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30 June 2011

Rupp: Working Together to Ensure A Bright Future for Missouri

The First Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly was completed seven weeks ago, but lawmakers still have plenty of work to do for our great state. Plans for our government are constantly changing — it was inconceivable for us to think that a deadly EF-5 tornado would demolish much of Joplin, taking the lives of more than 150 people. That tornado and the numerous other natural disasters that continue to affect our state have led to the creation of the Senate Interim Committee on Natural Disaster Recovery.

The committee will consist of three subcommittees: the Subcommittee on Emergency Response, the Subcommittee on Fiscal Response, and the Subcommittee on Insurance Response. I have been appointed to serve on the Subcommittee on Insurance Response, and I will work dutifully to find the best solutions possible for the thousands of Missourians who are dealing with heart-wrenching loss. Members of the subcommittees will work with the appropriate administrative agencies and will create preliminary reports that will be given to the committee’s chairman before our annual veto session begins on Sept. 14.

I’m also honored to have been appointed to chair the Senate Interim Committee on Health Insurance Exchanges. I will be responsible for leading six of my colleagues in our duty of researching our state’s options regarding the establishment of a health insurance exchange and to study its effect on existing state laws. Health insurance exchanges are mandated under federal law. Our current health care system is complicated and many people have varying opinions regarding their health care and insurance, but I will do my part in recommending solutions that will work best for our state and for our citizens.

On July 1, Missouri’s operating budget for Fiscal Year 2012 will begin. The governor approved the budget, but reduced the funding that the General Assembly had approved by $172 million. I was very disappointed to hear that education in particular received a huge hit — this includes $14.9 million for universities, $1.9 million for community colleges, and $8 million for school transportation. With gas prices continuing to rise, Missouri schools, particularly those in rural areas, will have difficulty transporting our kids to and from school. I absolutely understand that our state is facing difficult financial times, especially considering the effects of all the natural disasters, but I wish we would tap into our state’s rainy day fund to help aid the disaster relief. To listen to my interview addressing the budget withholds, please click on this link, or visit my “Multimedia” page on my Senate website ( and scroll down to find my June 13 interview.

Thank you for reading this legislative column. I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend with your family, and a safe and fun Independence Day.

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