MoDOT has multiple night-time closures on I-70 in St. Charles Countyhttp://www.modot.org/stlouis/news_and_information/District6News.shtml?action=displaySSI&newsId=54064
ST. LOUIS – The Missouri Department of Transportation will have a number of night closures on Interstate 70 in St. Charles County the week of May 16 – May 22 for road and bridge work.
Additionally, the westbound I-70 exit ramp to Fifth Street will be restricted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. All work is weather dependent. Night work includes:
- Westbound I-70 at Route K, Sunday through Thursday, starting at 8 p.m. Crews will close one lane at 8 p.m. and a second lane after 10 p.m.
- Eastbound I-70 exit ramp to eastbound Route 370, Sunday through Thursday, starting at 8 p.m. Crews will close one lane at 8 p.m. and a second lane after 10 p.m.
- Westbound I-70 at Cave Springs, Sunday through Thursday, starting at 8 p.m. Crews will close one lane at 8 p.m. and a second lane after 10 p.m.
- Westbound I-70 at Route 79, Sunday and Monday, starting at 8 p.m. Crews will close one lane at 8 p.m. and a second lane after 10 p.m.
- The eastbound I-70 exit and entrance ramps at Cave Springs will close at 10 p.m. Monday
- Eastbound I-70 at Route 79, Tuesday through Thursday, starting at 8 p.m. Crews will close one lane at 8 p.m. and a second lane after 10 p.m.
- Westbound I-70 exit and entrance ramps at Mid Rivers Mall Drive will be closed at 10 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
- The eastbound I-70 exit ramp at Mid Rivers Mall Drive and the northbound Mid Rivers Mall Drive entrance ramp to westbound I-70 will be closed at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
The 2010 Legislative Session Comes to An End
Jefferson City, MO – Missouri House Republicans concluded a successful final week of the 2010 legislative session. House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, praised his colleagues for working diligently to secure passage of several key bills, including difficult budget cuts, provisions that seek to protect the sanctity of life and blocking efforts to increase taxes on Missouri citizens.
“I am extremely proud of House Republicans,” said Speaker Richard. “Missouri families have counted on our leadership through one of the most devastating economies in decades. While states around us are quickly sinking, we balanced the budget without raising taxes. Representatives in the Missouri House have made a positive difference in our state’s history during this very difficult time.”
House Budget Chairman, Representative Allen Icet, R – Wildwood, echoed the Speaker’s remarks and praised steps taken to balance the budget, despite rapidly declining state revenues.
“While many states across the nation are struggling to survive in our devastating economy, we made the tough decisions necessary to keep Missouri financially stabilized. It wasn’t an easy process, but we fulfilled our responsibility to the people of Missouri and created a bright future for our children and grandchildren,” said Representative Icet.
This session, the House passed several strong resolutions aimed at sending a clear message from the Missouri House to Washington DC politicians opposing Cap and Trade, Obamacare and Washington DC overreaching state sovereignty freedoms as stated in the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
“Missourians sent us a clear message that they were sick and tired of big government mandates sent down to us from President Obama and Congress,” said Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt, R – Blue Springs. “This session, we stood with Missouri citizens and passed a handful of resolutions that seek to liberate our people from the hands of the federal government and restore our freedom.”
Reforming ethics was announced as a priority for the Speaker and House members in January. The House passed the strongest ethics reform bill in the country last week, but the legislation was compromised in the Senate before the final bill passed today. The final bill included several strong House provisions, including anti-bribery language and the disclosure of campaign contributions.
“There were several provisions in the original House ethics reform bill that we would have liked to see in the final product, but we are very pleased with the bill that was agreed upon today,” said Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley, R – Perryville. “When Missouri citizens elect us to office, they depend on us to operate with integrity and moral responsibility – and that is exactly what this legislation will help to ensure.”
Finally, the House took a large step to protect the sanctity of life through the passage of SB793.
“We are strongly urging the Governor to voice his position whether or not he will stand with us protecting the lives of the unborn by signing this bill,” said Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt. “If the Governor chooses to sign SB793 into law, pregnant women seeking an abortion must be given the opportunity to view an ultra-sound and hear the heartbeat of their unborn child – hopefully choosing life,” said Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt.
