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10 December 2010

Stouffer: Redistricting Reality


Audio: Sen. Stouffer’s pre-filed legislation.
Stouffer Report: A “Plan B” for “Prop B.”
Stouffer Report: Nuclear Debate Continues
Stouffer Report: Right to Work

Another Year Before Redistricting Becomes Reality

Next year, the Missouri General Assembly will start the process of redistricting political boundaries in the state. The information starts with census data.

Redistricting is required every 10 years, based on new population data. The last time we went through this was 2001. There are two separate redistricting processes: for those representing you in both Washington, D.C. and in Jefferson City.

Congressional Districts:

As I wrote previously, the Legislature is responsible for redrawing Congressional districts, which takes place in the form of legislation. Like other bills, it must be completed during the 2011 regular legislative session, which ends in May. Otherwise, the Legislature will have to come back for a special session. Coincidentally, the governor will also name two bipartisan commissions that will create new congressional district boundaries.

Ten years ago, Missouri lawmakers spent about two weeks dealing with Congressional districts, and had a new map ready in plenty of time before the end of the legislative session. This is worth noting because there is speculation that Missouri has lost enough population to justify the loss of a Congressional district this time around. This will complicate the process greatly.

Missouri House and Senate Districts:

In 2001, bipartisan panels were assigned in April and had until August 28 to submit their proposals to the governor for Missouri’s House and Senate districts. Both of these groups held hearings around the state during May and June.

But neither the House Apportionment nor the Senate Reapportionment Commission could reach a conclusion and missed their August 28 deadline. Then, the Missouri Supreme Court appointed six appellate judges to draw new Missouri House district boundaries and six appellate judges to redraw state Senate lines. They began taking public testimony in October of that year and finished work on December 28, 2001.

Not surprisingly, politics played a huge role in redistricting. Neither redistricting panel was able to reach agreement the entire time they met. There were folks from all over the state involved, many of whom said they never got a chance to voice their opinions or concerns about what the panels were working on.

What happened in 2001 was not out of the ordinary. In 1972, a federal lawsuit was filed because somebody did not like the way a boundary was drawn in part of St. Louis. Three years later, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the boundary as it had been created.

I do not know how smoothly this process will go next year. We will have the same situation in Jefferson City that we had a decade ago: a governor of one political party and another party leading both the Missouri Senate and House. Whether a veto would come into play is unknown.

I would not be surprised if either of the commissions the governor will appoint will run into the same challenges that previous panels have had, which means an entire year could be spent trying to determine what the boundaries will be for Missouri’s 34 Senatorial districts and 163 House districts.

09 December 2010

Rupp: Trees for Troops Brings Military Families Holiday Cheer

While our honorable soldiers are defending our freedoms away from home, they sometimes are absent when they want to be with their loved ones the most, which is during the holiday season. Recognizing that our military families are missing their loved ones, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, a branch of the National Christmas Tree Association, created Trees For Troops, which has provided trees to more than 66,000 families at more than 50 U.S. military bases across the world.

Trees for Troops, a public charity recognized by the IRS, was organized in 2005 and has touched the hearts of many. Nearly 800 Christmas tree farms participate in the program in almost 30 states. FedEx, which carries the trees to grateful military families, has traveled more than 221,000 miles since Trees for Troops’ founding. Other companies and organizations that support Trees for Troops include Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the Sundt Foundation, the American Freedom Foundation, and Cost Plus World Market.

The organization receives letters of thanks from military families all over the world, some who have spent several holidays away from their loved ones. One thankful recipient of a Tree for Troops Christmas tree wrote, “I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone at Trees for Troops; the tree farmers, the volunteers, and everyone who provides donations to make this possible and to keep it going. I just picked up a tree today and I greatly appreciate the fact that people like you take the time to remember the military and our families during the holidays.”

