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19 March 2010

Rupp: “Senator Spring Break” Means Coming Home to Work for You

This week marks the Legislature's return to Jefferson City from its annual spring break. While the beach and sunshine is what comes to mind for most people, my responsibilities as your senator only allowed for Missouri sunshine, and I was fortunate that there was a little of it during this time off.

The weekend started off well spending time with my children and attending a friend's birthday party. Working in Jefferson City keeps me away from some of the important moments in my family and friends' lives, but they are never far from my mind. Any chance I get to spend my free time with them is a true treasure.

By March 9, I was meeting with a very large crowd at the O'Fallon Chamber of Commerce. O'Fallon is consistently ranked as one of the top cities in the entire country to raise a family, and it's easy to see why by the turnout from these great business leaders.

The national healthcare issue was on the agenda for March 10. Even though the President of the United States brought out a large crowd in St. Louis, there was a big crowd just across the street protesting the president's federal takeover of health care. I'm proud to say I joined the thousands at the St. Charles Convention Center, my colleagues in state and federal government, and millions of Missourians that reject the federal infringement in our lives.

By Friday, March 12, I was meeting with a group of senior citizens to discuss strategies to cope with the prior day's announcement that the governor was cutting $1.1 million from the Meals on Wheels program. Since then, the governor has admitted the budget he submitted is not balanced, and by not proposing any solutions, he's leaving it to the Legislature to do the "dirty work" and get our state back on track. You can rest assured that I will do everything in my power to keep our state's priorities straight and do as little harm as possible to our schools and our seniors. If you visit my senate website, you'll find "Control, Alt, Delete," a place for constituents to give suggestions on ways to reform and restructure government for greater accountability to you, the taxpayers.

To conclude my week, I participated in the Cottleville St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 13, and it's always a pleasure to meet and greet so many citizens from the district. My daughter, Noelle, really got a kick out of driving her little jeep in the parade and decorating it to match the day's festivities. It's a memory I'll never forget.

But now it's time to get back to work.

Senate Says "Yes" to Insurance Coverage for Autism

Bill Securing Insurance for Autism-Related Services Advances

Missouri families with children on the autism spectrum disorder are one step closer to being guaranteed that health carriers will provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. The Missouri Senate voted 26-6 today to advance Senate Bill 618, which I sponsored, to the House for similar consideration.

Autism is the only disorder out of the top 10 childhood neurobiological disorders that is not covered by health insurance.  It's been a long road to get to this point. This is an important day for Missouri families that struggle with autism. The legislation that the Senate approved today is fair for everyone, and most importantly, it gets families the help they need.

The bill would require most health carriers that issue or renew health benefit plans to provide coverage for diagnosis and treatment of individuals with autism. It would restrict health carriers from refusing to issue or renew coverage based solely on the fact of an autism diagnosis. The proposed insurance coverage would include a physician or psychiatrist's referral of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy — up to $55,000 per year for individuals under the age of 21.

Senate Leader Charlie Shields, said early diagnosis and intervention is reported as the key to making sure children on the spectrum can have the best quality of life possible.

"We have worked to make prevention and early diagnosis a cornerstone of health care in Missouri," Sen. Shields said. "By passing this bill, we are making sure the same is true for these children."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism strikes one out of 91 children in this country — more than AIDS, juvenile diabetes and cancer, combined.

Senator Schmitt has been a strong supporter working to advance the legislation. He has also shared his family's personal experiences with his young son, Stephen, who falls on the autism spectrum.

"Children on the autism spectrum deal with so many challenges each and every day," Schmitt said. "These proven therapies are the difference between whether a family can go to a restaurant without having to leave early, the difference between a child having meaningful friendships. We owe it to these families to give their children the opportunity to reach their full potential. Put simply, this bill is the right thing to do and the right time to do it."

The Senate advanced a similar bill last year that later stalled in the House.  Go to my Senate Website, Multi-Media page at: to listen to my closing remarks on the bill.

"Rebooting Government"

In other news this week, Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields announced that next Tuesday, March 23, the Senate will dedicate a full work day to discuss ideas relating to the Senate's new "Rebooting Government" initiative in lieu of holding committee hearings.

With the state's budget situation requiring difficult decisions to be made by the Legislature (the Legislature must submit a budget to the governor by May 7), the Senate recently launched the Rebooting Government program on the Senate website, which invites Missourians to share their ideas for how to rework state government. Next week's work day event is designed for groups of senators to review and discuss the suggestions received and then submit at least five ideas they agree upon to be introduced in legislation or through the budget process.

Eight groups of four senators each will meet to examine ideas in the following categories: Agriculture/Outdoors/Department of Natural Resources, Courts/Legal/Department of Public Safety, Education, General Government/Office of Administration, Retirement, Social Programs, Tax Structure, and Transportation.

The groups will all meet Tuesday morning. Public notices will be posted relaying the location of each group meeting, and although public testimony will not be taken, all working groups are open to the public.

Missourians may continue submitting their ideas by visiting the Senate's website at and clicking on the Rebooting Government logo. Submissions may be anonymous, and ideas will continue to be accepted throughout the legislative session.

Working groups and the senators assigned to each (in alphabetical order) include:

Agriculture/Outdoors/Department of Natural Resources

Sen. Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring
Sen. Dan Clemens, R-Marshfield
Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia
Sen. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence

Courts/Legal/Department of Public Safety

Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit
Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mt. Vernon
Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City
Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter


Sen. Rita Days, D-St. Louis
Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg
Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin
Sen. Yvonne Wilson, D-Kansas City

General Government/Office of Administration

Sen. Tim Green, D-St. Louis
Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis
Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville
Sen. Carl Vogel, R-Jefferson City


Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau
Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield
Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington
Sen. Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis

Social Programs

Sen. Joan Bray, D-St. Louis
Sen. Norma Champion, R-Springfield
Sen. Scott T. Rupp, R-Wentzville
Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale

Tax Structure

Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles
Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah
Sen. Chuck Purgason, R-Caulfield
Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis


Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington
Sen. Ryan McKenna, D-Crystal City
Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City
Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton


A new question is posted on my website which ask:

The current economic situation will bring about severe reductions in our state's budget in order for the legislature to pass the balanced budget that the Missouri Constitution requires.

In your opinion, which of these actions seems the most reasonable to begin with?
  1. Reduce K-12 Education Spending
  2. Reduce Higher Education Spending
  3. Reduce Medicaid/Welfare Expenditures
  4. Reduce tax credits for economic development & job creation
  5. Provide for an earlier release of non-violent prison offenders in order to reduce corrections/prison expenditures

And which of these would you NOT want to see happen?
  1. Reduce K-12 Education Spending
  2. Reduce Higher Education Spending
  3. Reduce Medicaid/Welfare Expenditures
  4. Reduce tax credits for economic development & job creation
  5. Provide for an earlier release of non-violent prison offenders in order to reduce corrections/prison expenditures

If you'd like to respond, please go to my web page at: and click on "Question of the Week" in the upper right hand corner.

St. Charles County Town Hall Meeting Details

Don't forget my Town Hall Meeting tomorrow, Saturday, March 20th at 1 pm at the O'Fallon City Hall Multi-Purpose Room, 100 North Main Street, O'Fallon.  Hope to see you there.

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.

Gatschenberger: Town Hall Invitation, House Opposition to Federal Health Care

Please be my guest!

