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11 June 2010

Ruestman: Beware of Medicare Scams

As your state representative, I occasionally like to take the opportunity to offer valuable information which is provided to my office by State or Federal Departments.

This week my office received word from the Missouri Insurance Director that seniors who’ve reached the coverage gap, or “doughnut hole”, in Medicare Part D will receive a check for $250 soon. These one-time, tax-free checks are the first step in reducing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap. Estimate show that 80,000 Missouri senior citizens will receive a check by the end of the year. It is important to note that seniors do not have to buy a new policy or modify their existing one to be eligible for the check. There is concern that some companies may try to scam consumers into buying new coverage or changing insurance companies with the promise of a $250 check. According to the Insurance Director, “Policyholders are entitled to these checks – there are no extra hurdles to jump through and no strings attached.”

Consumers should be aware of the following:
  • No one working for the government will ever request personal information before the check can be sent.
  • No federal employee or agent of the federal government will be selling insurance coverage.
  • There is no such thing as an “Obamacare” policy.
If you have further questions, want to verify an agent or company or if you believe you may have been scammed, please call the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or visit You may also report scams directly to Medicare at 800-MEDICARE or

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.

Rupp: Immigration Reform: The National Debate and Missouri

The national debate on immigration reform continues to garner attention throughout the country. It is not surprising that so many people are interested in the safety of our borders and, in turn, the safety of our country. Arizona’s recently passed legislation affecting immigration has stirred up a lot of controversy, but the issue has always been one that has concerned me and my actions in the General Assembly.

Prior to 2008, in St. Charles County, we had two separate instances when illegal immigrants were found on job sites that were funded by state tax credits. Using tax dollars to employ illegal workers is unacceptable, and so we worked to pass a law that would hold those trying to get away with employing illegal immigrants accountable. That law, which I was proud to sponsor in 2008, also included several other provisions now law that protect jobs and services in our state and fight illegal immigration activity in Missouri.

Since the passage of this law, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has reported that more than 500 illegal immigrants have started the deportation process. This is thanks to a provision now on the books that gives our state highway patrol the directive to check the residency status of anyone presented for incarceration. To further empower our local law enforcement, officers received special training so they can continue to enforce illegal immigration laws, including courses to learn about the administration of deportation.

In order to protect jobs in our state, the law also calls for employers to use a computer program that checks the legal status of anyone seeking employment in our state, and it establishes penalties for employers who hire illegal aliens. If a company receives a tax credit, a check of the immigration status of the workers is required.

The Missouri law protects our state from becoming a safe haven for illegals by prohibiting municipalities from establishing sanctuary policies. It also prohibits the issuance of driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, as well as penalties for driver’s license fraud. Illegal immigrants are prohibited from receiving state grants or scholarships and other taxpayer benefits. All of these measures were wildly successful from the beginning and continue to be successful today.

As evident from our actions in 2008 and in the measures adopted in Arizona, immigration is a continuing problem throughout our country. In Arizona and Missouri, citizens grew tired of waiting for Washington, D.C. and took action to push for solutions. I am pleased with the impact the 2008 bill has made in our state, and I will continue to work on making Missouri a safer place to live and work for its citizens.

Autism Insurance Bill Signed by Governor

After years of effort, the Missouri Legislature passed, and the governor has signed, meaningful autism insurance reform that will provide coverage to thousands of families.

House Bill 1311, which I navigated through the Legislature, requires coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including coverage for applied behavior analysis, for up to a maximum of $40,000 annually, through the age of 18.

The bill restricts health carriers from refusing to issue or renew coverage simply because an individual has an autism diagnosis. Parents had been paying premiums for their children’s health care, yet when proven medical treatments were needed, they were denied coverage, and some were even denied basic medical care. Research shows that with these therapies 50 percent of children do not need special education or services by the first grade. This fairness and quality of life issue will show long term cost savings to Missouri’s education and social welfare systems and communities as a whole.

Families can begin purchasing coverage on Jan. 1, 2011.

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.

10 June 2010

Stouffer: How Missouri Balanced its Budget

We are heading toward Missouri’s next fiscal year, which will start on July 1, 2010. The Missouri General Assembly worked very hard to cut nearly $500 million from the original budget proposal given to us by the governor back in January.

This has been an opportunity to keep bigger government at bay, while passing a balanced budget.

I have often talked about the need to make tough decisions in relation to government spending. Some of those decisions happened this year, through the Missouri Senate’s “Rebooting Government” efforts. Many more of those decisions will have to be made next year, when the state no longer has federal stimulus dollars to pull from. Most of what we did for fiscal year 2011 involves small cuts in most of the services provided by the state.

