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16 April 2010

Rupp: A Wild Ride for Education Funding

Throughout the past week, there has been considerable debate on the state funding of our local school districts.   The state was able to fund 98.6 percent of the education funding formula for the remainder of the 2010 fiscal year, which ends on June 30th.  That means that our local schools were still getting an increase of funds over the 2009 levels, but not everything they had hoped to get when the fiscal year started.

That left a dilemma for the Legislature.  This was the first time that the state was unable to fully fund the formula since it was implemented several years ago.  The Legislature had to grapple with the difficult scenario of how to deal with less than fully funding the formula and how these funds would be distributed.

The position that I supported in the Senate Appropriations Committee was to share the reduction from fully funding the formula equally across all school districts.  However, an amendment was offered on the floor of the Senate to have "Hold Harmless" school districts not receive any reduction in funds since it would drop them below what they got in 2009.  We attempted to defeat this amendment during floor debate, but we were unsuccessful.

That set off a chain of events in local areas on how to define a hold harmless school district and if they be treated differently.  By the end of the day on Tuesday (4/13), the issues were resolved by the governor using a controversial veto of the language added by the amendment but not vetoing the funding in the budget bill signed into law.

This went back to the original position I supported, which shares the reductions evenly across all school districts, benefits all the schools in the 2nd Senatorial District that I serve. However, it is highly likely that a legal challenge will be mounted by the Hold Harmless school districts.

The same day, the Senate debated changing the foundation formula so we could deal with next year's budget on the very same issue.  The foundation formula is a complex series of calculations that takes into consideration a wide variety of information on how to equally and equitably fund education in Missouri.

These struggling economic times are forcing the state to review all aspects of government.  While we are reducing many state programs by 20 to 30 percent, we are attempting to fund education as our top priority and to spare our local schools from any reductions in per pupil assistance.  The task that lies ahead is daunting and challenging as state revenues continue to plummet, but our steadfast commitment to make education our top priority is unwavering.\

Senator Rupp's Pro-Life Measures Move Forward

My pro-life measures moved forward in the Senate this week.

Senate Bill 747, which I sponsored, would expand Missouri's health insurance coverage ban on elective abortions, would prohibit any plans and policies offered through any health insurance exchange in Missouri from covering an abortion. Missouri was one of the very first states to react to federal health care mandates that could make abortions easier to obtain.

This legislation protects Missouri's long standing desire to not use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions, and it's especially important now that the federal health care mandate attempts to do just that.

The Senate added language from SB 747 to Senate Bill 793, which I co-sponsored. If enacted, SB 793 requires a woman seeking an abortion to review printed material detailing the risks of the procedure to the mother and child, including photos that detail the child's life at two-week intervals. It also would give the mother the opportunity to hear the unborn child's heartbeat and view an ultrasound, all within 24 hours of the procedure.

In addition to written informed consent, the legislation would require the physician to explain alternative options and access to numerous counseling options.

This legislation would make sure that the mother sees that there is a life inside of her, with a heartbeat, and that there are other options available than ending that life.  It's my hope that the little heartbeat the mother hears tells her to choose life.

Senate Bill 793 received first round approval and needs one more vote before moving to the House.

There will be many more discussions over the next few weeks on this and many other important issues, and as always I look forward to hearing your feedback on the issues that are important to you and your family.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail or by calling 866-271-2844.

Engler: Funding Education in a Difficult Budget Year

As I have said in my previous columns this year, we are facing a long-term budget crisis.  In fact, we are looking at the worst revenue shortfall in our state's history.  The Senate has struggled to create a balanced budget after the governor delivered a budget proposal that was more than half a billion dollars out of balance.  Since we will not raise taxes on hard-working Missourians, the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate have made difficult choices cutting nearly $500 million in spending from the governor's proposal.

The issue of school funding in these tough budget times has been a major focus.  No area of the budget will be able to avoid cuts, so we are working to balance the necessity of fiscal responsibility with our desire to keep education funding a priority.  In 2005, I worked with my Senate colleagues to develop a new school funding formula that is based on student need, not property values.  When we designed the formula, we planned to phase-in an increase over a seven-year period.  However, now that times have gotten tough, we are struggling to make these increases while keeping the budget in balance.

This week, we worked on Senate Bill 943 to modify the funding formula in our state and House Bill 2002 to fund schools for the coming fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2010.  Both of these bills created serious discussions on how to fairly distribute money to our schools districts.  When passed by the General Assembly in 2005, the law to fund our school did not include guidelines on how to handle the funding phase-in if faced with a shortfall.  This is what we accomplished with SB 943, which extends the phase-in through the 2016-2017 school year so that we can successfully phase-in the funding without spending outside of our means.

One main issue that was raised during discussion was the "hold-harmless" schools in the state.  When the new formula took effect, most schools in Missouri received an increase in funding.  However, some school districts in wealthy areas with particularly high property tax revenue did not receive an initial increase in their foundation funding.  Some have pushed to exempt these hold-harmless schools from having to face any funding cuts, even as most school districts in the state are facing a budget crunch.  However, I support efforts in the Legislature to spread any funding cuts across all school districts.  Senate Bill 943 contained language to ensure that these wealthy school districts have to face funding cuts along with every other school district in our state.

When faced with these tough decisions, we have to make sure that the available education funding goes where it is most needed, directly to students in our K-12 classrooms. As work on the budget continues in the coming weeks (the constitutional deadline to complete the budget is May 7th), we will continue to work to make sure that the most pressing needs of our state are met, while crafting a balanced, responsible budget.

Schupp: A "Taxing" Week, Changes in Election Laws, Bright Flight Increases

From requirement of photo ID for voters to DWI legislation to election reform, it was a week filled with impassioned debate.  I was excited to have been successful in encouraging the chair of the Tax Reform Committee to bring forward a bill providing for property tax deferral for senior citizens on fixed incomes.  This legislation, sponsored by my good friend, Representative Jake Zimmerman, has been around for a long time.  I testified in support back in the early part of the decade when I served on the School Board.  Ironically, while the bill was heard in my committee, I could not be there due to the routine scheduling conflict with another one of my committees where I was offering amendments.

If I said it was a "taxing" week...well, you understand.

Thank you for this opportunity to serve.



Rep. Schupp and other women representatives participated in Hat Day as part of Winning Women's Day at the Capitol.

This week on the House floor


The House gave preliminary approval to a proposed constitutional amendment requiring three-fifths (60%) supermajority for Missouri voters to ratify future constitutional amendments. If the measure clears both chambers, it would be subject to voter approval.
This resolution, HJR 78, also contains a provision that would allow amendments ratified with just a simple majority between Nov. 1, 2001, and Nov 1, 2010, to be repealed with a simple majority. This provision only applies to a few amendments, but, as the bill sponsor agreed upon questioning, was to make sure a 2006 amendment that narrowly passed prohibiting the outlawing of stem cell research could be repealed by a simple majority. In other words, stem cell opponents want to be able to overturn the ability to engage in stem cell research in this state by simple majority.

The House heard two additional election bills, HB 1966 and HJR 64, which each have two key components:

First, the bills allow for "no excuse required" early voting in elections.

The second part of each bill requires all voters to present photo identification to vote.  The debate on these two separate provisions was vigorous.  While both sections passed, there is evidence demonstrating that requirement of a photo ID is a burden on the poor, elderly and disabled and will disenfranchise many who would otherwise be involved in the electoral process.

Committee News

Higher Education

SB 733—Legislation proposing changes to the Bright Flight Scholarship program was heard this week.  The changes would increase the amount top scholars (those scoring in the top 3% statewide on the ACT or SAT) receive to a maximum award of $3000.  Depending upon appropriations, if there is enough revenue for each student scoring in this top tier, awards of up to $1000 will be given to students scoring in the 4th and 5th percentile.

A new provision was just distributed that attempts to close records when the university (or public institution) is working in cooperation with a private institution to promote economic development.  The idea is that the protection of intellectual property is an essential tool in business development, competition and negotiation.

As a staunch believer in open government and the importance of the Sunshine Law to all of us,  I am waiting to hear from various professionals to understand fully the ramifications of this proposed change in law.   It seems reasonable that this information should remain private during the development period.  That stated, it is not clear to me what the broader implications of this change might be.

Tax Reform

A bill [SB883] to allow for the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of St. Peters to levy a license tax on hotels and motels failed in committee.