Trees for Troops is part of a much larger picture. The National Christmas Tree Association, based in Missouri and founded in 1955, focuses on bringing Christmas spirit to citizens across the country. Their charitable branch, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, centers their attention on providing assistance to children, families, and the environment. For children and families, the foundation has provided children’s books to young readers; helped create online curriculum for teachers; provided food, clothing, and shelter to those in need; assisted those affected by hurricane disasters; and has built a playground for St. Louis children who are less fortunate. For the environment, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation has adapted a recycling program, EARTH 911, which promotes the recycling of used Christmas trees.

I appreciate all the kindness shown by the generous workers and volunteers at Trees for Troops and at the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation. Their dedication to making the holidays merrier truly shows in the smiles of our troops and their families. I would also like to show my gratitude to our military. Thanks to the sacrifices these men and women make, our country is able to celebrate the holidays in freedom. For your service, we are eternally thankful. To learn more about the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation and Trees for Troops, visit

If you have any questions regarding this matter or any other issues within state government, please visit my website at You can also e-mail me or call my office toll-free at (866) 271-2844.

Holsman Wins AIA Award

Kansas City, MO - The American Institute of Architects - Kansas City, presented Representative Jason R. Holman (D-Kansas City) with the 2010 Architectural Advocate of the Year Award at their annual Holiday Party & Installation of Officers on December 7th. Holsman was selected to receive the award by the 2010 AIA-KC Board of Directors based on the Representative's body of work in support of the architectural industry throughout 2010.

Holsman, who represents portions of South Kansas City and Grandview in the Missouri House, has been a champion of energy efficiency and renewable resources since his election in 2006. In 2010, he was a cosponsor on H.B. 1667, a green-buildings initiative. He was also the sponsor of H.B. 1848, the Urban Farming Task Force Bill, which was signed into law over the summer.

Past recipients of the honor include Former Mayor Kay Barnes, the Nelson-Atkins Board of Trustees, the 2007 Johnson County Commissioners, the Charlotte Street Foundation, and Steve Paul of the Kansas City Star.

Davis: TSA

Like so many travelers, I was asked to step out of the airport boarding line for "the deluxe treatment".  My crime was that I was wearing a skirt.  The TSA wanted to make sure I would not be able to explode the airplane; come on!  Are they really afraid that a member of the Missouri State Legislature is going to perform an act of terrorism and suicide?  I think not.  This is a clear example of the absurdity of the system.

Three reasons why this should not be acceptable:
  1. The Fourth Amendment of our US Constitution states:  "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    There you have it.  Nobody has the right to search our bodies without first obtaining a search warrant signed by someone who has sworn under oath that a reasonable suspicion exists that I am trying to perform an act of terrorism.  Furthermore, seizing our shampoo, beverages and hair gel is clearly not allowed by the constitution, since these are legal substances.

    How can we allow the national government to violate the constitution?  Which amendment are they going to ignore next?

    Video telling of one man's experience when he refused the pat down: Video-cam of Airport Security

    Cartoon illustrating the point: (Warning: there is some bad language at the end.) Do Not Touch Me!
  2. What would happen if delivering passengers to their destinations was the responsibility of the airlines?  After all, isn't that what the airlines are already hired to accomplish?  Each airline should administrate its own security procedures.  If you don't like the way the airline personnel examines your body with one company, you can switch to another airline.  That's how free markets work!