What:  Town Hall Meeting
When:  Thursday, March 25th – 7:00 pm
Where:  Wentzville City Hall - 310 West Pearce Boulevard


Attendees of my last Town Hall Meeting requested a return visit of speakers for and against the Missouri Fair Tax.  Also attending will be representatives for CLAIM – Missouri's State Health Insurance Assistance Program who will address Medicare issues.  In addition, Missouri Rx representatives, who help seniors and persons with disabilities on fixed incomes save up to 50% on their prescription drugs, will be there and Missouri SMP representatives, who empower seniors to prevent healthcare fraud, will also be in attendance.  There will be a short presentation from Ameren UE as well.

If you have any Medicare issues you need help with… these representatives will be happy to meet with you individually after their presentation.

For questions on the content of this meeting you may contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-3572 or e-mail Chuck{dot}Gatschenberger{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov

Hope to see you there!

St. Louis Community College Hosts RCGA's Missouri Legislative Breakfast in Jefferson City

On March 17th St. Louis Community Collegesponsored the fifth RCGA biweekly legislative breakfast in Jefferson City honoring members of the 2010 Missouri General Assembly.  The breakfast was hosted by Ann Brand, Director of Government Affairs for St. Louis Community College [at right with Rep. Gatschenberger & RCGA Public Policy Council Chairman John Sondag]. The breakfast attracted many legislators from across the state as well as several RCGA Public Policy Council members.

House Opposes Federal Government Takeover of Health Care

Constituents have been writing letters, calling and flowing through the halls of the Capitol to express their outrage with the proposed federal takeover of our health care system.  There have been rallies, town hall meetings and demonstrations to show the President and Congress just how serious our citizens are taking the federal health care bill.

Representative Tim Jones, sponsored House Joint Resolution 48, 50 and 57 to oppose government run healthcare.  I sponsored similar legislation… House Joint Resolution 74… which has been heard in committee.  I am looking forward to the debate on the floor.

Upon voter approval, this proposed constitutional amendment would allow individuals, employers and healthcare providers from opting out of participation in the health care legislation Congress may pass.

The legislation prevents individuals and employers from being fined or penalized, allowing them to pay directly for lawful health care services.  It also states that health care providers can accept payment for health care services from individuals or employers without being subject to these fines or penalties.

Finally, it states that the purchase or sale of health care insurance in private health care systems cannot be prohibited by any law or rule passed down from the federal government.

Representative Jones' resolutions act as a shield from the federal government mandates, protecting Missouri citizens.  It serves as an official message from the Missouri General Assembly, and if adopted by Congress, it 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.

Representative Gatschenberger and students at the Francis Howell Parents as Teachers - Annual Read-In
Francis Howell Early Childhood Family Education Center, 4810 Meadows Parkway, St. Charles, MO

House Passes Bill, Making Drug Testing Mandatory 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.  On the contrast, 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 session, 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.

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.

Many recipients have families and small children to care for, and a healthy home environment is vital for a meaningful childhood.  We hope that this bill will be signed in to law and inspire those who receive welfare and use drugs to end that abuse and turn their lives around.

House Members Outraged with Congress, Sending a Clear Message to Washington DC To the Federal Government: Balance the National Budget!

You are a hard-working Missouri taxpayer.  You have bills, expenses and every day items that run up costs.  You know what it means to sit down and balance your budget so you can keep your family on track. 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 balance our budget.  It's not easy, but it's the right thing to do.

Our federal government is a completely different story.  It's almost as if a balanced budget is a foreign concept to them.  This year, the national budget was out of balance by over 40%.

We are in the midst of what economists are calling "The Great Recession" and spending our way to prosperity isn't the answer – but wise fiscal planning and responsible use of your tax dollars is the answer.

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.

The HCR 34 & 35 comes as an official message from the Missouri General Assembly, and if adopted by Congress, it 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.

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.

Congress needs to stop spending and start standing up for the future of America.  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.


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


The Missouri Botanical Garden is among the top three botanical gardens in the world!

The first ironclad boat was built by James Buchanan Eads in the Port of St. Louis.  He also built the first bridge using steel truss construction – the 1874 Eads Bridge.

The first Kindergarten in the U.S. was founded in St. Louis by Susan Blow.

Nodler: Resolution Urges Federal Protection of Recreational Fishing

Senator Nodler reads his Senate Concurrent Resolution 55 on the floor of the Senate. The resolution urges the federal government to protect recreational fishing. A recent report by the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force omitted responsibly regulated recreational fishing as a key activity on waterways. Watch this video by clicking here or play below. (Windows Media Video from Sen. Nodler's office)

Schupp: Visit to Washington, Committee Updates, MoDOT projects in Creve Coeur

At right: Rep. Schupp with Lois Detrick (left) President of League of Women Voters of Missouri, and Dr. Caroline Davies of UMKC, an expert in Environmental Sciences, on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. during the legislative Spring Break.

It is a delight to see our students as they visit the Capitol!  Last week, during the legislative spring break, about 90 fourth grade Mason Ridge Elementary School students and their teachers and parents came up to visit and tour.  It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for lunch on the steps of the capitol.  I was proud to see that the students came well-versed and well-prepared to make the most of their scheduled tours!  We are fortunate to have such dedicated teachers and parents who were able to make the trip. 

In addition to this one day in Jeff City, I was also fortunate to be able to spend time in Washington D.C. learning about how climate change disproportionately affects women throughout the world, particularly those in poverty.  Among the attendees at the Oxfam conference was former Secretary of State Bekki Cook.  As you often do when you visit your state or federal capitol, we met with many staff members who assist representatives that serve Missouri.  It is always encouraging to see that, just as they are here, assistants working in the D.C. capitol are knowledgeable and helpful, and have the ear of the elected official. At the same time, it was a treat that Senator Claire McCaskill set aside time to meet with us personally.    

This week, the focus has been on budget.  I have spent virtually all of my time outside of my scheduled meetings and hearings sitting in the Budget Committee meetings being tutored by ranking member Representative Sara Lampe.  Creating a balanced budget through a thoughtful process is one of the most important things we do as your representatives.  Having this opportunity to sit in a review the process and ask questions continues to be an invaluable experience.

In the Capitol, we have a volunteer "Physician of the Day."  This week, we welcomed Dr. Tim Jones, whose practice is at Genesis Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Center in Creve Coeur!

Please read on for more about the week.  If you are a constituent, you might have received a survey in the mail from me.  I hope you will send it in, or answer the questions on line.  It is always helpful to hear your priorities.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to serve.



Committee News

The Budget

While not my committee, I have made it my business to sit through as much of these meetings as my schedule will allow.  The committee finished its work today and will send its revised budget to the House floor.

The overarching questions:
  • How much, $200,000,000 or $500,000,000 have to be cut?
  • Do we save $300,000,000 to help shore up the next fiscal years' budget which won't include stimulus and stabilization dollars and won't be growing from revenue increases?
  • What is the appropriate level at which we should fund education?
  • How do we use our money to encourage economic growth and development and get people back to work?
  • Is Parents As Teachers, a Missouri program now copied throughout the country, a program we can save?
  • Will the Alzheimer's Association receive any funding as they attempt to help victims and their families deal with this debilitating disease?
  • Will we support the elderly with enough money for Meals on Wheels?
  • Are we able to help the disabled and poor through Mo Health Net dollars?
  • In our very own district, will our NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities) program that helps seniors who qualify age in their own homes continue to be funded at some level?
  • How many additional dollars will be taken from our departments before efficiency becomes ineffectiveness?

After these budget meetings, you might expect that I would have the answers.  However, this is just a step in the process.  The House will review the budget  recommendations from the committee next week, and amendments will continue to shape and re-work our budget.

