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19 February 2010

Rupp: Nothing Less Than the Best for Education

There may be no bigger issue at the State Capitol than education.  The 2011 fiscal year budget calls for more than $3 billion to fund Missouri's K-12 classrooms, which is a record amount for our state. As vice-chairman of the Senate Education Committee, it's my job to make sure that we're smart and efficient with that money, because our children and our schools deserve nothing less than the best we can provide to them.

That's why I've sponsored legislation that modifies the way our state approaches charter schools. Missouri's parents deserve to have all options on the table when it comes to their child's education. One measure, SB 838, amends the current law and allows charter schools to be set up in any school district that has schools that have been labeled as underperforming regarding school improvement. If your local school is sinking instead of swimming, then you, as a parent, deserve the right to have your child attend a school that meets your and our state's standards.

This proposed legislation would also allow any higher education institution to be a sponsor of charter schools within their district, and to have some of those costs defrayed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). It will set up policies and procedures for establishing the school and meeting academic guidelines, and it changes the performance goal review to an annual basis, rather than the current tri-annual measurement.

My other legislation relating to charter schools, SB 835, allows "high risk" or "alternative" schools the opportunity to make credit arrangements outside of the school. This includes off-campus instruction, students who work, independent studies, and performance-based credit options, as long as DESE studies the alternative arrangements and makes sure that the students are still graduating, going to college, or working.

Finally, I've introduced legislation that rewards our brightest for graduating high school and getting to college early. Senate Bill 907 creates the Early High School Graduation Scholarship Program, which gives the student 80 percent of that student's state aid (the amount the state would have spent on their fourth year of high school) to use toward college. The other 20 percent would go to the school district, so that the school is not penalized for letting their smartest students move on.

As we move our classrooms into the future, our schools must be as competitive and high-performing as we ask our students to be.  That means opening up the system to those who can meet the standards we desire, and making sure that no student is hindered from finding their way, no matter what that way may be.

"Question of the Week" on my Senate Web Page

Starting today there will be a "question of the week" on my Senate home page each week during session.  Constituents of the 2nd Senatorial District will be able to weigh in on issues that the legislature will be debating in the coming weeks.   Each question will remain on my web page for two weeks and then be tallied.  The results will be posted for each question on my web page as well as in this report.  I encourage you to go to and take the poll on this week's question.

Legislature Says "NO" to Farmland Tax Increase

A recommendation by the State Tax Commission that taxes increase on Missouri's most productive farmland and decrease on its least productive ground has been rejected by the Legislature.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 35 & 32, SCR 35&32, which I co-signed, passed the House yesterday by a vote of 143-to-11 to reject the Tax Commission recommendation.  The Senate approved the resolution by a 30-to-3 vote on January 28, 2010 and sent it to the House for consideration.  After yesterday's vote farmland tax rates will remain as they are.  The resolution does not have to go to the Governor for his signature.

House Passes Autism Bill

Yesterday the House passed their version of the autism bill by a vote of 135-18.  It is now in the Senate for consideration.

Alzheimer's State Plan Task Force Public Forum

Currently, there are 110,000 people with Alzheimer's in Missouri and there will be 130,000 by the year 2025.  The Alzheimer's State Plan Task Force is asking for the publics input, which is critical to their work.  On March 25, 2010 in the Greater St. Louis area there will be a community forum so you can share your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you.  It will be held at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, 975 N. Warson Road, St. Louis, MO 63132.  You can register by calling 314-801-0403.

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.

Engler: Preventing Higher Energy Costs, Protecting Missouri Citizens

The work that we accomplish in the Legislature is designed to make Missouri a better place, and I take this job very seriously.  This work includes provisions that protect citizens in Missouri, whether it be from misguided federal proposals or unethical practices in the government.  We discussed these and several other topics this week.

The Senate Rules Committee heard, Senate Concurrent Resolution 46, opposing the federal Cap and Trade bill in Congress.  The federal proposal would establish a federal system to oversee the purchase, sale, or trade of permits for energy use meant to reduce carbon emissions. Many Missouri legislators are concerned that capping greenhouse gas emissions would have a negative impact on our economy because a majority of energy in our state—about 85 percent—comes from coal.