Budget: Protecting Missourians, No New Taxes
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.
While neighboring states are sinking further into economic crisis, raising taxes and having a difficult time paying their bills, Missouri has remained steadfast in our fiscally conservative practice.
Not only were we able to pass a balanced budget, we made the tough decisions necessary to avoid raising taxes on Missouri families. 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. 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 I haven’t seen since I entered the legislature. 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.
Protecting the Lives of the Unborn
Both Chambers passed SB793, seeking to protect the lives of the unborn. This act modifies the informed consent requirements for an abortion by adding new requirements to be obtained at least twenty-four hours prior to an abortion by adding the following provisions:
- The physician who is to perform or induce the abortion or a qualified professional must present the pregnant woman with various new printed materials (to be developed by the Department of Health and Senior Services by November 30, 2010) detailing the risks of an abortion and the physiological characteristics of an unborn child at two-week gestational increments;
- The woman must also be provided with the gestational age of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed and must be given an opportunity to view an active ultrasound of the unborn child and hear the heartbeat of the unborn child;
- Prior to an abortion being performed past twenty-two weeks gestational age, the woman must be provided information regarding the possibility of the abortion causing pain to the unborn child.
- The abortion cannot be performed until the woman certifies in writing on a checklist form that she has been presented all the required information and that she has been given the opportunity to view an ultrasound, and to choose to have an anesthetic or analgesic administered to the unborn child.
Health Care Freedom Act: Opting Out of the Federal Plan
Missouri citizens are outraged with the health care legislation that President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have pushed through Congress. I want my constituents to know that in the General Assembly, we share your outrage and we passed a bill that seeks to protect you and your family from these harmful federal mandates. When the United States House of Representatives passed their health care bill, yielding over two thousand pages, they immediately took away our basic rights. Congress and the President have ignored the cry of the American people and they pushed their own agenda – leaving our citizens to pick up the expensive tab.
There is a fine line when it comes to government mandates, and Congress and the President have crossed that line. Even though no Republicans in the House voted for the bill, the Democrat majority found the votes they needed for it to pass. The federal health care bill costs approximately $940 billion, which is concerning as we face such a serious economic depression, not to mention our national debt which has shot up into the trillions. Someone has to pick up the tab, and that someone is you and me. We will be taxed through penalties if we refuse to buy health care and adhere to federal guidelines.
I have no direct influence over the actions of our President and Congress, but I do have a say when it comes to what we do in the Missouri House of Representatives to protect citizens from federal health care mandates. Why should the government dictate what you must and must not do – especially when it comes to your own health care insurance? On the first day of this year’s session, we introduced the Health Care Freedom Act on the floor of the House and approved it for final passage in early March. Now that’s it has passed the Senate, it will go to the ballot in August for a vote of YOU, the people. The Health Care Freedom Act [HB1764] would give individuals and employers the opportunity to pay directly for lawful health care services without being subject to federal penalties and states that the purchase or sale of health care insurance in private health care systems cannot be prohibited by law or rule.
A majority of states in the country have filed legislation to oppose the federal health care legislation, and we are hopeful that you will join us in this fight. States should retain the power to regulate health care and allow their citizens the freedom to choose between health care options in the open market.
To the Federal Government: Balance the National Budget!
You are a hard-working Missouri taxpayer. You have bills, expenses and every day items that run up costs. You know what it means to sit down and balance your budget so you can keep your family on track. In state government, we do the same thing. Every year, we go through the budget line by line and make the tough decisions necessary to balance our budget. It’s not easy, but it’s the right thing to do.
Our federal government is a completely different story. It’s almost as if a balanced budget is a foreign concept to them. This year, the national budget was out of balance by over 40%. We are in the midst of what economists are calling “The Great Recession” and spending our way to prosperity isn’t the answer – but wise fiscal planning and responsible use of your tax dollars is the answer. Both chambers passed House Concurrent Resolution 34 and 35 sponsored by our Budget Chairman, Allen Icet and Representative Chris Kelly, asking Congress to balance the national budget. The HCR 34 & 35 comes as an official message from the Missouri General Assembly, and if adopted by Congress, it has a chance of becoming an amendment to the United States Constitution. An official change will depend on ratification by ¾’s of our nation’s states.
