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08 May 2010

Schupp: Ethics Reform Hardly Ethical, Medicare Part D Information, Green Tip of the Week

Moving into the final week of the 95th General Assembly, there is still much to address and a lot of room to grow into a more collegial and bi-partisan body that should be working to serve its citizenry well.

Yet unfinished this session are efforts to address DWI issues, the needs of families with a child diagnosed with autism, true ethics reform and longer term balanced budget opportunities.

Your emails, letters and calls all make a difference as I carefully consider each vote on the floor. As you might imagine, bills are not always what they seem. I continue to work to unravel the meaning: the short and long term consequences of legislation, as I cast my vote on our behalf.

Thank you for your valued input and the opportunity to serve.




Call it what you will, but so called "Ethics Legislation" [SB844] was rushed through two committees all on Thursday morning where rules were suspended so this sham legislation could be brought to the House floor that very day. This was NOT the ethics legislation that had been reviewed and crafted through a bi-partisan committee that was working toward good government policy.

Under the guise of "debate," majority party members "inquired" of minority members to provide the appearance of debate. However, the process was designed to mock and block the minority from having opportunity to even attempt to salvage ethics reform. Those of us allowed to speak only by being inquired of, could not offer any amendments or motions.

This legislation was also filled with non-ethics-related provisions designed to keep every democrat from being able to vote for it.

Within this legislation, the power of the Governor to fill a statewide vacancy for the remainder of an official's term is removed. Instead, a special election would have to be held prior to the next scheduled election. There are many who believe this legislation has been added in to force an early and additional election motivated by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's bid for the U.S. Senate.

This bill requires voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls.

It mandates drug-testing for statewide officials and members of the General Assembly every two years, which has already been ruled unconstitutional in other states.

It allows the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House and President Pro Tem of the Senate to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the state when they believe citizens constitutional rights are being violated. Should this pass through the process, it would give Lt. Governor Peter Kinder the state's backing (through your tax dollars) to sue the Federal Government to keep Missouri from being mandated to participate in Federal Healthcare Legislation.

And, the most egregious piece of all is that the legislation proposes a donor campaign contribution limit of $20,000 per candidate...and the way it is written, does not apply to State Representatives or Senators...not exactly Ethics Reform!

I believe the Speaker Pro Tem's characterization of the legislation as "the most comprehensive and sweeping ethics bill in the universe", gives you a sense of what a sham and inappropriate use of the people's time and resources this has been. It would be a genuine surprise if this moved forward in the Senate.

Medicare Part D

From the Medicare Rights Center
Forwarded by Richard and Betty Roderick, in-district volunteer Representative Assistants

CMS Outlines Doughnut Hole Discount Program

People with Medicare who hit the coverage gap or "doughnut hole" in the Medicare drug benefit next year will receive a 50 percent discount at the pharmacy-without having to send in receipts or request a refund-according to draft guidance implementing the recently passed health reform law.

The guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also state that the insurance companies offering Part D plans will inform pharmacies through their electronic claims systems when consumers are eligible for the discount, although the discounts will come from drug manufacturers.

State pharmaceutical assistance programs (SPAP) that provide coverage through the doughnut hole will also benefit from the discounts, while consumers enrolled in these programs will continue to pay the copays charged by their SPAP. Consumers enrolled in Part D plans offered by their employers, which often provide coverage through the doughnut hole, will not be eligible for the discount, according to CMS's proposed guidance.

Green Tip of the Week

By Jenna Scavuzzo

Don't Forget the Cord

In this day and age we are attached to our cell phones. We take them everywhere and are always talking or texting someone. So what about the home phones that only get used once in a blue moon? Did you know that those cordless phones that are sitting around your house are using up energy? Since they are sitting in a charger all day, everyday, they are using energy 24/7. In order to save energy and overcome this problem is to plug in those old fashion corded phones again.

By switching out a cordless phone for a old fashion conventional phone you are going to be saving over half the energy that a cordless phone would lose. A cordless phone uses between 2 and 3 watts when in standby and when in use.

More than 60% of the energy used by cordless phones is used when they are sitting in their chargers not being used. This number is also probably constantly rising because we are relying on our cell phones more and more.

So recycle that cordless phone and if you need a house phone use the old fashion corded phones. Energy-star rated ones will help you save the most. Doing this will help you save energy throughout your house. Meantime, but don't forget to unplug your charger for the cell phone when you are not using it!

For Veterans: Thank You Opportunities

Last week, World War II Veterans honored our State Legislators by visiting us at the Capitol. We stood proudly to welcome them and, in an unprecedented move, were allowed to offer them our seats on the House Floor temporarily as we took time to remember their service.

The program that brought this diverse array of our State's service men and women is the Central Missouri Honor Flight program.

Its mission is to honor Veterans by transporting them to Washington D.C. to visit the WWII memorial that commemorates their service.

Central Missouri Honor Flight also sponsors and organizes special events to provide others the chance to express their gratitude to the men and women who serve our country.

If you are a Veteran or know someone who is a Veteran interested in visiting the memorials in our nation's capitol, there is an opportunity to apply. Click Veteran Application to apply for this special opportunity.

I would like to express my gratitude to the men and women who serve this country. I know that you will take the time to thank the Veterans in your area.

06 May 2010

Kraus: Ethics Reform Bill

Lee’s Summit, MO – Rep. Will Kraus, R-48, on the Ethics Reform Bill, HCS SB 844 that passed the House of Representatives today. “While I voted for the bill because I think ethics reform is necessary and important, we in the House could have taken the opportunity to address comprehensive ethics reform, and we failed to do so.”

Rep. Kraus pointed to three provisions lacking in the bill. First, it truly does not stop committee to committee transfers. While it makes it a crime to move funds around “with the intent to conceal the identity of the actual source,” it doesn’t specifically prohibit transfers. It would be very difficult to prove the intent when funds were specifically transferred from one committee to another, making it hard to prosecute.

Second, the legislation, if passed, won’t prohibit elected officials from acting as a campaign consultants and receiving compensation from campaign committees. Part of the impetus for ethics reform came from the actions of a former Speaker of the House, who ran a campaign consulting business on the side while directing the progress of legislation in the House. This ethical dilemma is not addressed.

Third, the bill does not provide any transparency that could shed light on state office staff who receives state compensation while in reality working on campaigns. For example, if campaign staff were required to turn in an official time sheet with time and place of duty to the Missouri Ethics Commission for display on the internet, it would help differentiate time spent serving the public vs. time spent serving the candidate.

“As I have been saying all along, these are critical components of an effective ethics reform bill,” said Rep. Kraus, “and I am disappointed that none of these were in the bill.”

Joe Smith: House Passes Strongest and Most Aggressive Ethics Reform Bill in the Country

This week, we voted to pass a very aggressive ethics reform bill through a House Committee Substitute for SB844. Regardless of whether we are Republican, Democrat or Independent, we can all agree on one thing: maintaining our integrity as public servants should be something we strive to maintain as we work to better the lives of Missourians across our state. The men and women who have voted us in to office expect us to be honest and work ethically as we pursue legislation that will benefit Missouri families – including the decisions we make in our personal lives, and they deserve nothing less.

Ethics reform became a top priority when in 2009, Democrats in the legislature were convicted of various crimes involving political and personal issues and accusations of vote-buying were leveled at Governor Nixon’s staff. On the first day first day of session this year, Speaker of the House, Ron Richard, R – Joplin, committed to bringing a bipartisan, comprehensive ethics reform bill to the floor that worked to stop unethical behavior in the House and in all publicly elected offices across the state. This week, we came through on that commitment by passing SB844.