The state Legislature went through the governor’s $23.9 billion spending plan and trimmed $486 million. Since the bulk of funding goes toward social services and education, that is where some funding was reduced. A reduction of 5 percent was out of the higher education bill [HB2003], which brings that portion of the budget down to $1.2 billion. Elementary and secondary education [HB2002] also received a decrease of funding for items outside of classroom instruction. This totaled a 1 percent reduction, to $5.3 billion.

In addition, spending for the current year’s Career Ladder program was restored, which will pay teachers for extra services provided in the district. Parents As Teachers will also see some changes, which will result in some folks paying for services that used to be free to them, but will also mean the program will continue to exist.

Mental health services [HB2010] have also been trimmed for 2011. The legislature cut 1 percent from this budget, which takes spending to $1.2 billion. This will translate to cutting services and some staff members in most of the state’s mental hospitals. I expressed concerns with the types of changes made here as these facilities, which take care of the state’s developmentally disabled, have seen major reductions in funding in recent years.

The Department of Corrections [HB2009] will also see a reduction in funding for the next fiscal year. The Legislature removed 1 percent of their budget, which takes them to $660 million for the coming year. This is a tricky area for cuts; we want to make sure all of Missouri’s prisons are safe and provide the folks working there with the security measures they need.

State employee benefit spending was also trimmed, by 6 percent, to $899 million. There was a move to improve state employee retirements this year, but the bill did not pass. The state is also are looking at reducing the number of state jobs by about 1,000. Most of these will be done through early retirement and attrition.

None of these decisions were easy to make, but necessary. The Legislature will have to make many of these same types of decisions again next year, since we are being told we could see a $1 billion shortfall for fiscal year 2012. The governor has also said he plans to withhold $350 million from the 2011 budget. Our tasks will not be easy, but with your help and prayers, we will get through this together.
For children with autism, many of the life skills we take for granted do not come easily. Making friends or going to a baseball game become a challenge due to the social, communication and behavioral symptoms of autism. The good news is that research to help those with autism is moving forward and more resources are now available. A bill passed by the General Assembly and recently signed into law will ensure that Missouri families have access to the life-changing therapies that will improve the quality of life for children with autism.

Prior to the passage of House Bill 1311, insurance companies were not required to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism. This means that families with a son or daughter with autism were forced to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for treatments, despite the fact that they were paying their premiums. In 2007, the Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism was formed and issued a report recommending that we pass legislation to require private insurance to cover autism. During the 2008 and 2009 legislative session, efforts were made, but this year, we were successful in passing the legislation.

House Bill 1311 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. The bill also prohibits health carriers from refusing to cover an individual or dependent solely because the individual is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Coverage for applied behavior analysis (ABA), a common treatment method for autism, is capped at $40,000 annually through age 18.

In addition, a state Behavior Analyst Advisory Board is established under the State Committee of Psychologists within the Division of Professional Registration. The new board is charged with establishing and overseeing licensure and registration requirements for behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts who provide therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders.

The bill also requires the Missouri Department of Insurance to grant a waiver from the autism insurance standard to small business employers that have group health plans if compliance raises premium costs by a certain percentage. Employers must demonstrate (over any consecutive 12-month period) that compliance with the coverage has increased the premium costs of their health insurance policy by at least 2.5 percent over the course of a calendar year.

Research has shown that children who receive early treatment show significant improvement as opposed to those that receive little or late treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment also contribute to greater financial savings for families, society and the state. Families throughout Missouri have worked and waited for this legislation to pass, and I celebrate with them that the bill has been signed into law.

Davis: Tax Refunds

(Photo credit: Vince McGee, Logan College Director of Media Services)

Logan College of Chiropractic invited me to speak during A Tribute To Remember: Memories of Our Country's Heroes, a ceremony honoring those who have defended our nation.  It was my privilege to honor those who place their lives on the line every day.

State Tax Refunds

Several of my constituents have called my office to ask why they have not received their income tax refunds, especially since April 15th is becoming a distant memory.  Some of you may remember last year when we had a similar problem:  2009 Capitol Report: Tax Refunds. Last year the State of Missouri used federal economic stimulus money to pay back our refunds.  It should not have cut itself so closely. Returning money that is rightfully owed to our residents should be timely. The taxpayers should not be used as a bank.