Property tax deferral for senior citizens on fixed income (HB 1835) was heard in committee.  As mentioned earlier, I was not able to be present.  I look forward to the Executive Session when committee members can have discussion, debate, create amendments and vote on the bill.

Children and Families

Last week I wrote about a piece of Senate legislation [SB855] which would allow the State Registrar to issue heritage birth or marriage certificates celebrating the unique heritage of Missourians.  This week, at the 11th hour, the Children and Families committee chair put forward a substitute bill adding provisions allowing any  adopted person, age 21 or older, to acquire an unaltered birth certificate.  Simply put, this legislation undermines any promise: implied, perceived or actual that allowed the birth mother of an adopted child to remain anonymous.

While proponents of this issue state that no biological parents have stepped forward to, or have gone on record as opposing this legislation, it is clear that doing so would change their status of anonymity.  Today's technology provides many opportunities for birth parents to reach out to their adopted children if they so desire.

The chair did not have the committee vote to remove this section, since it was clear that the provision would have been voted out of the bill.

Budget News


From the Dem Caucus Communications Director

The Senate passed its version of a more than $23 billion state operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, cutting $453.8 million in proposed spending recommended by Gov. Jay Nixon in January. The Senate cuts are roughly double the $224 million in reductions the House of Representatives approved last month. Because the state's revenue projections have worsened significantly in the months since he offered his proposed FY 2011 budget, Nixon is generally supportive of lawmakers' actions to further reduce spending.
The full Senate reversed a committee's decisions to eliminate the $37.5 million needed to fund the Career Ladder program, which provides teachers extra pay for extra duties, and to cut an additional $14.8 million for colleges and universities, which had agreed to freeze in-state tuition for the 2010-2011 school year in exchange for a cut of no more than $50 million. By agreeing to limit the cut to the agreed amount, the tuition deal remains in place. House and Senate negotiators must now work out a final version of the budget, which both chambers must approve no later than May 7. 


Gov. Jay Nixon signed a midyear state spending bill into law on April 13 but declared that a controversial provision of the measure that would exempt 152 local school districts from sharing in a $43 million shortfall in education funding for the final months of the 2010 fiscal year is unconstitutional and won't be enforced. As a result, all 523 Missouri school districts are expected to get a 2 percent cut in their expected state funding for the current school year, although it possible a lawsuit could be filed challenging the governor's interpretation.
A provision of HB 2014 exempts "hold harmless" school districts from the cuts. Hold harmless districts have their state funding frozen at FY 2005 levels. If the hold harmless status is enforced, the provision would result in the remaining 371 districts enduring even deeper cuts than the 2 percent called for in the governor's plan.
In a signing statement attached to the bill, Nixon said the disputed provision violates the Missouri Constitution's ban against legislating in appropriations bills. Although the statement carries no legal weight, it potentially could serve as warning against hold harmless districts suing to enforce the provision. The districts in the 82nd State House district are all "Hold Harmless."

Green Tip of the Week

Consumer Tips for Getting an Energize Missouri Appliance Rebate

Five things consumers need to know about the program

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, APRIL 14, 2010 - A federally-funded home appliance rebate program is intended to improve energy efficiency and stimulate the economy using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or Recovery Act. States around the nation are giving rebates to consumers to replace inefficient home appliances with energy-efficient models.

Missouri's $5.6 million Energize Missouri Appliance Rebate Program starts April 19 and will fund rebates for five appliance categories - space heating, space cooling, water heaters, clothes washers and dishwashers. Consumers can qualify for rebates from $75 to $500 with a maximum of $575 for multiple appliances. The department anticipates issuing 48,000 rebates during the program. Rebate reservations are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Experience in other states shows the program is very popular, and the funds will go fast.

Missouri has scheduled its rebate program to coincide with the "Show Me Green" ENERGY STAR® sales tax holiday. Consumers who wish to take advantage of the rebate program and the state sales tax holiday must purchase the ENERGY STAR appliances between April 19-25 in participating retail and installation contractor businesses.

Consumers should plan ahead and be ready to buy the qualified appliance when the programs begin next week. Here are five ways to maximize consumer savings:
  1. Learn more about the Energize Missouri Appliance Rebate Program.
    Consumers must purchase ENERGY STAR appliances to replace older, less efficient models. Consumers must recycle the old appliance to qualify for a rebate. Consumers may want to consider the following steps to help during the rebate program.
    • Step 1 - Make a Purchase:  Starting April 19, consumers may visit a participating retailer or installation contractor partner to purchase ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances and reserve a rebate.
    • Step 2 - Reserve a Rebate:  Starting April 21, a limited number of rebates will be available for consumers to reserve directly online at or via telephone at 877-541-4848. The program's online reservation system will enable consumers to quickly and easily reserve a rebate and print out their rebate application directly from a web-enabled computer. Participation in this program is expected to be high. This could mean longer wait times if consumers try to reserve a rebate on the phone instead of at the store or online. Consumers will have 60 days after reserving a rebate to purchase a qualified appliance from a participating retailer or installation contractor.
    • Step 3 - Recycle:  Most participating retailers and installation contractors will collect and recycle the old appliance when they deliver the new appliance. Consumers can also recycle their old appliance at a recycling facility or turn-in event. Consumers must show proof of recycling. Visit the Web site at for details on recycling.
    • Step 4 - Document and Mail:  Consumers must sign and mail their completed rebate application form along with the proof of purchase, residency and recycling to Energize Missouri Appliance Rebate Program, Dept 21282 P.O. Box 3688, Medina, OH 44258-3688 within 60 days of making a reservation. Consumers can expect to receive a rebate check(s) for valid claims within 4-6 weeks from the day they mail in their rebate application.
  2. Meet the Eligibility Requirements - Consumers will qualify for a rebate only if they meet all of the following conditions:
    • Must be a Missouri resident and 18 years of age or older.
    • Own the property where the appliances will be installed, with the exception of clothes washers. Renters are eligible for clothes washer rebates.
    • Buy only one appliance per appliance category per address. Rebates range from $75 to $500 with a $575 maximum rebate allowed for multiple appliances.
    • Purchase an ENERGY STAR-qualified appliance from a participating retailer or installation contractor.
    • Mail in the rebate application form along with all required support documentation postmarked within 60 days of making the reservation.
  3. Buy on April 19 or 20 - Consumers best chance for securing a rebate is through a participating retailer or installation contractor. The funds may go quickly.  If a particular retailer or installation contractor is not currently registered as a partner in the program, consumers may contact them to participate.
  4. Keep a Copy of the Paperwork - To secure a rebate, consumers are required to mail in a copy of their completed and signed rebate application (with unique ID#), proof of purchase, proof of residency and proof of recycling. Consumers should make sure to save copies of all of the paperwork!
  5. Enjoy the Savings - ENERGY STAR qualified appliances are designed to use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard appliances, resulting in savings for the consumer, as well as reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants.
To learn more about the Energize Missouri Appliance Rebate Program and to find your local participating retailers, please visit

Information provided by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

15 April 2010

Goodman: Budget Crisis Requires Tough Decisions

Like most states across the nation, Missouri has had to confront a historic budget crisis where funding is scarce, but demand for government programs and services remains high. As session has progressed, it has become increasingly clear that unprecedented revenue shortfalls, will force the Legislature to make some very difficult decisions to preserve the future economic stability of our state.

The Missouri General Assembly has the constitutionally mandated and critically important task of creating and passing a balanced, responsible, and realistic state budget each year by a certain deadline (this year’s is May 7). The budget we completed this week was for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1, 2010, and runs through June 30, 2011. As a starting point for determining our state budget, legislators considered the governor’s budget proposal, which he submitted to the Legislature at the beginning of this year.

Unfortunately, the budget scenario we worked with just a few months ago no longer applies. Part of this problem was caused by overly optimistic revenue projections for the remainder of the current fiscal year as well as the upcoming fiscal year. The other part resulted from Governor Nixon’s ill-advised dependence on an infusion of $300 million in additional federal funds into the state budget. To date, no bill guaranteeing extra money has been signed into law by Congress, and quite frankly, it would be the height of irresponsibility for state lawmakers to continue relying on the federal bailouts as a legitimate funding source. The people of Missouri will not be served well in the long run if we expand government only to be unable to sustain its growth in future years.