With a budget that is over 40% out of balance, and a recent vote to raise the debt ceiling by 1.9 trillion dollars, we need to bring our elected officials in Washington DC back to reality. Congress needs to stop spending and start standing up for the future of America. You, as constituents, can help. If you agree with our resolution to require the national government to balance the budget, contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives and let them know you support us in this effort.
Urging Congress to Put a Stop to “Cap and Trade” Legislation
Cap-and-trade is a massive hidden energy tax being pushed by the President and Congress that will crush Missouri families, farmers, and businesses. In fact, the Wall Street Journal called it the “biggest tax in American history.” As energy rates rise, everyone who flips on a light switch or drives a car will be affected. This will act as a regressive tax, impacting those who spend larger portions of their incomes on energy and other necessities. If the bill passes, Cap Energy rates will rise exponentially. In fact, the Missouri Public Utility Alliance estimated that electric bills could increase by 82% by 2030— they stress that this is an optimistic estimate. Estimates vary, but one thing is clear: Cap and Trade will cost Missouri thousands of jobs and raise electricity rates on the average family hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
President Obama admitted that the legislation would cause electricity rates to “skyrocket.” ("When I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, you know, under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." Then Sen. Barack Obama, in an interview with San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board, 1/17/08)
By supporting the cap-and-trade energy tax, Democrats have directly attacked Missouri’s two largest industries—agriculture and tourism—along with every business in the state. One version of the bill (H.R. 2454 in 2009) would have established a national building code for commercial and residential buildings, requiring a 30 percent reduction in energy use immediately after passage and an additional 50 percent reduction in energy use by 2014—meaning that bureaucrats in Washington will tell you how to build your house.
Republicans in the Missouri House of Representatives recently took a stand against Cap and Trade, sending a clear message to President Obama and Congress. House Concurrent Resolution 46, sponsored by Representative Doug Funderburk, passed out of both Chambers. HCR 46 opposes the Cap and Trade bill – urging Congress to stop their progress on the legislation and urges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to put an end to the pressure they put on Congress and the President. We are also asking that the EPA rescind the recent decision made regarding the formal endangerment finding on greenhouse gases, seeing as the evidence was deemed to be flawed by the scientific community. It is imperative that we allow proven scientific measures and technological advances to help guide us in our environmental decisions. Direction to the federal government from the EPA should not be the sole source – especially when they try to control legislative objectives coming out of Congress that have harmful effects on our state and our citizens.
Just like the auto bailouts, the so-called stimulus bill, and the proposed government takeover of health care, the government is using ‘global warming’ as an excuse to assert more control over private business, industry, and on families – and in the Missouri House of Representatives, we won’t stand for it.
Ensuring Prompt Payment to Health Providers
Health care reform is one of the most popular topics in the country. There are several views on what steps need to be taken to improve the health care industry, including making it more affordable, more accessible and more transparent. Because of the controversy surrounding the issue, very little has been done on a national level to improve the system. In the Missouri General Assembly, however, the wheels are turning and we are accomplishing the common-sense steps necessary to advance health care reform. Many health care providers in Missouri, which include hospitals, physicians, and so forth, have experienced financial difficulties because of the failure of health insurance companies to make payments for health care services in a reasonable time frame. The House saw this as a problem that needed to be remedied.
This session House and Senate members passed House Bill 1498 with overwhelming bi-partisan support. The bill sponsored by Representative Tim Jones, R—Eureka, requires health insurance companies to pay provider claims in a timely manner. Through this legislation, a health insurance company would no longer have the ability to delay payments to providers by suspending a claim through loopholes and special exceptions. Instead, the health insurance company would be allowed 45 days to process and pay or deny the provider’s claim. If the health insurance company needs additional information or has any questions regarding the claim, they must do so inside a specific time-window. Days in which the health insurance company is waiting for a response from the provider for that information would not count towards the window, however, If the health insurance company does not pay the provider within the specific timeframe, that company would incur a penalty. If the provider’s claim is denied, health insurance companies will be required to provide a specific reason for the denial.
Through HB1498, we are giving health care providers an opportunity to remain financially stable in their practice and give them the ability to rely on the prompt payment of their claims. This legislation has gained wide-spread support throughout the state and on both sides of the aisle.