Whatever information we present today may be changed on the floor next week...and we will still not be done.   The only guarantee I can provide now is that this is a budget year that is all about cuts. Dollars are so tight and the state is so stretched, that there will most likely  be a program or service you care about that will be cut.  Keep letting us know what matters to you. 

Higher Education

The Higher Education committee met in executive session to vote on HB 1812, legislation which equalizes the amount of grant money that can be awarded to Missouri students whether they attend in-state public or private higher education institutions.  Currently, students attending private four-year institutions receive double the amount those attending public four-year institutions receive.   This will cap the amount for those who qualify for this needs-based award at $2,850 regardless of whether the attendance is to a public or private college or university.

When I learned through questioning that this legislation would not be enacted until after the program had sunset (ended, or was suspended pending legislation to re-enact it,) I saw no sense in supporting it without either changing the start date or moving or eliminating the sunset provision.  It is legislation that has no impact as it stands! Neither of these options was approved.  The legislation did pass, and I am hopeful we can turn it into meaningful legislation when it comes up for debate on the house floor.

HCR 24 was also passed out of committee during executive session.  This is a non-binding resolution that encourages Missouri institutions of higher education to engage students in international education to help promote participation in our global society.  Sounds great, right?  Well, we already do this.  Even the resolution sponsor will tell you that as he told me in our public committee meeting. In general, I do not support these resolutions since they have no legislative impact, and are generally used to make a political statement or provide a boost to a vulnerable member. They take up the valuable time of the membership and staff.

Children and Families Blocking an unconstitutional Bait and Switch

My minority colleagues on Children and Families Committee and I succeeded  in temporarily blocking an unconstitutional attempt by Chairwoman Cynthia Davis to hold a vote on an anti-abortion bill that she had replaced with another bill that was never announced as required by law, or heard by the committee.
The committee was scheduled to vote on HB 1238, which would change state laws relating to abortion consent requirements. Committee Chairwoman Cynthia Davis, St. Charles, instead offered a different bill that deleted all nine pages of HB 1238 except for a single sentence and replaced it with language from HB 1236, which would establish medical screening requirements. The bill she used has not even been referred to any committee.

Representative Davis' attempt to switch bills violates Article III, Section 21 of the Missouri Constitution, which prohibits bills from being changed from their original purpose. The action also could violate Missouri's Sunshine Law, which requires advance public notice of what legislation will be considered at government meetings.

Chair Davis has engaged in a pattern of deception and abuse of authority to prevent an open discussion on HB 1238/HB 1236. During the original public hearing on HB 1238 on March 3, it quickly became apparent that her witnesses in support instead were testifying on a different bill, not before us, and about which neither the public nor the minority committee members had been notified.  Minority members sent Davis a letter admonishing her for her deceptive and unprofessional conduct at that hearing.
In a news article, I was quoted as stating, "My constituents would have been appalled to see the violation of the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of the Sunshine Law that occurred in our committee on March 3 and that was attempted today. Clearly one bill was announced, but another was the topic of testimony in a 'bait and switch' maneuver that does not pass my sniff test for transparency in government."
Chair Davis allotted nearly all of the March 3 hearing to supporters and prohibited the standard practice of allowing committee members to question witnesses. After all supporters had testified, she allowed a mere five minutes of questioning by legislators who were then supposed to be able to make informed and thoughtful decisions. Challenges and questions to appeal the ruling of the chair were not entertained as we tried to sort through what was and was not being heard. It was not a good model for the democratic process.

Information from MODOT

Two spring projects planned for Creve Coeur

MoDOT has announced that they are doing two construction projects in the City of Creve Coeur this Spring with the L. Krupp Construction Company. The details of these two projects are listed below:

Old Olive Street Road Project
This project will resurface and restripe all lanes of Old Olive Street Road both east and west of Lindbergh Blvd.
  • Project begins March 22 and ends May 17; hours of construction will be 8 pm - 5 am.
  • Please be aware of workers within the work zone and be alert for detours, lanes closures, and traffic control devices. Reduce your speed in construction zones, additional fines will apply for traffic violations.
  • Start planning alternate routes now.
Ladue Road Project
This project will resurface and restripe all lanes of Ladue Road from Emerson Road west to Woods Mill Road/Rte 141 to include the northbound and southbound ramps of I-270.
  • Project begins March 11 and ends May 10; hours of construction will be 10 pm- 5 am
  • From April 1 - April 30, there will be periodic lane closures of the construction zone. When lane closures are implemented, there will be construction workers present for traffic control as well as a "pilot car".
  • The pilot car is a well-marked construction vehicle that ensures proper traffic flow. Before pulling onto Ladue Road with lane closures, wait for the pilot car to ensure that the traffic flow is in the correct direction. By following the pilot car, you will ensure both your safety and that of the construction workers.
  • Please be aware of workers within the work zone and be alert for detours, lanes closures, and traffic control devices. Reduce your speed in construction zones, and be alert for workers.
All construction projects will depend on the weather. To stay up to date with the latest construction news, visit MoDot's website at or sign up for the Creve Coeur Police Crime Prevention E-Newsletter at

If you have any questions, please contact the Creve Coeur Police Traffic Office at 314-872-2540.

Freshmen Dems' Caucus Sessions


This week the Freshmen Democratic Caucus held its final officially-planned and scheduled learning session meeting on Wednesday, March 17,  hearing more about nursing home regulations and the private long-term care industry from The Honorable Jon Dolan and Nikki Strong representing the Missouri Health Care Association.

We are grateful to all of the speakers and participants in this session's speaker series for the time and preparation put into providing our Freshman Caucus with in depth and timely information about some of the most important legislative issues being addressed in Missouri.  Thank you!

Student Spotlight

Parkway North students participate in Lexus Eco Challenge

Congratulations to Jenny Koshner and Team Neon for making it to the final level of the Lexus Eco Challenge.  Team Neon is one of 16 teams chosen nationwide to compete in the finals.  The prize for this final challenge is $15,000.

The Lexus Eco Challenge was created to educate students about the environment and to encourage them to change the world for the better.

Team Neon created a free easy-to-grow Rain Garden seed kit. They sent these kits to educators throughout Missouri.  With these kits, the team provided an educational curriculum about Rain Gardens and other valuable material about various plant species.  For more information about Rain Gardens, please go to Team Neon's website.

The final challenge of the Lexus Eco Challenge involves reaching out beyond the local community.  This impact is measured by the number of views on the team's website and the origin of those views.  To help Team Neon win the final challenge, log on to Team Neon's website and look around their fabulous informational website.

Once again, congratulations and good luck in the final challenge of the Lexus Eco Challenge, Team Neon!

Westminster Academy Visit

Westminster Christian Academy students and sponsor, Sherry Blough, met with Rep. Schupp on Wednesday to discuss youth tobacco abuse prevention and awareness.  The students shared stories with Rep. Schupp about their own experiences with tobacco and shared their ideas for what the state needs to do to focus more resources on prevention moving forward.  Rep. Schupp was glad to meet with such a bright group of young activists.

Burlison: Leading By Example, House Makes Cuts To Its Own Budget

State revenues are way down, countless Missourians have lost their jobs, and many of our citizens are having difficulty providing for their families. As we continue to find ways to decrease spending in the state, the House is taking steps to make significant decreases in its own budget as well.

Along with the Accounts Committee Chairman, Representative Kenny Jones, we have made an effort to reduce state travel by House members by denying expense reimbursements for most travel expenses. This will save a good portion of the House budget funds.

I also made a motion in our Administration and Accounts Committee to eliminate cellular phone reimbursements, which will save the House $55,000. In addition to this, I was responsible for suggesting the now famous cut to the coffee and bottled water, which will save the House another $25,000.