I have been a strong supporter of alternative energies in the past and have passed legislation that encourages the use of biofuels and efficient uses of energy. However, we need to make sure that environmental protections do not hurt existing businesses by burdensome regulation or raise energy costs on Missouri families. Cap and Trade is a tax increase on Missourians. Because Missouri's electricity is based heavily on coal, it estimated that utility rates on the typical Missouri resident would nearly double in a matter of just a few years, while residents of places like California and Massachusetts would see their bills decrease.

If Cap and Trade were to pass in Washington, many businesses like Mississippi Lime, Holcim, and Noranda that depend on energy to make their products would be drastically affected and forced to lay off many, if not all their employees. Additionally, the increased regulation would drive many manufacturing jobs overseas to countries like China and India because their regulations are much less stringent.

Also this week, we debated an issue that would require DNA testing of all felons in the state of Missouri. We heard debate from the law enforcement community saying that this strategy would help solve a great number of unsolved cases, especially rapes and murders. However, many of the liberals in the legislature feel that taking DNA from felons is a violation of their privacy and are fiercely opposing the bill. The debate as we move forward should be quite interesting.

During the next few weeks, these issues, along with many other bills will come up.  I'll keep you up-to-date on these topics as they come up on the floor and in Senate committees.

18 February 2010

Stouffer: Your Responses to Drug Tests for Welfare

Since my office received so much feedback from the proposal (Senate Bill 607) to test work-eligible welfare recipients suspected of substance abuse, I wanted to share just a portion of the responses with you.

For those not familiar with the legislation, individuals utilizing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) who are suspected of using illegal drugs would be tested. If positive, the recipient would be referred to a treatment program and assistance for dependents would be provided to a third-party, such as a grandparent. Here are some responses from constituents on the proposal:

“I agree on the drug testing 100 percent!”
     — Slater, MO

“Your bill truly seems harsh.”
     — Kearney, MO

“I work hard for my money and see a lot of people that are on welfare or disability and are as capable of working as I am. I have to take drug tests to keep getting paid, so why shouldn't those that are getting free money. I have no problem helping those that truly need help.” (As an aside, I drive a truck for my real job as a farmer and I am also required to take an annual drug test. A proposal in the Missouri House would require the same for all legislators.)
     — Macon County, MO

“A bill like this should have been passed 20 years ago. No work, no pay. Welfare needs a complete overhaul. “
     — Marshall, MO

“[Regarding the proposal, if] somebody is down, [welfare is here] to help you (of course there is a little humiliation involved-drug test to boot) and if you don't tow our line we'll kick you while you’re down.”
     — Rayville, MO

“Welfare for the children are some family’s main source of income, the more children, equals more income! This should be the next bill you should address.”
     — Arrow Rock, MO

“I think this is a great idea that most of the working class has talked about for years. It’s time to act on this.”
     — Sweet Springs, MO

“Where are you getting the money to pay for the tests?” (Current estimates show the tests will cost around $50 each. There is a big expense in the administrative hearings for appeals and folks that want to reapply after a three year wait period.)
     — Lexington, MO

“I would go one step further and suggest that anyone receiving government assistance of any kind not be allowed to visit the casinos and gamble.”
     — Marshall, MO

“We want to say that we support your trying to do something about this criminal behavior. Good for you. We are behind you. Keep up the good work for Missourians and the country.”
     — Ozark, MO

“I strongly agree with your proposed bill. I worked as a caseworker and I have wished we would require this for a long time.“
     — Benton County, MO

“I grew up on the streets [in an urban area] and saw it both before and after implementation of the welfare system. I know the poverty and the 'trap' that it puts people into. Which is, I guess, what liberals wanted; to make the people dependent upon them.”
     — Orrick, MO

Keep your comments coming. The more feedback I get from you, the better I am able to do my job in Jefferson City. I have enjoyed the responses on this topic for the past several weeks.