Without the hypothetical $300 million the governor’s original budget proposal, funding for state departments, programs and services has become especially tight. This situation has been further complicated by the recent announcement of a 13.3 percent revenue decline. For the current FY 2010, state budget officials estimate that net general revenue collections will ultimately decline to $6.73 billion—a $700 million decrease from FY 2009 collections and the largest in state history. The governor has already cut or vetoed more than $850 million from the current budget, and more cuts are probably in store just to keep us balanced.

The FY 2011 budget— just passed by the Senate was reduced by $500 million from the budget proposal offered by the governor in January. These cuts were required because, unlike the federal government, Missouri lawmakers are required by law to ensure that we do not spend beyond our means. The recession has left us with no choice but to reduce costs. As a lawmaker that was present for the last round of drastic budget cuts, I can assure any doubters that, regardless of party, it is gut-wrenching to consider cutting programs and services that people truly rely on. These are the types of decisions that were required of us this week. The state budget will now continue through the legislative process. It will be considered again by the House and most likely addressed again by a conference committee of House and Senate members before each chamber has one more opportunity to approve or reject any changes.

Here in Missouri, we maintained our commitment to fiscal responsibility. Although budget cuts are painful, lawmakers must never forget our duty to thoroughly examine every single dollar our state government spends to determine if that expenditure is vital to Missourians. I feel fortunate to have so many like-minded colleagues who are committed to not raising job killing taxes on Missourians just to dig ourselves out of a hole, and who are willing to shoulder tough budget decisions to ensure our state’s future prosperity.

As always, I welcome your ideas, questions and concerns about Missouri government. You may contact me at the State Capitol as follows: (573) 751-2234, jack{dot}goodman{at}senate{dot}mo{dot}gov or by writing to Senator Jack Goodman, Missouri State Capitol, Room 331-A, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

Gatschenberger: Town Hall Invitation, Pink Heals, Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Month

Please be my guest!

What:  Town Hall Meeting
When:  Thursday, April 29th – 7:00 pm
Where:  Lake St. Louis City Hall – 200 Civic Center Drive
Why:  Attendees of my last Town Hall Meeting requested a Speaker on Cap and Trade Legislation.
(Cap and trade is a form of emissions trading used to control alleged pollution by offering economic penalties in order to achieve reductions in alleged emissions pollutants. Cap and trade would put limits on emissions from motor vehicles, coal-fired plants, and factories.)

A representative from Ameren UE will address this issue.  Also attending will be a representatives for the Department of Conservation to discuss current programs.

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

Hope to see you there!

"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." –Thomas Jefferson

Pink Heals!

Representative Gatschenberger supports Wentzville Firefighters' Community Outreach

The Wentzville Firefighters Community Outreach program was established in 2008 with support from the Wentzville Fire Protection District by Wentzville Firefighters who wanted to do more for our community.  Since the inception of the Wentzville Firefighters Community Outreach Program, they have helped many individuals who have been affected by cancer, donating to individuals in our region… giving to those who need it most.

I will be hosting a hole at the 1st Annual Wentzville Fire Fighters' Pink Heals Golf Tournament on Tuesday, June 8, 2010 – 11:00 Check-In and 1:30 Shotgun Start at Lake Forest Country Club.  I'd like to see you there!  Register your full team before 5/10/10 for the Early Bird Deadline… for additional details, contact:  Dave Marlo 314-280-7339 or dave{dot}marlo{at}iaff2665{dot}org or
Pat Sobelman 636-578-1871 or patsobelman{at}pspcommercial{dot}com

April is Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Month!

These current times can be challenging for families -- When Stress Heats Up…Keep Your Cool!  For those needing parenting information or resources, the ParentLink Warmline at 1-800-552-8522/En EspaƱol 1-888-460­-0008 is an excellent resource and is staffed with professionals ready to provide valuable support.  In addition, you may request hard copies of the ParentLink WarmLine fliers for distribution under your cover and/or your constituents may request them.  The Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-392-3738 is also available for those concerned about the immediate safety of a child.

Legislative Update

HB 1290 – passed out of the Senate Jobs committee this week… I introduced this legislation to change the threshold for charter counties to inventory assets from $250 to $1,000 to match the other statues in law for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th class counties.  Without this bill, charter counties are stuck at the outdated $250 figure.  They may still inventory the lower amounts if they wish… but increasing the threshold they "must" inventory to $1,000 can save them time and money (your tax dollars).

Governor Nixon Displays Unprecedented Power-Grab, Ignores Legislation He Signed into Law

The balance of power is a fundamental part of government.  The Governor has chosen to ignore that balance and make powerful decisions that go against the will of the General Assembly.

On Tuesday, the Governor directed state education officials to disregard legislation that lawmakers passed last week regarding mid-year funding for Missouri school districts.

The House of Representatives, on both sides of the aisle, have been working for months to balance the Missouri budget in one of the worst economies we've ever seen.  This has been a daunting task, but we made the tough decisions necessary to keep our state afloat.

The Governor has been absent in this decision-making process, even though House leaders have reached out to him for months.  Now, he's swooping in to grab a headline by powerfully rising above the law.

Essentially, the Governor is telling Missouri citizens that he has the unlimited authority to determine what is and is not constitutional.

If the Governor doesn't like a portion of any bill, he has the opportunity to line-item veto legislation.  But instead of following the rules, he participated in a historical power-grab, unlike any the legislature has ever seen.  By directing his state department to ignore a specific part of the bill is a blatant disregard for the rules outlined in the Missouri constitution.

The Governor decided to ignore parts of the bill because he thought those specific rules to be "unconstitutional".  However, that is not his decision to make.  The Missouri court system should be the only power that has the ability to deem what is and is not constitutional.

Ultimately, even if the general public agrees with the outcome of the Governor's action, Missouri citizens should be fearful of Governor Nixon's attempt to dictate a decision that should be ultimately left to the Missouri judicial process.

"Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government." –Thomas Jefferson

Want to Track Legislation?

Go to: where you can search by bill number; keyword; sponsor or co-sponsor.

House and Senate Joint Bill Tracking
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"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government." –Thomas Jefferson


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


Socialism: the main problem with it… is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money!


Listen up!  Turkeys are gobbling… Grouse are drumming… and Whip-poor-wills are calling!

Watch out!  Turtles are crossing the roads!  Why?... I don't know… ask the chicken!

Joe Smith: House Taking Measure to Expand the Castle Doctrine to Protect Land, Missouri Citizens

Through the Castle Doctrine, we are able to protect ourselves from intruders or any person who unlawfully enters our home. This week the House passed HB 1787, sponsored by Representative Kenny Jones, R – California, which expands the law to ensure further protection to Missouri citizens.

Not only does this legislation allow the use of force when someone unlawfully enters your home, but also any private property you own or lease. This is especially important for Missouri farmers and other land owners across the state.

In addition to the castle doctrine expansion, the bill would also lower the age for the ability to obtain a conceal and carry license from 23 to age 21. At the age of 21, Missouri citizens have every right that all other adults have, and we believe that the right to conceal and carry should be no different.

The current law prohibits Missouri citizens from purchasing firearms anywhere across the state line, but HB1787 seeks to demolish that restriction. The bill allows Missouri citizens to purchase firearms in other states, and outside residents to purchase firearms in Missouri, as long as he or she conforms to the federal act and the laws of both states.

The protection of your family and your land is important – and Republicans in the House of Representatives understand that. Many of us have children and live on farms and we want to be certain that we make every effort to improve laws concerning firearm use.

Ruestman: Supporters of School Construction Act Urged to Call Lawmakers

An important piece of legislation affecting your school district will be voted on in the House this week.

House Bill 1960, the “School Construction Act”, would allow your school district to save up to 25% on school construction, remodeling or maintenance costs. It calls for exempting school districts from the prevailing wage requirement on public projects.

Nearly all Democrats and the following Republicans oppose or may oppose this bill:

Jason Brown 573-751-5693
Mark Bruns 573-751-0665
Doug Funderburk 573-751-2176
Mike McGhee 573-751-1462
Chris Molendorp 573-751-2175
Bob Nance 573-751-1468
Jerry Nolte 573-751-1470
Ryan Silvey 573-751-5282
Jason Smith 573-751-1688
Mike Sutherland 573-751-2689
Anne Zerr 573-751-3717

Please take the time to call one or more of these legislators and let them know you support House Bill 1960 because it is pro-education, pro-jobs and pro-taxpayer!