Unlike the Governor's Office of Administration, we fulfilled our constitutional redistricting responsibilities without using additional fiscal resources. This has amounted to a savings of $100,000 to $200,000 of the House budget fund.

In the past, the House has been a member of several key programs including the NCSL, ALEC, and the Counsel of State Governments. This year, we opted out of our memberships in another effort to reduce spending. This has provided us a total of $345,000 in savings.

Finally, we replaced our paper system in the House Chamber with laptop computers in effort to reduce paper consumption and costs. Although the laptops were expensive, over time we expect to see significant decreases in paper costs.

Along with the House cutting its own budget, I would like to share a couple of noteworthy things with you.

Missouri's second Show-Me Green Sales Tax Holiday to occur April 19-25
The director of the Missouri Department of Revenue today encouraged citizens considering buying major appliances to participate in Missouri's second Show-Me Green Sales Tax Holiday in April. The holiday runs April 19-25. People who purchase new ENERGY STAR qualified appliances during the holiday will receive at least 4.225 percent off the purchase, through elimination of the state's sales tax on the purchase. Participating counties and cities may also waive local sales tax on the same purchases.

Some teachers with MSTA also stopped by the office to meet with me and talk:

I am always happy to see visitors from Springfield.

Engler: Rebooting Government

Recently, budget officials announced that as revenue collections continue to decline, the revenue estimate for the current fiscal year had to be revised.  The new estimate, based upon lower than expected collections, shows a revenue decline of $700 million compared to the previous year, the largest drop in history. Preliminary estimates for the coming fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2011, show that revenue will fall $200 million short of earlier projections.  Although the state of Missouri has been able to weather the national economic downturn for a couple years, these figures call for serious actions on the part of the Legislature as we work to craft a budget that will be within our state's means.

The budget proposal delivered by the governor in January is no longer feasible.  In addition to crafting his proposal with $300 million from Congress that they are not going to send to us, these new revenue estimates show that a new plan is necessary.  The governor has made some proposals, but has not come close to closing the budget gap. Major changes must take place.

The solutions to these financial issues have to be long-term, especially since many expect our current budget woes to last as long as 2013.  This is an opportunity for us to restructure state government so that it is more efficient and streamlined.  The Senate is committed to taking the lead on this process, which is why we recently introduced a program to allow citizens from throughout the state to share their cost-cutting ideas.  The "Rebooting Government" program is designed to find innovative solutions to our current problems by collecting submissions online.  You can share your ideas by visiting and clicking on the "Rebooting Missouri" link. Your ideas, whether they call for more control, alterations, or deletions, will be considered and could go a long way to helping balanced the budget.

As we work to make government more streamlined and cost-effective, the federal government continues to spend out of control.  The state is working on ways to ensure our state's 10th Amendment rights are protected.  When the forefathers of our country wrote our Constitution, they wrote the 10th Amendment to make it clear that powers not granted to the federal government are reserved for the states.  This week, we passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 34, which would reaffirm Missouri's sovereignty under the 10th Amendment and would demand that the federal government stop all activities outside the scope of its constitutionally delegated powers.

Another bill making its way through the legislative process is legislation that would outlaw a substance called K2.  This is an amphetamine that is a combination of synthetic compounds that mimic the effects of marijuana.  Currently, it is sold in our state as a "spice" to teenagers and young adults, but this is really just a controlled substance being sold under a loophole.  This week the Senate gave initial approval to SB 887, a bill that would make K2 in this state an illegal Schedule I controlled substance.

Finally, this week the Senate passed a ban on texting while driving. SB 781, changes current law to apply to all drivers in the state of Missouri. Currently, only kids 21 and younger are prohibited from texting while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. It now moves to the House of Representatives, for their consideration.

18 March 2010

Holsman Sends Message to the NFL

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - State Representative Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, announced today that as more states join in the effort to help overturn "broadcast blackout" policies in professional sports leagues, he has officially sent word to the NFL asking them to reconsider what Holsman describes as "antiquated policy."

Holsman, along with New York Senator Kevin Parker, Pennsylvania Representative Brendan Boyle, Michigan Representative Joel Sheltrown, and Speaker Pro-Tem Lori Saldaña of the California Assembly, have filed - or in the process of filing - bills which would pull public funding from professional sports franchises that have games blacked out due to league policies.  Elected officials from other states, including Ohio, Florida and Indiana, have also expressed interest in the bill.  While the bill would apply equally to any sport, the most prominent league with such a policy is the National Football League, which will not allow local television stations within 75 miles of a stadium to broadcast games if the home stadium is not sold out.

Holsman contends that the NFL's policy hurts local businesses, such as sports bars and restaurants, and unfairly punishes low- and middle-income families who pay taxes to support teams and stadiums, even if they are unable to afford tickets to see the game in person.

"Even in a 2-14 season, the final Kansas City Chiefs home game broadcast was the number one show on television in Kansas City by a wide margin.  Watching sporting events on TV is a social event for some and a family event for others.  Whether it's a group of coworkers from St. Louis watching a Rams game at a local restaurant, or my family watching a Chiefs game in our living room, blacking out a broadcast of a football game in a stadium that the taxpayers built is both disappointing and disengaging to the fans of Missouri's sports teams," said Holsman.

A copy of the letter from Representative Holsman to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can be read below:

Missouri State Shield

Dear Commissioner Goodell:

My name is Jason Holsman, and I represent the 45th district in the Missouri House of Representatives. Earlier this month, I filed House Bill 1986, which makes any professional sports franchise ineligible to receive public funding if that franchise is subject to a broadcast blackout due to a league-wide policy. This bill, if it becomes law, would obviously impact the NFL and teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams. I am writing to explain why I proposed this bill and why I believe that reform of the existing broadcast blackout rule is important.

The NFL's rationale for the blackout rule is simple: If games are not televised, fans will be forced to buy a ticket and attend games in person. This rationale is shortsighted and ignores economic reality. Our country, and in particular my constituents in Missouri, are hurting financially. At this time, many football fans - including die-hard fans like me - simply cannot afford to buy a ticket and attend the games. Rather than pressure fans to buy tickets, the blackout rule actually prevents fans from watching their teams altogether. The unintended consequence of the NFL's policy is to reduce viewership, upset fans, and potentially reduce the fan base. It is for these very reasons that Major League Baseball does not predicate their blackout policy on ticket sales.

The blackout rule is bad for already-struggling local economies. When games are not televised, fans stay home and restaurants and bars lose out on revenues from Sunday and Monday night crowds. Local television affiliates lose out on advertising revenues, as do advertisers whose commercials never air. Team merchandise sales fall, and that hurts local retailers as well as the NFL team franchise.

NFL teams receive millions of dollars of public assistance from state and local entities each year. The Kansas City Chiefs, my team, receives $3M in annual state appropriations, $2M annually from Kansas City, and $3.5M from Jackson County. These dollars are in addition to a one-time $25M tax credit from the State of Missouri for relocating the Chiefs training camp to St. Joseph, MO, and in addition to the revenues from a 3/8 cent sales tax which funds $250M worth of renovations to the Arrowhead stadium, constituting a significant amount of taxpayer money, and taxpayers deserve something in return for their investment.

For these reasons, I filed H.B. 1986. If passed, H.B. 1986 will preclude any professional sports team, which is subject to a broadcast blackout, from being eligible for public funding in the following year. I also drafted an amendment to this bill that guarantees existing, legally-obligated subsidies, tax levies, and contractual agreements, to the extent any exist. This bill only applies to future public assistance.