    Some airlines could develop programs where frequent flyers and their employees are pre-certified so that a simple fingerprint or iris scan upon boarding is all that is necessary to prove your identity. The government should not administrate this type of program, but there is nothing wrong with a company collecting information on its customers and retaining that information in its private records.  If the private company were doing this, it is merely customer information that will assist them to serve everybody better.  If the terrorists don't like being asked questions, they can fly on a more "terrorist friendly" airline.  Hopefully, there will be none available to serve their purposes.
  3. Instead of trying to play "cat and mouse" games to keep ahead of the last terrorist method, why don't we do more to actually get the people off the airplanes who are about to blow it up?  The old expression is "Guns don't kill people; people kill people."  This method of examining the personal anatomy of the travelers is not getting at the origin of the problem.  Terrorism is caused by what is in the heart of the terrorist.  It is ridiculous to presume that a bottle of water is really an attempt by innocent citizens to smuggle explosive liquids onto the airplane.  In America, we used to be considered innocent until proven guilty.  When we are forced to trash any legitimate liquid or gel, it is because of a governmentally enacted presumption that we are all guilty without any reasonable evidence to the contrary.
My personal body search was not based upon a concern that elected officials and middle aged mothers are now trying to destroy our nation through acts of terrorism and killing others.  It was a symptom of being reactive rather than proactive.  We have a broken system based upon a prejudicial assumption that everyone is trying to harm our country and commit suicide in the process.  Some think that bringing shame and humiliation upon all of us will make us feel safer.  The fact that our citizens are now being violated by body searches when they want to fly, and the fact that we are violating our own constitution to accomplish this, is a form of victory for the terrorists already. (The word "violated" refers to a total stranger touching parts of our bodies in places that would be considered sexual harassment were an employer to demand to do the same thing.)

When I was first elected to the Missouri House, we had metal detectors at the front entrance and all the other doors were locked.  Shortly thereafter a security expert informed us that this really did nothing to keep "bad guys" out of the Capitol.  We were told it was far safer to simply have more police officers roaming the hallways and being available to deal with the unique circumstances as they emerge.  We traded away metal detecting machines for human intelligence and vigilance -something that machines can't duplicate.  This is a good model for the airline industry to emulate.

Greater scrutiny of those who buy one way tickets, pay with cash and originate from nations that are hostile toward us would make a lot more sense than our own government violating our citizens in the name of enhanced pseudo-safety.  There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that the acts of terrorism were executed by Muslim men trying to kill Americans because of their religion.  The Muslim religion teaches world domination and there is a historical record of them brutally killing their opponents, so this is nothing unusual.  The men who blew up our buildings on September 11th, acted out of sincere dedication to their religion.  Our law enforcement officers cannot protect us if they are required to deny reality and overlook the obvious.  Good detective techniques rely on observing patterns.

After all the wasted money and angst inflicted upon hundreds of millions of innocent travelers, why have we not heard about how many terrorists have been caught through their "embarrass the customer" methodology?  Our national government has provided us with another example of how iron-fisted governmental solutions fit into the socialist model, wastes money and harms all of us by suppressing free market solutions.

I feel sorry for the airlines because they are suffering lost business over these strange new invasive practices and have no say in the matter.  I try to imagine how I would feel if the national government tried to search people before they could shop at my bookstore.  Doubtless, my business would decline through no fault of my own.  These searches are suppressing support for the airline industry.  The bigger government grows, the more our free market businesses shrink.

One interesting side note: If these searches were so important, we wouldn't see such wide inconsistencies between airports.  Even though St. Louis does not have an international airport, they always give me the hand patting because I wear skirts.  In Washington D.C., I wore the exact same skirt and even used my concealed weapon permit for my identification and they didn't feel it necessary to pull me out of the line, X-ray or naked-body scan me or physically touch me.

It's time for our government to stop violating our citizens and begin serving them.

Your thoughts are important to me, so please let me know what you think about airport security strategies. You can send me your opinion by clicking here: Cynthia Davis.

A Little Bit of Humor

06 December 2010

Ridgeway: Taking a Close Look at Elk Restoration in Missouri

How many times have you been driving and seen a dead dear beside the road, killed by an auto collision?  If you travel on Missouri's roads often, like I do, you realize that deer-car collisions happen frequently.  Now, what if that 150 pound deer was replaced with a 700 pound elk?  If this concerns you, continue reading.

Last month, the Missouri Conservation Commission made a decision to enact the Elk Restoration Plan, with elk being released in a three-county (Shannon, Reynolds and Carter Counties) radius in early 2011.

