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23 July 2010

MO Expat: Weekend Sojourn

Owing to a heavy work schedule this week and equally heavy weekend celebrating the wedding of two friends from college (plus Manchester United's visit to Arrowhead this Sunday), several missives will be delayed.

Please accept my apologies for the delay. The backlogged missives will be uploaded and back-dated when time permits.

Rupp: Missouri Budget: It’s Bad, But It Could Be Worse

The new fiscal year for the Missouri state budget began on July 1, and the stress of allocating every dollar to best work for the people of this state will be felt throughout the year. Your state government made many difficult decisions to arrive at this point, but I believe it's important for my constituents to know that despite these tough economic times, Missouri is in better shape than what it could be because of our conservative principles.

It only takes a quick search of the Internet to see that the economic crisis continues to be felt across our great country. Take our good neighbors to the east, Illinois, as a very close-by example. Recent media reports indicate that Land of Lincoln is looking at a $13 billion budget deficit, nearly half of their entire operating budget. A July 14 report in the St. Louis Post Dispatch notes that Illinois is approximately $6 billion behind as far as the money it owes to schools, hospitals, and the like. That state is attempting to sell bonds to keep afloat, which is basically equal to adding more water to the pool that is drowning you.

In Missouri however, we are one of the top six most financially sounds states in the country because of the fiscal conservative approach we take when dealing with your money.  Missouri is one of a handful of states that still has its AAA bond rating, which simply says that Missouri is the safest place to put your money, because we are good stewards of the people's tax dollars.

Despite the historic shortfall, your Missouri government not only submitted a balanced budget, my colleagues and I did it a week ahead of schedule, with no new taxes. We cut nearly half a billion dollars from the governor's recommendations. When new spending ideas were floated during this past session, those ideas were quickly snuffed out.  We maintained funding for education, and we started the ball rolling on an unprecedented effort to get state spending under control and into a budget situation it can maintain.

Lawmakers also just took an important step forward recently in reducing further state spending by passing a state pension reform bill during the special session. With our common sense reforms, the projections indicate that this legislation alone will save you – the taxpayers – $660 million through the next ten years.

There should be no misunderstanding: this budget crisis is not even close to being over. Next year promises to be just as bad, if not worse, than this year. But the big picture shows that we are fortunate that Missouri's conservative values have kept this terrible situation from becoming catastrophic.

We only have to look across the river to see how bad it could be.

Please visit my website, e-mail me, or call my office at (866) 271-2844 if you have any questions.

Public ribbon cutting on July 27

Come celebrate the opening of the first section of new Route 364

ST. CHARLES COUNTY (July 22, 2010) – Drivers on Route 94 in St. Charles County will have easier access to Route 364 when the Missouri Department of Transportation and its contractor, Fred Weber Inc., complete the first section of Phase 2 of the Route 364 project at Harvester Road next week.

The public is cordially invited to help MoDOT celebrate the completion at a ribbon cutting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 27 on the eastbound lanes of new Route 364 near the new Harvester Road overpass. The eastbound lanes of the route will open shortly after the ceremony is complete.

Westbound lanes will open before evening rush.

Participants can access the ribbon cutting ceremony by taking the ramp from the south outer road (between Jungermann Road and Harvester Road) onto the eastbound lanes.

This roadwork will eliminate the need for Route 94 traffic to stop at a traffic signal on Harvester Road. This should speed up the flow of traffic on Route 94/364 during morning and evening rush periods.

This is the first section of Route 364, Phase 2 to be completed. This $19.7 million project constructed an additional mile of Route 364, from west of Jung Station Road, and to just east of Woodstone Drive. Crews also constructed a new bridge to take Harvester Road over Route 364 and built one-way outer roads.

For more information, click here.

American Cancer Society's "Legislator of the Year" Award Given to Sen. Scott T. Rupp

Cites effort to provide equity in cancer medications

JEFFERSON CITY – The American Cancer Society presented Sen. Scott T. Rupp (R-Wentzville) with their "Legislator of the Year" award during the Relay For Life of Central St. Charles opening ceremony awards on Friday, July 9.

Senator Rupp was recognized for his efforts on Senate Bill 786, which if enacted, would have equalized the costs between intravenous (IV) and oral medication for cancer chemotherapy. Currently, the cost for oral medication that slows or kills cancer is much higher than the IV form of the very same medication. The bill made it through the entire Missouri Senate, but was stalled in the House of Representatives.