A national movement is underway to get sponsors onboard from various state legislatures. Based on my discussions with legislators from around the country, similar legislation has been, or will soon be, filed in New York, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and several other states. Over the next few weeks, we will announce more states that have joined this effort as more states file bills similar to H.B. 1986. It is my hope that the NFL and franchise owners will take this issue seriously, and decide to reverse the blackout rule at the next executive meeting.

Please understand that the aim of this bill is not to hurt the NFL or its teams. That is not my goal. I simply want a square deal for the taxpayers. I support providing NFL teams with taxpayer subsidies, but seek to protect the taxpayer's return on investment.

If you have any questions or would like to speak with me further about this issue, please call my office at (573) 751-6607.

Best Regards,

Jason R. Holsman
State Representative - District 45
Missouri House of Representatives

The Hon. Kevin Parker, Senator - New York State Senate
The Hon. Lori Saldaña, Speaker Pro Tempore - California State Assembly
The Hon. Franklin Sands, Minority Leader - Florida House of Representatives
The Hon. Joel Sheltrown, Member - Michigan House of Representatives
The Hon. Brendan Boyle, Member - Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Billy Devaney, General Manager - St. Louis Rams
Denny Thum, President - Kansas City Chiefs
L. Kent Gaines, Lobbyist - Kansas City Chiefs
Sports Illustrated
ESPN The Magazine
Sporting News
Kansas City Star
St. Louis Post Dispatch

Cunningham: Health Care Freedom Act Update

Constituents and Friends of the Health Care Freedom Act-

We are all so very grateful for the amazing progress on the Health Care Freedom Act made this week.  Rep. Tim Jones' HJR57 passed the House overwhelmingly and my SJR25 was referred to the Senate Calendar for debate.

SENATE DEBATE STARTS THIS COMING WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24TH AT 10AM.  I warmly invite you to participate in this part of the process.  There are 265 seats in the visitors gallery and filling them is our goal.  It will be a show of support and force to the entire senate and the media.

What to expect:

Debate, floor speeches and inquiries have unlimited time in the senate unlike the House where members are limited to 15 minutes.  The process can be frustrating and takes patience but the senate is designed to be a slower, more deliberative body.

Some bills take many hours to debate and some even continue on non-consecutive days.  That is part of the process to take a break and keep coming back to it at opportune times.  However, both you and legislators will be able to see what the opposition is, arguments and specific senators, so we can refocus for the second round and you can get constituents within those specific senator's districts to lobby them.

The visitors' gallery is for public observation, not participation.  Senate rules require no applause, publicly audible responses nor flash photography.

Adherence to the discipline of these rules allows uninterrupted debate and will help our cause.

We are all so grateful for your interest in this vital legislation that will shield us from the federal mandates and protect our freedoms.

If you cannot make the trip to Jefferson City, you can listen to the debate live at  Click on "live debate.....senate".

Kraus: Rebooting Government

The Missouri Senate is providing a great opportunity to submit ideas on how state government can work better, smaller, or more efficiently.  Before March 22, Missourians can click on this website, Rebooting Government, and be taken directly to a Senate page where they can enter suggestions and have their voice heard.

The Missouri Senate has taken a great first step in setting up this web site for idea sharing.  It has also designed a special process to read them, an all-important second step.  So far, about 500 ideas have been offered for consideration.  Next Tuesday, the Senate has set aside a full day for working groups of senators to review the recommendations.  Each group of senators will be asked to identify at least five ideas to be used in legislation or the budget.

A tight budget year has made this effort very important.  I know that many times, as individuals interact with government, they have thought of ways that state work could be done better, easier, cheaper or more stream-lined.  These insights can translate into a more sustainable government, so I hope Missourians will take the time to register them.

Joe Smith: Patient Privacy Act and Health Insurance for Adopted Children

House Bill 1382, sponsored by Representative Doug Ervin, establishes the Missouri Patient Privacy Act.  This bill extends privacy protection of your personal medical records so that no one, without written consent, can gain access to your information.  This bill is especially important in the age of electronic record storage when your information can be sent with the push of a button.

This act prohibits the disclosure of patient-specific health information to outsiders.  That list includes: any employer, a public or private payer, employee or agent of a state department or agency without written consent of the patient -- excluding information submitted as part of a medical claim. Health information may, however, be disclosed to a health insurer, labor benefit trust, employer, state employee, the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan, the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, or the MO HealthNet Division within the Department of Social Services (which would be in connection with the person's official duties). The substitute does not prohibit disclosure of personal health information consistent with federal law and does not require health care providers to remove information when it is being disclosed.

This consent bill, passed last Wednesday, was passed with an overwhelming majority and incurs no impact on state funds.

Joe Smith: House Downsizes Their Budget

State revenues are way down, countless Missourians have lost their jobs and many of our citizens are having difficulty providing for their families.  As we continue to find ways to decrease spending in the state budget, we made significant decreases in our own House budget as well. Along with the Accounts Committee Chairman, Representative Kenny Jones, we have taken a step to reduce state travel by House members.  Most travel expense reimbursements are denied – which will save a good portion of House budget funds.

Cellular phone reimbursements have also been eliminated, saving the House $55,000.

Unlike the Governor's Office of Administration, we fulfilled our constitutional redistricting responsibilities without using additional fiscal resources.  This was a savings of $100,000 – 200,000 of the House budget fund.  In addition, we worked with the Joint Committee on Legislative Research to eliminate the Legislative Budget Office which was a $242,000 savings.

In the past, the House has been a member of several key programs including the NCSL, the ALEC, the Counsel of State Governments and so forth.  This year, we opted out of our memberships in effort to reduce spending.  This provided us a total of $345,000 in savings.  Finally, we replaced our paper system in the Chamber with laptop computers in effort to reduce paper consumption and costs.  Although the laptops were expensive, over time we expect to see significant decreases in paper costs.

Tim Jones: HJR57 Update, Balancing the State Budget, K2 Possession Laws

At right: The Jones Caucus: Rep. Tim Jones with uncle Kenny & cousin Caleb on Filing Day at the Secretary of State’s Office.

Returning from Spring Break this week saw a return of slowly warming temperatures in advance of a forecasted spring cold snap this coming weekend.  As the sun warmed mid-Missouri and the mighty river valley at the foot of the Capitol, dense fog shrouded the grounds in a thick cloak before the welcome sunshine bathed the dome as the week came to an end.  Inside the Capitol, the Budget Committee worked extremely long hours, painstakingly working through the budget bills and taking on the very difficult task of creating a balanced budget in the midst of one of the most challenging economic times since the Great Depression.  Debate on the House Floor intensified as we called upon the Federal Government to cease its floundering work related to health care and address the true vital and serious issues facing our State and Nation: jobs and the economy…

"Does the government fear us? Or do we fear the government? When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory. The federal government is our servant, not our master!" -Thomas Jefferson

Opposing Federalizing Missouri Healthcare

There are innumerable reasons to oppose the health care bills currently under consideration in Congress, including draconian tax increases, massive new regulations and bureaucracy, and more out-of-control Washington spending.  But one of the most controversial provisions of these proposals is a federal mandate that would require every American to purchase health insurance, or face fines and penalties.  This week, the Missouri House passed one of my top priorities, the "Health Care Freedom Act" which would, upon voter approval, constitutionally protect the rights of Missourians to make their own health care decisions and ensure that your health care decisions can be made without fear of government fines and penalties.  We believe that Missourians are better able to manage their own health care than government bureaucrats or Washington politicians.  Whether a federal bill becomes law and what it will contain remains uncertain.  But with the initial approval of House Joint Resolution 57, we took an important step this week to ensure that even if Congress has its way, you will continue to be in control of your own health care decisions.