In this time of budget constraints, the schools need all the help they can use. Please ask other superintendents to contact their Representatives, including those residing in the above Representative’s districts.

Thank you in advance for your support and help in getting this passed.

Representative Marilyn Ruestman Congratulates Seneca Wrestling Team

Representative Ruestman (R – Newton) welcomed the Seneca High School Wrestling Team to the Missouri House of Representatives on Wednesday. The team was recognized by the House for winning the 2010 Class I State Championship.

Nodler: A Difficult Budget Year

This week, the full Senate began work on the 13 bills that make up the state’s core budget. As a former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I commend the work of my successor, Sen. Rob Mayer. This is a particularly challenging year, and he has worked hard to craft a fiscally responsible budget that will meet Missouri’s most critical needs.

As of March, Missouri’s year-to-date revenue collections have dropped 13 percent. Missouri budget officials expect revenue for the current fiscal year to drop by $700 million compared with last year, the state’s largest revenue drop in history. This is important to keep in mind as we plan for the coming fiscal year. The revenue decline is not a short-term dip in revenues and could continue to affect our state through 2014. Missouri needs long-term, sustainable solutions, and this is our goal as we discuss the budget in the Senate.

This year’s budget process was further complicated by the fact that neither the governor nor the House created balanced budget proposals. The governor’s budget proposal was $500 million out of balance, and he counted on an additional $300 million from a federal budget stabilization extension that the state has yet to receive. When the House created their budget proposal, they only made about $200 million of the half a billion dollars in cuts necessary, still relying on federal money we don’t have.

In order to get the state’s spending plan to a fiscally viable state, tough choices have to be made. We must consider the highest priorities for the state and make sure we are meeting our most critical spending obligations. The grim truth is that cuts will take place in every area of state government, which is why we have worked hard this year to examine state government closely and find ways to streamline the system.

One particular funding issue that has created a lot of discussion both within and outside the Legislature is Career Ladder. The funding has been under scrutiny because the program is appropriated retroactively, meaning the funding for the 2009-10 school year is under consideration during the current legislative session. On the floor of the Senate, we restored the funding and I voted to support it, as I have always supported Career Ladder funding. However, the continued practice of funding the program in arrears caused a near disaster for teachers this year. In order for the program to survive, it must be funded as a regular appropriation, or it will be a train wreck for teachers in the future.

The General Assembly’s constitutional deadline for completion of the state operating budget this year is May 7th. With the full Senate’s initial work completed, the bills will move through the conference committee process and must receive a final vote in the House and Senate before moving to the governor’s desk. Even though this has been a difficult budget year, my colleagues and I will continue to be diligent throughout the rest of the budget process — making sure a balanced spending plan reached the governor’s desk for his signature.

Nance: Tax Freedom Day, At the Capitol, Visitors

“Tax Freedom Day arrived on April 9th this year, the 99th day of 2010, according to the annual calculation using the latest government data on income and taxes. Americans will work well over three months of the year—from January 1 to April 9—before they have earned enough money to pay this year's tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels… Americans will pay more taxes in 2010 than they will spend on food, clothing and shelter combined.” –The Tax Foundation

At the Capitol

HB 1695 passed out of the House this week. It specifies that any nonviolent offender who has been convicted, pled guilty, or been found guilty under Sections 577.010 or 577.012, RSMo, or any similar provision of federal or state law and is incarcerated for the offense may be required to participate in the Missouri Post conviction Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program and upon release required to complete a department-approved community supervised program or, if no program is available, to submit to continuous alcohol monitoring for at least 90 days.

It also specifies that a person convicted of driving while revoked will be guilty of an infraction instead of a class A misdemeanor or class D felony. A circuit court could establish a DWI docket for the disposition of driving while intoxicated.

HCS Senate Bill 795 passed out of the Agriculture on Tuesday. The large bill covers agriculture collaborating with departments of education, health and senior services, and economic development. Other subjects are wine tasting, blaster’s licenses, large carnivore control, increased licensing fees for pesticides.

Agricultural organizations throughout the state have banded together in support of legislation to protect Missourians' rights to raise animals.

Missourians for Animal Care, a diverse coalition representing farm and ranch families, veterinarians, pet breeders and agricultural input suppliers, is working with legislators to advance a constitutional amendment to present to voters defending the rights of animal owners in the state.

Missourians for Animal Care was formed to provide unified support for the state's family farmers and others to protect their rights to raise domesticated animals in a humane manner. This right is fundamental to the livelihood of thousands of Missourians who make their living by raising animals.

HJR 78, if passed by the Senate, would upon voter approval, require a three-fifths majority vote to amend the Missouri Constitution.

HB 1966 was perfected Wednesday. It allows no excuse absentee early voting and specifies that a person seeking to vote in a public election must establish his or her qualifications as a United States citizen lawfully residing in this state by presenting a form of personal identification containing a photograph of the individual to election officials.

All costs incurred by an election authority to implement the photo identification requirements will be reimbursed by the state. If there is no appropriation, the election authority must not enforce the photo identification requirement.

An individual can vote by casting a provisional ballot after signing an affidavit if he or she does not possess a required form of personal identification because of the inability to pay for a birth certificate or other documentation necessary to obtain the identification.

The law requires the state to provide at no cost at least one form of personal identification required to vote to a qualified citizen who does not already possess the required identification and desires the identification.

On Monday, House Speaker Ron Richard inducted aviation pioneer James Smith McDonnell, Jr. into the Hall of Famous Missourians.

In the District

There were numerous events to attend last weekend. On Friday, many attended the opening of our new Veteran’s Clinic in Excelsior Springs. Over 1,400 veterans have signed up and General Larry Kay, the guest speaker, suggested he might drive from Booneville for care.

Matt Hartwig from Excelsior Springs was in the Capitol Wednesday to help promote “no tax” on over the counter drugs prescribed by a physician.

Joe Smith: House Passes Voter Identification and Absentee Voter Bill

This week, the House perfected House Bill 1966, sponsored by Representative John Diehl, R – St. Louis. It would change the law regarding the way uniformed services voters and overseas voters can vote by absentee, in addition to early voting for Missouri citizens and the requirement of photo identification in order to vote.

While our men and women overseas are fighting for our freedom and making sacrifices for our great country, we should do what we can to make the voting process easier for them.

Through this legislation, the Secretary of State would be required to establish procedures for absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters to request voter registration applications and absentee ballot applications. At least one form of electronic communication for use by the military and overseas voters must be designated for requesting voter registration applications and absentee ballots. These voters may request and designate a preferred method of electronic transmission of these applications and ballots or request receipt by mail. The Secretary of State must also develop, in coordination with local election authorities, a free access system by which these voters may determine whether an absentee ballot has been received by the appropriate election authority. A sufficient quantity of paper ballots for federal elections must be printed and available for these voters within 45 days prior to the election. Registration applications and paper ballots cannot be rejected by an election authority because of any restriction on the paper or envelope type.

The substitute to this legislation would change the law in regard to voter identification as well as the details surrounding the way in which absentees are able to cast their vote. Through HB1966, absentee voting centers would be opened the second Saturday before elections until the Wednesday immediately preceding the election. In addition to polls being open before Election Day, absentee voters would no longer have to give an excuse as to why they can’t vote on the actual day. We understand that Missouri citizens have very busy lives, whether it’s taking the kids to soccer practice, an unpredictable job schedule or out of town travel, there are times when people just can’t make it to the polls on Election Day. We want to make it easier for our citizens to get out and vote at a time that is convenient for them. Another important feature of HB1966 is the requirement for voters to present identification at the time of voting. In everyday life we have to have identification to drive a car, get on an airplane and use credit cards, why shouldn’t we require the use of identification at the polls?

The substitute will become effective upon voter approval of a constitutional amendment that authorizes the General Assembly to require the photo identification, advance voting, and voter registration requirements by general law.