The American Cancer Society also recognized Sen. Rupp's support of the Show Me Healthy Women's Program through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The program helps screen and educate women throughout Missouri for breast and cervical cancer.

"I am truly honored that the American Cancer Society has chosen me as their Legislator of the Year," said Sen. Rupp. "I have always been well-aware that the fight against cancer takes everything we have, and I will do what I can do, both as a Senator and a person, to make that fight a little easier.

If you have any questions or comments 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.

Tilley: Governor's Cuts to Home Health Care Need Reversed

JEFFERSON CITY, MO -- Today, Speaker Elect of the House Steven Tilley, R--Perryville, urged Governor Nixon to reverse the cuts the Governor made to the Home Health Care program.

"During these tough economic times fiscal responsibility should be our main focus -- especially in light of our current economic and budget conditions," said Speaker Elect Tilley. "When patients are treated in their own home, health care costs are 1/4 the cost that the state would incur if these patients were treated in nursing homes. These cuts are forcing Missouri’s seniors out of their homes and into nursing homes. Due to the fiscal urgency of this issue, I am urging the Governor to reverse the cuts he made to home health care.

“I also am announcing today that if the Governor will not reverse these cuts to the home health industry and protect Missouri’s seniors, I will work to reverse these cuts starting in January through the supplemental budget process. It is my sincere hope that the Governor will recognize the error of his budget director and seek a remedy to this solution.

The Governor's cuts to home health care went into effect on July 1st, 2010.

22 July 2010

Cunningham: Corrections to District Community Directory

Hello Everyone,

There are two corrections to the District 7 Community Directories that were sent out a couple of weeks ago. Please accept our apologies for these errors and make note of them in your Directory. If could also let others know of these changes I would appreciate it. The online version has been updated.

Page 13 - ST. LOUIS COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT………………………………314-615-0600
Page 14 – ST. JOHN’S MERCY MEDICAL CENTER………………………………………314-251-6000

Again, please accept our apologies for any inconvenienc this may have caused you.

Thank you!

Sandra M. Allen
Legislative Assistant
Senator Jane Cunningham, District 7
State Capitol, Room 225
Jefferson City, Missouri 65101
Phone: 573-751-1186
Fax: 573-526-9852

Nodler: Small Businesses Continue to Suffer from Over-Regulation

This session, I drafted a resolution approved by the Legislature and sent to Washington, D.C. urging the federal government to reverse their course in implementing federal regulations that severely limit banks’ ability to lend. Senate Concurrent Resolution 33 made it clear that Missouri supports small businesses in this state, and that we want lending practices to change.

Community banks throughout Missouri are facing a situation where their hands are tied because they face tighter regulations from the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Reserve, and Missouri Division of Finance. This overly restrictive credit environment actually provides banks with an incentive not to issue loans. I sponsored SCR 33 to encourage the federal government to instead give community banks the right tools to start lending again.

The federal government, however, refuses to listen to the outcry from small business owners, community banks, and even state legislatures. Now, the private sector has taken the matter into its own hands. Sam’s Club, for example, is testing a program with Superior Financial Group. The program will offer small business loans ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 to qualifying Sam’s Club business members. To qualify, applicants will need to meet basic credit criteria and be a member of Sam’s Club. The loan program is regulated by the Small Business Administration.

According to a survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business, only half of small businesses that tried to borrow last year got all or most of what they needed. In the mid-2000s, 90 percent of businesses said they got the loans they needed. This is a problem that affects, not just small business owners, but our entire economy. I continue to urge the federal government to relax regulations and give our community banks the ability to do what they do best. However, with the federal government refusing to act, I am pleased to see that some organizations are stepping up and filling the gap and working to stimulate economic recovery.

Davis: Marriage Matters

PNC Ribbon Cutting

Representative Davis cuts the ribbon to honor the merger of National City Bank with PNC Bank.

Representative Cynthia Davis presents a proclamation to the branch manager, Adam Hopper.  PNC Bank is a very large bank with a small town feel.

Marriage Matters

By State Representative Cynthia Davis

One of my divorced friends told me her wedding day was the happiest day of her life.  Many people feel the same way.  I have found that most women desire to have a strong gentleman in their lives to love them, support them, and to respect them as the mother of their children.  Most men desire a virtuous lady to be a helpmate, soul mate and lifetime lover.