Balancing the State Budget

There is little doubt that Missourians are feeling the effects of the current economic downturn. Millions are struggling to make ends meet as they work to pay bills, mortgage payments, and cover the cost of necessities like groceries and gas.  Not unlike Missouri families, the State of Missouri is feeling these same effects.  Each year, the state legislature must pass a balanced budget while trying to protect funding for priorities like education and public safety.  But with the economic challenges we face, this will be no small task.  Dozens of other states have decided to solve their budget challenges through massive tax increases while the federal government continues to pass unbalanced budgets and rack up trillions of dollars in debt for future generations to pay.  But in the Missouri House, we remain committed to crafting a fiscally responsible state budget, without raising taxes or living beyond our means.

That means we will do what working Missouri families have done and prioritize our spending and make the necessary cuts to keep the budget balanced.  The only other option we have is to raise taxes and I promise you that I will not let that happen.  Economists of all political stripes will tell you that raising taxes during an economic climate such as this is a recipe for disaster.  I will not vote to pass a tax increase on Missourians while we are in such an economic downturn.  While the politicians in DC work to either push our country further in debt due to their unbalanced federal budgets or seek to raise taxes on the American middle-class and increase your healthcare costs, the Missouri House of Representatives will do nothing of the sort.

We will not pass on debt to our children and we will not increase taxes on Missourians.  Period.

Keeping Harmful Drugs off our Streets

This week the House passed House Bill 1472 which would make possession of K2 a felony.  K2 is a new drug, very similar to marijuana that is being passed around in schools across the State.  Even more disturbing is that K2 is completely undetectable in current drug tests.  The side effects of K2 are lower body temperature, partial paralysis and the temporary inability to feel pain.  K2 is produced in parts of Asia and is sold basically as a potpourri that has a chemical sprayed on it that has very similar properties to THC, the main ingredient in marijuana.  There is very little scientific research on the long term effects of the drug, but it is already illegal in Europe and in many other parts of the world.  Until we know more about this substance, teenagers in the state do not need to have ready access to it.

MORE Out of Control Government Spending:

From Chris Edwards of The Heartland Institute

January 22, 2010 is a day that should live in infamy, at least among believers in limited government. On that day the federal government added its 2,000th subsidy program for individuals, businesses, or state and local governments.  The number of federal subsidy programs soared 21 percent during the 1990s and 40 percent during the 2000s.  The entire nation is jumping aboard Washington's gravy train. The recent addition of two new Department of Justice programs pushed us over the threshold to reach 2,001.  There is a federal subsidy program for every year that has passed since Emperor Augustus held sway in Rome. We've gone from bread and circuses to food stamps, the National Endowment for the Arts, and 1,999 other handout programs from the imperial city on the Potomac.


As mentioned above, 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 health care that they want.  The bill was "third read and passed" out of the House this week by a vote of 109-46.  The bill is now on its way to the State Senate.  You may view the legislation at this link: Thank you all very much for your continued support of this very important proposed constitutional amendment, 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 March 20 and April 3, 10 and 17.  For more information, please visit:

MODOT Traveler Information Map

For work zone location, flooding information and weather-related road conditions visit MoDOT's Traveler Information Map. It's your first source of information when planning your trip across the Show-Me state.

Tim's Legislative Platform for 2010

So far this year I have sponsored and filed fourteen individual pieces of legislation.  I have co-sponsored numerous other bills.  To review all of the bills that I have sponsored or co-sponsored, please follow this link:

Personal News & Notes

The mid-Session break came at a very welcome time.  I spent a busy week back home "in the District" catching up at my law practice, spending good quality time with my family and attending various important events around the community.  We are now firmly in the second half of the Regular Legislative Session and our days on the House Floor will grow longer and longer as we work through the challenging State Budget and begin to tackle compromise legislation with the State Senate.  As we enter this critical time of Session, if we can be of any assistance, please to do not hesitate to contact our office.

Visitors to the Capitol

At right: Rep. Jones presents a Special Resolution to Jordan Klein in honor of her receiving the Joann Breckenridge Award.

This week, Suzanne, Katie and Abby made their annual trip to visit me in Jefferson City.  It was wonderful to have them all here and it made the week much more pleasant!  I have had many other special guests visit me over the past few weeks including:  Deepa Bhuvanagiri, Mia & Abby Schroeder, Tim, Jennifer, Logan and Jackson Phelps, Eileen Tyrell and her daughter, Jordan Klein and her family and hundreds of Missouri patriots who came to the Capitol to support the Health Care Freedom Act!  Thank you to all of you for visiting!

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.  We have had many visitors to the Capitol so far this year; if your travels find you anywhere in or around Jefferson City, please do not hesitate to stop by and visit us in Room 114!  Until our next report, I remain, in your service.

Joe Smith: House Passes Bill Banning Dangerous Synthetic Similar to Marijuana

This week, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 1472. This bill seeks to add the compound found in K2, JWH-018, to the list of Schedule I controlled substances and make possession of it a class C felony.  Originally, JWH-018 was created to be used as a research tool at Clemson University by an undergraduate student, creating this synthetic compound to mimic the effects of marijuana and used by other scientists in the pharmaceutical industry.  This substance is at least three times stronger than naturally occurring THC.

Now, the compound has become widespread among teens and young adults.  They use it in an herbal mixture called K2 or "Spice", and when smoked and inhaled it mimics the high that one may receive from using marijuana.  The high from K2 has been said to produce effects ten times stronger than of marijuana, posing a much deeper threat to users.  For instance, after smoking K2, the user has been said to be unable to move for an hour.  There have also been burglaries reported in Missouri that were done for the sole purpose of stealing K2.  Those who smoke K2, or "Spice", ingest smoke laced with synthetic chemicals, not natural elements that the human lung is able to deal with.  In fact, there is a much more dangerous effect because the chemical goes right to the bloodstream.

This has been a world-wide problem as of recent.  Currently, Britain, Germany, Poland, France, South Korea and Russia have taken some form of action to ban the sale of synthetic cannabis.  In the United States, Kansas recently passed this ban out of the Kansas House of Representatives. Children and young adults in Missouri believe that since K2 is legal, it's safe.  As research shows, the chemical compound is not safe and can have damaging results.  We believe that by passing House Bill 1472, we can put parents at ease, and educate our citizens about the dangers surrounding K2.

Ensuring the safety and health of Missouri children is an important function of the legislature. I strongly believe that by taking the dangerous effects of this (drug) seriously, we are protecting our citizens and working to prevent them from harming themselves or others.

Nodler: Protecting Missouri's Constitutional Rights

(Windows Media Video from Sen. Nodler's office)

(Video also appears below by clicking play.)

When our forefathers created our great nation, they designed the country to function as a compact of states with the federal government being the creation of these states. They included the 10th Amendment when writing the Constitution, which says that, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated.” At the time, the federal government’s power included federal taxing, federal police, and federal regulations. Over the years, however, the power of the federal government has expanded to the point where many fear that the federal government may be overreaching its bounds and violating the sovereignty of the states.

In recent years, and particularly with the current administration, the federal government has expanded significantly, especially in its costs. Throughout the country, states are becoming increasingly interested in the issue of state sovereignty and federal infringement. It is a concern of mine as well, which is why I proposed Senate Bill 587.

