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04 June 2010

Rupp: Honoring Those Who Served

This Memorial Day I attended the beautiful ceremony held at the Lake St. Louis Veterans Memorial Park. It was awe inspiring to see so many people turn out to honor those who have served our country by paying the ultimate price. This kind of event reminds me of the great sacrifices we have made to form this great country of ours, and that it is a tremendous honor and privilege to be an elected leader from the great state of Missouri.

Our surviving heroes of World War I and II, the Korean War, and even the Vietnam War are getting fewer with each passing year. At the same time, we must also remember our heroes in Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. Many of our state's best men and women continue to defend our freedom in lands all across the world. We must never lose sight of the sacrifices our soldiers make when they put their lives on the line for our freedom. There is no way we can ever repay them for this gift, and the least we can do is treat that sacrifice with the dignity and gratitude that it deserves – and not just on Memorial Day.

This past legislative session, I was proud to vote for House Bill 1524, a large veteran's bill that I believe sets a few things right when it comes to how we treat the defenders of our country. House Bill 1524 requires that service-disabled veteran run businesses in Missouri get a point preference when it comes to state agency bids.

The bill also requires the state to form a Missouri Youth Challenge Academy for at-risk high school age youth. The residential military-based academy will provide work experience and training in life skills, citizenship, life-coping and academic skills, and other personal development skills. It is my firm belief that the discipline and life skills taught in this academy will turn many lives around for the better.

But perhaps most importantly, HB 1524 allows our soldiers currently overseas the option to fill out an absentee ballot and exercise their right to vote. In today's age of electronic information, there is no longer an excuse for not allowing our brave men and women the opportunity to participate in the democracy they work so hard to defend. It's the right thing to do and the right time to do it, and it is good to know that this brave group of Missourians can have a say in their own future with the right to vote.

Thank you to all of the brave soldiers who have served and who continued to serve, and God bless this great country of ours.

Senator Rupp Announces Partnership to Widen West St. Charles County Roads


On June 1, 2010, I announced that a project is already underway to meet citizen demands for safer and wider roads in West St. Charles County.

In a partnership between the State of Missouri, St. Charles County, and the local quarry operations, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) recently began engineering work on Highways D, DD, and 94 in West St. Charles County.

I've been working with MoDOT to allocate funds for this project since 2006, and those efforts have paid off thanks to the hard work of many people. There was a tremendous effort from a citizen's group, the county, and many more. Together, we made it happen.

The funding that has been secured will mean 15 miles of paved, three-foot shoulders on each side of the road, making dangerous stretches of Highways D, DD, and 94 safer for travelers. Construction is set to begin in the spring of 2011 with completion by the end of that year.

DWI Bill Signed into Law


Now that the General Assembly is nearly three weeks into the interim, the focus has shifted to one of the final steps in the legislative process: the governor's signature.

Last week (5/25), the General Assembly convened for a technical session to officially send most of the passed 2010 bills to the governor's desk for his signature. The governor has until July 14 to either sign or veto each bill; if he doesn't lend his signature to any piece of legislation by the deadline, it automatically becomes law.

Every bill the governor vetoes is sent back to the sponsoring chamber with his objections. The governor's vetoes, if any, will be considered by the Legislature when it reconvenes for veto session in mid-September. If lawmakers decide to try to override a veto, it will be put to a vote. To overturn a governor's veto, a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers is required.

Most of the passed bills that are signed by the governor become law on Aug. 28, though some contain "emergency clauses" that had to be approved separately from the legislation. Any bill or provision attached to an emergency clause may take effect immediately upon receiving the governor's signature (or at another specified date).