How do we go from being so happy to have found that special person to the utter devastation of over half the marriages ending in divorce? Divorce Rate : Divorce Rate In America

Mike McManus, who along with his wife Harriet co-founder Marriage Savers, is author of the book How To Cut America's Divorce Rate in Half. He says on page93, that "Most states have one divorce for every two marriages . . . This pattern which has existed since 1970 is the basis for saying that America has a 50% divorce rate. However, some people have been divorced two or three times. Pollster George Barna estimates that 35% of American adults have experienced a divorce." The 35% experience rate actually is quite staggering with respect to the cost of divorce –both the emotional cost and the cost to taxpayers.

Until forty-five years ago, marriage was the norm. Millions of children benefited from being raised in a two-parent household.  Married couples built wealth more easily and millions of adults were able to retire comfortably on more than just their Social Security check. America also had the strongest economy in the world.

How did our country end up with the highest divorce rate in the world in a little over a generation?

How did we end up with so many impoverished single mothers, troubled children, and crushing deficits from the resulting social program costs?

In large part I blame careless politicians who allowed passage of laws undermining marriage and removing consequences for irresponsibility.

Before the 1960s there was no such thing as "no-fault divorce".  Back then the laws required a reason for breaking one's commitment to a spouse, inducing pain on innocent children, and causing social and economic problems for states. To streamline and shorten court proceedings, California adopted "no-fault" divorce in the 1960s, and all the other states followed suit except one.

Massachusetts was the first state I remember that legalized "no fault" car insurance.  In "no fault" states, there are more accidents, but the insurance companies do not complain because they pass the increases onto their customers and expend less time trying to determine blame. In Missouri if you drive like a maniac, causing accidents for others, your insurance premium will increase according to your behavior.

No-fault divorce has proven to be a disaster for everyone. Perhaps you can make an exception for the lawyers who now can have more cases.  Socializing the costs of divorce does not work, just as it does not work for car insurance.  Being divorced or an unwed mother is a common indicator of financial hardship for women and children. It can contribute to child abuse and neglect, a smorgasbord of irreversible problems for children, lack of private health insurance, suicide, substance abuse, criminal behavior, underemployment in adulthood, and higher taxes.

For every divorce that pushes a man or woman below the poverty line, it costs the state of Missouri at least $20,000 annually. Most of these serious problems impacting my constituents will greatly decrease in severity and scope when marriage again becomes the norm in Missouri.

There are major problems for middle-class victims of divorce as well.

A non-contested divorce, where children are involved, can cost around $10,000 in legal fees and court costs. Hardly any divorced person you speak with was happy with the outcome from custody and visitation issues, not to mention the loss of property value from forced real-estate sales. This is all before factoring in the emotional costs.

Unlike many debates in politics, the adverse impact of divorce on children is an accepted fact on all sides of the political spectrum. So what is the single most important legislation we can pass that will help men, women and children get what they really want and need out of life?   How do we begin to make marriage the foundation stone of our society again, helping couples to build wealth, raise their children together and be healthier and happier?

The answer is that we must revise and strengthen our marriage laws.

Scientific studies report that married individuals are the happiest and feel "in control" of their lives, while divorced individuals have the lowest happiness levels and feel their lives are "out of control".  Missourians deserve the happiness, security, and natural rights that will occur under better laws than what we have today.

In the eight years I have been in the Missouri legislature, I have consistently supported legislation to strengthen families and marriage. As the chairman of the Poverty Committee, we identified that a lack of marriage was a major problem for single-parent households trying to break free of the cycle of poverty. With help from the Center for Marriage Policy and Marriage Savers, we have filled our tool chest with the right tools that will positively meet the needs of all Missourians as well as serving as a model for the rest of the country. People are hurting and longing for remedies that are fair and workable.

Surprisingly, many legislators are afraid to tackle marriage problems. Some are concerned the subject is too controversial or are weighted down by feelings they harbor from their own divorces. Worse, there is a divorce industry that is profiting off of marital discord. While not to impugn all attorneys, there are some who may feel protective of their income source. Some have earned a "reputation" for being the most cunning or ruthless, playing on the emotions of the traumatized party. Injustices commonly occur when one party is threatened with compounding legal fees.  The financial costs inherent in the current system often deter the responsible party from continuing the struggle for fairness.