It would be better if we could do one calculation at end of the year when we knew exactly how much was owed to the State.  This would not only be fair, but no income tax refunds would be due.  The idea that the government must require the taxpayers to make gradual estimated taxes is insulting to the integrity of the tax payers.

Funny---the reason the state demands "Pay as you go" taxation is because it is afraid the taxpayers will not properly handle their budget so they will be able to pay at the end.  However, isn't this exactly what the state has done in the reverse?  The bill is due and the state doesn't have enough to pay it back in a timely fashion.

This is why I cosponsored a bill HB 1514 that requires the state to pay interest on unpaid tax refunds after 45 days. Currently, the state doesn't have to pay interest until the refund is delayed more than 4 months. During the legislative process this bill was modified to income tax refunds paid after 90 days. We were successful at getting this bill to the governor's desk where it is now waiting to be signed.  It will not become law until August 28th, so if you are waiting for a refund this year, it will not make a big difference, but the state must do a better job to return people's money to them when it is due, not treating them like a revolving line of credit.

For the state to delay payments is just as embarrassing as discovering in the check out line of a store that you don't have enough money to cover what you have on the counter.  I have plenty of compassion for those who go through this, because it's probably happened to all of us. However, there is no excuse for government to not plan ahead. The recession didn't sneak up on us.  We knew for years that we were in lean economic times, and it behooves all of us to plan accordingly.

In case you are one of those who is stuck waiting on your refund, here is what I discovered regarding tax refunds and Missouri' fiscal condition:
  • Missouri Statues require the Department of Revenue (DOR) to mail a tax refund within 120 days from the day a filed tax form is received. Lag times vary week to week, especially when filed close to April 15.
  • The sooner in the year you file your State tax form the quicker you'll receive your refund. For example those who file sometime January to March will have their forms processed before the April 15 "crunch-time" when the DOR is inundated with forms to process.
  • The Missouri Budget Book FY 2011(NOTE: FY=fiscal year; Missouri's 2011 fiscal year runs from July1, 2010 to June 30, 2011) adjusts the FY 2010 Consensus Revenue Estimate (net general revenue) down by $794 million from the previous year's estimate. You can link here to these resources: Missouri's Budget Facts
  • The fiscal year for the state ends on June 30th. Year to date, the state's revenue is nearly 8% below expected revenues when the budget was initially approved.  That means the state is now short by more than $5.5 million dollars and that number may increase before the end of the fiscal year.
  • In the 2009 fiscal year, our public schools received $5,340,147,253. In the 2011 fiscal year, our public schools are on schedule to receive $5,363,104,875. While that may seem like a lot of commas to you, the bottom line is that our schools are getting over 23 million more this year than they received two years ago.
  • Overall the state is still faring better than many businesses. The state's 3.8% decrease in net sales tax revenue (this percentage is anticipated to be higher by the end of the fiscal year). Missouri still employs more than 35,000 people and there is no chance the state will be going out of business.
  • Missouri is one of the more financially stable states and has received triple-A ratings from three of the nation's top-rating agencies: Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch.
FYI:  If you want to know your Federal refund status, you can call the IRS toll free 1-800-829-1954.

Your thoughts are important to me, so please let me know what you think about the state budget and getting your income tax refund. You can send me your opinion by clicking here: Cynthia Davis

A Little Bit of Humor . . .

If Congress can pay farmers not to raise crops,
Why can't we pay Congress not to raise taxes?

President Herbert Hoover was the first President to give his salary back to the government.
Now the government would like everyone to do it.

Nance: Seniors covered by Medicare Part D to receive $250 rebate checks starting June 10, State officials warn of scams

Jefferson City, Mo. - Missouri Insurance Director John M. Huff says seniors who have reached the coverage gap or "doughnut hole" in Medicare Part D will begin receiving rebate checks for $250 next week. These one-time, tax-free checks are the first step in reducing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap as outlined in the new federal health care reform law. The federal government estimates more than 80,000 Missourians will get a rebate check by the end of this year.

Consumers covered under Medicare Part D are automatically eligible to receive a check once they reach the coverage gap. Seniors do not have to buy a new policy or modify their existing one in any way to qualify. Consumers who reach the "doughnut hole" can expect a check within 45 days.

"Policyholders are entitled to these checks - there are no extra hurdles to jump through and no strings attached," said Huff.

Huff also warned that while the checks will bring financial relief, seniors could become a prime target for scam artists. Anyone asking for Medicare, Social Security or bank account numbers in order to receive a check is a scammer, he added.