Providing Aid to Children with Autism in Missouri
Autism is a terrible disease that affects children and families across Missouri and across our nation. Unfortunately, the treatment for this disorder generally comes out of the pockets of the parents – many of which cannot always afford proper treatment for their child.
Republicans in the House and Senate have worked passionately for the past two sessions to craft a solution to the growing epidemic of Autism Spectrum Disorders and the lack of insurance-covered treatment for these individuals. Even insurance companies voiced support for a bill that would require insurance coverage for this treatment.
Over the summer, the Speaker of the House, Ron Richard, assigned an Interim Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders chaired by Representative Dwight Scharnhorst. The Speaker tasked this committee to meet and work on a bi-partisan piece of legislation that gathered consensus between families with autism, autism advocate groups and insurance companies.
The work done by the committee was then passed to the Special Standing Committee on Health Insurance when session started. Chaired by Representative Kevin Wilson, this committee met constantly, working to further reach an agreement that would require insurance companies to cover the treatment of children with autism.
That work materialized into House Bill 1311, sponsored by Representative Dwight Scharnhorst. The bill passed through the House and Senate this session and includes the following:
- This bill balances both sides of the issue: the costs that a requirement for insurance coverage incurs to businesses along with the growing need for coverage for children with autism.
- Insurance companies would be required to cover children through 18 years of age and cover up to $40,000 in costs for treatment.
- The bill also cracks down to protect families in regard to who treats their children. In order to treat children with autism, providers must be licensed and registered by the state of Missouri.
- The bill has a provision protecting small businesses of 50 employees or less. If their rates raise more than 2% -- because of the autism coverage costs – that business can report that increase. If reported and deemed legitimate, these businesses will be granted the option of “dropping out” on the insurance requirement.
Strengthening DWI Laws
According to studies, about three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related accident at some time in their lives. Many times, these accidents result in serious injuries and even death. In Missouri, we made it a priority to strengthen the existing drunk driving laws, taking a further step to help safeguard our citizens. (SS SCS HCS HB 1695, 1742 & 1674)
Some of the main provisions in this bill are as follows:
- It will increase the minimum jail time for DWI offenders who have had previous DWI offenses from 5 days to 10 days and increase the minimum jail time for a repeat offender to 30 days.
- Removes the requirement that no chemical test will be given when a holder of a driver's license refuses to submit to a chemical test at the request of law enforcement.
- The bill requires drivers with blood-alcohol levels of at least 0.15 percent to spend 48 hours in jail, and those with at least 0.2 percent to spend at least five days in jail, unless they complete the requirements of a DWI court or docket.
- Moves DWI cases to state courts to handle any case involving a defendant with at least two alcohol-related contacts with authorities. State courts, in comparison to municipal courts, have more severe penalties for drunk-drivers.
- It will require all municipal judges to complete courses on state drunken driving laws and direct their courts to report all DWI case dispositions to a central databank, holding them more accountable to the process.
Ensuring Ethical Behavior in Publicly Elected Offices
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.
This session, the House and Senate agreed to an ethics bill with the following provisions:
- Bidding Process: The Commissioner of Administration shall give priority to Missouri resident corporations, Missouri minority businesses, disabled veteran businesses, and cost savings measures such as data repositories and "Go Green" programs in its competitive bid processes. The act requires all bids administered by the office of administration to be subject to a competitive bid process.
- Bribery by the Governor’s Office: Last session, two House members swore by signed affidavits that they were bribed by the Governor’s office. In exchange for a vote on an issue important to Governor Nixon, his staff promised the members a job in return for a favorable vote. Through the ethics bill, the Governor’s bribery tactics will be 100% illegal.
- Ethics Commission: Currently, within 120 days of receipt of a complaint, the special investigator submits a report to the commission. This act changes that threshold to 90 days. In addition, all reporting to the Missouri Ethics Commission must be done electronically.
- Contributions During Session: If an elected official receives a contribution of $500 or more during legislative session, that contribution must be reported within 48 hours. In addition, there will be increased penalties for late contribution reports whether during or not during legislative session.
- Ballot Removal: If a candidate is removed from the ballot for any reason, he or she may not be re-added to the ballot by the Party Committee or anyone else for any reason.