My husband and I participate in a marriage facilitation program. Many of those who are happily married want do more to help strengthen marriages for other couples. Having been married for nearly 30 years, we have something to offer that is beyond what you can get from some therapists. Proven "Community Marriage Programs", such as the one we facilitate, will create a climate where marriage-mentoring is available for couples in troubled marriages from long-term married couples who volunteer to pass on the perspective that comes from time and experience.

Additionally, strong shared-parenting laws would remove the conflict related to child support issues---a problem that costs our taxpayers over $59 million non-recompensed dollars each year as well as a good portion of the $183 million per year on childcare. Most parents would rather care for their own children than to be required by the courts to pay others to do it.

My priority for my next term is to make Missouri the first state in the country replacing "no fault" divorce with "Responsible Dissolution" laws.  We can finally give Missourians the protections their marriages and futures truly deserve, along with optional tools they need to keep their marriages strong. At the same time, we can make divorce a far less painful, costly, and lengthy event for those whose marriages must dissolve for good reason.

Stronger marriages make stronger families, churches, naturally-sustainable communities, and will ultimately make a stronger country.  Join us in this effort. We must end the harm inflicted on thousands, especially all the innocent children, giving everyone hope for justice, fairness and happiness.

The marriage revolution is beginning right here in Missouri. Stay tuned to watch us lead the nation.

Link to Gallop Poll results article: Cultural Tolerance for Divorce

Your thoughts are important to me, so please let me know what you think about no-fault divorce laws. You can send me your opinion by clicking here: Cynthia Davis

A Little Bit of Humor . . .

Finally! The Guys" Side of the Story

We always hear "the rules" from the female side. Now here are the rules from the male side. These are our rules!
  1. Sunday = sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.
  2. "Yes" and "No" are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.
  3. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
  4. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.
  5. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.
  6. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.
  7. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.
  8. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.
  9. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine... Really.
  10. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation, or monster trucks.
  11. I am in shape. Round is a shape.
  12. Thank you for reading this; Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight, but did you know men really don't mind that, it's like camping!

21 July 2010

Gatschenberger: Fiscal Year Capitol Report, Child Identification Program Success, New Insurance Program

Record Setting Fiscal Year is Nothing to be Proud of

Missouri's State Fiscal Year ended on June 30 by setting a record.  However, it is a record that we would not strive to ever meet or exceed again.

State Net General Revenue ended at a minus 9.1% ($6,774,323,530), the largest decline that anyone can remember in state history!  What makes matters worse, the previous record was minus 6.9% ($7,450,783,912), set last year, FY 09.  To put this in prospective, the last time state tax revenue collections dropped two consecutive years was FY 02 and 03 when the decreases were minus 2.0% and minus 3.2% or a combined total of minus 5.2%.  In FY 08, net GR collections totaled $8,003,874,841.

Some of the details behind the FY 10 decline are that Individual Income taxes (which account for 65% of the total state tax revenue) dropped by 7.6%.  Sales and Corporate taxes were each down by 4.9%.  Tax refunds were up 2.0%.

The General Assembly cut $484.0M of General Revenue from the Governor's proposed budget for FY 11, which just began on July 1st.  While signing the operating appropriation bills last month, the Governor announced that he was withholding an additional $300.0M GR.  His explanation was that some of the budget-related proposals that were part of his budget recommendations did not pass, the administration does not agree with some assumptions in the appropriations and revenue collections continued to fall below estimates.

The challenges for the FY 12 budget are substantial.  This year's budget contains $860.0M of one-time Federal Budget Stabilization Funds which will not be available next year.  That amount will have to be cut from the core budget for FY 12 or a replacement source of income will have to be identified.

The Office of Administration, Division of Budget & Planning is estimating an increase in GR collections in FY 11 of 2.2% which would result in revenues of $6,923,360,000.

Larry W Schepker, Director House Appropriations Staff
State Capitol Room B20, Jefferson City, Mo 65101
Phone: 573-751-3972  Email Larry{dot}Schepker{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov

Representative Gatschenberger Volunteers at Child Identification Event

The Wentzville Fire Protection District in conjunction with the Wentzville Masonic Lodge 46 hosted a child identification program on July 10th from at fire station 1 on Pearce Blvd in Wentzville.