The House Committee Substitute for SB844 contains the following provisions that help to ensure ethical behavior:
  • Bribery of Elected Officials: The Governor or anyone acting on his behalf shall not make any offer or promise of an appointment to any position in exchange of a legislator’s vote. Any member who accepts a bribe is guilty of the crime acceding to corruption. Any bribe on any level will not be tolerated.
  • Elected Officials as Lobbyists: No member of the General Assembly shall serve as a lobbyist for two years after the conclusion of their last term in the General Assembly, which is the same provision found on the federal level.
  • Felony Benefits: Any elected official who is found guilty or pleads guilty to a felony will immediately forfeit all benefits from the state.
  • Transparency in Appointments: For every appointment made by the Governor, Speaker and President Pro Tem of the Senate, information shall be publicly disclosed of the appointee and the amount of any contribution they have made to any campaign or candidate committee for a period of four years prior to the date of the appointment. This will also apply to the spouse of the appointee or any business where the appointee holds a substantial interest. Appointments should be made solely on merit, not on campaign contributions.
  • Lobbyist Gifts: No elected Missouri official shall accept a gift from a lobbyist in excess of $2,500.00 dollars per year. Honorarium gifts shall not count against the total. Items having a value of less than ten dollars do not count against the total.
  • Campaign Contribution Limits: The limit on campaign contributions is raised to $20,000.00 per year.
  • Committee to Committee Transfers: No person shall transfer campaign funds from committee to committee with the purpose of concealing the donation source. Punishment for the first violation is the funds must be returned; the second violation is a Class C misdemeanor; for the third and subsequent violations the person transferring the funds is guilty of a Class D felony.
  • Donations from Appointees: An elected official cannot use the power of their position to leverage campaign donations. Therefore, no statewide office holder shall accept any donation from any person whom the office holders appoint to a position with the advice and consent of the Senate.
  • Joint Committee on Ballot Statements: Establishes the Joint Committee on Ballot Statements to prepare and review ballot summary statements for al petitions and referendums submitted to the voters by either the General Assembly or the petition process to ensure that political games are not played with the writing of language for amendments. This gives Missouri voters a clear understanding of what they are voting on.
  • Special Election for Statewide Vacancies: This legislation requires the Governor to call a special election for any vacancy in statewide office happening during the term of a statewide office holder. That way, Missourians can have a voice in which their statewide elected officials are in times of vacancies, rather than the Governor appointing these positions.
  • Drug Testing of State Elected Officials: Requires all state elected officials, members of the General Assembly, leadership staff and gubernatorial department heads to be drug tested.
  • Early Voting: Requires each election authority to create one advance voting center in each senatorial district and allows any registered voter to vote early. This allows for greater access and participation in the voting process.
  • Photo ID Requirement: Requires individuals to show a photo ID when voting on Election Day.
  • Fee Office Reform: Requires the Department of Revenue to use only county collectors, treasurers or city collectors as fee office agents.
  • Lawsuits on Behalf of the State: Allows the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, Speaker Pro Tem of the House and President Pro Tem of the Senate to file a lawsuit defending the constitutional rights of Missouri residents and to bring the suit in the name of the State of Missouri.
  • Secret Ballot Guarantee: Guarantees the right to vote by secret ballot in elections involving the formation of a union or a labor organization.
  • Political Activity Dues: Union dues may not be used for any political activity if designated as not for political uses by the member contributing the dues. This provision also adds a $10,000 fine per violation and a Class D felony.

As your state representative, I have a large amount of respect for you – my constituent – and it is my responsibility to act in an ethical manner. I understand my responsibility to act with integrity and take it very seriously. The provisions in SB844 work to ensure this behavior with members not only in the House of Representatives, but on a state-wide level. We are now calling on the support of the Governor, so that the Senate will take up and pass the bill and it can be signed in to law as soon as possible.

Our State Capitol and legislative process was founded by men and women who had a deep reverence for the state of Missouri. Their intentions, written into the stone in the House Chamber, are clear: Honor, Truth, Virtue and Equality. You can be certain that these virtues are being sought after by House Republicans.

Holsman: Renewable Energy Project Grants, Boone Elementary Students Tour Capitol, Watch For Hogs On The Road

Student Honored With Resolution

Reps. Jason Holsman and Mike Brown present a resolution to a K.C. student.
On April 28, 2010, Kansas City area high school senior Abena Adutwum made the trip to Jefferson City, MO to receive a Missouri Service-Learning Advisory Council Inspire by Example Award at a ceremony held at the State Capitol.

In addition to receiving the Inspire by Example Award, Abena was presented with a House Courtesy Resolution by Representatives Jason Holsman and Michael Brown.

Abena won the Inspire by Example Award based on her involvement in multiple service-learning projects.  One of the first, and most notable, projects in which Abena participated, was spearheading the district's first annual "Peace Fair." The goal was to draw members of the community together to educate themselves about diversity.

The second project was developing the "Dr. Seuss Read & Ride" project.  Abena helped write a grant that received funding from Learn & Serve America, which enabled her and her classmates to develop "Read & Ride" packets which would allow preschoolers to engage in literacy activities while riding in a car.  In addition to developing the packet, Abena helped create and put on a skit using Dr. Seuss characters, which was performed at various area childcare centers and preschools in conjunction with the packets.

Abena was also among a select group of students that were chosen as the first teens in Missouri to be trained as Hospice volunteers.  Abena adopted and visited several Hospice patients during her Freshman and Sophomore years in High Schools.

DNR Offers Renewable Energy Project Grants

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is offering grants for renewable energy resource assessments and project feasibility studies by Missouri residents, businesses, corporations, not-for-profit organizations, universities and research institutions, and county or city governments. The department will accept applications for funding through June 2.

The department has allocated a total of $900,000 statewide for this funding opportunity. On a competitive basis, a maximum grant of $50,000 will be awarded to each recipient based on project evaluation criteria. Cash match, or cost-share, is preferred, but not required. Eligible applicants include Missouri businesses, corporations, not-for-profit organizations, universities and research institutions, county or city governments and individuals. Collaboration or partnerships among eligible entities is encouraged. Partnerships with non-eligible entities are allowed, but the grant must be made to an eligible entity.

Renewable Energy Resources Assessments should focus on the investigation and evaluation of local or regional renewable energy resources or commercial and industrial waste streams that could potentially be used in renewable energy projects. Renewable energy resources include biomass, biogas, solar, wind, geothermal, low head hydro, commercial and industrial waste/byproduct streams, and other renewable or alternative energy resources approved by the department.

Feasibility Studies of Renewable Energy Projects should, by using renewable energy resources and various site-specific waste streams, focus on the application and evaluation of existing or near-term opportunities and energy needs of businesses or corporations. The department will place emphasis on proposals that demonstrate strong technical merit and near-term implementation viability to enhance the performance of Missouri's renewable energy industry. Proposals are expected to produce measurable outcomes in regard to energy, the environment and the economy.

The department will accept applications for funding through June 2. A Request for Proposals, which includes application forms, may be found on the department's website.

The grant program is funded under the U.S. Department of Energy's State Energy Program, or SEP, made possible by funds from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Recovery Act's purposes are to stimulate the economy and to create and retain jobs. The further purposes of energy-related Recovery Act funds are to increase energy efficiency, reduce reliance on imported energy, improve the reliability of energy resources and services, and reduce the impacts of energy production and use on the environment.

The department's Division of Energy is a non-regulatory state office that works to protect the environment and stimulate the economy through energy efficiency and renewable energy resources and technologies.

Rep. Holsman Meets With WWII Veterans

At right: A picture of Rep. Holsman with a group of WWII Veterans.Jason Holsman with three Honor Flight veterans.

Jefferson City, MO - Several members of Missouri's General Assembly, including South Kansas City Representative Jason Holsman, met with World War II Veterans in the Missouri State Capitol. The purpose of the visit was, in part, to raise awareness of the Honor Flight Network. Honor Flight is a non-profit organization that provides free flights to the National World War II Memorial to WWII veterans. The program also serves terminally ill veterans from the Korean and Vietnam wars.

While at the Capitol, the veterans were given the opportunity to see the House Chamber and were permitted to go onto the floor and sit in the chairs generally reserved for State Representatives. At a luncheon with legislators, the veterans talked about their service records, including when and where they fought, as well as what they experienced during and shortly after the war. The group consisted of servicemen with a wide variety of backgrounds, with good representation from both the European and Pacific Theaters.

Jason and a WWII Veteran.At left: Jason Holsman enjoys lunch with a WWII Veteran

"We were all very grateful for these remarkable men taking the time to come visit us and share their stories," said Holsman, "they truly appreciated the ability to sit in House Chambers and many of them commented on the warm welcome they were given."

Honor Flight started in May 2005 in Springfield, Ohio. Conceived by Captain Earl Morse, USAF (ret.), the first Honor Flight carried twelve veterans in six small planes. Since that first flight, the program has carried over 36,000 veterans to the Nation's Capital. The Honor Flight Network accepts donations through their website at and sells logoed merchandise.

Boone Elementary Visits Capitol

About forty students, teachers, and parent-chaperones from Boone Elementary in South Kansas City made the trek to Jefferson City to visit the Missouri State Capitol, Missouri Supreme Court, and Missouri State Highway Patrol Museum. The students were given a tour of the Missouri State Capitol Building where they met and had their picture taken with State Representative Jason R. Holsman.