I am deeply concerned about the Conservation Department's plan to release 150 elk in southeast Missouri next year. Because the counties initially affected are so far away, you may not have heard very much about this project yet. However, I feel there may be some unintended consequences all Missourians need to consider.

When I was raised in Missouri, one rarely saw a deer.  Today, deer are plentiful all across Missouri.  Because all Missouri has such fertile feeding grounds, it is only reasonable to assume that, as the original 150 elk reproduce, they will forage for new food plots.  An expanding wild elk population cannot be expected to remain in a 3 county area anymore than wild deer are currently contained.  Missouri already has more road miles than any other state of comparable size.  Many roads plus an expanding wild elk population may spell disaster for Missouri travelers.

A similar plan was considered in 2000, but the public opinion against restoring elk to Missouri was extremely negative. This year, the Missouri Conservation Department (MDC) solicited opinion in a much faster process than ten years ago and in meetings, did not allow public discussion as before. Because of this, and after review of public comments received from the Department, I question the assertion that the public truly supports this plan.

The concerns of landowners, farmers and local residents echo my own:
  • The devastation to crops as elk herds move through an area. These large animals are grazers, just like cows and unlike our current deer population that simply browse;
  • Infectious diseases that can be spread to cattle populations and would be very expensive and difficult to ever eradicate;
  • And most disturbing, the potential for severe injury and vehicle destruction if an elk is on a highway, just as white tailed deer often are. Should our tax dollars be used to introduce a public safety hazard that is potentially lethal?
The MDC has responded to these concerns by saying: "…The 2000 Missouri Elk Reintroduction Feasibility Study showed that the two key elements of suitable elk restoration sites were adequate habitat and minimal potential for conflicts with human activities. The wild area of our restoration zone in southeast Missouri is mostly public land, has suitable habitat, limited roads and limited agricultural activity." (

Let's examine these statements. Missouri's largest industry is agriculture, valued at $7.5 billion in 2007. Cattle and calves made up $1.6 billion of that amount. Looking at the eight counties surrounding the initially affected area, livestock are valued at approximately $152 million. In Shannon, Carter and Reynolds counties alone, livestock value was more than $13 million. These figures are no small amounts. An infectious disease in elk is easily transferred to cattle. Poor livestock health would be disastrous and extremely expensive for Missouri cattle farmers to combat.

Now let's compare the size of deer versus the size of elk. A male white tailed deer weighs 150 pounds and stands at around 3.5 feet tall at the shoulder. A male elk weighs 700 pounds and stands at around 6.5 feet tall at the shoulder. I've included a drawing to scale at right – I was astonished at the incredible difference in size. Vehicle collisions with deer are already costly and dangerous for Missourians.

According to a recent study by State Farm Insurance, deer-vehicle collisions cost $3,000 on average and 9,000 to 11,000 Missourians will hit a deer this year alone according to MDC statistics ( A simple calculation of those numbers tells me that the total annual cost of deer-vehicle accidents is $33,000,000!

A well-recognized voice for Missouri agriculture, The Missouri Farm Bureau, is very much opposed to reintroducing wild elk to Missouri.  You can find their official position on elk restoration at:

The Missouri Conservation Department (MDC) operates in a more independent manner than most state departments. While others may be funded by legislative appropriation and gubernatorial approval, the MDC is funded directly through a 1/8 cent sales tax, in addition to revenue generated through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, as well as other miscellaneous fees and sales.  This money goes straight to MDC with virtually no oversight by your elected officials.

I need to know your thoughts on this issue.  This is your opportunity to let me, and the Missouri Department of Conservation, know your support, opposition, questions or concerns.

This is an issue that may impact your family's safety and our state's economy.

I may be contacted either by e-mail or by mail at my Capitol office address [State Capitol Building, Room 221, Jefferson City, MO 65101].

Let your voice be heard!