Tim Jones: State Sovereignty, Constitutional Amendment on Amending the Constitution

Smooth sunshine flowed down upon the State Capitol this week, warming the limestone walls of the Capitol Building as thousands of visitors flocked to Jefferson City, taking advantage of the beautiful Spring weather.  Inside the Chambers, the Senate diligently worked hard and late into the night hours, crafting a balanced State budget that will make its way back to the House next week as the House continued to work on late Session priorities…

"Our properties within our own territories should not be taxed or regulated by any power on earth but our own." –Thomas Jefferson

HJR 88 State Sovereignty

Over the years, the federal government has continued to grow out-of-control through wide-ranging federal programs, overreaching regulation, and costly unfunded mandates that infringe on the sovereignty of our states.  As a result, many states have stood up for their rights by proposing numerous measures aimed at reasserting the state sovereignty that is provided by the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.  This week, the Missouri House passed House Joint Resolution 93 [sic], which is a proposed amendment to Missouri Constitution that reasserts the sovereignty of the State of Missouri and its citizens under the Tenth Amendment.

The powers of the federal government are clearly established in the Constitution.  They include establishing currency, post offices and roads, creating federal courts, entering into treaties, declaring war, and providing for our national defense.  Under the Tenth Amendment, those powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved for the states.  But unfortunately, through programs like the new federal health care laws, the federal government has continued to expand beyond its constitutional authority and infringe on the rights of the states.  Programs like this are not only beyond the authority of the federal government and infringe on the rights of the states, but the billions of dollars in unfunded mandates within them are devastating for state governments.

We believe it is time for the federal government to respect the authority of the states provided by the Tenth Amendment by returning to its constitutional responsibilities.  With the passage of House Joint Resolution 93, we sent Congress a message that Missourians have had enough of Congress' continued neglect of the protections of the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Right of a Mother to Protect her Child

The House Rules Committee passed House Bill 2081 this week.  House Bill 2081 gives pregnant women the right to protect their unborn children with the use of deadly force.  This problem arose after a Michigan woman found herself in a legal battle after defending herself when her boyfriend struck her in the stomach.  The sponsor of the legislation, Representative Jeanie Riddle, wanted to make sure that this situation could be avoided if it were to happen in Missouri.  Right now in Missouri, women are not legally allowed to use force to defend their unborn children.  Hopefully, in the near future this bill will receive debate on the House floor.  Women must have the right to protect not only themselves but the lives of their unborn children.  I hope you will join me in support of this important bill to protect Missouri's women.

Three/Fifths Majority to Amend the Constitution

This week the Missouri House passed legislation that would require a three/fifths majority of voters to amend the Missouri Constitution.  Our Constitution is an important document and it should be protected.   HJR 78 requires at least a 60 percent vote in favor of the amendment for it to change the Constitution.  This is higher than the simple majority vote currently required.  Missouri is one of the easiest states to amend the Constitution in.  This has led to over a hundred amendments being added to our Constitution since 1904 with an average vote of 53.0%.  By contrast, the U.S. Constitution requires either two/thirds of both houses of Congress before being approved by the states, or two/thirds of the state legislatures to apply to Congress for a constitutional convention, which are then again sent to the states for approval.  To me a simple majority is not good enough to amend the Constitution, the most important document in our state government.  This document is the foundation for our system of governance and only the most important precepts should be in it.  Requiring a three/fifths majority is not out of line.  In the same period when Missouri had its Constitution amended by over a hundred times, the U.S. Constitution has been amended twelve times (16th to 27th Amendments).  This bill is an example of good governance that protects our Constitution and ensures that future amendments to our state Constitution are supported by a super-majority of Missourians.

Early Voting and Photo ID

In our nation, one of the most basic responsibilities of government is administering the election process because few rights are as sacred as our right to vote.  To ensure free and fair elections in Missouri, the Missouri House of Representatives gave initial approval to House Bill 1966 and House Joint Resolution 64 this week, important legislation that would establish procedures to allow early voting and require voters to produce photo identification before voting.

Currently, there are thirty-two states that allow early voting.  But unfortunately, Missouri is not yet one of them.  This legislation would create a four day early voting period for those individuals who choose to vote before Election Day.  It would also establish regional voting centers to ensure broad access to the early voting process.  By giving voters a wider opportunity to vote, access to the electoral process will improve and voter participation will increase.

An unfortunate reality of recent elections increased instances of voter fraud.  For a country that cherishes the right to vote as much as America, this practice is troubling.  This important legislation would require voters to produce a form of photo identification when voting to help reduce fraud and abuse in our elections.  We believe that in this day and age, requiring photo identification to vote is a common sense requirement.  To ensure that this measure does not discourage voting, we have created exemptions for the elderly, the disabled, and those unable to afford the documents necessary to obtain proper identification.  With the photo identification requirement, we have established necessary safeguards to help prevent voter fraud and ensure the integrity of our elections.

For too long, Missouri's election laws have lacked many of the statutory provisions available to other states that encourage electoral participation and provide the necessary safeguards to prevent voter fraud and abuse.  With the initial passage of House Bill 1966 and House Joint Resolution 64, we are one step closer to real elections reforms that will effectively promote increased participation and ensure free and fair elections.


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 health care that they want.  As we have seen, the disastrous aftermath of the passage of ObamaCare continues to dominate our headlines and continues to show us how truly flawed this new federal entitlement is.  HJR 57 was "third read and passed" out of the House several weeks ago by a vote of 109-46.  The bill is now pending in the State Senate and the Senate is also debating their version of the Health Care Freedom Act (SJR 25).  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!

Regulatory Reform Imperative in Economy-Busting Tax-and-Spend Era

Federal regulations cost a whopping $1.187 trillion last year in compliance burdens on Americans.  That's the finding of a new report, Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, from the Competitive Enterprise Institute that examines the costs imposed by federal regulations.

"Trillion-dollar deficits and regulatory costs in the trillions are both unsettling new developments for America," said report author, Clyde Wayne Crews. "It is sobering to note how both dwarf the initial $150 billion 'stimulus package' of early 2008."

The costs of federal regulations often exceed the benefits, yet receive little official scrutiny from Congress.  The report urges Congress to step up and take responsibility as lawmakers to review and roll back economically harmful regulations.  "Rolling back regulations would constitute the deregulatory stimulus that the U.S. economy needs," said Crews.

Among the report's findings:
  • 3,503 new regulations took effect last year. The burden of government is heavier than ever.
  • How much does government cost?  Government is spending $3.518 trillion of our money and imposing another $1.187 trillion dollars in the form of regulatory compliance costs.
  • How much of our economic output should be eaten by regulatory costs?  Regulatory costs now absorb 8.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.
  • What's the federal government's total share of the economy?  Regulations + spending combined puts the federal government's share of the economy at over 30 percent.
  • Regulations cost more than the income tax.
  • New rules that cost at least $100 million increased by 13 percent between 2007 and 2008.
The report urges reforms to make the regulatory costs more transparent and accountable to the people, including annual "report cards" on regulatory costs and benefits, and congressional votes on significant agency rules before they become binding.


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. Six Flags is NOW OPEN on the weekends!  Six Flags will be hosting job fairs to fill these positions on April 17th.  For more information, please visit:

Tim's Legislative Platform for 2010

I have sponsored and filed sixteen individual pieces of legislation this Session.  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 last four weeks of Session always seem to be the most interesting and the most intense.  Long days and hectic schedules become par for the course as bills fly back and forth between the Chambers and everyone looks for a good legislative vehicle to complete their priorities.  I want to thank all of the great folks who support me back home as we become fully immersed in our work at the Capitol, especially my family and my colleagues at my law firm, DosterUllom.  It is hard to believe that in thirty days the Session will be over and summer will be upon us!

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: Governor Nixon Displays Unprecedented Power-Grab, Ignores Legislation He Signed into Law

The balance of power is a fundamental part of government. The Governor has chosen to ignore that balance and make powerful decisions that go against the will of the General Assembly.

On Tuesday, the Governor directed state education officials to disregard legislation that lawmakers passed last week regarding mid-year funding for Missouri school districts.

The House of Representatives, on both sides of the aisle, have been working for months to balance the Missouri budget in one of the worst economies we’ve ever seen. This has been a daunting task, but we made the tough decisions necessary to keep our state afloat. The Governor has been absent in this decision-making process, even though House leaders have reached out to him for months. Now, he’s swooping in to grab a headline by powerfully rising above the law.