This week, the governor signed into law House Bill 1695, a bill that is intended to strengthen Missouri's DWI laws and crack down on repeat offenders. The legislation makes several changes to the state's laws regarding intoxication-related traffic offenses, including:
  • Allowing any circuit court to establish a special DWI court to handle such cases when the driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .15, has pled guilty to or been found guilty of one or more intoxication-related traffic offenses, or has two or more previous alcohol-related enforcement contacts.
  • Prohibiting any person who operated a motor vehicle with a BAC of .15 or more from being granted a suspended sentence.
  • Specifying that for a first offense, unless a person participates and successfully completes the requirements of a DWI court, a person who operated a motor vehicle with a BAC between .15 and .20 will be imprisoned for at least 48 hours, and a person who operated a motor vehicle with a BAC of .20 or more will be imprisoned for at least five days.
  • Increasing the minimum amount of jail time from five days to 10 days for a prior offender and from 10 days to 30 days for a persistent offender to be eligible for parole or probation—unless, as a condition, the person performs a certain amount of community service or participates in a court-ordered treatment program.
  • Specifying that any DWI case will not be carried out in municipal court if the defendant has been convicted, found guilty, or pled guilty to two or more previous intoxication-related traffic offenses or had two or more previous alcohol-related enforcement contacts.
  • Making the reporting of DWI cases more uniform and centralized by requiring the State Highway Patrol, beginning Jan. 1, 2011, to maintain regular accountability reports of alcohol-related arrests, charges, and dispositions based on the data submitted by law enforcement and prosecutors.
Now that it has received the governor's signature, the provisions of HB 1695 will be enacted into law on Aug. 28, 2010.

Other Top Legislative Priorities Await Governor's Signature


The other key priorities that legislators identified at the beginning of the session still await the governor's signature, including bills that institute ethics reform, provide insurance coverage for autism, strengthen regulations for adult businesses, expand informed consent requirements for abortion, and make changes to two of the state's major college scholarship programs. Some of the main provisions of these bills include:

Ethics Reform

Senate Bill 844 , sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph), allows the Missouri Ethics Commission to investigate ethics violations without an outside complaint being filed; requires contributions of more than $500 to incumbent officials and their challengers during legislative session be electronically reported within 48 hours; and limits the transferring of contributions among most committees.

Autism Insurance Coverage

House Bill 1311, which is my language from SB 618, requires health carriers that issue or renew health benefit plans on or after Jan. 1, 2011, to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders; prohibits health carriers from refusing to cover an individual or dependent solely because the individual is diagnosed with autism; and provides coverage for applied behavior analysis, a common treatment method for autism, up to $40,000 annually through age 18.

Adult Business Regulations

Senate Bill 586, sponsored by Sen. Matt Bartle (R-Lee's Summit), prohibits a person from establishing a sexually oriented business within 1,000 feet of certain entities; prohibits nude performances and restricts semi-nude activity within sexually oriented businesses; prohibits adult establishments from operating between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., and bans the use, sale and consumption of alcohol on the premises.

Expanded Informed Consent for Abortion

Senate Bill 793, sponsored by Sen. Rob Mayer (R-Dexter), requires, at least 24 hours prior to an abortion being performed, that a woman be presented with various printed materials detailing the risks of an abortion and the physiological characteristics of an unborn baby; given an opportunity to view an active ultrasound and hear the heartbeat; and provided information regarding the possibility of the abortion causing pain to the unborn baby past 22 weeks.

The bill also requires the physician to discuss the medical assistance and counseling resources available, advise the woman of the father's liability for child support, and provide information about the Alternatives to Abortion Program.

College Scholarships

Senate Bill 733, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), changes and equalizes Access Missouri scholarship amounts for public and private universities; protects Bright Flight scholarship eligibility for students who serve in the military, and expands Bright Flight scholarship eligibility to those who have received a GED, or completed a homeschooling program of study, secondary coursework through Missouri's Virtual Public School, or any other academic program that satisfies the compulsory attendance law.

All of the above bills will become law Aug. 28, 2010, upon receiving the governor's signature with the exception of SB 733, which contains an emergency clause that applies to certain provisions.

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.

03 June 2010

Nance: Memorial Day Weekend Recap, Unclaimed Property

In the District


Ray County Senior Center’s “Before Hours” was held on Friday. I visited the site on Thursday and the Excelsior Senior Center the week before.

This past weekend I was busy posting flags with the Rotary Club of Lawson honoring the Memorial Day Holiday.

