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23 April 2010

Schupp: Minority Caucus Discusses Budget, Speaker Opposes Tax Credit Reform, "Cramming" Scam Warning

At the end of last week, members of the minority caucus met and listened to a diverse group of statewide organizations to hear recommendations about how to best deal with the current state of the budget. Jim Moody opened the meeting and set the stage by outlining his prognoses for the state budget situation looking forward. Bleak is an apt description.  Included in his extensive array of credentials are the positions of Former State Budget Director and Commissioner of Administration.

Groups representing diverse interests including focuses on healthcare, education, disabilities, labor, children, public safety, and mental health each took a few minutes to explain how the budget situation might be best addressed.  The overarching recommendation was that revenue generation needs to be part of the conversation. Thus far, it has not been a serious part of the discussion of how Missouri moves forward. Joining these groups with diversity of priorities and interests together is a move toward setting aside specific agendas in order to shore up the state's economy and work toward the greater good.

It is a tense time for all as the Senate and House conferees meet to make final budget recommendations for the next fiscal year.  In the midst of trying to make $500 million in cuts, and consideration of holding back another $300 million for the following budget year, the Governor is busy with cutting and withholding dollars to ensure the current year's budget is in balance.  The Parents as Teachers Program, school transportation and Metro are among the casualties of our economic status.

As we all are learning, there is little closure until the Governor is given the final bills and determines which to change or sign into law.  Even then, the requirement to balance the budget will force him to use the scalpel or ax should revenues continue to decline.

With you, I look forward to developing solutions.

Thank you for this opportunity to serve.



Rep. Schupp presented awards on Thursday for the Sheraton Westport Lakeside Chalet and the Sheraton Westport Hotel.  The hotels were honored at a conference in Columbia for attaining Certified Green Hotel recognition.

This week in the House


Governor Nixon is championing the charge to reconsider some tax credits in the wake of our budget woes.   In an appeal to stop the bleeding in other areas of the budget, the Governor has put out the message that  comprehensive tax credit reform is the next place to look.  Speaker Ron Richard said the House won't even consider reform legislation.

With more than 60 tax credit programs inthe state, the cost is about $600 million a year in uncollected revenue. I support the Governor's position that these programs need to be examined, and those that are not effective should be eliminated.  It has become obvious that we need a strong mechanism in place to evaluate the successes of these programs which provides not only short term review, but a look at the long term pay off for the state.  Particularly during a budget crisis predicted to last for several years, we need to take care not to undermine our long term efforts for short term gain.  The balancing act forces us to put everything on the table.


This week in the House, The changes to the Access Missouri scholarship program [SB733] passed.  As a reminder, the current law provides these need-based scholarships to recipients who attend private colleges or universities up to $4,600 a year, while those who attend public schools get no more than $2,150 annually. New legislation, starting in 2014, would give all recipients up to $2,850 year.  Eligible students who attend 2 year colleges would receive $1300 per year.

Committee News

Higher Education

HB 733--This bill changes the law regarding Higher Education Academic Scholarship Program, also known as Bright Flight Scholarship Program, and the Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program.
Bright Flight Scholarship
A recipient must be a Missouri resident to be eligible and eligibility has been extended to students who have received a General Education Development diploma or completed homeschooling. Eligibility is otherwise based entirely upon a student's score in the ACT or SAT college entrance exams.

The students in the top 3% will receive equal amounts of up to $3000 each depending upon appropriations.  If there is additional money available,  students in the top fourth and fifth percentiles will receive up to $1000 each.   A student who is in the military service will receive their scholarship if he or she returns to school full-time within six months after ending service and with the verification of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.
Access Missouri Program 
In addition to the information from the House Floor section above describing the award amounts for Access Missouri, there has also been a change in the GPA (Grade Point Average) requirements.  I wrote about this earlier this session.   New law, should it pass through both chambers, will require students who have taken less than 60 semester hours to maintain satisfactory academic progress, with a minimum GPA of 2.0. Satisfactory academic progress is determined by the institution the student attends.  A student who has more than 60 semester hours is to retain at least a 2.5 GPA.

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

Legislation heard proposed that the marriage license fees will be reduced if the couple completes premarital counseling outlined in the bill [HB1234].  Our committee chair and her husband, after 6 hours of training, and additional consultation with their minister, are considered qualified to evaluate whether a couple should marry.  They would make a recommendation to their minister regarding the couple.

Once married, if a couple plans to divorce and there are minor children involved, the couple must wait a year after filing for divorce to finalize those plans with a few exceptions for physical abuse, adultery, and mental illness that has occurred for at least three years.

Budget News


From the Minority Caucus Office

A continuing decline in state revenue collections forced Gov. Jay Nixon to cut another $45 million from the current state budget to keep it in balance as required by the Missouri Constitution. To date, the governor has cut more than $900 million from the state operating and capital improvements budgets for the 2010 fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The governor's latest cost-savings actions include reducing state funding for local school districts' student transportation costs by an additional $8 million, cutting another $4.9 million from the Parents as Teachers program, withholding a $4 million payment for the Metro mass transit system in St. Louis and reducing biodiesel subsidies by another $3.2 million.
As of April 20, net general revenue collections for April have fallen 19 percent. According to the Missouri Division of Budget and Planning, a key contributing factor in the decline is that the average state income tax refund is up nearly 8 percent compared to last year, while the average payment is down nearly 30 percent. Year-to-date revenue collections for FY 2010 are down 13.8 percent compared to FY 2009.

Attorney General Koster warns of escalating "Cramming" scam

Information provided from the Attorney General's Office

Attorney General Chris Koster said that a scam called "cramming" ranks near the top of complaints his office receives each year.

Koster said telephone companies contract to provide billing and collection services for third-party companies. Cramming happens when a third-party company adds a charge to your phone bill for a service you didn't order, such as voicemail, Internet service, or calling cards. He said these charges are sometimes hidden on the phone bill under such titles as "enhanced services," "activation," or "web hosting."