Essentially, the Governor is telling Missouri citizens that he has the unlimited authority to determine what is and is not constitutional. If the Governor doesn’t like a portion of any bill, he has the opportunity to line-item veto legislation. But instead of following the rules, he participated in a historical power-grab, unlike any the legislature has ever seen. By directing his state department to ignore a specific part of the bill is a blatant disregard for the rules outlined in the Missouri constitution. The Governor decided to ignore parts of the bill because he thought those specific rules to be “unconstitutional”. However, that is not his decision to make. The Missouri court system should be the only power that has the ability to deem what is and is not constitutional.

Ultimately, even if the general public agrees with the outcome of the Governor’s action, Missouri citizens should be fearful of Governor Nixon’s attempt to dictate a decision that should be ultimately left to the Missouri judicial process.

Joe Smith: Speaker of the House Unveils James Smith McDonnell, Jr. as the Newest Addition to Hall of Famous Missourians

This week, Speaker of the House Ron Richard unveiled the newest bronze bust sculpture in the Missouri State Capitol

James Smith McDonnell, Jr. of the McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) Corporation was chosen to be included in the Hall of Famous Missourians. Mr. McDonnell was chosen because of his expertise, business development and dedication to his craft. In the mid-1900’s, he emerged as one of the world’s most successful aerospace industrialists. James Smith McDonnell, Jr. was an aviation pioneer and one of the preeminent aerospace industrialists of the twentieth century. In July of 1939, McDonnell chose St. Louis for his manufacturing base and incorporated McDonnell Aircraft Corp. Within the next several decades, his company became the leading producer of jet fighters, built the first spacecraft to carry an American into orbit and became the largest employer in the state of Missouri. McDonnell Aircraft Corp. expanded its operation in 1967 and merged with California's largest employer, Douglas Aircraft Corp.

McDonnell’s bronze bust was sculpted by Missouri artist, Sabra Tull Meyer. Meyer, who has been creating bronze sculptures for over thirty years, is a native Missourian, holding a Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts Degrees from the University of Missouri. She created the Lewis and Clark Monument in Missouri’s Capitol Complex and has sculpted a number of busts found in the Hall of Famous Missourians, in addition to several other sites across the state.

In the unveiling ceremony that took place Monday, historians, legislators, Missourians and the McDonnell family joined together in welcoming the newest addition to the Hall of Famous Missourians. McDonnell’s bronze bust sculpture will now stand among some of the most influential contributors of our state’s rich history.

Schaefer: Budget Cuts Restored to Higher Education

JEFFERSON CITY – Senator Kurt Schaefer has been working diligently with the Republican caucus and colleagues across the aisle to restore the cuts originally made to higher education.

A floor substitute to HB 2003 offered today returned an estimated $15 million to higher education funding, which had been cut earlier in the budget process.

“I have been vehemently opposed to going beyond the governor’s budget deal with higher education, because we risk raising tuition on students, which is the last thing we should be doing to Missouri’s families during these difficult economic times,” said Sen. Schaefer. “I’d also like to thank my colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate leadership for being willing to work with me on finding a way to restore these much needs higher education funds.

House Bill 2003 provides money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Higher Education.

14 April 2010

Ridgeway: Assuring Access to State Scholarships

These days, a college degree is practically a necessity to open up doors to future employment opportunities. Our young people are being asked to compete in a global economy, and higher education is one of the best ways to gain the valuable knowledge, skills and even experience that employers are demanding from their employees—even those straight out of college.

For many Missouri students, however, the rising costs of a college education may stand in the way of their degrees. The challenge of paying for school, particularly in these tough economic times, makes the financial aid opportunities available through the state’s Access Missouri scholarship program even more important, and quite frankly, necessary.

Unfortunately, this need-based scholarship program, available to Missouri college students attending both public and private institutions, for two-year and four-year programs, has experienced a tumultuous few months. First, the Legislature is considering measures to equalize the aid amounts for private and public students, striking a big blow to those who wish to attend any of the state’s fine private schools—which, of course, are more expensive because they are not subsidized with taxpayer dollars. Also, in light of the state’s historic budget crisis, there has been talk of significantly cutting Access Missouri funding, and possibly even eliminating scholarships to private school students under the program altogether.

Scholarship money belongs to Missouri students. It should be distributed much the same as in the GI Bill, which allows students to choose the college or university that best suits their education goals, without regard to whether it is a public or private facility.

Access Missouri was implemented during the 2007–2008 school year. Last year, the Missouri Department of Higher Education distributed more than $92 million to 42,244 students through the program. Currently, students attending a public two-year school may receive between $300 and $1,000; students at public four-year institutions may receive between $1,000 and $2,150, while students attending private schools may receive between $2,000 and $4,600. A bill making its way through the Legislature this session, Senate Bill 784, would leave these current scholarship levels the same through the 2013-2014 school year (at which point the program is set to expire), but beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, would put in place new, equalized aid amounts for private and public students. The bill would also remove the provision in the legislation that ends the scholarship program. By removing the sunset clause, the scholarship program would stay in existence.

I'm totally opposed to cuts or changes in scholarship amounts to Access Missouri. As a graduate from William Woods University in Fulton, I relied on scholarships to get my undergraduate degree. The Senate Appropriations Committee is currently working on the fiscal year 2011 budget, which we will begin debating on the floor soon, and I am working on getting several senators together to stop any potential cuts when the budget bills are brought before the full Senate.

My goals are to: 1) remove the expiration date from the Access Missouri scholarship program (it is currently set to expire, which means no one gets any scholarship money after the 2013–2014 school year); 2) cap a student's ability to use the scholarship at four years (the current limit is 10 semesters); 3) maintain the current scholarship levels for public and private institutions (private universities and colleges are allowed a greater percentage because they do not receive tax money); and 4) make any changes effective only after 2014, so as not to adversely impact any student who is already in college on an Access Missouri scholarship.

If Missouri is to emerge as an economic leader in the next decade, we must invest in the education of our young people. I’m profoundly concerned about what the cuts or changes to Access Missouri could mean for our students and Missouri’s private schools. If you feel the same way, please forward this report to your friends and urge them to contact their own state senator and express their concerns about this issue. To find your senator, go to, click on “Senators,” then on “Find Your Legislators,” enter in your zip-code and click on “Lookup Legislators.”

Update on Legislation that Affects You

  • Health Care Freedom Act (Senate Joint Resolution 25): The Senate last discussed this measure about two weeks ago after it stalled during debate, though it will probably be brought to the floor again soon. This is our state’s response to the federal government’s recently passed health care bill. If passed by the Legislature, and approved by voters, this legislation would prohibit any federal law from forcing a patient, employer or health care provider to participate in any government or privately run health care system.
  • Fair Tax (Senate Joint Resolution 29): A new version of this legislation was brought up on the Senate floor for discussion this week. Upon voter approval, this proposed constitutional amendment would repeal the corporate income, corporate franchise, bank franchise, and state sales and use taxes effective Jan. 1, 2013. It also would phase out the state individual income tax, so for each tax year beginning Jan. 1, 2013, the tax rate would be reduced by 20 percent from the previous year's rate until it reaches zero. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, state taxes on income would be prohibited. Also, beginning July 1, 2013, a new state tax on taxable purchases and services would be imposed at a rate not to exceed 7 percent.
I’ll continue to keep you updated on these and the other issues that are important to you as the 2010 legislative session winds down.

Carter: Programs for Minority and Women Owned Businesses At Risk

Since 1990, Missouri has funded several state programs meant to promote contracting with minority and women owned businesses in order to remedy the some of the effects of past discrimination. Recently, courts have ruled that programs setting targets intended to remedy past discrimination must be based upon evidence demonstrating both that the effects of discrimination still exist and the extent of the problem. Therefore, Governor Nixon asked the General Assembly in his budget to fund a study of Missouri’s marketplace relative to minority and women owned businesses. This is commonly known by those in state government as “the disparity study."

The need for a disparity study is manifest. First, we need a new study – our last statewide study was completed in the mid-1990’s – to determine whether or not the playing field is level for women and minority owned business enterprises seeking to work with the state. While the answer may seem obvious, we need the evidence in order to support the second reason for the study, which is to help set the proper target for minority and women owned business participation in state contracting going forward. In his time in office, Governor Blunt wrongly cut participation targets in half without any evidence to justify his decision. A new study will provide a powerful tool to ensure that such ill-considered action will not happen again should the state elect a future administration hostile to this effort. Finally, we need the disparity study to help win the inevitable costly legal battle waiting to be initiated by those who would choose to ignore the reality of discrimination in America; a legal battle that may well endanger these programs and put countless jobs in our community at risk.

The Missouri General Assembly is in the process of determining whether or not to fund a disparity study and avoid this catastrophe. House Republicans stripped the disparity study funding from Governor Nixon's budget, but State Rep. Jason Kander, D – Kansas City, was successful in restoring the money. This week, in a Senate committee, State Sen. Jim Lembke, R – St. Louis County, led a successful effort to undo that good work. However, with your support there is still time for the General Assembly to put money for the disparity study back in the budget.

Even in difficult times – particularly in difficult times – the fight to end discrimination and promote equality cannot take a break. We must act now to preserve this important program. Please join me in contacting State Senators and Representatives, particularly Senators Lembke, Mayer, Schaefer, Dempsey, Pearce, Rupp and others in the Republican Majority, to urge them to fund the disparity study.

Carter: If you did not receive a census form

From the U.S. Census Bureau

Didn't get a 2010 Census form? It's not too late to be counted!! You can call our Questionnaire Assistance line at 1-866-872-6868 and give your answers over the phone or request a form be sent to where you live so you can mail it back in time to avoid a census taker coming to your door. Don't be left out of the count for your community.

You can also visit the "Be Counted" area of our website to locate a Questionnaire Assistance Center in your community where you can pick up a form through April 19.

Three Days Left to Mail Back 2010 Census Forms

Residents who need a form are encouraged to visit “Be Counted” sites

Yesterday marked the four-day countdown for residents across America to mail back their 2010 Census questionnaires. Households that return their forms after Friday, April 16, may still be visited by census workers, who begin going door-to-door to collect census responses on May 1.

Residents are encouraged to promptly mail back their forms, but for those who have lost or did not receive a census form in the mail, there is help available. Households can pick up a Be Counted form at nearly 39,000 community locations nationwide. These replacement forms are available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. To find a Be Counted site, visit (see "Need Help with Your Form") or search the Take 10 map at

“Nationwide, about 66% percent of households have mailed back their census forms. In 2000, the mail participation rate was 72 percent,” U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. “Residents who fail to mail back their forms by April 16 may be visited by a census worker in May.”


The 2010 Census is a count of everyone living in the United States and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Census data are used to apportion congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to tribal, state and local governments each year and to make decisions about what community services to provide. The 2010 Census form is one of the shortest in U.S. history, consisting of 10 questions, taking about 10 minutes to complete. Strict confidentiality laws protect the respondents and the information they provide.

13 April 2010

Rep. Joe Smith Honors 2009 Lindenwood Football Team

Jefferson City – This morning, Rep. Joe Smith, R-St. Charles, honored the Lindenwood University Lions football team with a resolution at the Capitol.

“I am really proud of this team and their accomplishments,” Rep. Smith, said. “They have a good group of players and an excellent coaching staff.”

The 2009 Lindenwood University Lions were recognized with a resolution by the House of Representatives for being the greatest football team in Lindenwood University history.

The Lions had a 10-0 regular season record and played in the NAIA Football Championship game in Rome, Georgia. The team also won its fourth conference title. In addition to their records, Head Coach Patrick Ross was named Conference Coach of the Year and seven players were named All-Americans.

Oxford: Claims put forward about so-called "Tax Freedom Day" must be challenged

Since much misinformation is generated around the April 15 tax filing deadline each year – in press releases and letters to the editor – I wanted you to have this fact sheet debunking the Tax Foundation's claims about "Tax Freedom Day." The report points out the major flaws in the foundation's claims:
  • They misrepresent the day until which the typical or average American must work to pay his or her taxes According to the CBO, some 80 percent of U.S. households pay a smaller share of their incomes in federal taxes than the overall federal effective tax rate that the Tax Foundation uses for their calculations.
  • Their contention that we work part of the year for the government and part of the year for ourselves is also a misrepresentation. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities fact sheet states "Government revenues also fund Social Security payments that enable elderly households to pay for food, clothing, and housing. Moreover, government revenues fund roads and bridges needed for private transportation purchases (e.g. cars) to have value. And they fund the educational system, justice system, and other basic infrastructure without which Americans would not be able to earn the incomes they currently do at the jobs they currently hold."
Taxes are investments in the common good when governments act responsibly.

See related: Debunking Tax Freedom Day

12 April 2010

Ruestman: State Sovereignty, You Decide

It was a short week due to a long Easter break which allowed us all to spend some extra time with our families. As a result, we worked extra hard on the legislation before us to get it finished. My office was very busy with a longer session schedule. We also had more visitors than usual which is always exciting. It is great to have constituents learn more about the legislative process and see their state capitol.

One of our main issues this week was that of state sovereignty. We passed House Joint Resolution 88 by a vote of 87 to 62. This measure, if passed by the Senate, will go to the voters for approval to amend our state constitution. This week I thought I’d just let you read the summary of the Resolution and let it speak for itself.

“In its main provisions, the resolution:

(1) Prohibits the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of Missouri’s government from recognizing, enforcing, or acting on any federal law, executive order, judicial or administrative ruling, collection or dispersal of revenue, or other actions by the three branches of government that exceed the limited powers enumerated in the United States Constitution and delegated to the federal government;

(2) Prohibits the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of Missouri’s government from recognizing, enforcing, or acting on federal restrictions on the right of private citizens to bear arms; federal laws legalizing or funding abortions or the destruction of human embryos; certain specified federal actions involving health care including a federal public option; federal actions requiring the sale or trade of carbon credits or the taxing on the release of carbon emissions; federal actions mandating the recognition of same sex marriages; federal actions increasing the penalty for a crime based on a perpetrator’s thoughts or designating hate crimes; federal actions regarding the Establishment Clause based on a “wall of separation” between church and state; and federal actions restricting the right of parents or guardians to home school or enroll their children in a private or parochial school or placing restrictions on the school’s curriculum;

(3) Requires Missouri courts to interpret the United States Constitution based on its language and the intent of the signers at the time of its passage. Interpretation of its amendments must be based on the intent of the congressional sponsors and co-sponsors. Non-originalist methods of interpretation that consider the constitution a “living, breathing document” and any interpretation that expands federal authority beyond the limited powers enumerated and delegated to the federal government are to be deemed to exceed the limited powers of the federal government. Missouri courts will be required to use this method of interpretation, and any court ruling inconsistent with this method will not be recognized or enforced in Missouri; and

(4) Allows Missouri citizens to have standing to bring suit to enforce the provisions of the resolution.”

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.

Keaveny: Provident Counseling Provides Hope

Mental health outlets have not been immune to budget cuts, as the Senate Appropriations committee has already endorsed a ten percent reduction in state aid for alcohol and drug abuse treatment, psychiatric care and crisis services for people with developmental disabilities. The St. Louis area is fortunate to have a long-standing and successful organization dedicated to providing hope to those who need it most.

Provident, Inc. was founded in 1860 to provide short-term assistance for people while helping them become productive members of the community. The organization provided financial assistance, housing, work opportunities, training and nursing care, and eventually became known as the first place to go in times of need, such as natural disasters and outbreaks of infectious disease.

Provident now offers services like individual and family counseling, group counseling, life crisis services, life and job skills, youth development, visitation and custody exchange, and community development. They have offices in the Central and South City, as well as Jefferson County, West St. Louis County and Illinois.

Provident fulfills its mission of creating hope, building self reliance and driving social impact. The highly trained counselors, staff and volunteers of Provident meet the specific needs the client has in order to build a solid foundation for success.

The main financial support for Provident counseling comes from the United Way of Greater St. Louis. The organization is certified by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Standards, and they are always looking for volunteers.

If you’re in a crisis situation and need to speak to someone immediately, you can call 314-647-HELP (4357) or 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you have questions about Provident, you can call the administrative office at 314-371-6500, or you can make a counseling appointment at 314-533-8200 or 1-800-782-1008. There is also a host of information at

In difficult economic situations like we are facing today, the pressure on people and families can often become overwhelming. Provident is one place that people can go to find a sympathetic ear and a new outlook on life.

Kraus: Last Week's Legislation, Capitol Visitors

Last Week's Legislation

I am happy to report that my bill, HB 1691, was heard in the Senate Committee on Progress and Development and passed out of that committee on the same day with Consent Status.  HB 1691 calls for the establishment of special days to promote bicycling and walking.  With this bill, the days would become part of the calendar of state holidays.  While it does not require a school to promote any event if school officials feel that the school environs are unsafe, it would encourage schools to promote safe passage for kids to bike or walk to school.

House Approves State Sovereignty Resolution

In legislation in the House, we gave final approval last Thursday to a proposed constitutional amendment that would assert the state's sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution over all powers not enumerated and delegated to the federal government. The House approved HJR 88 by a vote of 87-62. The measure now moves to the Senate for consideration. If approved by both chambers, it would go to Missourians for their vote.

Prohibiting State Investment in Companies with Ties to Terrorists

The House also passed HB 2357 last week, which, if signed into law, would prohibit state agencies from investing in foreign corporations that have strong business ties to terrorist countries.  Currently, those countries would be Iran, Sudan, Cuba and Syria, but the legislation requires this list to be continually updated.  The bill now awaits final approval in the House.

2009 Teacher of the Year

At left: Rep. Kraus presents Susanne Mitko with a House resolution congratulating her for her selection as the 2009 Missouri Teacher of the Year.

It is extremely gratifying to me to be able to recognize the great accomplishments of constituents.  Last week, Susanne Mitko was honored in Jefferson City for being selected as the 2009 Missouri Teacher of the Year by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  It was my pleasure to present her with a House Resolution in her honor on the floor of the House of Representatives.  Susanne teaches history in the Lee's Summit R-VII School District.  One of her many talents is to be able to connect world history to her students' own lives.  Congratulations to Susanne – it is no small feat to be named the state teacher of the year!

Visit from Lee's Summit Community Christian School

Recently, I also enjoyed visiting with students and teachers from the Lee's Summit Community Christian School.  It was a great day to be outside on the Capitol steps!  In the House Chambers, the students engaged in a mock debate to better understand how a bill is discussed, amended and passed in the House of Representatives.  So many aspects of this job mean a great deal to me, and helping our future leaders to better understand the governmental process is one that gives me tremendous satisfaction.

With the beginning of the 2010 Legislative Session, the Capitol Report will be issued about once a week. During this time, if you have an event that you would like me to attend or speak at, please contact my office at 1 (573)751-1459 or e-mail at will{dot}kraus{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.

Schupp: Taxes Due, House Aiming to Strengthen DWI Laws, Updates from Committees and the Budget

Rushing home to support a friend, visiting Bellefontaine Habilitation Center, sharing in the 90th anniversary celebration of Troop 11 of our Boy Scouts at Temple Israel, and visiting the incredible display of miniatures at the Tappmeyer House served to keep me busy during this weekend.  I am hopeful you, too, were able to enjoy the glorious weather and participate in the many activities and events that make our community so strong. 

All that stated, this look back on the politics and policies of the week relays a grim picture due to the constraints created by this challenging budget year.  Few programs and services will remain whole as the budget lines are drawn.  The question that we must be vigilante in considering is whether, in the end, the budget we have reflects our priorities.

We are still receiving your surveys.  Thank you for taking the time to weigh in.  We will post the results when collection and tabulating are done.

Thank you for this opportunity to serve.



Rep. Schupp and other St. Louis area representatives with members of St. Louis Children's Hospital in House side gallery on Thursday.


The deadline to file income tax is this coming Thursday, April 15.  If you have yet to file or need more information to file, feel free to visit the IRS website for your federal filing or the Missouri Department of Revenue's website for your state filing.

As always, if you have questions, feel free to contact our office and we will try our best to assist you.

This week on the House floor

Supplemental Spending Bill Eventually Approved

Colleagues and I heard recommendations, changed votes, and argued on the House floor over one particular piece of a supplemental bill [HB2014]. Interestingly, while this bill could be looked at as controversial in many ways, the heated discussion centered on the fact that the negative impact on school districts would only affect districts that are notcharacterized as "hold harmless." 

The districts that have schools located in the 82nd State House District include Pattonville, Parkway and Ladue. Each of those districts became designated as "hold harmless" when the foundation formula for funding education was changed less than a decade ago. 

Hold harmless districts, which are predominantly suburban districts and certain small rural districts with high local tax levies, don't receive annual increases from the state's education funding distribution formula. At the same time, because the formula, in essence, punishes districts that receive strong local support, the districts receive more than they would be allocated if they were funded through the formula.

This means that while our districts continue to receive some funding from the state, the funding remains at a relatively low and consistent level as state aid to all non-hold harmless districts changes...generally increasing over the years. 

With this year's underfunding of the foundation formula, there is an outcry from the non-hold harmless districts for all districts statewide to share in the cuts, lessening the pain to the non-hold harmless districts.  

The bill passed with no harm being done to the "hold harmless" districts. The Governor does have line-item veto power to remove the controversial provision that exempts hold harmless districts. If that happens, perhaps the "hold harmless" title will have to change.


Debate began this week on legislation on [HB 1695] which would create harsher penalties for those caught driving under the influence.  Due to an amendment drafting error, the work done to date on amendments on the house floor might require unraveling, meaning revisiting of the discussion, peeling back the layers of amendments and re-starting from the basic underlying bill.  There is now uncertainty as to whether this legislation will make it through the process during this legislative session.  This is a disappointment to so many who are working to make our roads and our families and friends safer.  While we will link you to the summary, keep in mind that the process and legislation require revisiting.  Click Here to get to the bill's summary.

Committee News

Higher Education

Legislation on the Access Missouri grant program that provides funds to undergraduate students based on need was passed out of our committee this week (HB 1812).  Should the new legislation make its way through the process, it will equalize grant payments to students whether they attend public or private four-year Missouri colleges or universities.  Currently, priviate school attendees receive about double the amount public school attendees receive.  Students who attend two- year schools will receive more money per year than they do currently, but still about half of what the four year attendees receive per year.

This program change will not start until 2014, and the sunset clause in the current legislation is removed in the new legislation.  And, of course, dollar amounts granted to students is always subject to the amount of money appropriated to the program.

While it passed unanimously, some of us still have questions about the timing of the legislation start date and lack of sunset that may be able to be addressed on the house floor.

Children and Families

HB 2384 establishes the Embryo Transfer Act which authorizes the legal relinquishment and subsequent transfer of human embryos.  While I am hopeful our chair will give us ample time to discuss the ramifications of this legislation (this is not always the case), I have concerns about the state's interest in intervening in these private legal matters.  

HB 855, a piece of Senate legislation, is very similar to a House bill that this committee heard earlier this session.  This bill would allow the State Registrar to issue heritage birth or marriage certificates celebrating the unique heritage of Missourians.  This was presented by Rep. Sater who made it clear that this is intended to be a revenue generator for the state.  I am hopeful we can amend the language to ensure that the costs are adequately addressed and covered.  It is a reasonable idea that has worked in other states.

Budget News


The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to eliminate the entire $37.5 million for the Career Ladder program that had been approved by the House for next year's state budget. This program provides about 18,000 teachers with extra duty salary supplements ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 a year.
The state splits the cost of Career Ladder with participating school districts. Because the state pays its share a year in arrears, money in next year's budget would reimburse districts for expenses incurred in the current school year. That means teachers who performed these extra duties this year will not receive payment for them.  The legislature has not taken action to provide appropriations in advance of the work being done, largely because it would cost the state double in one budget year. In the end, these cuts will break trust with the teachers who were operating in good faith.


While the House of Representatives agreed to limit cuts to higher education to about $50 million for the 2010-2011 academic year, the Senate Appropriations committee has moved forward a proposal to cut $65 million. This $15 million dollar difference will have a dramatic effect on college students who are hopeful about staving off tuition increases for the next year. The Governor had made a deal with public colleges and universities not to raise tuition in exchange for keeping the state cuts to higher education at $50 million.  The Governor will be working hard to lower these Senate-proposed cuts.


The Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) reports net state general revenue collections were down 17.8 percent, or $100.2 million in March 2010 as compared to last March. Year-to-date general revenue collections for FY 2010 are down 13.3 percent year-to-date compared to last year. This drop is from $5.4 billion to $4.68 billion.

Constituent Spotlight

Rep. Schupp participating with 3rd graders from Rossman School in a mock legislative session.  The students, accompanied by teacher Lynn Frankenberger, held a debate on a bill making baseball the official sport of Rossman School.