Joe Smith: House Republicans Pass a Bill Focusing on Job Creation in the State of Missouri House of Representatives

For years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have worked to improve economic development in the state of Missouri. In recent months, however, the focus on job creation has been even stronger due to our economic downturn. Putting our citizens back to work is a top priority in the House and we are passionate about our focus which is to create jobs, retain the jobs we already have in place and working to attract new business to our state.

States all over the nation are competing with us for jobs, and we must do all we can to prevent jobs leaving Missouri. That is why, this week we took a large step by passing HB 1675, which takes measures to improve and protect Missouri's business climate.

This particular bill focuses on creating and maintaining jobs in our state by targeting two groups: Manufacturing Employers as well as Manufacturing Suppliers.

Manufacturing Employers:

Through this bill, employers will be allowed to keep 50% of withholding taxes for up to 10 years.

This means, if manufacturing employers create new jobs, they get a tax rebate while doing so.

We are confident that this fiscal measure will give Missouri manufacturing businesses an incentive to expand their employee base and put our citizens back to work.

Manufacturing Suppliers:

The state of Missouri would allow suppliers to retain a complete 100% of withholding taxes for any new jobs created and kept for 3 years.

While giving these manufacturing employers and suppliers a tax break in effort to create new jobs, we must also remember to protect Missouri taxpayers in the process.

House Bill 1675 acts as a safeguard to taxpayers in many ways, some of which include the following:
  1. If illegal aliens are employed, companies must repay the tax benefits granted to them.
  2. If the company fails to meet the requirements in the bill, they will be required to repay benefits to the state.

Joe Smith: House Passes Bill to Aid Children and Families with Autism

Autism effects 1 of every 110 children in the United States of America and an estimated 34,000 children in Missouri. Unfortunately, the treatment for this disorder generally comes out of the pockets of the parents – many of which cannot always afford proper treatment for their child.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have worked passionately for the past year to craft a solution to the growing epidemic of Autism Spectrum Disorders and the lack of insurance-covered treatment for these individuals. Even insurance companies voiced support for a bill that would require insurance coverage for this treatment. Over the summer, the Speaker of the House, Ron Richard, assigned an Interim Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders chaired by Representative Dwight Scharnhorst. The Speaker tasked this committee to meet and work on a bi-partisan piece of legislation that gathered consensus between families with autism, autism advocate groups and insurance companies. The work done by the committee was then passed to the Special Standing Committee on Health Insurance when session started. Chaired by Representative Kevin Wilson, this committee met constantly, working to further reach an agreement that would require insurance companies to cover the treatment of children with autism.

That work materialized into a bill [HB1311 & HB1341] passed through the House this week and includes the following:
  1. This bill balances both sides of the issue: the costs that a requirement for insurance coverage incurs to businesses along with the growing need for coverage for children with autism.
  2. Insurance companies would be required to cover children up to 18 years of age and cover up to $36,000 in costs for treatment.
  3. The bill also cracks down to protect families in regard to who treats their children. In order to treat children with autism, providers must be licensed and registered by the state of Missouri.
  4. To protect businesses, small businesses in particular, a business should report a problem if the insurance requirement for autism treatment is causing them to drop in revenue. If reported and deemed legitimate, these businesses will be granted the option of “dropping out” on the insurance requirement.
The passage of this bill was a great achievement in the House of Representatives. The ability to aid children and families suffering from autism is something we are proud of and will continue work on. It is because of Speaker Ron Richard, Representatives Scharnhorst and Wilson and the work of our members on both sides of the isle that this bill was passed.

Tim Jones: Budget Battles, Update on HJR57, Calling 211

Winter continued to buck and roar early this week ravaging most of the country with snow storms, freezing temperatures and dangerous driving conditions. As the week progressed and work in the Capitol intensified in Budget battles and legislative debates, slightly warming temperatures and that “giant orb in the sky” known as the long lost sun were a welcome respite. As Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday fun fades and Ash Wednesday came upon us marking the beginning of the 40 days of Lent, I want to wish all of you a prayerful and blessed time as many of us prepare for the great celebrations of Passover and Easter with our communities and families…

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” –Thomas Jefferson

Budget Battles During Difficult Times-An Opportunity to Determine the True Roles of Government

A few weeks ago Governor Jay Nixon delivered the annual State of the State address to the Missouri General Assembly, the Missouri Supreme Court, Missouri Cabinet heads, and to the people of our great state. Since then, the issue of how to balance our State budget during these difficult fiscal times has loomed large over the Session.