The group saw the Grand Stairway, the Capitol Rotunda, the Third Floor Rotunda, and the Governor's Door. One of the highlights of the Capitol for the students was the Hall of Famous Missourians, which contained busts of well-known Missourians, many of whom the students had studied in school.

From the Capitol, the school group walked across the street to the Supreme Court Building. The tour of the Supreme Court included the Court Chambers and the Law Library. After touring the Supreme Court Building, the group walked a few blocks to the nearby Lohman Building and Union Hotel, two of the oldest buildings in Jefferson City which make up part of the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site. The Lohman Building, built in 1839, had a museum inside and featured a brief video on the history of Jefferson City and the various buildings that have served as the Missouri Capitol. The Union Hotel, built in 1855, hosts the Elizabeth Rozier Gallery and the current Jefferson City Amtrak station.

Following the stop at Jefferson Landing, the Boone students enjoyed lunch outside in the sunshine in what turned out to be a beautiful spring day. Before heading back to Kansas City the students stopped by the Missouri Highway Patrol Headquarters Museum.

Rep. Jason Holsman with a group of students from Boone Elementary.
Representative Jason R. Holsman with a group of students from Boone Elementary.

Holsman Enjoys Time On The Missouri River

Rep. Jason Holsman and Patrick Lynn prepare for a float trip.Everyone likes to relax and unwind at the end of a hectic workday and Missouri's elected officials are no different.  Recently, after a day full of committee hearings, meetings, reading bills, and participating in floor debate, Representative Jason Holsman (D - Kansas City) took some time to canoe down a sixteen mile stretch of the Missouri River.

Holsman and Patrick Lynn, the Chief of the Office of Governmental Policy and Legislation with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, floated from a launch point near Hartsburg, Missouri to the Noren Access in Jefferson City.  The route was the same one that will be taken by participants in the "Race to the Dome" canoe/kayak race on July 3, 2010.  The three hour trip, which ended after sundown, provided a brief respite from the hectic and stressful days which are increasingly common in the last few weeks of the legislative session.  As both an environmentalist and a historian, Holsman commented on the beauty of the Missouri River and the heritage that surrounds it.
Rep. Jason Holsman in a canoe after sundown on the Missouri River.
"Sometimes we take for granted the natural resources and outdoor attractions that Missouri has to offer," said Holsman, "as we floated down the river, I was amazed at the natural beauty of the bluffs and the dense foliage along the riverbank.  I couldn't help but think that the same waters we were canoeing down had been used by everyone from Native American hunters to 19th century steamboat pilots."

Motorcycle Deaths Down Dramatically: Watch for Hogs this Summer

Jefferson City, MO - Motorcycle fatalities declined dramatically in 2009 in Missouri and nationwide on the heels of 11 straight years of dramatic increases in motorcyclist deaths. In 2009, Missouri saw a 21.5 percent decrease in motorcycle fatalities while nationwide fatalities have declined by at least 10 percent.

In an effort to continue this decrease, the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety has joined with federal, state and local highway safety, law enforcement, and motorcycle organizations in proclaiming May 2010 as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

"Because of the increase in motorcyclist deaths in the last decade, motorcycle safety has been a priority for Missouri," said Leanna Depue, MoDOT Director of Highway Safety. "We are happy to see that those efforts are paying off with lives saved."

In 2009, 85 people were killed in motorcycle crashes. Ten percent of Missouri's 2009 fatalities involved a motorcycle, and 99 percent of the people who died in crashes involving a motorcycle on Missouri roads were the motorcyclist.

"As the weather improves, more and more motorcyclists are hitting the roads," Depue said. "Drivers of all vehicles need to be extra attentive and make sure you share the road and everyone Arrives Alive."

From May to August, paid advertising will remind motorists to "Share the Road" while also reminding motorcyclists to do their part by wearing a helmet and protective clothing.

Posters, brochures and billboards featuring Gary Pinkel, Mizzou football coach and motorcycle enthusiast, will also help drive home the message.

For more information about motorcycle safety, visit

P.A.C.E. Legislation Passes Senate Committee

House Bill 1871, the energy omnibus bill sponsored by Rep. Shane Schoeller (R-Willard), contains the Property Assessed Clean Energy (P.A.C.E.) legislation originally introduced by Jason Holsman (D- Kansas City) earlier this year passed out of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy & The Environment.

PACE would allow municipalities to establish a program where citizens could make improvements to their properties to conserve energy or generate their own electricity.  These improvements would be paid up front by the municipality and the homeowner would pay for them over a set period of time when they pay their annual property taxes.  PACE would reduce consumers' energy bills, would help the environment, and would put unemployed laborers back to work installing the clean-energy improvements funded by the program.

Quote Of The Day

"The soil of the Missouri is the most fertile in the Universe."
–President Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Meriwether Lewis, 1803

Tim Jones: House Republicans Lead Ethics Reform Efforts, Health Care Freedom Act Returns To House

Brilliant sunshine and cooler temperatures prevailed during this entire second to last week of Session.  Calm weather belied the passionate and intemperate moods within the confines of the House and Senate Chambers as both bodies worked several days late into the evening and night hours.  Major pieces of historic legislation moved closer to passage as hope lifted relating to subjects such as the Health Care Freedom Act, Telecommunications Access Rate Reform and Government Accountability and Ethics Reform…the end of Session draws ever nigh…

I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man." –George Washington

House Republicans Lead the Way on Ethics Reform

After making ethics reform a top priority for the 2010 Legislative Session, House Republicans delivered today on our pledge to restore integrity to state government by giving initial approval to Senate Bill 844, a sweeping overhaul of Missouri's ethics laws.  Unfortunately, while House Republicans voted unanimously for it, House Democrats failed to recognize the need for ethics reform and voted unanimously against it.  While we have spent most of the session carefully working to craft common-sense reforms, Democrats have, throughout the current legislative session, used the ethics reform debate to play politics with this extremely important issue.

The proposal comprehensively addresses the many concerns raised this year following the ethical and legal troubles of a number of Democrat elected officials in Missouri.  We believe that there must be public trust in elected officials for state government to work effectively.  Because of this, we have spent months carefully crafting ethics reform legislation that will overhaul the existing ethics laws and add new penalties, restrictions, and reforms that will help eliminate and appropriately punish unethical and illegal behavior by Missouri's elected officials.

While the proposal contains numerous important provisions, some of the most important measures would:
  • place a two year moratorium on legislators becoming lobbyists,
  • require elected officials and certain staff members to submit to an annual drug test,
  • place a reasonable cap on campaign contributions and make the process more transparent,
  • add the act of using a political appointment to bribe an elected official to the crime of corruption,
  • require political appointees to disclose campaign contributions,
  • create a felony crime for obstructing a Missouri Ethics Commission investigation,
  • require forfeiture of state benefits for those elected officials convicted of a felony,
  • place a cap on lobbyist gifts for elected officials,
  • and finally force an end to the fee office patronage system.
We made ethics reform a priority of the 2010 Legislative Session because we take the trust that is placed in us by Missouri voters very seriously.  Today, with the initial passage of these measures, House Republicans, without the support of House Democrats, led the way on ethics and government accountability reform by passing the strongest, most comprehensive bill in our state's history to restore accountability in state government and forever change the way business is done in Jefferson City.


As many of you know, I am the chief sponsor of HJR 57, the "Health Care Freedom Act".  Unfortunately, the Health Care Freedom Act had been filibustered for nearly the entire Session by a small group of liberal, left wing Senators.  It is extremely difficult to break a filibuster in our State Senate and a Senator risks great peril to their future effectiveness in serving their constituents if they attempt to permanently break a filibuster and do not succeed.  Fortunately, due to the courageous work of two of my Senate colleagues and friends, Senator Jane Cunningham and Senator Jim Lembke, the Senate succeeded in voting out a version of the Health Care Freedom Act and sending it back to the House for final passage. Although the Senate version is not as strong or wide-ranging as I had wished, in the legislative process I have learned that you must make lemonade out of lemons every day and that the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good.  We will pass a version of the Health Care Freedom Act, Missouri voters will have the opportunity to cast their vote this August in the FIRST voter referendum on ObamaCare in the nation and the voice of the PEOPLE of the State of Missouri will be heard loud and clear in Washington D.C.  Most importantly, this version of the HCFA will spark the constitutional show down that we all are ready and willing to have between the rights of the States and the overbearing hostility of the federal government relating to YOUR health care freedom choices and rights.  We could not have made it to this point without the help of THOUSANDS of Missouri patriots and tea party groups who led the way during this fight to keep our freedoms.  Thank you all very much for your continued support of this very important legislation, and I will continue to keep you posted on its progress!