This legislation, which was discussed on the Senate floor this week, would give the voters of the state of Missouri the opportunity to create a commission that would review the actions of the federal government to see if the state’s sovereignty has been violated. The governor, President Pro Tem of the Senate, and Speaker of the House would each appoint two members of the commission and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would appoint one member of the commission. If the commission finds that the federal government violated the 10th Amendment, the findings would be sent to the attorney general to allow him to pursue the state’s rights in federal court.

While several resolutions have been proposed this year to express the state’s disapproval of federal actions, SB 587 is more than that because it helps the state to take action. The state has always had the power to challenge the federal government in federal court, but SB 587 would allow our state to truly have an organized system to identify when our state’s sovereignty is being threatened.

One of the strengths of SB 587 is that it puts the issue to the people of the state. If the General Assembly approves the bill, the voters would have the opportunity to decide that this commission is necessary, making it truly a reflection of the people of Missouri’s desire to reestablish out state’s constitutional rights. When our forefathers wrote the constitution, they did so with very specific principles in mind, and SB 587 makes sure those ideals are respected and recognized.

Nance: Budget News, At The Capitol

Budget News

Spring break is over at the Missouri Capitol and legislators were in Jefferson City Monday working on the State's 2011 budget. Unlike the federal government, the state must have a balanced budget. That budget must be passed by May 7th and if revenues fall short, it is the Governor's responsibility to adjust appropriations.

Last Thursday, the Governor recommended legislators trim $500 million from the budget he proposed in January. He said the cuts were necessary due to lower than anticipated state revenues. Additionally, over $300 million in federal funding was included in the Governor's original budget, but may not be received. The Governor must work with the legislature to pass a more realistic budget.

It is a discussion that has changed daily but who will step up and be the responsible party?  If we believe the revenues won't be there, should the House make cuts or allow the proposed budget to be approved. If we approve the Governor's budget proposal, he will have to make the tough choices later. That could be devastating to any department that plans on appropriations and then in the middle of the year loses part of their funding. This could especially affect education. The state budget will be discussed on the House floor the next two weeks.

As bad as the budget picture appears, we are in much better shape than many other states who are on the verge of bankruptcy due to years of increasing state government and public programs. Living within a smaller budget is hard for families and it is going to be difficult for all who receive state funding in the upcoming year. Tough choices will have to be made and some restructuring of government may have to occur.

HB 1472 passed through the House on Monday. Called the K-2 bill, K-2 is becoming prolific on the streets and in our schools.  K-2 is an herbal compound that mimics marijuana and can be 10 times stronger. It is important that this compound be designated as a controlled substance so law enforcement can prevent an epidemic of dependency and the criminal element associated with it.

At this time it is sold in many convenience stores as an air freshener. One amendment that failed would have treated K-2 possession the same as marijuana. Those who oppose the bill said that no substance should be criminalized without verifiable evidence that it causes harm to an individual.

The Capitol hosted a Missouri Art Education Association art collection this week. Lawson Middle and High Schools had many beautiful entries. Those having their artwork on display were Nicole Kudart, Lindsey Jones, Ashley Banes, Griffin Johnson, Danielle Bohon, Chris Cechvala, and Zach Ohrenberg. Lewis and Clark Elementary was represented by Trevor Fritz, Megan Chilese, Dyllan Rimington, and Safiyyah Hashmi. Zach's work received the President's Award.

At the Capitol

Whitney Miller from Richmond was at the Capitol on Tuesday.

Visiting Wednesday from Lawson and Liberty were Amy, Jennifer, Jake, Isabelle and William Kanning. They received a tour of the Capitol, Governor's Mansion and Whispering Chamber.

Also visiting Thursday were next years Student Council Members from Excelsior Springs High School, they are:  Tiffany Propst, Shauni Lawrence, Hallie Ring and Wendy Chuning.  Sponsors were: Danielle Hankins and Susan Hevalow.

17 March 2010

Ervin: Health Care Freedom Act Passes House

“The States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones.  I wish, therefore … never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market.”
–Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge William Johnson, June 12, 1823

This week Missouri citizens got the upper hand for a change due to House action on two proposals.

The first win occurred on Tuesday when the House passed the Health Care Freedom Act, which is essential in securing the rights of patients to make their own health care choices.

As I have written before, the question of patient rights has been bubbling to the surface as an issue important to those interested in keeping the relationship between patient and doctor in tact.

The essence of the proposed constitutional amendment is this, "To preserve the freedom of citizens of this state to provide for their health care, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly or through penalties or fines, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system."

The proposed amendment ensures that:
  • Each Missouri citizen has the right to pay for health care services with their own money,
  • Health care providers may accept direct payment for services rendered by Missouri citizens,
  • The purchase and sale of health insurance shall not be prohibited by law or rule, and;
  • No person will be required to pay fines or penalties if they choose to purchase their own health care and accept payment for providing health care services.
In other words, an individual cannot be forced to participate in a health care system without their consent and that individuals have the freedom to participate.

The second win for Missouri citizens occurred Wednesday when the House passed the Missouri Patient Privacy Act (HB1382).  This legislation extends federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy protections to any entity that stores your personal health information ensuring that your personal health information cannot be disclosed to anyone without the written consent of the patient, except in cases where the disclosure is in connection with the performance of the official duties of the employee of such entity.

These proposals are now in the hands of the Missouri Senate.  Their fate will depend upon their dedication to our fundamental liberty.

As I have said before, health care is personal, it is about us, each of us, and we deserve our rightful place in making health care decisions.  The Health Care Freedom Act which I have sponsored keeps government in its place and the Missouri Patient Privacy Act which I also sponsored maintains the privacy of our personal health information in this new digital world.

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

16 March 2010

Stouffer: Proposed Changes for Retirement Programs

More and more folks are becoming concerned about their retirement plans. Since the recession started, a lot of 401(k) and IRA accounts have been losing value. Some companies have gone as far as to stop matching employee contributions to their accounts. It looks as though our teachers are being hurt the worst in all of this. In response to this, Senate Bills 896 and 1050 have been introduced by a couple of my colleagues.

Unfortunately, some lobbyists and special interest groups have used this issue to stir others into a frenzy. I have received hundreds of calls and e-mails from concerned current and retired teachers. However, they are not included in this legislation. I realize these types of efforts help prove the validity of belonging to organizations that lobby the Legislature, but in these trying times it is probably a better idea to activate constituencies on issues that actually exist. I will be contacting all of these past and present educators to give them the good news.

Senate Bill 896 would require the boards of the Missouri State Employees' Retirement System (MOSERS) and the Missouri Highway Patrol Employees' Retirement System (MPERS) to create a defined contribution-based retirement plan. If this measure were to become law, it would take effect on January 1, 2011, for new state employees and judges. Each of these folks would have his or her own retirement account and whatever they put in would be matched according to an annual contribution rate by the state. Current state employees and judges would also be given the option of joining the new plan and drop out of their current plan.

Senate Bill 1050 would create the Missouri Public Trust Company. This group would come in and manage investments made by MOSERS and MPERS. In addition, other state pension systems would be allowed to contract with the public trust for services. However, three systems would not be affected by the proposal. The Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS), Public Education Employee Retirement (PEERS) and the Public School Retirement System (PSRS) would be exempt from the Missouri Public Trust Company's umbrella.

My Capitol office has received a large number of phone calls and e-mails about this situation. Missouri has been fortunate to be in better economic shape than most states. Along with this, and several years of watching state investments, we have weathered the storm better than most. But, it saddens me to see teachers lose their retirement benefits or have them cut back severely. The state can continue to provide these benefits to our teachers for years to come if we take the right steps now to ensure there will be no further erosion to the pensions. This is where these two Senate bills come in.