Sunday evening was the ribbon cutting for the Mormon History Room at the Ray County Museum. More than 200 people were in attendance.

Monday, I was in Richmond to speak at Woodland and Memory Gardens Cemeteries. I want to thank the Ray County veterans for their efforts to honor those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy.

I met with Magna (Excelsior Spring’s seat assembly supplier for Ford) and other interested parties on Wednesday. Rick Woods and Lana Fletcher set the meeting for discussion of HB 1675. Our concern is keeping Ford and its suppliers in Kansas City.

I will be in Orrick on Sunday as volunteers will have a fundraiser for the Community Center. A free will donation will be accepted.

Unclaimed Property


You may have unclaimed property with the state. To check, use the link http://www.treasurer.mo.gov/

Hit the unclaimed property icon and type in your last name. While you are there, check for parent and grandparent claims.

Nodler: Consequences of Federal Healthcare Already Felt

One of the first programs approved in the federal healthcare bill will begin July 1, but many of the Missourians that could have benefited from the program will be left paying higher premiums because of the way the law is written. The program is a federally run high-risk insurance pool that would allow patients with pre-existing medical conditions to qualify for affordable insurance. However, since Missouri already has a similar program, some in the state are being blocked from accessing the federal version of the program.

The Missouri Health Insurance Pool (MHIP) was established in 1991. The program offers individual health coverage to those high-risk individuals who cannot otherwise get health insurance. The pool is managed by the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions, and Professional Registration and receives some federal and state funding. Individuals pay premiums to cover the remaining costs of the pool, which amount to about 150 percent of the state average premium. For example, a 44-year-old man with a $500 deductable pays a rate of $683. Our state’s insurance pool covers about 3,000 Missourians who would not otherwise be able to qualify for health insurance.

A new lower-cost federal program will begin on July 1. This program, using $5 billion in taxpayer dollars, offers premiums at a standard rate in an effort to offer affordable insurance to more Americans that are otherwise unable to become insured. Missouri is set to receive $81 million in federal funds to implement the program. However, since the law specifies that eligible patients have to have been uninsured for the previous six months before applying for coverage, Missourians currently covered by MHIP are excluded. This effectively penalizes these individuals who have been paying to maintain their coverage. There are 35 states facing similar problems because of their own state high-risk pool programs.

When looking at the federal healthcare bill, there is no lack of concern for the future. The escalating costs of mandated healthcare, the cost of Medicaid expansion on the states, and the concerns of many Americans that do not want to see their healthcare freedom infringed upon have come to light since Congress began discussing the bill. However, this issue will affect thousands of Missourians within a month. The consequences of the federal healthcare bill are already clear for these citizens, and I fear we will continue to see the negative effects of this legislation as time goes on.

Davis: Memorial Day 2010


This is better than any barbecue---joining together with the Veterans and citizens at the O'Fallon Memorial Ceremony.  It was hot, but our hearts and souls were united for one cause -remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our liberty.


Sheldon Hartsfield, Vice Chair of the Veterans Commission, was the Master of Ceremonies and brought his grandchildren.  His granddaughter in the red dress, Vanessa Holtzer, is five years old and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.


We decided to build the Veterans Walk Memorial while I was serving my fourth term on the O'Fallon Board of Aldermen.  This annual Memorial Day ceremony has grown every year and is now one of the best in the area.  We are fortunate to have so many fine veterans living here.  Here I am with Jerry Studstill, Chairman of the O'Fallon Veterans Commission and behind me (in the blue blazer) is Dan Turner, the keynote speaker of the morning.


I was surprised when I was asked to speak, but honored to be a part of such a touching ceremony.  The Mayor of O'Fallon is behind me with Jerry Studstill.  Jerry did the benediction at the conclusion of the ceremony. Perhaps some of my warm feelings for veterans come from the fact that my father was in World War II and the Korean War.  We all have family members who were in the military.  I am so grateful my father survived, yet we should honor the bravery for those who didn't return.