Legislation That Has PASSED the General Assembly

The House Truly Agreed and Finally Passed the following Senate Bills. These bills have been sent to the Governor for signature or veto. The Governor has until July 14th to sign or veto the bills.
  • SB 928, which would modify provisions of law regarding the sales tax treatment of sales for resale.
  • SB 984, which would repeal the provision of law which makes it a class B misdemeanor for any gaming licensee to exchange tokens, chips, or other forms of credit used on gambling games for anything of value.
The Senate Truly Agreed and Finally Passed the following House Bills:
  • HB 1270, which would change the name of the Crippled Children's Service to the Children's Special Health Care Needs Service and specifies the services are for a child who has a physical disability or special health care need.
  • HB 1840, which would change the membership of the Rice Advisory Council and creates the Missouri Rice Certification Fund.
  • HB 1898, which would establish the Women's Heart Health Program to provide heart disease risk screenings to certain uninsured and underinsured women.
  • HB 2081, which would specify that a pregnant woman may use deadly force if she reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to protect her unborn child against death, serious physical injury, or any forcible felony.
  • HB 2182, which would specify that, as used in Missouri statutes, "agritourism" means the act of visiting a working farm or any agricultural operation for the enjoyment, education, training, or involvement in its activities.
  • HCS SB 851 requires the governing body of any county, city, town, or village or any entity created by these political subdivisions to give notice four business days prior to voting on certain items.

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:  This week, the General Assembly passed my Telecommunications Access Rates Reform Bill [HB1750] that will begin to provide major benefits for all consumers!

Personal News & Notes

The last week of Session will be the most exhausting and frantic and we will spend long days on the House Floor and running back and forth to the Senate.  Bills will fly back and forth between the Chambers and everyone will be searching 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 during these final days of the 2nd Regular Session of the 95th General Assembly, especially my family and my colleagues at my law firm, DosterUllom.  It is hard to believe that in two weeks, 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.

Gatschenberger: Wentzville's Child Center Celebrates $75,000 Grant, May Town Hall Meeting, Legislative Update

The Child Center helps victims recover from abuse

Photo courtesy Suburban Journal

From left: Missouri Foundation for Health public policy liaison Michelle Miller, The Child Center Executive Director Ellen Teller, state Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger and Sarah Gentry, health policy fellow for MFH, celebrate a grant awarded to The Child Center.

The Child Center in Wentzville is celebrating a $75,000 basic support grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health.

The child advocacy center provides forensic interviewing and counseling services to children who have been victims of abuse or witnessed violence. The center also provides school-based abuse prevention and education programs, and parent education seminars.

The grant will help the center continue to provide those services, especially therapy and interviews. The center operates on money from grants, fundraisers and donations.

Behind Representative Gatschenberger is "The Giving Wall", decorated with a mural of children, surrounded by colorful tiles.  These tiles make up The Giving Wall, a fundraiser for the Child Center where a donor can purchase a tile for $100 or $500, decorate it and have it displayed at the center.  To purchase a tile call Ellen Teller, the center's executive director at 636-332-0899.

You may also set up a tour by calling Ellen to see what times are good.  Personally, we purchased one of the large tiles.  Once you take the tour, let me know how you like our tile.   I challenge you to buy a tile of your own!

Please be my guest!

What:  Town Hall Meeting
When:  May 19th – 7:00 pm
Where:  Lake St. Louis City Hall, 200 Civic Center Drive
Why: Larry Schepker, Director of House Appropriations, will present the 2011 State of Missouri Budget and answer questions regarding reductions in funding.

Representative Brian Nieves will be speaking on what is happening with our State Sovereignty.

I hope to see you there!

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

Legislative Update

Missouri Legislature Passes Balanced Budget, Without Raising Taxes

This week, we passed a balanced budget, approving funding to run critical functions of state government without a tax increase.  Thirteen budget bills totaling $23.1 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1 were agreed upon by both chambers and will be sent to the Governor for final approval.

Together with the Senate, we shaved a total of $484 million from the Governor's proposed budget, making the tough decisions necessary to keep Missouri afloat in our harsh economy.

Unlike the federal government, we managed to look at each budget item, line by line, and responsibly make the reductions needed to uphold vital programs.  We were also able to trim down those items that we could live without, even though it wasn't an easy process.

I am pleased to report that we voted to maintain the school funding formula at its current levels. In addition, Missouri's K-12 schools will receive the same level of funding in the 2011 Fiscal Year as they did this year.  We also approved $37.5 million for the Career Ladder program that pays teachers for extra work such as afterschool tutoring.  The funding would pay teachers for work that has already been completed during the 2010 Fiscal Year.

The largest savings, anticipated to be millions, came from looking at  state departments and identifying how they may run more efficiently by eliminating more than 1,000 government jobs, including taxpayer-funded lobbyists and items like equipment, travel and expenses.

We completed the budget more than one week in advance of the deadline set by the state constitution, which is something we haven't seen for many, many years.  I am extremely proud of the work of our budget chairman, Representative Allen Icet, R – Wildwood, and his budget committee for their longstanding dedication to this process.

Because we continued down a fiscally-conservative path while balancing our state's budget, we are able to keep Missouri in a leadership position when it comes to being financially stable.  While other states across the nation are struggling miserably to keep afloat, Missouri is ahead of the game and operating the best we can considering declining state revenues.

House of Representatives Pay Tribute to Veterans and Recognize Central Missouri Honor Flight

On Tuesday, nearly 200 veterans gathered in the House Chamber and were recognized and honored by our members.  This particular group has been given the opportunity to participate in the Central Missouri Honor Flight, which is an outstanding non-profit organization that flies veterans to Washington, DC to view their memorials.

This organization was created solely to honor America's veterans for their sacrifices.  Since its inception in January 2009, Central Missouri Honor Flight has raised more than $350,000 and taken 465 World War II heroes to our nation's capitol in eight memorable day-long trips. The group transports our heroes to Washington, DC, to visit and reflect at their memorials.  Top priority is given to senior veterans, WWII survivors, along with other veterans who may be terminally ill.

Right now, things aren't easy across our state.  As legislators, we have faced hard decisions, but nothing we will ever endure will be as difficult as the long days and nights our war veterans faced as they served, sacrificed and bled for this land.  There is no doubt that our service pales in comparison to what our veterans have done for us, but there is one thing we know: we are here, because our veterans were there.  I challenge all of us to never forget their fight, and always hold on to their honorable service in our hearts.

It was a true privilege to have these American heroes in the State Capitol.  I highly commend the Central Missouri Honor Flight for their tireless efforts to give back to these individuals who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.

House Passes Bill Promoting Tax Credits for Pregnancy Resource Donators

House Bill 2252, sponsored by Representative Sally Faith, R – St. Charles, extends the sunset period for tax credits given to those who donate to pregnancy resource centers.  This bill passed through the house and has been sent to the Senate for final approval.

Pregnancy Resource Centers, located all across our state, are vital for individuals and families who are either expecting a child or who already have children and need help.

These centers provide counseling to women and men who are going through difficult pregnancy situations or post-pregnancy situations.

They also provide supplies like diapers and formula to those in need.

By offering free pregnancy testing, counselors at Pregnancy Resource Centers are able to inform expecting mothers and families about life options for their unborn.

For years, Missouri has provided benevolent tax credits to those who donate to these centers, and House Bill 2252 extends the period of these tax credits until the year 2022.

With these vital donations, Pregnancy Resource Centers are able to run their offices, provide supplies for families in need and give counseling and support to those who need it most.

House Gives Final Approval to Tax Reform, Job Retaining Legislation

Recent Missouri Supreme Court decisions have put Missouri employers that do business with tax exempt organizations in a costly position, holding that a company selling products to a local government or tax exempt entity could not consider the sale a retail sale, and therefore, could not claim the sale for resale exclusion.

Senate Bill 928, which was passed out of the House this week, reverses that Supreme Court decision, seeking to benefit Missouri business and keep them competitive with those in other states.

The bill does this by excluding resale items from sales and use tax if sold to a tax-exempt entity.  This would include school districts, cities, counties and the state.

Job retention is a huge priority, considering our economy is down and businesses tend to locate to states that offer them the best incentives at the most competitive prices.  Through Senate Bill 928, we will be able to retain businesses in our state and provide Missourians with jobs.

Arizona and National Immigration Policy

By David Webber

In the long run, perhaps a decade from now, it will be good that the Arizona state legislature adopted, and the governor signed on April 23, the new immigration law making it a crime to be in that state without being a legal immigrant.  It will be even better that large protests took place around the United States over this past weekend.