"Unethical companies are betting that consumers won't read their phone bills," Koster said. "That's why it's important that consumers carefully review their phone bills each month."

Koster cautioned consumers about entering contests and sweepstakes at fairs or festivals because some entry blanks may double as authorization forms to add phone services. He said people also can get crammed as a result of signing "bonus checks" they receive in the mail and by responding to offers of prizes and cash solicited by mail.

"Always read the small print, and if a form or a caller asks for your phone number, ask questions and find out why they need the number," Koster said. "If you do get crammed, call your local phone company immediately and ask that the charges be removed, and call the company named on the bill and explain you did not request the services and ask that they be removed. Then call the Attorney General's Consumer Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 and file a complaint."

Koster said his office received 705 cramming complaints in 2009 and his Consumer Complaint Division is currently investigating a number of companies for the practice.

Engler: Cost-Saving Efforts Continue as Budget Moves to Conference

This week, the budget moves to the conference committee process where House and Senate members will go through the 13 bills that make up the state budget to iron out any differences between the two chambers. The five members that were appointed by the Senate leader began their work on Thursday.

This year’s budget has been a struggle, and the Senate’s version included nearly $500 million in cuts. The conference committee will need to reconcile the Senate’s approximately $23.1 billion budget with the House’s slightly less than $23.6 billion budget. The decisions we had to make on the Senate floor were very difficult, and I commend the work of committee members as they begin the conference committee process.

Appropriations Chairman Senator Rob Mayer has had to craft a budget in one of the toughest years in our state’s history. He has created a video to explain some of the Senate’s choices during the budget process. You can watch this video by clicking here.

After the state spending plan is agreed to by the conference committee members, the budget will again move through the House and Senate for final approval. Our constitutional deadline for completing the fiscal year 2011 (beginning July 1, 2010) budget is May 7th. I am confident our tradition of fiscal responsibility will continue and we will pass a balanced budget to send to the governor.

We also began work this week on ways to reform the education system in our state. Our work is focused on finding ways to save the state money, a task we have been working on throughout the legislative session. It is important that we look at every aspect of state government to find ways to streamline and reduce spending, including education, public safety, and state pensions.

It is hard to believe that the end of the 2010 legislative session is so close. By the time the final gavel falls on May 14, we will have completed a budget in one of the toughest fiscal situations in Missouri’s history and made common-sense changes to the structure of state government to reduce spending. I will continue to keep you up-to-date on our work in the coming weeks.

22 April 2010

Ridgeway: Streamlining State Government

The Missouri Senate recently held a "Rebooting Government" work day to review hundreds of ideas to simplify and reorganize state government, as well as save money. Many of these proposed ideas are already making their way into legislation and through the lawmaking process. With budget cuts an unavoidable reality, it is encouraging to see lawmakers from both sides of the aisle join together to embrace intrepid and inventive solutions for saving taxpayer dollars.

One idea that I proposed to cut costs is to reduce the length of the legislative session. Currently, the General Assembly meets every year from the beginning of January through mid-May. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, most states meet for less than three months, and only 15 states have a longer legislative session than Missouri.

The longer we are in session, the more money we spend that we do not have. We need to be spending more time back home with our constituents, our businesses and our families, rather than spending almost five months out of the year in Jefferson City with bureaucrats and government insiders, and passing more legislation that doesn't really help the people in our districts. I don't think it is merely a coincidence that states that have a legislative session longer than six months have the highest budget deficits. The budget numbers show that the longer a legislature is in session, the worse off the taxpayers are. If my Senate Joint Resolution 38 is passed by the Legislature and approved by voters, it would require the legislative session to end in late March rather than the middle of May.

I'll continue to keep you updated on this and the other issues that are important to you as the 2010 legislative session winds down.

Rupp: More Difficult Budget Years to Come

My fight to reduce state government and curb spending carries on.

This week, my colleagues gave me the great honor to serve as one of five senators on the Budget Conference Committee. As many of you know, the Senate passed its version of the budget last week, which included approximately $458 million dollars in government spending across the state.

I was on the appropriations committee that went through the budget, line by line, to achieve that amount of reduction. The conference committee allows various members of the House and Senate to iron out the differences between the two budget versions before sending the final budget to the governor.

The priorities the Senate had for its version of the budget: no new taxes, supporting education, and minimizing the impact on our citizens. We were able to meet all of these priorities, and at the same time, I believe we have started the process of making our government smaller and more efficient.

While we reduced government spending by a half a billion dollars, we will be faced with the need to reduce spending next year as well. These tough decisions will impact all of our lives, but the tough decisions we make today will keep us from impossible tasks in the future. We chose to deal with these issues head-on, rather than burying our heads in the sand and pretending that tough decisions didn’t need to be made. We must continue to bring Missouri government to a place where it meets the needs of its citizens while living within our means, as Missouri families do every day.

While there was progress toward establishing a government that is the right size for our new economic reality, there is still much work to be done. It’s an honor that you have entrusted me to continue representing your voice in this process. I will continue to update you with the latest news regarding passing a fiscally responsible budget for you and your family

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.

Tim Jones: Tax Credits for Pregnancy Resource Centers, Public Prayer Amendment, Sensible Economic Development

Mild, calm weather settled smoothly across the Midwest this week with warming sunshine and gentle breezes lightly swaying blossoming flowers and greening pastures.  As the week closed, gathering storm clouds marched menacingly towards the Capitol, encircling the dome as a quiet, yet palpable tension emanated from both Chambers of the General Assembly as Budget Conference Committees were announced and began doing the final heavy lifting of crafting this year's 23 Billion Dollar State Budget.  Important issues regarding our First and Second Amendment rights as well as issues involving sensible economic development were passionately debated and passed on the House Floor as we entered the final four weeks of Session…

"Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty." –Ronald Reagan

Tax Credit for Pregnancy Resource Centers

This week the Missouri House gave approval to HB 2252, which provides a continuation of the successful tax credit program for pregnancy resource centers in our state.  As someone who is strongly pro-life, I believe we should have no abortions in our state.  One way to reduce abortions is to help our pregnancy resource centers.  These centers provide resources and education to women who are expectant mothers or recently had a baby and who have no other support network available.   These women and their children deserve and need a helping hand.  These resource centers provide advice on child-rearing, job training, maternity and baby clothes, and referrals for medical care, all at no cost.