"Consumers need to be aware that no one working for the government will ever request personal information before a check can be sent," said Huff. "Seniors are often the target of this kind of scam, so they need to be extra vigilant and not provide personal information to anyone contacting them."

Huff says Missouri has received reports of scams in connection with the health care reform law. In April, a senior in St. Charles County reported a visit from someone claiming to be a federal employee selling "Obamacare" policies. Federal agents do not sell insurance, and there is no such thing as an "Obamacare" policy.

Consumers can report a scam or verify an agent or company by calling the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or visiting Scams can also be reported directly to Medicare by calling 800-MEDICARE or visiting

About the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration

The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) is responsible for consumer protection through the regulation of financial industries and professionals. The department's seven divisions work to enforce state regulations both efficiently and effectively while encouraging a competitive environment for industries and professions to ensure consumers have access to quality products.

08 June 2010

Kraus: Protecting Our Children

Finally! The weather is warm, the skies are blue, and it will soon be officially summer.  It's time for many of us to get outside to take care of the garden, get in some outdoor exercise, or just sit outside on the patio for rest and recreation after a busy day.

It's time for our children to be outside, too.  Out of school for the summer, it's their time to wander in the park, play ball, hit the swimming pools, and gather with friends away from parents. It is – and should be – a great time for them.  However, as parents, we must also be aware of the dangers that can lurk around our parks, our swimming pools, and other places where children gather.  Child sex offenders, if they are allowed, know where to seek their prey.

We've long had laws on the books that prohibit sex offenders from living or working near schools.  However, only since 2009, when I sponsored HB 105, have we had laws that prohibit them from being within 500 feet of public parks and swimming pools where children congregate in the summer.  I worked to limit their proximity because caring teachers and parents have a harder time keeping an eye on children in these places.  At the same time, I also sponsored legislation, HB 106, to prohibit convicted sex offenders from serving in capacities such as a coach or athletic trainer for youth teams.  When a constituent contacted me about this happening and its horrible consequences, I vowed to not let it happen again.  Both of these provisions passed in HB 62.

Sex Offender Registry

As a parent, you can help to safeguard your children by knowing where convicted sex offenders live in your neighborhood.  Convicted child sex offenders are required to register with the state, and information is available online at Once you have accessed the website, you can look up offenders by entering your address and selecting a search area anywhere within one thousand feet to fifteen miles from your home. The site will map out where all the offenders in your vicinity live. When you scroll down and click on the offender's name, it will bring up a picture, physical description and convictions.  If you do not have access to the internet, you can call the Missouri Sex Offender Registry toll free at (888) 767-6747.

New Legislation

We must remain ever vigilant in protecting our children from these heinous predators.  If protection fails, we must also work to improve health care for child victims of sexual assault. This year, in response to the lack of health care professionals trained to evaluate child sexual assault victims in Missouri, we passed HB 2270.  It improves health care for child victims by educating more health care professionals on how to evaluate and communicate with abuse victims. The legislation also will allow doctors to get a second opinion by consulting with other doctors using advanced video technology. Currently, doctors are barred from sharing information about their patients with anyone, excluding law enforcement.

We as legislators must continue to identify any shortcomings in our system of protections against child sexual abuse, and we must continue to fix those problems with our actions in the legislature.

Legislation Becomes Law

Stiffer Penalties for Drunken Drivers Signed

According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, below are the numbers of alcohol-related driving events in Jackson County.
  • In 2009, 24 fatal crashes occurred, killing 28 people.
  • In 359 accidents, 531 people were injured in 2009.
  • For all law enforcement agencies, DWI arrests totaled 3409 in 2009.
  • In the roughly five-year period from 2005 to date, 123 people have been killed.
These deaths are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, and relatives.  The problem touches us all, and we must do what we can to discourage drunk driving.

This session, the General Assembly passed HB 1695, which strengthens laws regarding intoxication-related traffic offenses, and Governor Nixon signed this bill on June 2.

Penalties, including jail time, have been increased for persons who are arrested for driving while intoxicated.  The bill would require 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 the person completes the requirements of a DWI court or docket that can require treatment.   In addition, it specifies that drivers with blood-alcohol levels of at least 0.15 percent cannot be granted a suspended imposition of sentence.

The bill also makes greater provision for offenders to choose treatment by allowing any circuit court to set up a DWI docket for repeat offenders or those whose blood-alcohol content exceeds 0.15 percent.  The court may assess costs for participation in a DWI court against the participant.