Supporters of the Arizona law argue the state had to act because the federal government had failed to enforce existing immigration laws with devastating social and criminal consequence in Arizona. Opponents said the law would lead to racial profiling and spread fear in immigrant communities.

My first reaction was similar to those protestors who call for social justice.  Over the course of last week, however, my thinking kept returning to the question, "What else will cause this issue to be addressed?"   If Arizona had not acted, Congress and the president might not ever deal with the continual flow of illegal immigrants and the ensuing human tragedies.

Many states have passed symbolic resolutions opposing the recent federal health care reform, last year's federal stimulus and the No Child Left Behind Act, but they have not taken attention-grabbing action to force national policy-makers to step up and address immigration problems.  Immigration reform is long overdue.  It is clear that the national government has not controlled immigration through our southern border, leaving local and state governments to struggle with problems above their Constitutional pay grade.

Immigration policy is highly controversial, combining elements of respect for law, community impacts, human rights, family unification and economic repercussions for the agricultural, hospitality and childcare industries.  Restrictions on hiring illegal immigrants will affect food prices.  Add to all this the deep regional differences in familiarity and political concern and the result has been a national political stalemate for about two decades.

Part of American political culture is that the US is a land of immigrants where all peoples can achieve their dreams and live happily ever after. Except for Native Americans, all of us are from immigrant families.  Economic prosperity, political freedom and quality of life make this an attractive place to live.  However, the US cannot allow all those who wish to become permanent residents to do so.  For one, illegal immigration complicates US security efforts.

The current immigration debate is fueled by illegal immigration, mostly from Mexico. It is estimated there are about 10-12 (some say 20) million illegal immigrants in US, with a 500,000 to 1 million increase each year, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

While the illegal immigration problem is more intense in the Southwest and major cities, even communities in other states have faced poor and unsafe housing conditions, social service and health problems and economic consequences due to illegal immigration.  Employers in agriculture and construction industries have the incentive to hire undocumented workers at the expense of the other potential workers, local communities and the exploited workers themselves—although they are undoubtedly better off than in their native communities.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 made it illegal to hire or recruit illegal immigrants. This act granted amnesty to illegal immigrants and temporary resident status if they had lived here for four years.

In 2005, the US House passed a bill stressing border protection and immigration and a year later the US Senate passed a more "comprehensive" bill that included a path for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship.  Neither became law because the difference could not be reconciled in conference committee.  Congress need to try harder!

It would seem that reasonable members of Congress could agree that the US-Mexican border needs to be secured, that employers who hire illegal workers need to be punished and that wages in Mexico need to be increased. Additionally, US citizenship laws should be changed so that US-born children of non-citizens are not US citizens.  It is more difficult to decide how illegal immigrants now living in US should be dealt with—but there is no value in putting off that decision.
The American public should be concerned with civil rights abuses in Arizona just as we should be shocked at the number of peoople who have drowned trying to swim the "All American Canal" to freedom and the substandard conditions in which most undocumented workers live and work. This is a continuing crisis that won't be solved by moral outrage. We should not boycott Arizona, we should encourage and demand that Congress take action.

Representative Parkinson, R - St. Charles, has filed basically the same bill [HB2449] here that passed in Arizona.  Good job Mark!

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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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


Whatever you do…. DON'T FORGET MOTHER'S DAY… Sunday, May 9th!

Plant corn when white oak leaves are the size of a squirrel's ear!

Two of Missouri's State Emblems are in bloom…  the White Hawthorn is our Floral Emblem... and the State Tree… the Flowering Dogwood.  Get out and enjoy them!

Roorda: "Sham" Ethics Bill Passes, House Flunks Education Funding, Missourians Urged To Drink Tap Water

House Republicans Jam Through Sham Ethics Reform Bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Republicans today jammed a sham ethic reform bill through the House of Representatives with little debate. After loading up an unrelated measure, Senate Bill 844, with dozens of provisions - including some astoundingly bad ones - Republicans moved the measure through two committees and to a straight party-line House vote of 88-71 in a matter of hours.

House Democrats have championed meaningful and legitimate ethics reform for several years. A top priority for Democrats has been to reinstate campaign contribution limits, which Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved in 1994 but that Republican lawmakers repealed in 2008. SB 844 would create a nearly meaningless cap of $20,000 per donation for candidates for statewide office, judge or local office but the limit wouldn't apply to House or Senate candidates, who could still accept unlimited amounts.

"House Republicans have made a mockery of ethics reform," said House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence. "Proposing a $20,000 contribution limit that doesn't even apply to lawmakers provides the mere pretense of limits, not the meaningful campaign finance reform Missourians want."

Some of the more onerous provisions of SB 844 would disenfranchise voters, interfere with union elections and require Missouri residents who attempt to contact lawmakers other than their own about legislation to register as lobbyists. The bill would also authorize Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder to pursue - at Missouri taxpayer expense -- a frivolous lawsuit he is launching against the federal government.

"House Republicans have turned what should have been a serious effort to improve government accountability into an exercise in bad government," said Assistant House Minority Leader J.C. Kuessner, D-Eminence. "It is just stunning that Republicans want to muzzle regular Missourians by forcing them to register as lobbyists if they want to talk to lawmakers."

House Democrats last week were forced to invoke their constitutional right to move the legitimate ethics reform bill, SB 577, to the House debate calendar after Republican leaders attempted to send the measure back to a committee so it could be gutted of meaningful provisions. House Minority Leader Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, has refused to bring that bill up for debate.

SB 844 originally was titled an act "relating to contracts for purchasing, printing, and services for statewide elected officials." The title of the House version was changed to an act "relating to ethical administration of public institutions and officials." The Missouri Constitution prohibits bills from being changed from their original purpose.

"If this bill becomes law, Steve Tilley has set it up for an easy court challenge by his wealthy donors, who oppose laws that would limit their influence over government," said House Minority Whip Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart. "From the beginning, House Republicans have maneuvered ethics reform in a way to guarantee failure. Unfortunately for the people of Missouri, they succeeded."

Since the original Senate bill contained none of the House provisions, a final version of the measure would need to be negotiated and approved by both chambers for it to be sent to the governor.

Read the "Missouri House passes controversial ethics reform bill"
Springfield News-Leader Article

Read the "House passes wide-ranging ethics bill after raucus debate"
St. Louis Post Dispatch Article

Read the "Sham 'ethics' bill a new low for Missouri House Republicans"
Kansas City Star Article

House Flunks Education Rewrite

Written By Rachel Bringer (D-Palmyra) and Sara Lampe (D-Springfield)

Missouri's statutory formula for distributing basic state funding to local school districts is a complex mechanism, and even minor tinkering with it can have major ramifications on how much state money each of our 523 school districts receives.

As a result, changes to the formula tend to be infrequent and occur after a long deliberative process by the General Assembly with substantial input from local school officials and education groups. Such was the case in 2005 when lawmakers enacted the current education formula after an entire legislative session of debate and consideration.

We (Democrats) opposed the 2005 formula because it shortchanges public schools, especially by taking seven years to fully implement. Under the formula, what the legislature deems to be full funding wouldn't occur until the 2012-2013 school year. In other words, children entering kindergarten in the fall of 2005 would be in seventh grade when the formula took full effect.

Now the House of Representatives wants to take a bad formula and make it worse by delaying full implementation another four years to the 2016-2017 school year. Under this plan, children who began school in 2005 would now be juniors in high school by the time full funding is achieved. And delaying implementation is just one of several major changes proposed to the formula that hold ramifications for our schools that aren't yet fully understood. Far being the result of a careful and deliberative process, this major formula rewrite was proposed as a floor amendment to House Bill 2245 with barely more than two weeks left in the 2010 legislative session and no input from educators.

The House approved the bill 82-67, with just the bare minimum votes needed to pass. Most Republicans supported the bill, which still must clear the Senate, while most Democrats opposed it. With mere days left before lawmakers adjourn for the year, the Senate should block the House's attempt to completely rewrite state education law on the fly.

Missourians Urged to Drink Tap Water

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MAY 3, 2010-In celebration of Drinking Water Week, May 2-8, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is urging Missourians to forego bottled water and choose a more environmental friendly alternative - tap water.
The benefits of tap water are numerous:
  • It's cheaper than bottled water; a gallon of tap water costs about a penny.
  • It's better for the environment; most water bottles end up in a landfill.
  • It's safe, and tested far more extensively than bottled water; in fact many brands of bottled water are straight-up tap water.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Public Drinking Water Branch regulates public water supplies in Missouri, and overall, public water systems in Missouri have an extraordinary compliance record.