HB 2252 reauthorizes this tax credit so Missourians can choose to support them when they file their income tax returns and that will go to support these centers.  It is also important to note these centers are run by the private market, not the government.  Part of being pro-life is supporting and protecting those who cannot protect themselves.  Missouri's pregnancy resource centers are an excellent and cost effective way to do so.

Public Prayer Amendment

The Missouri House gave initial approval to HJR 62 this week.  This proposed constitutional amendment guarantees a person's right to worship and pray on public property without the fear of intimidation.  This is already allowed and protected in the US Constitution, but many people do not fully understand the parameters of the freedom.  The purpose of this amendment is to make it perfectly clear to all Missourians.

The lack of education on this issue is especially important in regard to Missouri school children.  Many students do not understand their rights and often feel intimidated to not show their faith at school out of fear.  HJR 62 makes it clear to all students they are allowed to pray and are free to do so without fear.  To help make this clear, this amendment also requires public schools receiving state funds to prominently display the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.

No one in America should ever feel any pressure or intimidation for expressing their religious beliefs.  Freedom OF Religion was one of the primary precepts on which this nation was founded.  The Missouri House just took another step forward to ensure our freedom of religion is further protected from any infringement.

Maintaining a Balanced Budget

This week I would like to provide you another update on the progress of our state budget.  The budget has passed through the Senate and is now in conference between the House and Senate, which is where differences between the two versions of the budget are hammered out and compromises are reached.  This budget will be balanced without a tax increase, period.  This is something I have been very firm on from the very beginning of my time as your State Representative.  We cannot raise taxes on working Missourians, it is not right and it is bad economic policy.  The last thing in an economic recovery you want to do is raise taxes, and therefore expenses, on businesses and consumers.  In the Missouri House we will simply not let this happen.

To balance the budget without a tax increase we have had to cut expenses, just like nearly every Missouri family has had to do when their revenue declined over the last two years.  These cuts are painful at times, but necessary.  My only wish is the federal government would take a page from Missouri and do the same instead of running up deficits that are bankrupting our future.  In Missouri, leadership on the state budget means balancing it without a tax increase and without deficit spending, the opposite of actions being taken currently in Washington, DC.

House Bill 1786-Sensible Economic Development

House Bill 1786, of which I am the chief sponsor, passed through the House this week with an overwhelming bipartisan majority.  The bill focuses on bringing major events (collegiate and amateur sporting events and not for profit organization conventions) to Missouri that would otherwise not come here.  The legislation is available for use state-wide and is designed to bring economic prosperity to our state.

Through this bill, tax credit incentives are offered to those that hold their events in our state.  For example, next year if the Final Four basketball competition was to be held in Missouri, that game or event would be issued a refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the eligible costs or 90% of the tax revenues within the market area which are directly attributable to the game or event. The tax credits are capped at 10 million dollars.

One of the major components of HB 1786 is its ability to increase tourism in our state.  Large events typically bring in out of state citizens and fans that would be generating new revenue for Missouri, and improve our economy for all our citizens.


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 and I am happy to report that I was invited to present the bill to the Senate Committee on Government Accountability just this morning.  The Senate also continues to debate 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!

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:

Fast Facts

  • The House inducted James McDonnell, Jr. into the Hall of Famous Missourians last week.
  • Missouri has an excellent set of Military Programs designed for and focused upon supporting military children and youth.  One of the goals of the program is to create community support networks for youth who have parents experiencing deployment.  There are many other facets of this great program.  For more information about "Operation: Military Kids" contact: or

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 on which 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 less than twenty five 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.

On the House Floor with the Glory of Missouri Award winners from Eureka High School (left) and Lafayette High School.

Joe Smith: House Gives Final Approval to Voter Identification and Absentee Voter Legislation

House members gave final passage to House Bill 1966 (sponsored by Representative John Diehl, R – St. Louis) and House Joint Resolution 64 (sponsored by Representative Stanley Cox, R – Sedalia), which work together to change aspects of the voting process.

HJR64 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would not only give voters easier access to the polls, but ensure validity of voter identification. Getting to the polls on Election Day may not be realistic for all Missourians. Many of us meet ourselves coming and going, between taking the kids to soccer practice, demanding work schedules and out of town travel. In addition, many of our elder citizens are unable to stand in the long lines at the polls on Election Day because of health problems and physical restrictions. HJR64 requires one early voting center in each senatorial district to be open four days prior to Election Day so that those who are unable to get to the polls on Tuesday will have an opportunity to vote early. HJR64 also requires citizens to show photo identification in order to cast their votes. To me, this is a common-sense requirement. Movie theaters ask for identification before they allow young adults to view certain films, an id is required to be admitted on airplanes and you have to have photo identification in order to drive a vehicle – so why shouldn’t you be required to show one when you’re voting to elect individuals to office?

HB1966 works jointly with HJR64 to further positive changes in the voting process. 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 as convenient as possible for them. Through HB1966, the Secretary of State would be required to establish procedures for absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters to cast their ballots electronically, rather than loose paper documents. In addition, the Secretary of State must 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.

Joe Smith: House Leaders Point to Governor’s Inconsistencies on Tax Credits, Express Importance of Job Growth

This week, Republicans in the House expressed their (or “we expressed our”) concern with the Governor’s imitative to eliminate tax credits in Missouri. The Governor claimed that “every dollar that went to tax credits” could be a dollar spent on education. What the Governor didn’t mention, however, is that he has been pushing tax credits since he was elected into office. Last year, he took credit for the economic development bill that we passed through the House, and he flew around the state conducting ceremonial bill signings to promote the bill. What he also failed to mention, was that his budget for the 2011 fiscal year reduced education funding significantly.