Legislation That Affects Military Personnel

On May 27, Governor Nixon signed the four pieces of military legislation that I discussed in my last Capitol update.  These were:
  • HB 1524 – Enacts several changes regarding veterans and members of the military,
  • HB 1893 - Changes the laws regarding the distribution of gaming funds for early childhood education and veterans' programs and requires an annual audit to be conducted on the fund accounts for three years,
  • HB 2147 - Exempts certain students who are dependents of recently retired military personnel from the three-year attendance requirement under the A+ Schools Program, and
  • HB 2262 - Exempts certain students who are dependents of recently retired military personnel from the three-year attendance requirement under the A+ Schools Program.
I'm very glad to see the successful conclusion of these bills.

Flag Day

Next Monday, June 14, is Flag Day.  After the creation of the flag by seamstress Betsy Ross 233 years ago, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write our national anthem as he saw it still flying in the light of dawn after a night of battle with the British.  To see it still flying continues to be the glory of those who fight for it.  June 14 is the special day for everyone to fly the flag with pride in the history and nation that it represents.

Also on June 14, 1775, the Second Continental Congress issued a resolution that formally established the United States Army.  Happy Birthday!

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

Gatschenberger: Missouri's Budget, End of Session Legislative Summary and Town Hall Invitation

Town Hall Report

As promised… the following is a summary of the budget information covered at our last Town Hall Meeting.   Although the material may be a bit technical, I believe it is worth your time to understand our State's Budget.  If you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact my office.


State Fiscal Year 2011 (July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011)
Total Missouri State Operating Budget$23,274, 922,486
State General Revenue7,260,461,973
Federal Budget Stabilization (unrestricted)572,388,526
Federal Budget Stabilization (education)287,037,940
Federal Funds7,035,061,286
Other Funds

(Highway & Road Funds; Lottery & Gaming Proceeds;

Conservation, Parks Soil & Water; Outstanding Schools Trust Fund, etc)
That $7.3 billion Net State General Revenue is derived from:
  • $4.8 billion or 66.4% from Individual Income Tax
  • $1.8 billion or 24.4% from Sales and Use Tax
  • $0.4 billion or 4.9% from Corporate Income Tax
  • $0.3 billion or 4.3% from Other Taxes
Largest Expenditures of Net State General Revenue:
  • $2.8 billion or 38.9% for Elementary & Secondary Education
  • $2.3 billion or 31.9% for Social Services, Health & Senior Services and Mental Health
  • $0.9 billion or 12.5% for Higher Education

II. Missouri State Budget History

Normal/Average Net State General Revenue (GR) growth is + 3 to 4% more than the previous year's collections.  Over the last 10 years, it has been as low as (-) 3.2% in FY 2002 and as high as +9.2% in FY 2006

In FY 2009, last year, net tax collections dropped by what was at that time, was "the largest percentage drop" of minus (-) 6.9% below the previous year's revenues.  This drop resulted in actual net GR collections for FY 2009 of $7.4 billion, which is equal to the amount the state collected in FY 2006.

Missouri's Constitution requires that the Governor use line-item vetoes and/or withholding of funds from state agencies and programs when actual revenue collections drop below budgeted collections.  In FY 2009, the Governor withheld and reduced spending authorizations by $272.0 million.

The FY 2010 budget that we are currently getting ready to end on June 30 was built on estimated revenue growth of positive + 1.0%.  However, our national and state economies, driven by record unemployment of nearly 10%, have resulted in revisions that net GR collections could drop by more  than minus (–) 9.0%!  As a result of this shortfall, the Governor has vetoed or withheld more than $900.0 million of GR expenditures by state agencies and programs this year.

The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 has provided one-time Federal Budget Stabilization and targeted one-time Federal Stimulus Funds to the states.

Federal Budget Stabilization Funds (FBS) are provided over a 27-month period from Oct 2008 thru Dec 2010.  These one-time funds total approx'ly $2.4 billion that have been used to shore up the state budgets for (last year) FY 2009 and (this year) FY 2010.

Federal Stimulus Funds totaling another $2.6 billion are available for one-time "targeted and competitive" grants for state and local programs such as: job training, law enforcement, energy projects, unemployment benefits and broadband.

III. Special Circumstances for the FY 2010 Missouri State Budget

The original revenue estimate made 18 months previous for the FY 2011 budget was an optimistic + 3.6%.  However, as a result of the drastic reductions in state revenue in FY 2009 and 2010, the more recent revised estimate is a modest +2.2% growth on a much lower base of $6.7 billion of net GR in FY 2010.