In January, the Governor, House, and Senate budget leaders agreed upon the revised consensus revenue estimate 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 (CRE) 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. This appeared to be overly ambitious.

And so it was revealed at the end of January that 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, Missouri MUST have a balanced budget. The state of Missouri cannot print money to satisfy unrestrained and politically motivated spending habits - even in an election year. However, Governor Nixon'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 submit is nothing more than federal "dependence" money, which Missouri is expected to receive which is about $900 million dollars plus a “phantom” $300 million that “might” come from the federal government even though the legislation has not yet been passed by Congress.

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 cannot 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 a 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 cannot allow the federal "stimulus" to lead us down the path to ever more federal dependency and greater threats to the pocketbooks of Missourians.

Data released this week claim that unemployment may drop to 9.8% this year, down from the current 10% unemployment rate. The data also suggests that with 5% growth in GDP throughout the year, unemployment would only drop to 9%.

How out of touch with our existing economic situation can we be to accept a budget that requires a 15% increase in general revenue knowing that we are currently experiencing 9.6% unemployment in Missouri? This is setting us up for even larger budget problems next year and years after.

NOW is a time for restraint, a time to prioritize, and a time to drive efficiencies into 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. Every Missouri family and business has had to make difficult financial decisions, why should the taxpayer funded Government be any different? It absolutely should not. People are outraged with the unparalleled and unabated spending spree in Washington, DC that denies the realities of our current economy. Missouri cannot, and must not, follow in those footsteps.

NOW is a time when doing what is right is far more important than doing what is popular and refusing to acknowledge what is the actual state of our state. Lest we forget, hope is not a plan.


As many of you know, I am the chief sponsor of HJR 57, the “Health Care Freedom Act”. As I have discussed, if it is passed and approved by the voters, it will secure the current rights and freedoms that Missouri citizens have to choose to participate in whatever health care system or 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:

FAST FACTS: Famous Missourians

Poet T.S. Eliot of St. Louis wrote: “Love is nearly itself when here and now cease to matter”. Walt Disney, of Marceline, created cartoon couple Mickey and Minnie Mouse in May 1928. Actress Betty Grable, a St. Louis native, starred in many movies including Springtime in the Rockies and Moon over Miami.


211 Service is available throughout the State of Missouri. 211 is a great free resource available to all Missourians who need to search for non-emergency help in the areas of counseling, education, temporary resources, employment and volunteering. For more information about this excellent free resource, visit:

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:

This week I am extremely pleased to announce that my HB 1750 passed out of the House by an overwhelming vote of 111 – 42. This bill is commonly referred to as the “access reform” bill. If we can successfully move this bill through the Senate, this bill will result in lower telephone access charges and fees for millions of Missourians and will assist the telecommunications industry in providing greater innovations, new exciting products, lower rates and better and more advanced infrastructure across our entire State. I want to thank all of my colleagues who worked in a bipartisan way to move this bill to passage in the House this week.

Personal News & Notes

Last week was Valentine’s Day weekend. And although the Jones household had to deal with a sudden attack by the common cold and flu on nearly all of us (including Baby Abby who has had a runny nose since November), I treasured the time that I had to spend at home (coughing and all!) with my ever understanding and hard working wife Suzanne and our two beautiful daughters Katie and Abby. Love is truly patient (although trying at times!) and is truly kind and the love of a family cannot be appropriately described but must be experienced to be fully understood. I hope that you and your family had a great Valentine’s Day weekend!

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.

Nodler: Protecting the Unborn

Throughout my time in the Legislature, I have worked to protect the rights of the unborn. The majority of Missourians have made it clear that they stand with life and life-affirming education. This week, Senate Bill 793, a bill that makes sure women considering abortion have all the facts, was heard in a Senate committee.

Emotions can run high for an expectant mother, especially when considering how to proceed with a pregnancy. Senate Bill 793 contains provisions that modify Missouri’s informed consent requirements to make sure that pregnant women receive information and have time to process their options when considering an abortion. This includes a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed, giving time for the woman to think about her options.

Women seeking an abortion need to know the truth. The bill requires that a woman receives information including details on the emotional and physical risks of the procedure and the physiological characteristics of an unborn child at two-week gestational increments. She would also receive information on the gestational age of her unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed and must be given an opportunity to view, at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, an active ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of the unborn child. It is our hope that this information will help persuade women seeking abortions to choose other options.

The bill also works to provide options for pregnant women by requiring a physician or a qualified professional to discuss the medical assistance and counseling resources available, advise the woman of the father’s liability for child support, and provide information about the Alternatives to Abortion Program.

Similar provisions to the ones in Senate Bill 793 have been proposed in past sessions, but have been held up by a select few. It is my hope that this bill will pass this year and we can continue our work to protect life in this state.

Gatschenberger: Welfare Drug Tests, Wentzville Town Hall Meeting, Special Elections

Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients

These days we are hearing a lot about both government and individuals being "responsible". Our State government is monitored for the amount of money it spends and what it spends it on.  We rightfully expect our government to be "responsible" with our money.  I believe that should also apply to those receiving our tax dollars through government assistance programs.

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). House Bill 1289 states if a welfare 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 welfare, 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. 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. Why would it be okay for somebody on public assistance to be abusing illegal drugs? It should not be. House Bill 1289 simply requires the same standards to be used for welfare participants as are applied to most every other aspect of our lives.

If you think I am picking on a certain percentage of our population, I'm not. HB 1289 has a clear goal: to help those whom the tax payers of Missouri are helping, to help themselves. Drug testing will move our welfare population toward a healthier and less costly lifestyle, encouraging their independence.  As I stated earlier, funding for eligible children would continue. There is no need to punish children for something that is not their fault.

There are other House and Senate 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 House floor and eventually to the Missouri Senate. 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 illegal drugs while they are receiving government money is not acceptable. Pray for our legislators to give this issue the attention it deserves as we continue in this legislative session.

You're Invited!  Town Hall Meeting

Please be my guest at my next Town Hall Meeting… March 25, 2010 at the Wentzville City Hall, 310 W. Pearce Blvd… at 7:00 pm.  Attendees of my last Town Hall Meeting requested a return visit of speakers for and against Missouri Fair Tax… so they will be there and so will Representatives from CLAIM – Missouri's State Health Insurance Assistance Program… covering Medicare issues, Missouri Rx (helping seniors and persons with disabilities on fixed incomes save up to 50% on your drugs) and the Missouri SMP (empowering Seniors to prevent healthcare fraud).  If you have any Medicare issues you need help with… these people will be happy to meet with you individually after their presentation.

Special Elections

In legislative action this week, the House voted on HB 1497, which would require special elections to fill vacancies in the offices of Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, and United States Senator. Currently, a vacancy in the Office of United States Senator and most statewide offices, except for the Office of the Governor, are filled by gubernatorial appointment. The Lieutenant Governor becomes Governor if that office becomes open. These offices seldom come open between elections. Even so, we would never want Missouri to follow in the way of Illinois' Governor Blagojevich when he attempted to sell his state's U.S. Senate seat. This bill reinforces that officeholders are named by the will of the people. I voted for this bill, which passed overwhelmingly.