By providing tax credit incentives for Missouri businesses, we put people to work and we are able to grow our state’s economy – which is needed now more than ever. More jobs mean people are buying homes and buying properties that fund education through property taxes and sales taxes. If we take tax credits away, as the Governor suggests, education will be negatively effected.

Many of us would welcome the Governor to look at the tax credit program and conduct a cost-benefit analysis and really research how we can improve the system. That way, we will have an in-depth perspective of good changes that could be made – but he has not offered any concrete suggestion. I am also interested to know why the Governor has been promoting tax credits relentlessly for the past year and a half. In fact, the only time he has ever visited the House floor during session was to lobby for our economic development bill which included tax credit incentives for businesses.

The Speaker has taken a firm stance against pushing the Governor’s hollow proposal to eliminate tax credits – especially since we are entering the last weeks of session. The House has been slow and steady, looking all recommendations, before we push any legislation through the process and we will handle tax credits the same way.

Joe Smith: House Approves the Act of Prayer in Public Places

This week, the House passed House Joint Resolution 62, sponsored by Representative Mike McGhee, R – Odessa, which protects the rights of Missouri citizens to pray in public.

Upon voter approval, this proposed constitutional amendment guarantees a citizen's First Amendment right to pray and worship in all public areas including schools as long as the activities are voluntary and subject to the same rules and regulations that apply to all other types of speech. A citizen's right to choose any religion or no religion at all is reaffirmed by prohibiting the establishment of an official state religion and the state from coercing any person to participate in any prayer or other religious activity.

HJR62 also says that public schools receiving state funds are required to display the text of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States in a conspicuous and legible manner for students and staff to see.

In addition, the resolution reaffirms the right of employees and elected officials of the State of Missouri to pray on government premises and public property. Before session convenes each day, we have a prayer in the House Chamber and HJR62 protects that right by allowing the General Assembly and other political subdivisions to have ministers and clergymen offer prayers or invocations at meetings or sessions of the General Assembly or other governing bodies.

Joe Smith: Defending the Rights of Expectant Mothers through Expansion of the Castle Doctrine

A Michigan woman experienced a horrifying situation when she attempted to protect herself and her unborn babies from a domestic attack. On evening, her boyfriend threatened her, beat her up and continuously punched her in the abdomen. In attempt to save her unborn children and protect her life, she stabbed and killed him. Later, a court found her guilty citing that her boyfriend was not trying to kill her but he was trying to kill her unborn babies so she had no right to use deadly force against him.

This incident has sent shockwaves through legislatures across the country – including Missouri. Last week, the House passed House Bill 2081, sponsored by Representative Jeanie Riddle, R – Mokane. This legislation expands the Castle Doctrine and gives expectant mothers the right to use deadly force in effort to protect themselves and their unborn child from attackers if they feel that deadly force is necessary.

Oklahoma passed this legislation unanimously through both legislative chambers. Similarly, the House has passed the bill and it is currently in the Senate.

Joe Smith: House Passes Bill Providing Tax Credit Incentives that Attract Major Events to Missouri

House Bill 1786, sponsored by Representative Tim Jones, R – Eureka, passed through the House this week. The bill focuses on bringing major events to Missouri that would otherwise not come here. The legislation is available for use state-wide and is designed to bring economic prosperity to our state.

Through this bill, tax credit incentives are offered to those that hold their events in our state. For example, next year if the Final Four basketball competition was to be held in Missouri, that game or event would be issued a refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the eligible costs or 90% of the tax revenues within the market area which are directly attributable to the game or event. The tax credits are capped at 10 million dollars.

One of the major components of HB1786 is its ability to increase tourism in our state. Large events typically bring in out of state citizens and fans that would be generating new revenue for Missouri, and improve our economy.

Nance: Adopt/Sponsor a Roadway, House Action, Students Tour the Capitol

"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." –Muhammad Ali

Adopt One or Sponsor One

In District 4, approximately 400 active adopters maintain 400 miles of roadway, but there is always opportunity for new enthusiasts to make a difference.

Adopters take care of at least a half-mile of urban roadside or a two-mile rural stretch, with the commitment to collect litter at least twice every six months. Volunteers are provided with the necessary trash bags and safety vests, and participate in MoDOT's safety training.

A route currently open for adoption is Ray County: Richmond, MO 13. (Contact 888-275-6636 for more information on how you or your organization can help).

House Action

The House third read and passed HB 1404 by a vote of 145-4. The bill would create the crime of failure to adequately control an animal.

The House third read and passed HB 2357 by a vote of 145-1. The bill would prohibit any public retirement plan of the state or a political subdivision from investing funds with foreign companies that have active ties to any country designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.

HB 1473 guarantees students at public four-year institutions, including Linn State Technical College, and private institutions receive a maximum amount of financial assistance awards of $2,150 and $4,600 respectively from the Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program.

Beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year, the substitute combines the categories for these schools into one with a $2,850 maximum and a $1,500 minimum award and increases the maximum award for community colleges from $1,000 to $1,300.

HB 1444 requires the governing body of any county, city, town, or village or any entity created by these political subdivisions to hold a public meeting and to allow public comment four business days prior to voting on an issue involving fee or tax increases, eminent domain, zoning, transportation development districts, capital improvement districts, commercial improvement districts, or tax increment financing.  The provisions will not apply to any votes or discussions related to proposed ordinances that require a minimum of two separate readings on different days or in the case of an emergency; and tax measures under these provisions will not include the setting of the annual tax rates.

Orrick 4th grade students were in the Capitol Thursday for a tour of their State Capitol. They enjoyed a wonderful experience.

In the District

Last Saturday I presented resolutions to three new "Royal Rangers" at the Lawson Assembly of God Church. Receiving awards were Zac Emry, Jacob Bellis, and Jordan Guilkey.

I will return Thursday to help honor Excelsior Springs citizens that are receiving recognition at the Annual Chamber of Commerce Dinner. I am also speaking to Citizens for Missouri's Children at 11:30 Friday at the Elms.

Purgason: Reigning in Tax Credits

This week the budget will move into the conference stage as five members of the House and five members of the Senate will now meet together and try to forge a compromise between the House and Senate positions. This committee will work for the next two weeks with the constitutional deadline for completion of the budget on May 7th.

We have many questions and concerns when it comes to looking at this year’s budget. This budget is balanced on $900 million of federal budget stabilization dollars that will not be available next year. With continued unemployment numbers and a failing economy, we are looking at a shortfall of over $1 billion in next year’s budget.

Of the entire state budget, around $7 billion is General Revenue or state tax dollars. $16 billion is federal pass-through dollars over which the state has very little control. That means that the $1 billion that will be required to be cut next year must come from the $7 billion of General Revenue. That means that over 15% of that money will need to be found and reduced.

One way we can begin to deal with next year’s budget problems is by not allowing legislation that adds to this cost to be passed into law. My job as chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight is to look at bills that add cost to the state. Currently, we have over 60 bills referred to my committee. Many of these are in the dead file because we simply cannot afford them at this time.

In crafting this year’s budget, it would be easier if we had total flexibility when it comes to the issue of available General Revenue dollars. This is not the case.

We currently have around $700 million in tax credits that are issued by the state each year. The committee, as well as the Governor, has shown concern that the legislature’s budget committees have little control over this huge part of state spending. Tax credits are basically entitlements that must be paid before any of the state’s other obligations are look at. This has to change if we are to begin to put together a budget next year that does not come down hard on elementary, secondary and higher education obligations.

I believe tax credits are one way that government picks winners and losers in a free market system. Many times these credits are awarded to companies to come into the state to directly compete with existing businesses. I do not mind the competition, that is how you get a good product at a good price, but to allow government to give special favors and monetary advantages is not a level playing field.

There was an explosion of tax credits in the 1990’s when, instead of returning money that was required to be sent back to taxpayers under the Hancock amendment, the state began issuing tax credits to move money around in order not to be in violation of this requirement. This began an explosion of tax credits because other interest groups decided to try to get a piece of the action and this, in turn, began our feeding frenzy when it comes to the expansion of our current tax credit system.

I believe we must begin rethinking the way we approach economic development in our state. We currently compete with other states for jobs by coming up with the biggest Christmas package of goodies and begin the race to the bottom because all the states are suffering financial problems just like the ones the state of Missouri faces.

The facts are that 92% of our jobs are created by small businesses in our state. Why not move to system that fosters small business growth rather than chasing after dream companies that continue to play each state against each other in order to get the best deal?

Government is a poor creator of jobs. Most of the jobs government creates result in more bureaucrats and red tape. I believe we must begin the process of making Missouri a low tax, low regulation state that allows businesses to expand and grow to create a pro-growth economy.

The saying, “I am from the government and I am here to help you,” is not a very welcome approach when dealing with a small business owner. The policy we should employ when it comes to job creation is the policy of empowering small businesses to do what they do best --- and that is to grow, create jobs, and pursue the American dream while the role of government is to assure a level playing for all businesses large or small.

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

Nodler: Federal Healthcare Mandate Creates a Troubling Future

This week, the Senate continues to try to find ways to cut spending in the state. In order to balance the budget, the Senate made nearly $500 million in cuts to the governor’s original proposal. The budget is now in conference and House and Senate members are working hard to create a balanced spending plan for our state. This work has me looking to the future when, according to the federal healthcare plan passed by Congress, Missouri will need to come up with billions of dollars in additional revenue to fund expanded Medicaid eligibility. This ticking time bomb of fiscal irresponsibility is going to cause serious budget destruction down the road.

President Obama signed the federal healthcare legislation this year. The bill contains a significant expansion in Medicaid eligibility, adding 255,000 Missouri adults to the state-sponsored healthcare system by increasing eligibility caps by 113 percent. The federal government has tried to silence some state’s protests over the unfunded mandate by covering the costs of the expansion for the first three years it is in effect, but federal support will not always be available. Once Missouri has to start footing the bill, the Department of Social Services estimates the plan will cost our state an additional $1.34 billion from 2017 to 2023—a devastating price tag for our finances. These are Missouri taxpayer dollars that the federal government is forcing us to pour into healthcare costs.

This expansion is costly and fiscally irresponsible, but the federal government has stripped control away from our state. This action threatens the availability of healthcare as well as the health of Missouri’s future finances. No matter what actions we take in the coming years to balance our books and cut spending, this aspect of our budget will be out of our hands come 2017 when we will have to spend an additional $99.2 million to meet federal regulations. We have created a tradition of fiscal responsibility in Missouri, but our careful planning will be for naught if we are forced to spend taxpayer dollars on federal mandates.

States throughout the nation are in fiscal crises, and I am proud to say that Missouri is fairing better than many other states in the nation. During my time as appropriations chairman in the Senate, we maintained one of the highest carryover balances in Missouri's budget history, held on to Missouri's AAA bond rating, and passed responsible, sustainable budgets. However, forcing us to pick up the cost of expanding healthcare will be detrimental to our careful efforts. Asking the states to shoulder the burden of this federal mandate just shows that the healthcare plan passed by Congress is short-sighted and detrimental.

21 April 2010

Brandom: Early Voting, Photo ID, and the State Budget

Early Voting and Photo ID

This Week, the Missouri House passed legislation making it easier to vote and harder to cheat in Missouri elections. We gave approval to House Bill 1966 and House Joint Resolution 64 that establish the procedures to allow early voting and require voters to
produce photo identification before voting.

This legislation creates a four day (“no excuse - in person - absentee”) early voting period. Each county would have at least one voting center. Big cities and large counties would have regional voting centers. Early “no excuse” voting in Scott County would be available at the county courthouse, just as it is now
for those casting regular absentee ballots.

Recent elections saw increased instances of voter fraud. This important legislation would require voters to produce a form of photo identification when voting to help reduce fraud and abuse in our elections. In my recent constituent survey, eighty percent of those who responded were in favor of a photo ID to vote. 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 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.

State Budget

Much of our time has been focused on budget negotiations during the recent weeks. The Governor submitted his budget to the House in January. Unfortunately it was soon found to be unbalanced due to Missouri’s continued declining revenue. The House
and Senate were looking at a shortfall of $500 million. Additional cuts have been made by each chamber.

The House reduced the budget by $225 million. The budget then went to the Senate where it was reduced by another $275 million. The Senate first eliminated and then restored $37.4 million to pay teachers earning Career Ladder money this year.
The next step for the budget is five members from each chamber to meet and compromise the differences between the two versions. Each chamber will then review the compromises and vote a final approval. The final budget is due on the governor’s
desk by 6pm on May 7.

On a personal note, I wanted to thank the following people for visiting my office this week:
  • Jim Maurer and Wayne Wallingford from Cape Girardeau
  • Eric Michelsen from Oran
  • Julie Hodges, Pam Dowe, Karen Bain, Natalie Kirk, Nancy Robey and Mark Savage from Sikeston
It is always a pleasure to have friends, neighbors, and constituents visit. If anyone from the 160th district is in or around Jefferson City, please stop by my office and say “hello.”

20 April 2010

Stouffer: Paying Teachers for Work Completed

The Missouri Legislature is facing the toughest economic situation in our state's history. However, because of tough decisions made in the last decade, Missouri is one of only seven states in a good financial position for the future.

Addressing these challenges has required a great deal of time, patience and understanding. As I have mentioned before, your input and prayers have provided lawmakers with a firm ground to stand on during these turbulent times.

We are in the process of putting together a balanced budget for Missouri's next fiscal year, which will start on July 1, 2010. Unlike the federal government, we are not able to spend more than the state brings in from revenues — your tax dollars.

To understand Missouri's budget, it is important to know the biggest two expenditures: Social services and K-12 education. It is these two departments where we have to do the most work to balance our state's budget this year. Currently, our budget is $1 billion behind where we were in revenue one year ago.

This year, the Legislature has put a priority on classroom funding for Missouri's students, which means keeping the funding for classroom instruction through the state's formula at the same rate as 2010.

Not decreasing funding to Missouri's classrooms has led to cuts to state government and other types of education spending like Career Ladder, a program that reimburses teachers for extra work they do to educate children outside of the classroom.

Some legislators believed we could cut funding to Career Ladder. Fortunately, we were able to reverse that decision in the current budget that I voted for. It is only right and honest to compensate teachers for work they have completed.

In addition to Career Ladder, there has also been a lot of controversy surrounding changes in teacher retirement. Unfortunately, special interest groups have led current and retired teachers to believe their retirement would be affected by a common sense solution to reform state employee retirement by changing benefits for all new employees. The retirement legislation passed (Senate Bill 714), but as promised, it did not and will not include teachers.

This session has provided lawmakers with an opportunity to reconsider all of our state's spending, as we are all doing in our homes, and improve state government. This is all being done without a tax increase. Times like these remind me why I became involved in state government and it remains my honor to serve you in the Missouri Senate.

Holsman's Urban Farming Bill Passes Senate Committee

Jefferson City, MO - House Bill 1848, the Urban Farming Bill, has passed the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food Production, and Outdoor Resources with a unanimous 'yes' vote. Representative Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City), the bill's sponsor, is hopeful that the legislation will soon make it before the full Senate, one step closer to landing on the Governor's desk.

The bill, if passed, would create a task force designed to study urban agriculture and vertical farming. These studies would likely make Missouri less dependant on other states and foreign countries for food and would lead to job opportunities for citizens in Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia, and Springfield. After introducing the bill in January and shepherding it through a House committee hearing, a House floor vote, and a Senate committee hearing, Holsman will now turn over the bill to Senator Jolie Justus (D-Kansas City) to handle the bill in the Senate chamber.

"I'm excited to see that the bill has gone this far and am looking forward to the opportunity to have this piece of legislation pass the Missouri Senate," said Holsman, "this bill means jobs for Missourians and economic revitalization of the blighted neighborhoods and abandoned buildings in Kansas City and Saint Louis."

Kraus: Voting Legislation


Early Voting and Voting Identification

Last week, the Missouri House gave first-round approval Wednesday to legislation, HB 1966, that would allow for an early voting period and require photo identification to vote.

Early voting would authorize a 4-day advance voting period prior to each primary or general election using absentee ballots. In a change to current requirements, no reason for requesting an absentee ballot would be needed.

The bill would also require a voter to present photo identification to election officials in order to vote. I believe that this provision is necessary to protect the election process by preventing voter fraud. Some doubt the existence of election fraud; however, many election officials contend otherwise.

House Approves Veterans Legislation

The House gave final approval last Thursday to a wide-ranging bill that would help Missouri's military members and veterans.

One provision of the bill would make it easier for military members serving overseas to vote. It would require the Secretary of State to establish procedures for overseas voters to request voter registration and absentee ballot applications and the use of some form of electronic communication.

Another provision of the bill would require the Adjutant General to establish the Missouri Youth Challenge Academy for at-risk high school age youth.  It also would require all state agencies and political subdivisions to give a three-point bonus preference to a service-disabled veteran business operating as a Missouri business when letting a contract for any job or service.

The House approved HB 1524 & 2260 by a vote of 148-0. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Visitors to the Capitol

Last week was a another busy week for visitors to the Capitol

On Wednesday, about 55 residents of District 48 visited the Capitol.  I certainly enjoyed having them as guests.  They were able to go on a number of tours, and I was able to spend some time with them to answer questions and talk about state government.  At left, the photograph shows the great residents of John Knox Village in Lee's Summit.

On the same day, the Lee's Summit Chamber of Commerce came to Jefferson City for their day at the Capitol.  It was a pleasure meeting with them.  About seven valiant members made the daunting climb with me to the very top of the Capitol.  A deck at that height allows for a beautiful view of the city and the Missouri River.  It was a great day for that experience!

Another great school to visit the Capitol last week was the Lee's Summit Temple Baptist School.  This was a wonderful group of kids, led by Ron Peters. I always love it when students come to the Capitol and I have the opportunity to help educate them on the workings of the House of Representatives.

Back in Lee's Summit, I spoke at the Job Olympics Awards Ceremony at Unity Village.  Here, special needs students from Lee's Summit, Blue Springs, and Belton school districts were given awards for their skills in a variety of fields.  It was nice to see the kids' smiling faces as they received their awards.  Their excitement with their achievements truly brings home the worthwhile nature of this event.

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.

Tishaura Jones: Supporting Greater Options for Treating Autism, Statistics on St. Louis Area's Children

Supplemental Insurance Plan to Increase Number of Families Covered by Autism Mandate

At right: Rep. Tishaura Jones and Melissa Palmer from the Missouri Department of Insurance during the hearing for HB 2389 at the Special Standing Committee on Health Insurance.

Although Senate Bill 618 and House Bill 1311 have a few differences, their main idea is the same.  Both prohibit insurance companies from discontinuing coverage on an individual or their dependent because the individual is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  It also mandates that insurers cover the expenses for diagnosis and treatment of ASDs.  Coverage is limited to that which is deemed medically necessary by the insured individual's licensed physician or psychologist.  The House Bill specifies that coverage for individuals younger than 19 years of age for the applied behavior analysis (ABA) services will have a maximum benefit of $36,000 per year with no limit on the number of visits to an ASD service provider.  The Senate Bill covers individuals until the age of 21 and raises the maximum benefit to $55,000.

At left: Rep. Jones and the Gray Family celebrating April as Autism Awareness Month.
The problem is that both of these proposed mandates, if put into action, will only cover approximately 30 to 35% of families with insurance.  House Bill 2389 provides an alternative option for those not included in the mandates.  It requires the Missouri Health Insurance Pool to create a separate program that allows individuals to purchase supplemental health insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of ASD.  The coverage would comply with all state and federal requirements for health insurance coverage for ASD.  This option would be less expensive than traditional health insurance because it offers lower benefit amounts (benefits would be the same as those offered in the finalized autism insurance mandate).  It will be funded primarily through premiums paid by participating families, similar to a general high-risk pool.  This bill does not replace the current mandate, it simply offers another option for those not covered by the mandate.

Facts from the 2009-2010 Children of Metropolitan St. Louis Report to the Community

  • More than 535,000 young people under the age of 18 reside in the five core counties of the St. Louis region (St. Louis City, St. Louis county, and St. Charles county in Missouri and Madison and St. Clair counties in Illinois)
  • Over 22% of children in the five-county area reside in ZIP codes where risks to their well-being are severe.
  • Of the 18 ZIP codes that fall within the boundaries of St. Louis City, 13 of them - or 72% - have a "severe" risk rating
  • 36 ZIP codes in the five-county region have a minority population about the national norm of 35%
  • Of these ZIP codes, 78% fall in the severe risk category, 14% are high risk, 8% are moderate risk and 0% are low risk.
  • 0% of the ZIP codes with a lower percentage of minority population qualified as severe risk, 3% were high risk, 23% were moderate risk, and 74% were low risk.
  • Rates of lead poisoning in the older neighborhoods of the St. Louis area have declined sharply with less than 7% of children testing positive for lead poisoning.
  • The report highlights six children's fundamental need areas including family support, early childhood development, maternal and child health, quality education, youth development, safe neighborhoods and strong communities.
  • The national alternative care rate per 1000 children under 18 was 6.8 in 2007.  Out of the 138 ZIP codes in the St. Louis area, 39 ZIP codes exceed the national rate and of those, 6 more than double the average.
  • In 2006, 3.6% of all births nationally were to mothers who had no or inadequate prenatal care.  Of the 138 ZIP codes in the St. Louis region, 64-46.4% have rates greater than the national percentage.  Of these, 27 have rates four times higher than the national rate.
  • The greater portion of St. Louis area school districts routinely report dropout rates lower than the national average.
  • In 2007, the national crime rate was 32.6 per 1000 residents while the violent crime rate was 4.7 per 1000.  Out of the 191 St. Louis area neighborhoods and municipalities, 72.8% had rates that were higher than the national average.

Rep. Jones receives Award for Advocacy for Families with Autism

On Tuesday, April 13, Rep. Jones received an award from the Gateway Chapter of the Autism Society of America for her work to bring attention to the struggles faced by urban families with Autistic children.  "Our families in Urban Areas are drowning and do not have access to early diagnosis and treatment.  On average, African-American children aren't diagnosed until age 7.  Which is too late for treatment to be effective."

Rep. Jones chosen as Honorary Co-Chair for 2010 NamiWalks for the Mind of America

Rep. Jones will lead the Virtual Walkers Team of the 2010 NamiWalks for the Mind of America.

Come join us and help this be our best WALK ever. Our goal is $175,000 and we don't want to disappoint.  If you're interested in being helping and want more information click here.

Ruestman: Preventing Election Fraud

For any republic to function there must be fair and open elections on a regular basis. The one thing that has made the American story so great is the idea that the power belongs to the people. The Founding Fathers knew our elected officials must be held accountable at the ballot box.

Over time we’ve seen multiple attempts to defraud the public with election scams. These efforts undermine the will of the people and tear at the fabric of our state and nation. Last week, the Missouri House of Representatives gave first-round approval to key legislation which insures fair elections.

House Bill 1966 requires voters to present identification at the time of voting. We’re all used to presenting ID to use credit cards, board a plane or drive a car. It only seems logical that you should offer some evidence of who you are when at the polls. Obviously, such an ID check would prevent individuals from going poll to poll claiming to be someone they are not. Many Democrats say this law is unnecessary and that fraud isn’t happening. If that is the case, then why do they fight so hard against voters showing ID? Are they afraid fraud will be exposed?

Other provisions in HB 1966 make voting easier for our men and women fighting overseas. It requires the Secretary of State to establish new, electronic procedures for overseas voters to register to vote and apply for an absentee ballot. It also requires that ballots must be printed and available to these voters within 45 days of the election.

The bill also makes it easier to vote absentee by opening up special voting centers for a brief period prior to the election. One provision also removes the current requirement that you must have an excuse for voting absentee. We understand you are busy with your children, work and travel. Sometimes you just don’t have time on Election Day and it would just be easier to get it over ahead of time.

The final version of the bill would become effective upon voter approval of a constitutional amendment. Once again, we are allowing YOU to decide.

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.

Schaefer: Preserving Education Funds, Update on Bills to Ban K2

With only four weeks remaining in the legislative session, the Missouri Senate is hard at work debating budget issues and bills before the May 14 adjournment.

During the budget debate this week, I worked hard to preserve money for Missouri education programs. The Senate restored cuts made to higher education, and provided enough money to preserve the freeze on undergraduate, in-state tuition. We also restored $37.4 million in cuts to fully fund the Career Ladder program, which compensates teachers for taking on afterschool activities.

I also introduced funding for a new program into the FY2011 Missouri budget (beginning on July 1, 2010) that gained Senate approval. This funding would provide for a smoking cessation pilot program, costing approximately $8 million, available for Missouri residents currently on Medicaid. This program would help save the state money in Medicaid costs, and would promote healthy lifestyles in Missouri.

Legislative Action

On Tuesday, Senate Bill 1040 was heard in Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee. This bill deals with environmental remediation statutes for dry-cleaning facilities. Under current law, payments into the Dry-Cleaning Environmental Response Trust Fund expire on August 12, 2012.  My bill would extend the expiration date to August 28, 2022.

Senate Bill 884, which would ban spice cannabinoids, also known as "K2", has also been placed on the Senate Formal Calendar for final consideration. Additionally, House Bill 1472, which I am handling in the Senate for Representative Ward Franz, has been placed on the Senate informal calendar to be third read and finally passed. This bill is also similar to Senate Bill 884.

Capitol Visitors

Because April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, representatives from the University of Missouri-Columbia visited Jefferson City to advocate ParentLink. ParentLink provides parenting information, materials, and other resources to strengthen Missouri's families. I appreciate their work tremendously, and thank them for supporting Missouri's children and families.

Left: Richard and Mrs. Ewing with Senator Schaefer; Right: Byron Hill with Senator Schaefer

On Wednesday, I had the privilege of presenting two outstanding individuals for gubernatorial appointments:  Richard Ewing as a member of the Missouri Family Trust Board of Trustees, and Byron Hill as a member of the Missouri Workforce Investment Board.

In addition, I met with LeAnn Lowery and occupational therapy students from Columbia. I hope they enjoyed their day at the Capitol.

Senator Schaefer with occupational therapy students from Columbia.

Thank you for your continued interest in the issues that affect the citizens of Boone and Randolph counties. If you have any questions or concerns involving state government, please contact my office.

19 April 2010

Keaveny: How to Find Your Unclaimed Property

How would you like to find $360? That’s the average amount one in ten Missourians have waiting for them in the unclaimed property account, located within the Missouri State Treasurer’s office.

You can think of the Unclaimed Property office as Missouri’s largest lost and found. According to the state treasurer, unclaimed property consists of cash from bank accounts, stocks, bonds and contents of safe deposit boxes that have been abandoned. Abandoned property is defined as property for which there have been no documented transactions or contact with the owners in five or more years. Other types of unclaimed property include uncollected insurance policy proceeds, government refunds, utility deposits and wages from past jobs. The Unclaimed Property Division does not handle real property such as land, houses, cars and boats.

When companies cannot reach the owner of these types of property within five years, it is state law for the company to turn the amount over to the state treasurer’s office. That office doesn’t hold on to the property forever, such as in the case of safety deposit boxes, and they occasionally host an auction and hold the money in an account listed under the person’s name.

The website allows you to search the database of unclaimed property by name. You can also call them by phone at (573) 751-0123 or write them at Missouri State Treasurer's Office, Unclaimed Property Division, P.O. Box 1004,
Jefferson City, MO 65102. There is no time limit for filing claims, and if you do find unclaimed property, you’ll just need to provide the necessary documentation. The office can also put you in touch with the other states that have unclaimed property holdings.

Please note that the process is entirely free. The treasurer’s office would never charge a fee or require a deposit or credit card information to locate unclaimed property.

So what are you waiting for? Find out if you have any money waiting for you or someone you know. You’ll be glad you did.

Nance: Career Ladder Restored, Prevent Bullying

Many of you have contacted my office regarding Career Ladder funding.  A controversial cut made by the Senate Appropriations Committee has been restored and Missouri teachers performing extra duties for extra pay will get their money. This program provides funding to approximately 19,000 teachers. Teachers who participate agree to do extra duties for additional money. The full Senate has reinstated the program, but only for one year.  SCS HB 2002, the budget bill that funds public education is one that I believe the state had a moral obligation to fund and ensure the teachers get paid. The teachers undertook to do work under the Career Ladder program before they ever knew that there would not be funding for that program.

We just passed a bill that makes cyber-bullying a crime HB 1543. In 2006 HCS HB 2008; 1218; 1062 was passed requiring school districts to have anti-bullying policies. District policy shall be founded on the assumption that all students need a safe learning environment. "Policies shall treat students equally and shall not contain specific lists of protected classes of students who are to receive special treatment. Policies may include age appropriate differences for schools based on the grade levels at the school. Each such policy shall contain a statement of the consequences of bullying." (Section 160.775) As you can see, everyone is to be treated equally under the law.

If you believe your child is being bullied, contact the school immediately.

I want everyone in the District to know I am available for any questions on any votes on bills or legislation being considered. If you have any concerns about any legislation, my number is 550-0101. If you have a bill number it would be helpful.


Grab a quick bite and learn how Citizens for Missouri's Children is working to support Missouri's children this 2010 legislative session. The event is Friday, April 23, 2010 at The Elms Hotel

For more information or to register, contact Julie Leicht at 314.878.5022 or jleicht{at}mokids{dot}org