Each water system is responsible for monitoring conditions at individual water plants and is required to employ trained operators certified by the Department of Natural Resources.

Water systems in Missouri are required to regularly test drinking water for more than 100 different contaminants. A state-approved laboratory must analyze these samples and the results must be reported to the department. The majority of testing is done at the Department of Natural Resources' and the Department of Health and Senior Services' labs, at no cost to the systems, saving the consumers money.
For more information, visit, or call the Department of Natural Resources' public Drinking Water Branch at 800-361-4827 or 573-526-1825.

If there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact my office. I enjoy serving my constituents as "their" voice in the Missouri State Capitol.

Engler: Protecting Your Choice in Healthcare

This week, the Senate passed an important measure to secure the rights of Missourians. When the President signed the federal healthcare bill passed by Congress earlier this year, it created an unprecedented mandate that all Americans have healthcare coverage approved by the government. The work we completed this week would prevent Missourians from being forced to buy government run healthcare, protecting their freedom.

House Bill 1764 contains a measure that, if approved by voters, would prohibit any federal law from interfering with an individual’s healthcare freedom. The bill, which is now back in the House, would be placed before voters on the August 2010 ballot. The referendum would specify that no law could force a patient, employer, or healthcare provider to participate in any government or privately run healthcare system.

Originally, this provision was contained in Senate Joint Resolution 25, which would have put the measure forward as a constitutional amendment, instead of a law. But rather than forcing a bill through the process, as Democrats did in Washington, D.C., we worked to find a way to get the bill to a vote amicably with the minority party. The bill passed with a strong, bipartisan majority of 28 to 6.

This bill keeps Missourians in the driver’s seat when it comes to making healthcare decisions. If passed by the House, voters will be able to make their voices heard at the polls this August. I co-sponsored the original measure because I want Missourians to have freedom in their healthcare choices. The referendum will still give people the option to participate in any federal healthcare plan, but they will also have the ability to make their own choices when it comes to healthcare.

In the final week of session, one of our focuses will be “Rebooting Government” legislation. Senate members worked hard earlier this session to come up with ideas, many of which were submitted by the public, to save costs in state government. The result is a series of bills affecting public safety, education, state administration, and corrections. These bills moved quickly through the Senate, but are now awaiting action in the House. We will push to pass these and other bills that will benefit Missouri’s future in our final week of the 2010 legislative session.

Rupp: My Goals for the End of Session

Next week, which is the last week of session, will be interesting, as it will determine the fate of several of the bills I have introduced this year. The state’s financial situation and the tremendous adjustments we had to make to balance the budget became our priority throughout the last few weeks, but we were able to complete that process a full week before the constitutional deadline. The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Robert Mayer, from the 25th District, personally thanked me on the Senate floor for my work to move Missouri toward fiscal responsibility during these lean times.

The end of session is typically a flurry of activity. While lawmakers consider many measures during the last two weeks, here are some of the bills I will be focusing on.

Autism insurance reform – After the Senate passed SB 618, the Autism insurance reform legislation is making its way through the House. The House added a committee substitute to SB 618, which means it needs to have the Senate’s final approval after it is voted out of the House. The main difference between chambers pertains to the amount of coverage that would be required for autism. I am very hopeful that this important legislation can become Missouri law and provide assistance to those who suffer from this devastating neurological disorder.

Abortion – My legislation that protected Missouri taxpayers from supporting abortions in any health care exchanges, like the ones proposed in federal health care legislation, was enveloped into SB 793, which was passed by the full Senate. Senate Bill 793 is important because it places new requirements on the mother before she can undergo the procedure, including counseling and a chance to see an ultrasound or the baby’s heartbeat. My House counterparts can really strengthen Missouri’s right to life stance by approving this legislation.

Government Accountability – This year’s budgeting process established that we need more accountability as we continue to weather this difficult economy. One of the best ways to do this is my bill to create the Joint Committee on Recovery Accountability and Transparency, SB 757. A team of House and Senate members would oversee the amounts withheld from the state budget, out-of-state travel would be posted on the Missouri accountability website, and county auditors would be required to inventory certain property under this measure. This bill has passed the House budget committee and will hopefully move to the floor soon.

Rewarding education excellence – Work continues on SB 907, which would create the Early High School Graduation Scholarship Program for public high school students who graduate early. This gives the student a major portion of the state funding the student would receive, as well as a portion to the district, so that they can begin their higher education, rather than languishing in high school. This was passed out of the Senate education committee and I’d like to bring it before the rest of my colleagues soon.

Please visit my website for a full view of the legislation I have worked on this year.

Senator Scott T. Rupp’s Legislation Protects Missouri Insurance Customers

Insurance reform measure contains “Health Care Freedom Act”

As hundreds of Missourians rallied for health care freedom at the Missouri Capitol, the Missouri Senate passed legislation that will allow Missourians to vote on whether the federal government should fine them for making certain health care choices.

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder commended my work for breaking a filibuster that lead to the passage of House Bill 1764.

“I applaud the efforts of the Missouri General Assembly to ensure that Missourians have the opportunity to vote on a health care bill that I believe is blatantly unconstitutional,” said Kinder. “Washington ignored the will of the people when they passed their intrusive and overbearing health care bill, but now, Missourians will be able to make their voices heard.”

Upon voter approval, HB 1764, as amended, would provide that no federal law will compel a patient, employer, or health care provider to participate in any government or privately run health care system, nor prohibit a patient or employer from paying directly for legal health care services.

I sponsored the bill that includes the health care provision. I took an oath to protect and defend the constitution and to protect the rights and freedoms of all Missourians. I am proud to be the Senate handler of this very important legislation that fulfills that oath.

When passed by the House, voters will have a final say in federal control of health care.

Autism Insurance Reform Measure Moves through the Senate

Families one step closer to receiving insurance coverage for neurological disorder

A bill I handled in the Senate is one step closer to law, as the Senate has approved a House version of autism health insurance reform.

House Bill 1311 is a version that is similar to my original SB 618, which received approval by the Senate earlier this year. The measure requires coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders, including coverage for applied behavior analysis for up to a maximum of $45,000 annually through the age of 18.

The House version also establishes a state Behavior Analyst Advisory Board. The new board would be under the State Committee of Psychologists within the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration. The new board is charged with establishing licensure and registration requirements for behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts who provide therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders.

I’m very pleased that the Senate has again shown its overwhelming support of this measure that affects so many Missouri families. It is very good to know that we’re that much closer to providing a real substantial impact to how we approach this disorder in Missouri, to move our state forward.

Both HB 1311 and SB 618 currently await action by the Missouri House.

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.

Nance: S-CHIP Enrollment Encouraged, Senate Bills Approved By House, In The District

"State finances are still in rough shape, but in early April someone paid their taxes. It resulted in $121 million to the treasury. Thank goodness for capitalism."

At The Capitol

I was able to amend two bills with legislation to have DESE and Social Services to work together for the benefit of kids that qualify for S-CHIP. Thousand of kids qualify but have not been signed up for the program. The amendment gives an excellent opportunity for parents to provide coverage for their children.

I have attached a comparison of education funding for 2010and 2011.

The House Truly Agreed and Finally Passed the following Senate Bills. These bills require only the governor's signature. The governor has until July 14th to sign or veto.
  • SB 928, which would modify provisions of law regarding the sales tax treatment of sales for resale.
  • SB 984, which would repeal the provision of law which makes it a class B misdemeanor for any gaming licensee to exchange tokens, chips, or other forms of credit used on gambling games for anything of value.
The Senate Truly Agreed and Finally Passed the following House Bills:
  • HB 1270, which would change the name of the Crippled Children's Service to the Children's Special Health Care Needs Service and specifies the services are for a child who has a physical disability or special health care need.
  • HB 1840, which would change the membership of the Rice Advisory Council and creates the Missouri Rice Certification Fund.
  • HB 1898, which would establish the Women's Heart Health Program to provide heart disease risk screenings to certain uninsured and underinsured women.
  • HB 2081, which would specify that a pregnant woman may use deadly force if she reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to protect her unborn child against death, serious physical injury, or any forcible felony.
  • HB 2182, which would specify that, as used in Missouri statutes, "agritourism" means the act of visiting a working farm or any agricultural operation for the enjoyment, education, training, or involvement in its activities.
  • HCS SB 851 requires the governing body of any county, city, town, or village or any entity created by these political subdivisions to give notice four business days prior to voting on certain items.