MoCHIP has been deemed "one of the most comprehensive child recovery and identification programs in the nation," by The National Center for Exploited and Missing Children.  This is a FREE Child ID program.  Since its inception in August of 2005, the MoCHIP program has seen and identified over 100,000 children making it one of the most successful and thorough of the "CHIP" programs.  Collectively the CHIP programs have processed more than 1,200,000 children throughout the United States.

As previously mentioned, the cost of this comprehensive identification program is FREE.  It is open to all children up to the age of eighteen.  The program provides parents with a CD containing: Physical, personal and medical information, Emergency and medical contacts and Digital photographs and fingerprints.  Also provided with the CD are: Laminated ID cards and a Dental impression wafer with DNA sample.  Also, no information on the child is kept by the MoCHIP program, all of it goes to the parents.

For more information on the MoCHIP program as well as other links to child safety web-sites go to

State announces new insurance program for Missourians with pre-existing health conditions

$81 million in federal money will fund new pool

Jefferson City, Mo. – Insurance Director John M. Huff announced today that a new type of health coverage will soon be available for Missourians who have trouble buying insurance because of their medical conditions. The federal government has approved a proposal from the Missouri Health Insurance Pool (MHIP) to run a new high risk pool subsidized by $81 million in federal funding. The program is part of the national health care reform law.

"Because of this federal funding, Missourians with pre-existing conditions will now be able to buy health insurance at competitive rates," said Huff. Under state law, the director of insurance serves on the MHIP Board of Directors and appoints the members.

MHIP has contracted with RightChoice, a subsidiary of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, to administer the program and Catalyst Rx to provide prescription drug coverage.

To be eligible for the new high risk pool, consumers must be Missouri residents, have a pre-existing medical condition and be uninsured for at least six months. In addition to the $81 million in federal money, the program will be funded by premiums paid by policyholders. The high risk pool will be available until 2014, when the new federal law requires health insurance companies to offer coverage to all applicants, regardless of health status, at standard market rates.

This new pool will be the second operated by MHIP in Missouri. Since 1991, MHIP has run a high risk pool for Missourians, established by state law. The pool has more than 4,000 members. That pool is funded by premiums paid by policyholders and by fees assessed on health insurance companies operating in Missouri.

Consumers can apply online for insurance coverage in mid-July at or by calling 1-800-821-2231.

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.

Media Contact
E-mail: news{at}difp{dot}mo{dot}gov
Phone: 573-751-2562  Fax: 573-751-1165

Gov. Nixon increases travel; other state employees cut back

Thursday, July 1, 2010 | 6:25 p.m. CDT       BY DAVID A. LIEB/The Associated Press
[Link to original article]

JEFFERSON CITY — As part of his plan to shrink government, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered state employees to travel less, and he sliced their per-mile payment.

Nixon broke the news by flying to Kansas City.

To drive home his point, Nixon repeated the announcement the next day by traveling to Columbia and St. Louis.

While cutting more than $1 billion from the budget, eliminating 2,500 state jobs and halving school busing aid, Nixon has racked up tens of thousands of miles on state airplanes — and billed the costs to the agencies he is cutting.

In fact, a month after announcing travel cuts for state employees, Nixon increased his own airplane travel.

An Associated Press analysis of state flight records, obtained under the state Sunshine Law, shows Nixon flew on state aircraft about once every three days during the past year. And he has continued the practice, first reported by the AP one year ago, of paying for flights out of the diminished budgets of state agencies instead of his own office. That has allowed Nixon to spend more on governor's office staff and expenses.

Nixon, a Democrat, defends his frequent flights as essential to his job.

"I think a governor needs to be in all corners of the state to listen to the concerns of people," Nixon said.

"Some of the places a governor should be are very, very important, and they require modern modes of travel."

In contrast to the Missouri governor, the chief executives of some states have scaled back their taxpayer-funded flights.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist decreased his travel on state planes by nearly half from 2007 to 2009, as budget pressures mounted and his U.S. Senate campaign began. Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter reduced the annual bill for his state airplane flights by one-third as the recession deepened.

To save money, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas let foreign governments pay for some of his travels — including two trips to Quebec, Canada, and a six-day visit to France last year, in which Vermont was billed only for his hotel and phone calls.

After media reports about his airplane use, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said in April that he no longer would have a state plane flown from one Columbus airport to another to move it closer to his office and home. A Strickland spokeswoman said the governor changed course to save money.

Since taking office as Missouri governor in January 2009, Nixon flew on about 175 days through the end of May at a cost of more than $260,000 — an amount equal to the annual salary and benefits of about five state employees. Nearly all those costs were charged to state agencies — including more than $80,000 to the Department of Economic Development — based on the topic of Nixon's travels.

In the context of a $23 billion state budget, the cost of Nixon's flights might not be as significant as the public image he is portraying, said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington, D.C., government watchdog group.

"This is like saying to your neighbor, 'By the way, I'm going to borrow your car, do some things that I think will be good for the community, and you have to pay for it,'" Schatz said.

"It is something that he simply shouldn't be doing if he really is living by the words he seems to be expressing in terms of fiscal responsibility."

When Nixon announced his blueprint for "right-sizing and refocusing state government" in March, he flew to a meeting of business leaders in Springfield to do so. A month later, he flew to Kansas City for a progress report and announced he had ordered state employees to cut their travel by 10 percent in the next fiscal year. He repeated the message the next day in Columbia and St. Louis — splitting the flight costs among numerous state agencies.

In May, Nixon flew even more frequently than before — averaging a flight every other day and billing agencies nearly $25,000.

At a June news conference announcing more budget cuts, Nixon defended his travel by citing flights to visit the families of deceased soldiers.

"I need to show the respect of the state in many of those ceremonial things, whether it's a graduation ceremony or a welcome home ceremony or honoring someone who's passed," Nixon said. "Those are obligations I think a chief executive of the state needs to engage in."

But a comparison of flight records to the governor's news releases and daily schedule show many flights were to promote policy proposals, announce grants or hold ceremonial bill signings.

Nixon was a passenger on more than 70 percent of all non-law enforcement flights taken from June 1, 2009, through May 31 on the twin-engine, turbo-prop planes maintained by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Department of Conservation. The flights typically cost more than $800 per hour.

Other statewide elected officials rarely used the planes. Attorney General Chris Koster flew three times; Treasurer Clint Zweifel twice, both times with Nixon; and Auditor Susan Montee just once. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder didn't take any flights on state planes, though Kinder did fly once — costing the state $235 — on Southwest Airlines.

When traveling on state business, Kinder typically drives himself in a vehicle paid for by his campaign committee, chief of staff Rich AuBuchon said.

"Given the financial constraints the state of Missouri is under at present, it does not seem prudent to use the state plane for travel," said AuBuchon, who was the deputy administration commissioner under former Republican Gov. Matt Blunt.

Additionally, "it just doesn't look good," AuBuchon said.


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


You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.
........Abraham Lincoln

20 July 2010

Kraus: Special Extraordinary Session

The 2010 Special Extraordinary Session was not without its share of drama.  A three-week ordeal, we faced a potential showdown between the House and Senate, a 20-hour filibuster, and the resulting uncertainty on the outcome of the two bills that Gov. Nixon wanted passed.  And, of course, I was removed from the Jobs Creation Committee for refusing to guarantee my vote.  In the end, both bills were passed out of the General Assembly and both have been signed into law by Gov. Nixon.

Auto Manufacturing Tax Incentives

HB2 provided tax incentives specifically aimed at the auto manufacturing industry and its suppliers.  In brief, the bill allows tax credits for both the construction of a new product line as well as an existing product line if the company makes capitol investments and creates or retains jobs.  It limits the tax incentive amount to $10 million/year for any one qualified company and to a total of $15 million/year for all companies.  Any one company could receive up to $100 million over ten years.

It is vitally important for Missouri to keep and create jobs.  While I believe that it may be prudent to provide incentives to businesses to do this, I voted no on this particular piece of legislation because of my concerns for fiscal responsibility.  Some experts have predicted a budget shortfall next year of nearly $1 billion – due in main part to the fact that this year's budget uses that amount in one-time federal stimulus dollars for operating expenses. We cannot rely on stimulus money to balance our budget; we need to look at every single dollar we are spending and make tough choices.  Allowing one company up to $10 million a year is simply going in the wrong direction.

Changes in Pension System for New State Employees

The second bill, HB1, calls for new state employees to contribute 4 percent of their salary into their own retirement plan, starting with employees hired after January 1, 2011.  It also raises the retirement age for all new employees to 67 or 90-and-out and requires ten years of employment in order to be vested in the system.

I cannot stress enough that our state faces a budget crisis. Asking state employees to contribute toward their own retirement plan is a small, common sense step that we can take.  HB1 is projected to save the state over $6 million in the first year. That savings will multiply each year as future state employees are hired.

These savings are crucial to keeping our state retirement system solvent and our state finances viable in the future.  In contrast to Washington D.C., we must keep government in line with what we can afford.  Passing this bill is a step in the right direction and brings the state up to date with modern retirement plans.

Investment Board Language Removed

In the Senate, there was a move to include language in the pension bill that combined two state retirement investment boards, MOSERS and MPERS, but the investment board language was removed.  Also, the bill does not affect the retirement plans of current state employees.

Ethics Bill Signed into Law

Senate Bill 844 was signed into law by Gov. Nixon and becomes effective August 28, 2010. This bill contains numerous provisions related to conflict of interest, campaign finance, candidate disqualifications, late fees, and Missouri Ethics Commission investigations and enforcement. You can view a summary of the bill's provisions on the Commission's website.

I've made my views on this bill well known.  Although it was a start toward improving ethics standards at the Capitol, my expectations for it were higher and I truly believe that we could have passed a stronger bill.  It is something to work for in the future.

Host Families Needed for Four Exchange Students

Four foreign exchange students are looking for an area Host Family.  They are from Italy, Ukraine, Thailand, China, and Serbia.  All they need is a place to sleep and study, a place at the dinner table, and someone to share with them the American way of living.  In return, they will share their culture with Americans.  If you would like to share your home with someone from another country, please contact Liz Carver at 816-228-8587 or carver{underscore}elizabeth{at}yahoo{dot}com.

Closure at I-470/I-435 Due to Sink Hole Damage

Engineers at the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) have closed the westbound I-470 interchange to westbound I-435, as well as northbound Route 71 to westbound I-435 at 3 Trails Crossing. The damage from a sink hole at that location has expanded, making it necessary to immediately close the roadway.

MoDOT has posted detours, but encourages motorists to find the best alternative routes for their commute. This interchange will remain closed until repairs can be made. To help with detours, MoDOT created a website, linked from, which includes each detour for the major traffic flow from the area. The site includes directions, maps and google mapping tools.

Soil and geology specialists from MoDOT are working to take soil core samples where the road collapsed on I-470.  Analyzing the results of the work will help engineers determine how to safely remove sections of the roadway and retaining wall. Preliminary findings from the geology study should be complete by mid-week.

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.

Brandom: Special Session Update

The last three weeks have been very busy for the Missouri General Assembly. Governor Nixon called all state legislators back to Jefferson City in late June for a Special Session. In his call for our return the Governor requested the passage of two pieces of legislation that failed to go through both houses during the last session.

The first bill, the Manufacturing Jobs Act [HB2], is designed to encourage in-state business growth through tax incentives for automobile manufactures and suppliers. Tax incentives have been a proven-effective way to create jobs in Missouri. Through the Manufacturing Jobs Act, auto manufacturing companies are able to keep half of the withholding taxes for each full time employee for seven years, but only if that company makes new investments in their infrastructure. Qualified companies must make a $75,000 investment per employee to take advantage of these benefits.

Currently, the Ford plant in Claycomo, Missouri is the oldest operating Ford plant. It employs 3,700 people and purchases from many, many Missouri suppliers. Ford anticipates retooling and eliminating the production of the Escape as it is presently known in order to produce their newest, state-of-the-art hybrid vehicle. To accomplish this production goal, Ford will need to make an investment of up to $400 million dollars in a facility.

As a result, Ford is being recruited by many other states and countries to produce this vehicle outside of Missouri. With 5.6% of Missourians employed in the automotive industry, the loss of a major manufacturing plant in the state would dramatically affect our overall economy.

It is my hope that the passage of the Manufacturing Jobs Act will encourage Ford and other manufactures to expand their production in Missouri and continue to add much needed jobs for our citizens.

The second piece of legislation, the Public Retirement Bill [HB1], changes the requirements for new state employees hired after January 1, 2011. These new employees will be required to contribute 4% of their salary to their own pension fund, instead of the state paying it for them- which is the current process. According to this legislation, 10 years of employment with the state is required before the employee can become vested in their retirement.

Further, to be eligible for normal retirement under this plan, employees must reach age sixty-seven and complete at least 10 years of service or reach age fifty-five with the sum of the employee's age and service equaling at least ninety.

The Public Retirement Bill will not affect current state employees and does not contain the controversial pension oversight board.

After three weeks of hard work, Special Session concluded last Wednesday with the passage of the Manufacturing Jobs Act and Public Retirement Legislation. We have put in place important legislation to help limit our budget expenses and stabilize our economy.

With Special Session now adjourned, I look forward to returning to the Capitol for Veto Session in the fall and continuing to serve the 160th District.

Keaveny: Payday Loan Forum & Visiting the Zoo

Senator Keaveny To Host Discussion on Reform

Senator Joseph Keaveny (D-St. Louis) will have a second public forum about payday loan reform in response to his constituents' concerns.

In a recent survey of District 4 residents, 80 percent of respondents indicated that payday loans should be more regulated. "There needs to be regulation in the industry without putting them out of business," said Sen. Keaveny. "I look forward to working with the industry, citizens and fellow legislators to achieve this goal."

What: Payday Loan Forum
When: July 21, 2010 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Who: Sen. Keaveny and other St. Louis area legislators (TBA)
Where: Julia Davis Branch Library, 4415 Natural Bridge, St. Louis, MO

For more information, contact: (573) 751-3599

The Saint Louis Zoo: A City Treasure

As residents of the City of Saint Louis, we know all too well what an amazing facility the Saint Louis Zoo is and the positive impact it has on our local economy. The Zoo has been a city treasure for a century this year, and if you haven't seen the new "Zootennial" exhibit that commemorates this fantastic occasion, I highly recommend you make it a part of your next visit. It's an interactive walk through time that brings many of the Zoo's best moments to life.

One thing that hasn't changed over time is free admission to the Zoo. Saint Louis showed tremendous foresight by becoming the first city in the world to support the Zoo through a public tax. The recently released book, Animals Always - 100 Years at the Saint Louis Zoo, chronicles this city's love affair with the Zoo, including how local school children collected the pennies to purchase Miss Jim, the circus elephant. Free admission to the Zoo has lasted through prior economic turmoil, such as the Great Depression. It has always been a priority for the people of this city to keep this attraction accessible, and as a result three million visitors per year enjoy one of the best Zoos in the entire world.

This past session, legislation was introduced that would have harmed the grand tradition of a free Zoo. Senate Bill 903 would have allowed institutions of metropolitan Zoological park and museum districts, like Saint Louis and Kansas City, the opportunity to charge admission to nonresidents. I was vehemently opposed to this idea, because I believe the free admission keeps the Zoo the desirable family destination it has been for a century. The public support of the Zoo is unmatched, and despite the current economic difficulties every family is experiencing, there is no need to jeopardize attendance at this point in the Zoo's history. I'm proud to tell you that the bill did not make it far in the legislative process.

The Zoo has generated untold millions, probably billions, in revenue for our city's hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and much more. Visitors to the Zoo often end up becoming members that financially support the facility. The free admission keeps the Zoo accessible to all, and as a result, many young children get the opportunity to have their world opened to the wonderful creatures Mother Nature has to offer.

Generations throughout our history have kept the Zoo free so that the generations after them may also feel the wonder of seeing a bear or elephant up close.

There is no way you can put a price on that thrill, and there is no way that we should even try.

19 July 2010

Ruestman: Valuable Resources

Transparency in government is always important.  The Republican Majority Legislature along with Governor Matt Blunt implemented the Missouri Accountability Portal to allow residents to view where their tax money is going.  The Portal is a valuable resource you can visit any time to see employee expenditures, where stimulus money is going and companies that have failed to pay their taxes.

You can visit the Accountability Portal at

Further information on where stimulus money is going can be found at

Those two websites provide invaluable information to the citizens and the legislators who are keeping an eye on the money.

Recently my office has received some inquiries on how to sign up for the "No Call" list.

There are two ways you may register.  First, you can call 866-NOCALL1.  Additionally, you may visit and click on the "No Call" button.  There is also a list of frequently asked questions available on the website regarding the List.  Please be aware that if you register by August 1, telemarketers have until October 1 to update their records and remove you from lists.

Another helpful resource provided by the State is "Check a Charity".  It allows you to find out the legitimacy of a charitable organization before giving to them.  You may search for a particular organization and find out what percentage of their donations go directly to the cause and how much is spent on administrative cost.  The search application is available at

These are just a few of the valuable tools the state provides.  If you need additional information on any of these programs, feel free to contact my office.

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.