As always, please let me know your thoughts about these or other matters of concern by calling my office at: (573) 751-3572 or by emailing me at chuck{dot}gatschenberger{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov


    • Missouri based Hallmark Cards (Kansas City) is the source of 152 Million Greeting cards exchanged on Valentines Day… that's a lot of hearts!
      More than 1300 letters from Harry to Bess Truman survive in the Truman Library Collections.
      Walter Cronkite of St. Joseph Missouri was married to his wife Betsy for 65 years.
  • 16 February 2010

    Ruestman: A Federal Balanced Budget

    Our futures are at stake, along with many future generations!  As far as I'm concerned there is only one option.  We have to get our budget back on track.  Last year, when the Missouri House Majority heard we were receiving funds from the bailout we wanted to send it back.  We then learned that if we sent it back it would be sent to other states.  Knowing that this was Missouri tax dollars, we agreed to accept it, feeling it was better to spend our tax dollars here.  It was then determined that our constituents should get the money back in the form of a rebate.  However, we were told that doing so would be illegal because that is not how the bailout was intended to be spent.

    Last week, in a bipartisan effort, the Missouri House passed House Concurrent Resolutions 34 and 35 asking Congress to balance the national budget.  The House of Representatives passed this with a vote of 121 to 28 while the Senate passed its version [SCR36] by 28 to 1.  This is Missouri's official way of telling our federal government we are fed up with the spending and deficits.  These resolutions have the potential of becoming an amendment to the U.S. Constitution if ratified by 38 states.

    Our federal fiscal policy (if you can call it that) is out of control.  The national budget is 40% out of balance and the liberal majority just voted to raise the debt ceiling another $1.9 trillion.  You and I know that we cannot operate our households like this, we cannot operate our small businesses like this and we don't operate our state like this.  I'm always happy to remind you that Missouri is one of the top 7 states with an AAA bond rating.  Over the eight years I've been in the legislature the Republicans have held the line on debt and balanced our budget.  Missourians are justified in demanding their national government stop this irresponsible behavior.  It is bad for our security and economy.

    It is interesting to note that while the General Assembly was debating these resolutions, Senator McCaskill didn't hear the message we were trying to send her and her colleagues.  She publicly criticized the state saying we shouldn't complain about federal bailout dollars.  I'm insulted when our elected officials give us back our own tax dollars (and the money they plan to take in the future) and call it a "stimulus".  Then, they complain because we don't say "thank you" loud enough.  Perhaps the Senator should be reminded that after receiving the bailout money Missouri lost 62,600 jobs and the unemployment rate has settled at 9.6%.  This bailout has not worked.

    In Missouri we voted overwhelmingly to tell Washington the spending spree is over.   Let us invest our own money.  It's time we turn things around!

    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.

    Kraus: Your Support Needed for Job Olympics

    On Feb. 25, I will be lending a hand to help the area Job Olympics program, which will be holding a fund-raiser at Culver's Restaurant in Lee's Summit.  Along with special needs students, teachers and staff from several school districts, I will be greeting people and delivering trays to patrons of the restaurant from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.  Please come out and support this event!

    During those hours, ten percent of all proceeds from the sale of meals will be donated to the Job Olympics program.  This fund raiser provides money to stage the Job Olympics competition at Unity Village on April 16, which helps special needs students from Lee's Summit, Blue Springs, and Belton school districts to find self-supporting work.  Over 25 area employers visit that event as the students showcase their skills in a variety of fields and compete for awards.  Their talents are wide-ranging, covering such tasks as child care, computer skills and food service.

    The Job Olympics give special needs students an opportunity to showcase their capabilities and receive some well-deserved recognition for their efforts.  We all have a great time and the students enjoy it.  Most important, the competition can lead to work where the students can support themselves and lead a more independent life.

    The fund-raiser at Culver's will raise money to purchase materials and stage the Olympics.  I encourage area residents to come out, enjoy a meal, and support a very worthwhile cause.  The backing given by Matt Mitchell and the folks at Culver's keeps this program viable and is much appreciated.  In addition, all of the employers who support it are crucial to its success, and I am grateful for their interest in this program.  This fundraiser will be held at the Culver's on 1701 North East Douglas Street in Lee's Summit.

    This program originated with Kelly Twenter, Lee's Summit R-7 School District life skills teacher, and has expanded to include students from the Blue Springs and Belton school districts.  It is truly a special occasion for everyone involved.