On January 20 of this year, the Governor recommended a budget for FY 2011 that assumed the + 3.6% growth.  His spending proposals also included use of an additional $300.0 million of one-time "Extended" Federal Budget Stabilization Funds above and beyond the 27-month period of the 2009 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.   These additional one-time Extended Federal Budget Stabilization funds had been proposed in federal legislation, but have not yet been approved by Congress.

In March, the Governor asked the House and Senate Budget Committees to cut the budget he proposed for FY 2011 by $500.0 million.  The Governor's request to the General Assembly was to cut $200.0 million due to the FY 2011 revised general revenue estimate from + 3.6 to + 2.2% and his acknowledgement that the state may not receive the $300.0 million of Extended Federal Budget Stabilization Funds that he had included in his budget.  The House and the Senate worked together to make the very difficult and unpopular decisions to cut $484.0 million of GR from the FY 2011 budget that was proposed by the Governor in January.

In May, the Governor announced that he plans to cut $350.0 million more from the FY 2011 budget approved by the Legislature because some proposed budget-related legislation did not pass, the administration does not agree with some assumptions in the appropriations and monthly collections continue to fall below estimates.

IV. Challenges to the FY 2012 Missouri State Budget

The one-time Federal Budget Stabilization Funds totaling $860.0 million (see page 1 – the $572 million and $287 million) will be gone after the state FY 2011 budget.

Even if we get the Extended $300.0 million of FBS, we still have somewhere between $560 to $860 million MORE TO CUT from the base of the FY 2012 budget before we can even consider the increases that will be requested for the School Foundation Formula, Higher Education, Medicaid , Corrections, Public Safety, etc.

V. Highlights of the FY 2011 Missouri State Budget

  • Flat funding for School Foundation Formula ($3.4 billion from all Funds)
  • $15.0 million reduction to Foundation Transportation ($153.0 million)
  • 5.2% or $50.0 million reduction in direct aid to Higher Education Institutions and Community Colleges ($911.0 million)
  • $13.0 million cut in funds for Access Missouri need-based Scholarships ($83.0 million)
  • $20.0 million reduction to state employee benefits
  • $6.0 million reduction on Biodiesel subsidies ($13.4 million)
  • $6.0 million reduction to Tourism ($13.9 million)
  • $7.5 million additional for Corrections inmate health & mental health care ($136.6 million)
  • $5.6 million additional for caseload growth in the Dept of Mental Health
  • $16.5 million additional for Medicaid Home & Community Services in the Dept of Health & Senior Services
  • $30.6 additional for Medicaid caseload growth in the Dept of Social Services

Please be my guest!

What:  Town Hall Meeting
When:  Thursday, June 24th – 7:00 pm
Where:  Wentzville City Hall – 310 W Pearce Blvd
Why:  Information on what the University of Missouri Extension Office can do for you as an individual… or as a small business. Scott Killpack from the University of Missouri Extension Office in St. Charles County will explain what is available and how you can take advantage of their services.  For example… did you know they can help you with your yard problems?  Your health & nutrition questions?  Your small business ideas?  Your needs as a dislocated worker?  Your family financial maze?

Also, James Gremaud from the Missouri Department of Transportation will be on hand to give you an update of MoDot projects in the 13th District and get your thoughts on Truck Lanes.

You won't want to miss this very important information session… so please mark your calendars now!

More than 70 people attended my last Town Hall Meeting in Wentzville

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

Gatschenberger: Legislative Update Points 17-26 and Fun Facts

17. Deadly Force to Protect Unborn Children

House Bill 2081 specifies that a pregnant woman may use deadly force to protect her unborn child if she reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary. The bill comes in response to a Michigan case where a pregnant woman was convicted of manslaughter for killing her boyfriend in defense of her unborn child. The case caused controversy in the Michigan state legislature, as members debated whether Michigan law allowed the woman to claim that she acted in self defense of her unborn child. The court later overturned the conviction and Michigan legislators passed a bill similar to House Bill 2081.

18. Child Abuse Medical Resource Centers and SAFE CARE

House Bill 2270 aims to improve health care for child victims of sexual abuse by educating more health care professionals on how to interact with abuse victims. The 17 medical resource centers that belong to the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Child Abuse Resource Education (SAFE CARE) network will provide training for medical professionals on how to evaluate and communicate with child victims, and will provide evaluation services for victims as well. The legislation also will allow doctors at these facilities to get a second opinion by consulting with other doctors using advanced video technology. Currently, doctors are barred from sharing information about their patients with anyone, excluding law enforcement. This legislation comes as a response to the lack of health care professionals trained to evaluate child sexual assault victims in Missouri.

19. Girl Scout Day

Senate Bill 649 establishes Girl Scout Day in recognition of the Girl Scout program, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2012. The bill requires the governor to issue a proclamation each year setting apart May 12 as Girl Scout Day. The legislation also recommends that the people of Missouri observe the day in recognition of the Girl Scout program that "seeks to promote the social welfare of young women, build self-esteem, and teach values such as honesty, fairness, courage, compassion, character, sisterhood, confidence and citizenship through activities including camping, community service, learning first aid, and earning badges by acquiring practical skills."

20. Mental Health Safety

Senate Bill 744 creates the crime of endangering the life of any person in a secured mental health facility. The bill applies to crimes against other patients, visitors and Department of Mental Health employees. The crime created by the bill is the equivalent of the current crime of endangerment by a criminal offender against a Department of Corrections employee. In addition, the legislation will particularly punish violent sexual predators who knowingly cause workers or visitors to come into contact with various bodily fluids, such as blood, urine or seminal fluid. These offenders will be charged with a class D felony, which carries maximum penalties of four years in prison or a $5,000 fine. Offenders guilty of the crime who are infected with HIV or hepatitis B or C, will be charged with a class C felony, which has a maximum prison term of seven years.

21. Urban Farming

House Bill 1848 creates a Joint Committee on Urban Farming to explore ways to provide inner city residents with improved access to healthy food. The 10-member committee is charged with studying and making recommendations regarding the impact of urban farm cooperatives, vertical farming, and sustainable living communities. The committee will also examine various trends in urban farming; existing resources and capacity; the impact on affected communities; and any needed legislation, policies, or regulations.

22. Public Meeting Notice

Senate Bill 851 requires earlier notice for certain public meetings. The legislation requires four days notice for meetings on tax increases, eminent domain issues, zoning, tax increment financing and sales taxes. Currently, the law requires 24 hours notice before a public meeting is held. The bill also requires each public meeting to include time for public comment and prohibits governing bodies from voting on tax issues unless proper notice is given.

23. Sale for Resale Tax

Senate Bill 928 clarifies that certain purchases made for resale are not to be considered as retail items subject to sales and use tax when the subsequent sale is taxed in the state or another state, is for resale, is excluded from tax, is subject to tax but is exempt, or is exempt in another state where the subsequent sale occurs. The bill comes in response to two Missouri Supreme Court decisions that resulted in sellers being forced to pay sales tax on items they purchase for resale to tax exempt entities. Before the ruling, resellers were able to purchase goods to be sold to exempt entities tax-free.

24. Using Gambling Chips on Gaming Boats for Food and Drink

Senate Bill 984 will allow patrons of excursion gambling boats to use their casino chips to pay for food and drinks. Under current law, patrons of casinos must use cash to buy food and drinks from wait staff. In order to stay competitive with other states who allow casino patrons to pay for food and beverages with chips, the legislation will modify state law to allow casino chips to be used to purchase these items while on the gaming floor of excursion gambling boats.

25. Agriculture Land Assessment

Senate Concurrent Resolution 35 rejected a recommendation by the State Tax Commission that would have increased property taxes on Missouri's best agricultural land. In December of 2009, the State Tax Commission recommended increasing the productive values for the highest quality of agricultural land. The productive values are used to determine the amount of property tax paid by land owners. The commission's proposal would have raised taxes on the most productive agricultural land, which generally consists of cropland, by 30 percent and decreased taxes on less productive land. The changes would have resulted in an 11 percent tax increase statewide. The tax changes would have taken effect in 2011 if the House and Senate had not approved the resolution rejecting the commission's recommendation.

26. Bingo

Senate Bill 940 loosens restrictions on bingo to allow charitable organizations to raise additional funds for community service projects.

Under the bill, organizations with abbreviated licenses will be able to conduct bingo games up to 15 times annually. The previous annual limit was four games. In addition, organizations with full licenses will be able to conduct bingo games twice a week instead of once a week. The bill also increases the number of hours that bingo games can be in operation. Current law prohibits bingo games between midnight and 10 a.m. Senate Bill 940 changes the prohibited hours of operation to between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. In addition, the bill increases the amount of revenue that can be used for advertising purposes.

Similar legislation was passed last year but vetoed by the governor because of a provision that repealed the two-tenths-cent sales tax on pull-tab cards and bingo cards sold by charitable organizations conducting bingo games. SB 940 does not contain that provision.


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


Time to bake a pie! Gooseberries ripen through mid-July and Elderberries begin blooming.

Get outside and enjoy the blooms… Lady's slipper orchids, Tulip poplar trees & Butterfly weed… and watch for the hummers… (the bird type that is)… they're quick!

07 June 2010

Roorda: Nixon's Economic Development Plan, Liquor Control Downsized, Stronger DWI Penalties

Governor Jay Nixon's Five Year Economic Development Plan

Governor Nixon is seeking to develop a five-year strategic plan for improving Missouri's economy. The plan is expected to be prepared by the end of the year and focuses on industries that are key to the state's economic growth.

Bringing in a number of different perspectives and ideas to strengthen the plans foundation, Nixon appointed an exectutive board to lead the effort. This board includes: Missouri Department of Economic Development Director David Kerr, Ann Marie of United Missouri Bank in Springfield, Paul Combs of Baker Implement in Kennett, Bill Downey of Kansas City Power & Light and David Steward of World Wide Technology in St. Louis.

In supplement to this executive board a larger steering committee that includes industry experts, researchers, labor representatives, economic development officials and business leaders from throughout the state will be named by early June to provide additional input on the strategic plan.

Read more about the plans progression at St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Mr. Nixon's 5-Year Economic Plan

Nixon Tries to Reignite Economic Plan

Liquor Control Division Downsized

Legislation proposed by Gov. Jay Nixon to merge the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco control into the State Department of Revenue did not win legislature approval, keeping the divisons regulatory operations open but on a smaller scale. Due to budget cuts the continued operations of the divison are to be performed by a smaller staff of full time employees.

Financially speaking, beginning on July 1 the budget for the fiscal year reduces the alcohol divison's appropriation by more than $1 million from the current year. The appropriation cut back has in turn led to the staffing reduction making it difficult for the agency to perform much its field enforcement such as; spot checks and determining whether or not alcohol retailers are serving minors. Collaboration between the now smaller division and local law enforcement will be established in effort to carry out much of the work done prior to the staff reduction.

Additional Information about the Missouri Divison of Alcohol and Tobacco control can be found at this link "Missouri ATC"

Stronger DWI Penalties

Nixon Bill SigningGovernor Jay Nixon Signs HB 1695, June 2,2010

House Bill 1695, 1742 & 1674 creates stronger penalites for DWI offenders. 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, unless they complete the requirements of a DWI court, docket, or other court-ordered treatment.

In addition, the bill allows any circuit court to set up a DWI docket or court for repeat offenders of those whose blood-alcohol content exceeds 0.15 percent. Several Missouri courts already offer DWI Courts, which allow repeat DWI offenders to avoid jail time while receiving treatment for alcohol abuse.

The bill also requires state courts to handle any DWI case involving a defendant with two or more alcohol related contacts with authorities or intoxication-related traffic offenses. Police and prosecutors also have to adopt policies for reporting information on DWI offenses to a central databank. This databank will serve as reference point for previous offenders, whose jail time will be from 5-10 days, persistent offenders to 30 days.

Read more about the signing and content of this new bill at the links below:

HB 1695

Governor Nixon Cracks Down

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.

Schaefer Announces Signing DWI Reform Bill by Governor

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Senator Kurt Schaefer is pleased to announce the recent signing of House Bill 1695, which will create sweeping reforms in Missouri’s DWI laws.

The bill received wide bipartisan support not only from lawmakers, but from prosecutors, judges, law enforcement personnel, victims of alcohol-related offenders and citizens involved in DWI issues.

“As the bill’s handler in the Senate, I got to see firsthand how my colleagues on both sides of the aisle pulled together in support of this legislation,” Sen. Schaefer said. “With no opposition in either chamber, we delivered a bill to the governor that emphasizes the fact that it is not safe to drink and drive.”

Among other provisions of the law, the bill allows the creation of DWI courts within municipalities and removes existing leniency towards those with previous intoxication-related offenses. In addition, arrest information from local law enforcement agencies will be forwarded to the highway patrol to centralize information regarding alcohol-related traffic offenses.

“This bill will go a long way towards keeping Missouri’s highways safer,” Sen. Schaefer said. “And, it will help keep offenders who continue to drive under the influence of alcohol, despite previous convictions, off the roads.”

The governor signed the legislation today at the Missouri Highway Patrol Training Academy in Jefferson City. Along with most measures signed by the governor, the bill will become law Aug. 28.

Please contact Sen. Schaefer’s office if you have questions or concerns about this or any other facet of the Missouri Legislature.