In the District

In addition to the Mushroom Festival this past week end, I attended the Job Corps Open House. I have been fortunate to work with the Center over the last 30 years. The Corps gives an opportunity for job training and placement to many of our youth. They do much more than job training.

Teacher Nancy Herring and the Hardin Central 4th graders [at left] visited the Capitol on Wednesday. I appreciate their yearly trip to see how government works.

If there are any bills that you want information on by bill number or subject, you can access information from the following sites:
House Bills
Senate Bills

"No gift to your mother can ever equal her gift to you –life" –Author unknown

Happy Mother's Day!

Representative Marilyn Ruestman Honors Allen Shirley for Service to Community

JEFFERSON CITY - Representative Marilyn Ruestman (R-131) presented Newton County resident Allen Shirley with a resolution from the Missouri House of Representatives this week in the State Capitol. Mr. Shirley was honored as an exemplary citizen for his service to the state and community. He was also praised for serving as president of the Historical Society Board for the Joplin Museum
Complex and as the chairman of the Missouri Advisory Board on Historic Preservation.

Representative Ruestman offered the following comment: “It is always a pleasure to honor deserving citizens. Mr. Shirley is an outstanding Missouri resident that has given many years of service to preserving our community’s history.”

(Pictured (L to R): Allen Shirley, Representative Ruestman and Brad Belk (Executive Director of Joplin Museum Complex))

Ridgeway: Historic Budget Vote

With more than a week left before the constitutional deadline to pass a balanced budget for fiscal year 2011, the Legislature last Thursday passed a fiscally responsible spending plan, sending it to the governor for his signature. This is an historic accomplishment as the state budget has never been formalized more than a full week in advance of the required deadline. Despite the difficult, yet inevitable, decision to significantly reduce spending, we were still able to secure critical funding for our top priorities—including education.

Because of an unprecedented decline in revenue, the $23.3 billion FY 2011 budget includes nearly $460 million in spending cuts from the budget proposal the governor originally presented back in January. Millions in savings came from indentifying how state departments and agencies can run more efficiently, including curbing unnecessary spending for travel and putting an end to other extraneous expenses.

In spite of this being one of the worst budget years in history, we were still able to preserve funding for education, which was a big concern for me and many of my colleagues. We voted to maintain funding for the K–12 foundation formula at current levels, as well as provide $37.5 million for the state’s Career Ladder Program, which pays teachers for taking on extra duties such as afterschool tutoring.

We were also mindful of continuing to make higher education an affordable option for Missouri families, so we voted to limit budget cuts to $50 million for the state’s colleges and universities in exchange for a freeze on undergraduate, in-state tuition rates. We know that the quality of education our state offers is directly tied to our economic prosperity, so it’s crucial that we continue to support education.

We also maintained core funding for the developmentally disabled. There were some reductions in travel expenses and supplies, but we were able to uphold existing funding for services. It is also one of my priorities to protect those who most need services and cannot provide for themselves. If you have not visited Maple Valley State School or Immacolata Manor (both in Clay County), I would encourage you to do so. These facilities and others like them in Clay County, serve a noble mission making the most of every dollar. They deserve our protection and support.

I’m pleased that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, as well as members from both the Senate and House, were able to come together and fulfill our duty to pass a balanced budget. Perhaps most importantly, we did not resort to raising job-killing taxes on hard-working Missourians, a pledge many lawmakers committed to uphold early in the session.

Missouri’s Health Care Freedom Act

Voters in Missouri would decide whether to pass a law allowing individuals to refuse a federal health insurance mandate under legislation [HB1764] passed Tuesday in the Senate. If approved the Missouri law would bar any law or rule from compelling people to purchase a particular health plan. It’s meant to protect citizens from health related legislation passed in Washington. Finally, the voters would have their say on whether they like the “ObamaKare” legislation.

“Fair Tax” Update

Another measure that has yet to make significant headway in the General Assembly is the “Fair Tax”, Senate Joint Resolution 29. Upon voter approval, this proposed constitutional amendment would eventually replace state income tax with an expanded sales tax. For each tax year, beginning January 1, 2013, the tax rate for the state individual income tax would be reduced by 20 percent from the previous year's rate until it reaches zero. Beginning July 1, 2013, a new state tax on taxable purchases and services would be imposed at a rate of no more than 7 percent.

The 2010 legislative session comes to a close on Friday, May 14. Though these measures still have several steps to make in the legislative process, traditionally the biggest bills in any given session pass in the last few days. I will let you know what happens with both of these bills and other issues that matter to you as the session winds down.

Nodler: A Voice for Missourians on their Healthcare

People throughout the nation gathered this week for the National Day of Prayer on May 6. The day is set aside as a time for people in this country to pray for guidance, protection, and strength. This year, the theme for the National Day of Prayer is, “For Such a Time as This.” It is true that many in this country are concerned with the state of our nation, particularly the recent actions of the federal government. The passage of a healthcare bill that violates an individuals’ right to freedom in healthcare has worried many, but we took action this week to protect citizens in our state.

Also called the “Healthcare Freedom Act,” the measure, which received Senate approval this week, was attached to a comprehensive insurance bill. House Bill 1764, if approved by voters, would prohibit any federal law from interfering with an individual’s health care freedom. If approved in the House before the final day of session on May 14, the Healthcare Freedom Act will be placed before voters on the August 2010 ballot. With its passage, no federal law could force a patient, employer, or healthcare provider to participate in any government or privately run health care system.

I co-sponsored this measure in its original form (SJR 25) because I support protecting the rights of Missourians to choose their own healthcare products and services. While individuals will still have the option to participate in any federal healthcare option, they will also have the ability to make their own choices in healthcare. It gives Missourians a voice in whether they want to tolerate this costly and intrusive plan passed by Washington, D.C.

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about the concerns I have about cost sustainability in our state in relation to the federal Medicaid expansions. Businesses are worried about being able to afford the cost of insurance for their employees. Individuals are worried they will have to pay higher premiums thanks to the new laws. It is unfortunate that Washington, D.C. chose to pass such an irresponsible, expensive plan, but this legislation allows us to stand-up for the rights of Missourians.

On the day that the Senate passed this measure, activists from throughout the state gathered in the Capitol to encourage lawmakers to address this issue of healthcare freedom. These citizens made it clear they felt their voices had been ignored by Congress; I am proud to say that HB 1764 gives these and all Missourians a voice.

05 May 2010

Senator Cunningham’s “Health Care Freedom Act” Passed by Missouri Senate

JEFFERSON CITY—A hard-fought victory for individual choice in health care was earned yesterday after the Senate passed the “Health Care Freedom Act,” a measure sponsored by Sen. Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield) in response to the recent passage of the federal health care bill.

The act was attached to a comprehensive insurance bill, House Bill 1764, and prohibits any federal law from interfering with an individual’s health care freedom—if approved by Missouri voters. According to the bill, the Health Care Freedom Act will be placed before voters on the August 2010 ballot, and if approved, no law could force a patient, employer, or health care provider to participate in any government or privately run health care system.

“This legislation simply protects the rights of Missourians to choose their own health care products and services without fear of facing fines or imprisonment,” Sen. Cunningham said. “It doesn’t reject any federal health care option, nor take away an individual’s choice to participate in the federal health care plan. The measure expands options, not limits them. I’m proud to lead Missouri’s push-back on this intrusive, costly mandate from Washington, D.C, and eager for Missourians’ voices, which have for so long been denied, to finally be heard at the voting booth.”

Senator Cunningham also says that although she feels this protection belongs in the constitution, passing the statute would be a huge step forward and will give the Attorney General the authority to defend Missourians who face prosecution for not following the Federal individual mandate. Cunningham also said that she believes this could very well play an important role in eventually defeating mandated health care. Additionally this bill would stop the state from instituting an individual mandate or system similar to Massachusetts.

With final passage, Missouri would join Virginia in passing the Health Care Freedom Act as a statute; which would provide further grounds for Missourians to be defended in federal court. Virginia's attorney General is basing his defense upon language almost identical to Senator Cunningham’s.

After passing the Senate by a vote of 26-8, HB 1764 now moves back to the House for final approval. Because of the referendum found in the measure, final approval by the House would send the legislation to the voters in August.

The Health Care Freedom Act has 20 Senate co-sponsors and is being emulated in 42 other states.

Representative Tishaura O. Jones to Meet with Young, Progressive Elected Officials in Washington

200 progressive elected officials under age 40 will gather to discuss policies, leadership

State Representative Tishaura O. Jones (D-63) will join more than 200 other young, progressive elected officials in Washington, DC next week at the fifth annual convening of the national Young Elected Officials Network.