    House Approves Special Elections Bill

    In January, we witnessed the vote heard around the world as Scott Brown was elected U.S. Senator, by a special election, to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Ted Kennedy.  That special election in Massachusetts gave the people an opportunity to speak, in a resounding voice, that they wanted a different direction.  Particularly given the knowledge that we now have of that election, I believe it prudent to have direct representation from the people to fill a vacant seat when an elected official cannot complete a term of office.  Under current Missouri law, the governor appoints a replacement if a statewide office becomes vacant.

    To that end, we in the Missouri House of Representatives passed legislation that would require special elections to fill vacancies for the U.S. Senate and most executive offices.  The bill, HB 1497, would require special elections to fill vacancies in the offices of lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer and United States Senator.  HB 1497 would allow the governor to appoint a temporary replacement for U.S. Senate, auditor or attorney general until a special election could be held.  It would allow the governor to manage the offices of secretary of state or treasurer until a special election.

    This bill also removes the potential for corruption, such as selling a Senate seat, as has been alleged in neighboring Illinois.  The responsibility will be on the shoulders of Missourians to choose the individual that they want to represent them, and that is where it should be.

    House Passes Federal Balanced Budget Resolution

    Last week, we in the House approved a resolution that calls for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require a federal balanced budget.  The House approved HCR 34 & 35 by a vote of 121-28.  The proposal is in response to widespread alarm that federal spending is so out of control and the national debt so large that it poses a threat to the future of our country and therefore to Missourians.  A number of states have passed similar resolutions.

    All citizens should be concerned upon learning that the U.S. debt ceiling was recently raised to 14.3 trillion dollars.  The interest payments alone on such a debt can become a crippling component of our national budget.  In addition to economic repercussions, the government can use its deficit spending to expand its own authority, creating a self-perpetuating and ever enlarging sphere of power.

    Here in Missouri, the state constitution requires a balanced budget.  While it forces some hard and uncomfortable choices at times, the requirement has led to more sustainable finances.  We in Missouri know how to balance a budget; the federal government would do well to learn this skill.

    During the debate, an amendment was added to clarify that the resolution does not call for a constitutional convention. HCR 34 & 35 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

    15 February 2010

    Holsman: Blackout Bill Stirs Up Sports Fans

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A bill introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives by Rep. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, has been receiving a significant amount of media coverage across the state, including airplay on both radio and TV. House Bill 1986, introduced on February 3rd, targets professional sports league broadcast blackout policies, which prohibits local television stations from broadcasting games if the home stadium isn't sold out.

    Since the introduction of the bill, Holsman has appeared in interviews on Fox 2 TV in St. Louis, 610 Sports in Kansas City, and The Big 550 radio station in St. Louis. HB 1986 received press in the Kansas City Star, the Lee's Summit Tribune, and the Independence Examiner. The bill has also been extensively covered in numerous blogs, including The K.C. Star's The Prime Buzz, Tony's Kansas City, The Missouri Expatriate, and Arrowhead Pride.

    Below is a list of links to various media outlets and blogs covering H.B. 1986:

    Nance: Welfare Drug Testing, Statewide Special Elections, Balancing the Federal Budget

    “Man is not free unless government is limited.” –Ronald Reagan

    Mandatory Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients

    It is important that we help our state’s most needy citizens. Most of these citizens are responsible, hard-working members of society, just trying to keep their heads above water. However, there are a small number of those who take advantage of the system. I believe in order to receive assistance from the state you must test drug-free.

    This week, the House voted to third read and pass HB1377, which might require 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. An individual would be tested if, based upon a screening, there was a suspicion of use.

    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.

    However, if the individual fails to complete the program or after completing the program still continues to test positive in subsequent drug tests, the Department of Social Services can, after a departmental administrative hearing, declare the individual ineligible for TANF benefits for one year. TANF could still be used for family needs through a third party.

    Also tied into this bill is a requirement that all elected officials for state offices must take a drug test before assuming office and then take a test every two years. The costs of such testing shall be paid by such official.

    Special Elections for Statewide Office

    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. All political power originates from the people.