Bill and Madolena Key came to the Memorial Day Ceremony with me.  Bill is in the United States Coast Guard and was called upon to help with part of the ceremony as well.

Your thoughts are important to me, so please let me know what you did on Memorial Day. You can send me your opinion by clicking here: Cynthia Davis

02 June 2010

Ruestman: A Time for Remembering

Memorial Day is a day that touches every one of us.  I hope everyone took the time to remember our fallen soldiers over the Memorial Day weekend.  This holiday is one of the most important our nation celebrates because it honors our nation's heroes.  While it is always great to spend time with family and friends to unofficially kick off summer, we must not forget those whose service protected these freedoms.

My family was able to spend some quality time together over the holiday.  We paused to visit cemeteries and to decorate the graves of our deceased relatives, many who fought for our nation.  While Memorial Day is a somber time of remembrance, happy memories were shared, along with thoughts of our loved ones who have passed away.

At times, it seems our nation is torn beyond repair, but this holiday brings us together as one nation.  We each have an individual story, but beyond that we share a history.  Some of you fought in wars to protect our nation and our freedoms.  Some of you have lost loved ones in a war or conflict.  Some of you are serving our nation now and some of you have family or friends currently serving.  Our thanks go out to each of you for your sacrifices.

On behalf of the Missouri House of Representatives, I would like to extend our sincere appreciate to those who died serving our nation.

If you have problems, questions or wish to express concern over an issue, please do not hesitate to contact me or my Legislator Assistant, Jonathan, at my Capitol office either by phone 573-751-9801 or by e-mail at Marilyn{dot}Ruestman{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.

Keaveny: Welcoming a Partner in Community Health Fair

North City Farmers' Market Set to Open


I am pleased to announce the opening of the North City Farmers' Market on June 5, 2010.  The market is located at North 14th Street and St. Louis Avenue across from Crown Candy Kitchen, and features local, organic food at low prices.

The North City Farmers' Market will host an inaugural "Eat.Right.Now!" parade and community health fair on Saturday, June 5.  This one-of-a-kind event will celebrate healthy eating, eating locally, physical activity and sustainability.  The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. at Hyde Park on Salisbury Street, winds down Parnell Street, and completes the last leg along St. Louis Avenue, concluding at the North City Farmers' Market across from Crown Candy Kitchen.

Following the parade, everyone is invited to join the opening celebration of the North City Farmers' Market and enjoy the health fair.  The health fair features free food, a free cooking demonstration, live entertainment and children's activities.

The North City Farmers' Market is a partner in the free health fair I am sponsoring for our community on July 10, 2010, at Forest Park Community College.  I just want to let the citizens of the 4th District know this valuable resource exists to promote healthy eating and healthy living in our community.

The free Community Health Fair I am sponsoring will run from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Forest Park Community College, 5600 Oakland Ave., St. Louis.

When it comes to our health, I think that knowledge is one of the most important factors, right along with proper diet and exercise. We need to know the vital information that constitutes our health, such as cholesterol, glucose, and body mass index, to name a few.  Learning what these numbers are and what they mean for your health is just as important as knowing the genetic factors of your family history.

Healthy eating habits promote long life and reduce the risk of disease, and our farmers' markets are sources of nutritious products and valuable information. I hope you have an opportunity to visit the North City Farmers' Market this summer.  It will remain open until October 16.  For more information, visit www.northcityfarmersmarket.org.

Bon app├ętit!

01 June 2010

Roorda: Community Meetings: Your Input Matters

JOIN JEFF FOR AN END OF SESSION REPORT

Town hall meetings will be held to discuss the following issues:

Transportation, June 21, 2010 at 6:00pm
Antonia Fire House #2
6633 Moss Hallow Road
Barnhart, MO 63012

Children's Safety, June 22, 2010 at 6:30pm
Simpson Elementary
3585 Vogel Road
Arnold, MO 63010

OR FOR YOUR OWN MEETING, CONTACT:
Representative Jeff Roorda
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 115A
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Phone: 573-751-2504
Email: Jeff{dot}Roorda{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov