to say that I co-sponsored this resolution.
For a link to the resolution click here:

Help on Daily Expenses

Funding has recently become available to the Missouri Association for Community Action Inc. (MACA). There are a number of programs available to help citizens pay for essentials such as power and shelter. The Energy Assistance program (EA) helps people pay their energy bills by making payments on the primary bill. The Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP) helps citizens defray the cost of heating by paying on primary and secondary heating bills. The dollar more program is sponsored by Ameren UE and the United Way and helps people pay their electric bills. The Summer ECIP Cooling Program helps needy individuals pay their electric bills. Air conditioners are made available to people demonstrating medical need, or who are over the age of 65. For more information on how to apply you can contact MACA in Jefferson City at 573-634-2969, or on the web at Additionally, you can contact Jefferson Franklin Community Action Corporation the branch of MACA working in Jefferson County at 636-789-2686 or online at

08 February 2010

Tishaura Jones: Olive Street Property Redevelopment, Earthquake Awareness Week, US Census reminder

January has been an amazing month! I began the 2nd Session of the 95th General Assembly with a new committee appointment to Job Creation and Economic Development.  I represent Downtown St. Louis, an area that has seen a substantial amount of development in recent years, I worked hard to get this committee appointment because it's important to my district.

I also have more help this year.  My new Legislative Assistant, Janet Hafner, has over 20 years of experience in state government and does a great job at keeping me organized.  Also, please help me welcome my interns, Katie Hemman and Jenn Lavin, both from The University of Missouri!  They've hit the ground running and are learning a lot about the legislative process.

One of the Governor's priorities this year is passing an insurance mandate for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).  This morning, the Special Standing Committee on Health Insurance passed HB 1311 out of the committee with bi-partisan support and is headed to the house floor shortly.  I truly believe that this will be the year that we get coverage for so many families who are drowning in financial debt trying to pay for the therapy their children so desparately need.

On a personal note, Aden is much more aware of his surroundings this year and I often bring him to the Capitol.  He loves how his voice echoes through the halls and enjoys running to the elevator and pushing the buttons.  He also loves going into Representative Webb's refridegerator and taking his strawberries!

I hope you find the information useful and we can be of any assistance, do not hesitate to contact us at (573) 751-6800.



Property Redevelopment on Olive Street

Through Brownfield Redevelopment Program, the Department of Economic Development has approved up to $849,000 in remediation tax credits to redevelop property located on 1111 Olive Street in St. Louis. The Brownfield Redevelopment Program provides financial incentives to redevelop abandoned or underutilized commercial and industrial sites. The tax credits will aid in the redevelopment of this property into office and retail space and it is projected to create 147 new jobs.

Missouri Earthquake Awareness Week

The week of February 7th is Earthquake Awareness Week and a good time to recognize earthquake hazards in Missouri and take measures to minimize the risks involved. In 1811 and 1812, there were several hundred earthquakes around New Madrid, Missouri, three of which were a magnitude of 7 ½. Such a quake today would cause significant damage to infrastructure in the surrounding areas. It is very important that families, businesses, and work-places have an emergency plan. Pre-planning is essential for community resources such as churches, schools, and other local organizations to be available in case of an emergency. Learning basic first aid and CPR may also be a good idea.

2010 U.S. Census Reminder

Every ten years, the federal government conducts a census, an official count of the entire population of the United States. The next census will be held on April 1st, 2010. Census data is used to create voting districts for Congress, state legislatures, school boards and city councils as well as determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is also used by federal and local governments to determine where to provide funds for schools, roads, hospitals, senior centers, and other services. Every census that has been performed has failed to fully count Blacks and other people of color resulting in a loss of 4.1 billion dollars for communities that were undercounted. It is very important to fill out your Census form and be counted this year. It takes 10 minutes and you should receive a form in March 2010. All the information is confidential and will not be shared. You should include everyone that lives in your household most of the time. Return your form in the envelope provided by April 1, 2010. If you do not receive a form or have moved, contact a BE COUNTED center or your local Census Bureau.

IRS Free File Program

The IRS is offering a free, safe, online tax preparation software for any taxpayer that makes less than $57,000. By visiting, users can get step-by-step instructions on how to complete and file federal tax returns online. Taxpayers who use Free File with direct deposit may also receive refunds in as little as 10 days. This is made possible by a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance which is a group of industry-leading tax software providers. The Free File program has served more than 25 million people since 2003.

Nodler Introduces Bill to Strengthen Missouri Auto Insurance Laws

Legislation Would Protect Missourians from Uninsured Out-of-State Drivers; Similar Measure Filed In House By Rep. Tom Flanigan

Jefferson City — Senator Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, and Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, recently introduced legislation to expand Missouri liability laws to out-of-state drivers. Current law requires Missouri drivers to maintain liability insurance, but does not include drivers registered outside of the state.

This weakness in Missouri law came to light after a Jasper County resident was hit by an Oklahoma driver in Joplin. Police could not cite the other driver for not having insurance because the vehicle was registered out-of-state. The local driver did not have comprehensive coverage and did not have the money to repair her damaged vehicle.

“This citizen was doing everything the state asked of her — maintaining insurance, paying property taxes, and keeping her registration current — but she was left helpless because the state does not have laws to protect Missouri citizens from uninsured out-of-state drivers,” said Sen. Nodler. “This is a weakness in Missouri law that must be addressed out of fairness to all law-abiding drivers in the state.”

Specifically, Senate Bill 902 and House Bill 1996 would require non-residents to adhere to the financial responsibility laws of their state of residence, allowing Missouri law enforcement to hold out-of-state drivers responsible for not having auto insurance. All 50 states have state minimum insurance requirements, but the amount of liability insurance required varies from state to state.

If out-of-state drivers are not in compliance with their state’s requirements, they would be guilty of a class C misdemeanor and would have their driving privileges in Missouri suspended. The Missouri Department of Revenue would also notify the state in which the driver resides of the offense.

“This legislation will provide law enforcement officials the ability to take action and will ensure that these uninsured drivers are held responsible,” said Sen. Nodler. “I am hopeful my colleagues in the General Assembly will join Representative Flanigan and me in bringing equity to Missouri’s insurance laws.”

Ruestman: House Hard at Work

The fifth week of session has come and gone.  The weather doesn't seem to be cooperating very well, but we continue to work on issues important to you.  This week the House voted on two key pieces of legislation important to you and the state budget.

On Tuesday we passed a bill [HB1544] for an extension of the time the unemployed can be on unemployment benefits.  It does not affect the state budget because it is fully funded with federal dollars.  It addresses the needs of about 62,000 unemployed Missourians.  We are also working hard on a jobs bill to help turn around our slow economy.

Drug Testing for TANF

Our last vote of the week was to finalize House Bill 1377.  This bill creates a system to screen recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families who are suspected of illicit drug use.  My office has received numerous complaints about tax dollars going to those who use them to purchase illegal drugs.  While many law-abiding citizens must submit to a drug test for their job, it seems only reasonable to assure them their hard-earned money is not subsidizing the illegal use of controlled substances.

During the debate on this legislation an amendment was added to require drug testing of elected state officials.  It seems fitting and proper to require public servants to verify they are not disrespecting and dishonoring their constituents and office.  As mentioned before, if our constituents must submit to drug tests for their employment, we should not be hesitant to do it for ours.

House Bill 1377 received broad bipartisan support.  The Thursday vote was 113-40 in favor.  It must now receive one more vote on the final version before being sent to the Senate for approval.

Smart Sentencing

This week also saw the annual State of the Judiciary address from the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court.  Chief Justice William Price delivered an excellent speech.  In it, he highlighted an issue I have been working on since last fall regarding the incarceration of nonviolent criminals.  I'd like to share a short excerpt of his address which I will be writing more about in coming weeks:

"Perhaps the biggest waste of resources in all of state government is the over-incarceration of nonviolent offenders and our mishandling of drug and alcohol offenders.  It is costing us billions of dollars and it is not making a dent in crime."

I look forward to working with Chief Justice Price and his office on finding a viable solution to this growing problem.  We will report more on it as developments take place.

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.

Burlison: Mandatory Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

It is important we help our state's most needy citizens. Most of these citizens are responsible, hard-working members of society, just trying to stay afloat. On the contrast, there are a small number of those who are taking advantage of the system.

This week, the House voted to pass HB1377, which requires drug testing for those applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as well as drug testing for those who are currently receiving TANF through the Department of Social Services.

In tough economic times, your tax dollars should not be spent on those abusing the system and using your money for illegal drugs.  Many employers, including the military and the federal government, require drug testing to be employed. There is no excuse for welfare recipients not to live up to the same standard.

During debate on the House floor, an amendment was added to the bill that requires all members of the General Assembly to take a drug test before being sworn into office, and once every two years after that.  The House overwhelmingly supported the amendment, feeling that elected officials should be held responsible if they are found to be taking illegal drugs.

Applicants and recipients who test positive for the use of an illegal substance will be referred to a treatment program for substance abuse.  If the individual completes the treatment program in a reasonable amount of time and tests negative for drug use, they can regain eligibility for welfare benefits.

We hope this bill will be signed into law and inspire those who receive welfare and currently use drugs, to end their bad habit and turn their lives around.