    Telling Congress to Balance the Federal Budget

    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 Missouri House passed Budget Chairmen Allen Icet's House Resolution 34 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 pass a balanced budget amendment.

    Tom Crenshaw visited the capitol to discuss funding for mental health.

    In the District

    I observed the Excelsior Springs Robotics team’s Mystery Machine on February 6th during their open house.

    I participated in career days at the Lawson Middle School on Friday, February 12th.

    Five scouts from the Harris family met me on the 13th for a class on the “Bill of Rights”.

    On Sunday, I was speaker at the First United Methodist Church celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts.

    Congratulations to Excelsior Springs School District on their recognition as a “Distinction in Performance District”.

    Roorda: Missouri Lottery Revenue, Rise of Synthetic Marijuana, Missouri Veterans Commission

    At the State Capitol, members of the appropriations committees, and the House budget committee are rolling up their sleeves, and getting down to business. These legislators are working hard to balance the state budget. This difficult task means they will be combing over the state balance sheets, and looking for areas to cut funds. While this provides a significant challenge, I am confident that we will find a way to balance the budget, and still provide the services and leadership that the great citizens of Missouri have come to expect from their state government.

    Missouri Lottery Revenue Distribution

    Many Missourians have asked the question, "Where do Lottery dollars go?" I am pleased to inform you that more the 96 cents of every dollar spent on the lottery in Missouri are returned to players, retailers and public education in Missouri. Of each dollar spent on the lottery 63.7 cents goes to prizes, 26.3 cents goes toward public education, 6.2 cents go to retailers and only 3.8 cents go toward administrative costs. The Missouri lottery generated sales of nearly 1 billion dollars in the fiscal year 2009. That means that over $600 million are returned in prizes, $250 million goes to public education, and $60 million to retailers. Of the education funds $188 million goes to elementary and secondary education, including funding for the Foundation Program and A+ Schools Program. Recently Kevin Roberts of Hillsboro was appointed by Gov. Nixon as chairman of the Missouri Lottery Commission. Mr. Roberts said, "The commission looks forward to working with Gov. Nixon and the General Assembly to explore avenues to improve the Lottery and increase the dollars it provides for public education in Missouri."

    K2: Synthetic Marijuana

    A new drug has arrived on the scene in Missouri called K2, but many refer to it as synthetic marijuana. Currently the drug is legal across the United States, a fact that leads many people to assume using the substance is safe. However, experts say it's too early to know all the dangers K2 may pose to the body since the drug is so new. In fact, some studies show the drug causes a drop in body temperature, decreased sensitivity to pain, and stroke like symptoms. Law enforcement officials are concerned that since the drug is legal, and relatively inexpensive, Missouri youths, even as young as middle school, will begin using the drug. Because of these factors Missouri lawmakers have proposed legislation [HB1472] to make the drug illegal. Rep Roorda highlighted this sentiment saying, "This [substance] has no legitimate use in society that we're aware of."  For more information click here.

    Missouri Veteran's Commission

    The administration of the Missouri Veteran's Commission is in new hands. General Larry Kay is the new director of the commission, and Bryan Hunt, a 1984 Windsor High School graduate, is the new assistant director of the commission. I wanted to make you aware of how to use the Veteran's Commission to resolve any Veteran's issues you might have. If you are in need of any assistance regarding Veteran's issues you can contact Melissa Wilding of the Missouri Veterans Commission. The Commission's website is, Melissa's can be reached by phone at, (573)-522-4220 or via e-mail at, Melissa{dot}Wilding{at}mvc{dot}dps{dot}mo{dot}gov

    Term Limit Reform

    The House Special Committee on General Laws held hearings on Tuesday, February 9th on a trio of identical bipartisan bills that would modify legislative term limits. Under the existing term limits provision of the Missouri Constitution, lawmakers can serve up to 16 years in the General Assembly, but may serve no more than eight years in either the House of Representatives, or the Senate. Under the proposals to be considered the limit would remain capped at 16 years of service in the General Assembly, but that time could be served entirely in either legislative chamber, or split between the two chambers in any combination. Representative Roorda sponsored HJR 69, one of the bills considered.