These provisions fall under a larger umbrella of restructuring and streamlining Missouri government. Working through the darkness of a recession provides a golden opportunity to make government better. We have begun taking the necessary steps and we need your help. On the Missouri Senate's website ( is an icon titled "Rebooting Government." Click on this and follow the easy instructions to send your suggestions to us. We can keep retirement plans going and fix what needs fixing, but we cannot do it without your help.

Kraus: Open Forum Leads to Open Government

Last week's Open Forum was well-attended, and I truly enjoyed hearing from so many people on such a wide range of issues.  Discussion was lively and informative.  Hearing from people back home keeps me grounded in the reasons why I travel to Jefferson City to be part of the legislative process.  In the words of Abraham Lincoln, we are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Thanks to all my friends and neighbors who came out to be a part of this forum.

Benefits to Military Families in the A+ School Program

The A+ school program was created in 1993 as an incentive for improving Missouri's high schools. Students who are enrolled in the program in an A+ designated high school must meet requirements related to grades, attendance, public service, and citizenship.  These students then become eligible for some financial aid with their tuition if they pursue a higher education.

Recently, a constituent contacted my office about this program.  After retiring from military service, he moved back to Missouri with his family.  He wanted to enroll his daughter in the A+ school program, but found that it required three years residence in Missouri.  While state law specifies an exemption for active military, it does not extend to retired military families.

Our military families sacrifice so much in the service of their country.  One of those sacrifices is to be ready on short notice to move to other parts of the country or to serve overseas.  While this command is recognized in the current exemption, state law does not go far enough and the exemption needs to be extended to retired military.

Therefore, I filed a bill, HB 2261, that extends the exemption to students who are dependents of retired military who relocate to Missouri within one year of the date of the parents' retirement from active duty.  Students must still meet the rigorous academic and citizenship requirements of the program.

I am gratified to be in a position to try to fix a problem that a constituent has brought to my attention.  I am very pleased that this bill is being heard today in the Veteran's Committee.  Our military personnel should not have to sacrifice educational benefits for their children in order to keep us all safe back home.

Westbound Route 50 Ramp to Eastbound I-470 Closing March 22

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) will close the westbound Route 50 ramp to eastbound I-470 by 9 a.m. Monday, March 22 through April 12 to modify the ramp as part of improvements to the Route 50 and I-470 interchange between Pryor Road and Blue Parkway.

A signed detour will be in place during the ramp closure. Traffic will be redirected to continue on Route 350 to Colbern Road Exit, then back east onto eastbound Route 50 to the eastbound I-470 ramp.

This project includes construction of a half-diamond interchange at Pryor Road, constructed and open to traffic in 2007; a half-diamond interchange at Blue Parkway recently completed in 2009. Currently, crews are finishing up the project with connector roads that will span over Routes 50 and 350, joining the two new interchanges together, and completing the project at I-470 and Route 50/350 in Lee's Summit.

The addition of the split-diamond interchange will provide access to local streets at Colbern Road to the north, Chipman Road to the south, Blue Parkway to the east, and Pryor Road to the west and relieve congestion in the area. The entire project is scheduled for completion by June 2010.

Inclement weather could postpone the project. For further information about this project and others, please visit MoDOT's Facebook page at, Twitter site at, or web site at You can also contact MoDOT 24 hours-a-day at 888-ASK-MODOT to find out information or report road concerns.

Gatschenberger: An Invitation to Attend

Please be my guest!

What:  Town Hall Meeting

When:  Thursday, March 25th – 7:00 pm

Where:  Wentzville City Hall - 310 West Pearce Boulevard

Attendees of my last Town Hall Meeting requested a return visit of speakers for and against the Missouri Fair Tax.  Also attending will be representatives for CLAIM – Missouri's State Health Insurance Assistance Program who will address Medicare issues.  In addition, Missouri Rx representatives, who help seniors and persons with disabilities on fixed incomes save up to 50% on their prescription drugs, will be there and Missouri SMP representatives, who empower seniors to prevent healthcare fraud, will also be in attendance.  There will be a short presentation from Ameren UE as well.

If you have any Medicare issues you need help with… these representatives will be happy to meet with you individually after their presentation.

For questions on the content of this meeting you may contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-3572 or e-mail Chuck{dot}Gatschenberger{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov

Hope to see you there!

15 March 2010

Holsman: 100 New Jobs For South Kansas Citians

At right: EDC CEO Jeff Kaczmarek, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Rep. Jason Holsman, Genesis COO Mike Rapken

KANSAS CITY, MO - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and State Representative Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, welcomed Genesis 10 to Kansas City and applauded the one-hundred new jobs that will accompany the business's Grand Opening.  Holsman called the event “a piece of economic good news for South Kansas City.”

On Monday morning, Gov. Nixon, Holsman, and representatives of the Kansas City business community took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Kansas City office of Genesis 10 located at 8330 Ward Parkway, Suite 400.  Genesis 10 is a national business and technology leader headquartered in New York City.  The company expects to create more than 100 new jobs, with total salaries of more than $7.5 million, at the Kansas City office this year.

The state of Missouri was a key partner in efforts to recruit Genesis 10 to Kansas City, offering a highly competitive package of strategic economic incentives.

“Genesis 10 brings the type of long term, good paying, high-tech jobs that continues to strengthen our economy. South Kansas City is building a reputation as a great place for high-tech companies to locate and create new jobs.” Holsman said.

Keaveny: Child Day Care Association Provides Assistance, Guidance

Families with young children know how difficult it is to find quality, affordable child care; it is an even bigger challenge for families who qualify as low-income. We often hear stories of people who don't accept a pay raise at their job because they could lose the financial assistance they need to pay for child care while they are at work.

In Missouri, these numbers from the Partnership for Children are too big to ignore:
  • 259,000 children live in poverty.
  • 123,000 children lack health insurance.
  • 318,000 children are alone after school.
  • 5,000 children are abused and neglected.
  • 310,000 under age six need child care.

Fortunately, the Child Day Care Association of St. Louis (CDCA) addresses the uncertainty that families face when trying to find quality care. The CDCA ensures that child care centers, professionals, employees and employers have the training and knowledge they need to meet high quality standards.  As a one-stop shop for the oversight of child care facilities, the CDCA sends representatives to child care centers so they can observe and consult early childhood programs and provide feedback for parents.  The CDCA offers advice on how to get a child care program started, including information on regulations, how to secure funding and more.

The CDCA also advocates public policies for young children, including care that supports development and healthy environments that have an adequate number of well-trained and professional caregivers.  While their primary goal is to help families find child care that meets whatever needs they have, the CDCA also works to coordinate regional efforts to provide healthy, well balanced meals to children by bridging the gap between child care providers, local farmers' markets and agricultural operations. It's all under the motto of "Good Beginnings Last a Lifetime."

If you know someone who is looking for child care, or if you know someone who is thinking of starting a child care business, please get them in touch with the Child Day Care Association of St. Louis. The main office for the CDCA is located at 4236 Lindell Boulevard, Suite 300. They can be reached at 1-800-467-2322 and they are on the web at

Kander: Can you pass the ethics quiz?

For some time, I have been searching for a concise, entertaining way to promote and explain the need for comprehensive ethics reform in Missouri.

We spent a few days last week visiting family.

On Saturday evening, our flight home was cancelled and it all came together. With a few hours to kill, I combined the iMovie program on my Mac with my cousin Jake's amazing abilities on the violin to create this one minute Pop Quiz about Missouri's current "ethics" laws.

I think you'll see the need for change.

Let me know what you think!