The participants, progressive elected officials from across the country, are all under the age of 35. The young leaders will meet with a number of national leaders in Washington and share with each other their policy ideas, leadership strategies, and best practices.

“After I was elected, older elected officials often assumed that I was either an Intern or Legislative Assistant. The advent of term limits has changed the age demographic of our state houses in some states and it’s important to get an opportunity to network with other young elected officials from across the country. I know this is a cliché, but we are the future and the YEO Network does a great job of bringing us together so we can develop relationships to move our country forward.”

Rep. Jones, 38, was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2008. At the convening, she will be participating as panelist in a discussion titled, “The State of the Union: A State and Local Perspective.”

The Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network, organized by the People For the American Way foundation, consists of over 550 young, progressive city, county, state and federal officials from all 50 states. Most are at the start of their political careers; 89 percent are interested in running for higher office in the future.

“These young elected officials play a critical role in our local, state, and national governments,” said Andrew Gillum, Tallahassee City Commissioner and executive director of the YEO Network. “They are leaders in policy debates around the country, and manage billions of dollars in public funds. They are passionate, innovative, and committed to helping their communities be places of freedom, fairness, and opportunity. The YEO Network National Convening is a great way for them to work together to share ideas and empower each other as they continue their careers in public service.”

The Young Elected Officials Network is a program of People For the American Way Foundation. The program provides a network of support for young elected leaders to share ideas and discuss issues that affect their common interests and constituencies.

Representative Marilyn Ruestman Honors Senior Service Award Recipient Ron Phelps

JEFFERSON CITY - Representative Marilyn Ruestman (R-131) presented Newton County resident Ron Phelps with a resolution from the Missouri House of Representatives this week in the State Capitol. Mr. Phelps was honored for his many years of community service at Grand Falls.

Mr. Phelps received the Lieutenant Governor’s Senior Service award for over twenty years of dedication to keep Grand Falls clean from litter. Representative Ruestman introduced Mr. Phelps along with his wife, Ann, to the House of Representatives to recognize him for his outstanding spirit of volunteerism.

(Pictured (L to R): Ann Phelps, Representative Ruestman and Ron Phelps)

04 May 2010

Roorda: Bi-Partisan Ethics Reform Advances, State Workers Off For Truman's Birthday

House Members Advance Bipartisan Ethics Reform Bill

One day after Republicans on the House Rules Committee on a straight party-line vote sent an important bipartisan ethics reform bill back to another committee to be gutted of meaningful provisions, 59 state representatives exercised their constitutional authority to move the bill to the House debate calendar.

Fifty-six Democrats and three Republicans signed a petition to strip the House Special Committee on Government Accountability and Ethics Reform of further consideration of Senate Bill 577, which the committee previously approved on a 12-0 vote on April 13. The Senate unanimously approved its version of the bill, which is sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, on March 4.

"With less than three weeks remaining in the legislative session, this bill should move forward in the process, not backward," said state Rep. Terry Witte, D-Vandalia and author of the petition. "The government accountability committee spent weeks crafting a strong bill that members of both parties agreed to. It is well past time for this bill to move forward."

The Rules Committee voted 7-4 on Monday to remand the bill to the original committee. Republicans Rules Committee members said they wanted provisions reinstating campaign contribution limits stripped from the bill. Missouri voters overwhelmingly imposed contribution limits in 1994, but the Republican-controlled General Assembly repealed them in 2008.

"For Republicans on the Rules Committee to send the bill back is a blatant subversion of the committee process," said House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence. "As House Speaker Ron Richard said in a recent interview with the Missourinet: 'There is a right way and wrong way to do things around here.' Stalling meaningful ethics reform is the wrong way to do things. Preventing the full House from considering contributions limits and other reforms Missourians want is the wrong way to do things."

Article III, Section 22 of the Missouri Constitution allows 55 House members to remove a bill from committee and place it on the House debate calendar. The provision exists to enable lawmakers to overcome obstruction or stalling of legislation at the committee level. Although lawmakers have the constitutional power to advance bills to the House calendar, under chamber rules House Majority Leader Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, determines what bills are actually debated.

"This bill has been thoroughly vetted and unanimously approved by a House committee. If certain members want provisions added or removed, the best way to do that is on the House floor with all members involved," said House Minority Whip Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart. "The ball is now in the majority leader's court: He can either allow the House to debate and pass a strong bill or he can do the bidding of wealthy donors who oppose reform. If he chooses the latter, the failure of ethics reform this year will be squarely on his shoulders."

House members also discharged House Bill 2300, another ethics reform measure, from the House Rules Committee, where it has languished without action since March 25.

When asked at a news conference on the first day of the 2010 session what provisions of an ethics reform bill he would support, House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said: "I will support whatever comes out of our bipartisan committee - whatever comes out."

"Speaker Richard, without reservation or limitation, said he would support whatever bill came out of the government accountability committee," said Assistant House Minority Leader J.C. Kuessner, D-Eminence. "It is time for the speaker to keep his word and support this bill."

Added state Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City: "I support moving ethics reform forward despite obstacles erected to prevent progress by those who thrive under the current system."

To read the entire Kansas City Star article, click here.

To read the entire Columbia Missourian article, click here.

Read the St. Louis Post Dispatch story:
Article ~ Steve Tilley holds the key to fate of ethics reform bill

To read the St. Joseph New-Press article Click Here.

State Budget Fails to Deliver Financial Stability

The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives today granted final approval to a $23.27 billion state operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year that imposes drastic cuts on nearly every state agency but fails to provide for long-term budget stability, which will necessitate even deeper cuts next year.

The final state budget for Fiscal Year 2011, which begins July 1, approved by lawmakers makes nearly $500 million in general revenue cuts from the budget the governor proposed in January. Those cuts are in addition to the $300 million in general revenue cuts recommended by the governor. Despite lawmakers' actions, the governor is expected to be forced to enact further cuts to bring the budget into balance.

Throughout the legislative session, House Democrats called for a balanced approached to break the cycle of declining revenue collections and reductions in vital state services that Missouri has been trapped in for most of the last decade. In particular, House Democrats sought reform of the more than 60 tax credit programs, which costs the state about $600 million a year in lost revenue, and elimination of various special tax exemptions, such as that granted on the purchase of luxury yachts.

"The continuing budget crisis is a manmade disaster created by the General Assembly," said House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence. "Years of generous tax breaks for the well-connected have eroded Missouri's tax base to the point where it can no longer pay the bills for basic state services. The Republican-controlled General Assembly chose to ignore this reality, and the people of Missouri will suffer for it."

While the budget freezes basic state funding for local public school districts, it imposes a 50 percent cut in the state reimbursement to districts for student transportation costs and eliminates or reduces funding for other education costs beyond basic state aid.

"The reality is all the cards aren't on the table when it comes to balancing this budget," said state Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield and the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. "The Missouri Constitution says that public schools are supposed to be the first priority after payment of the public debt. In reality, tax credits automatically are funded before education or the debt, regardless of whether the state can afford them. This budget does not make public schools a priority."

The budget also assumes that more than a dozen bills that are pending in the General Assembly to create necessary savings budget writers counted on will pass. Many of those bills are stalled in House committees.

"This budget is out of balanced financially, it is out of balance in terms of priority and it is out of balance morally," said House Minority Whip Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart.

Columbia Missourian article

KRCG-TV story

State Workers will get Truman's Birthday

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -- A lean budget is forcing lawmakers to make some tough funding choices. One idea in a bill that has already passed the Senate would take away Lincoln and Truman's paid state holidays.

We took their concerns of the state workers to the Office of Administration. Officials there say, even if the bill to get rid of the Lincoln and Truman paid holidays passes, state workers would still have next Friday as a paid holiday.
O.A. Officials say there wouldn't be enough time to for a last-minute change of plans.
There is no concrete data on how money eliminating the two days would save the state.

St. Louis Post Dispatch Story

St. Louis Beacon article

Property Tax Rebate Opportunity

The Circuit Breaker property tax rebate is available to certain senior citizens and people who are 100 percent disabled. As of April 9, 2010 DRA has processed $273,184.00 This surpasses last years total by $10,000 and we anticipate another $40-$50,000 additional by years end. There is assistance available to help fill out and file forms as well as determining if you are eligible for the program. You can visit this web page for more information:

If there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact my office. I enjoy serving my constituents as "their" voice in the Missouri State Capitol.