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14 July 2011

Denison: Flurry of Bill Signings, Protecting Missourians from Violent Crimes, Protecting Taxpayer Dollars

“In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.” – Author Unknown

Flurry of Bill Signings

During the legislative session I did my best to keep you updated on the many bills we passed. In total, the 2011 session saw us approve 104 House bills and resolutions and 42 Senate bills and resolutions. The deadline for the governor to sign the bills we passed was July 14. He has spent the last several days in a flurry of signing activity. Unfortunately, he also has vetoed a number of the bills we sent him. As I write this, he has vetoed 14 bills and used a line item veto on one of the appropriations bills. We already have overridden his veto of the congressional redistricting map [HB193] and it’s likely we will consider additional override attempts when we convene for the annual Veto Session in September. For now, I want to keep you informed on the bills he has signed that will officially become law when they go into effect in August.

Protecting Missourians from Violent Crimes

Two bills signed into law this week are meant to protect Missourians from violence in the home and from individuals engaged in the unspeakably awful crime of human trafficking. We went into the session with the knowledge that we needed to enhance our existing laws in order to protect Missourians from these awful crimes. That is exactly what we did with the passage of both bills. SB 320 will strengthen our legal protections for victims of domestic violence. It updates our domestic violence laws for the first time in 30 years by creating a single definition of domestic violence and by giving judges additional discretion when issuing orders of protection. It also extends a program that gives domestic violence victims an alternative address to help ensure their safety. HB 214 will help our law enforcement officials to identify, prosecute and imprison traffickers. The bill increases the maximum sentences for these crimes and allows our Department of Public Safety to develop procedures to identify trafficking victims.

Protecting Taxpayer Dollars

Another bill signed into law by the governor protects taxpayer dollars by ensuring they aren’t used to subsidize the use of illegal drugs. HB 73 requires the state Department of Social Services to develop a program to screen welfare applicants and recipients. The department will then test individuals when there is reasonable cause to suspect illegal drug use. It’s important to note that those who test positive will lose their benefits for three years if they do not complete a substance abuse program. It’s also important to mention that children won’t be punished by the poor decisions of their parents. If a parent with a substance abuse problem loses benefits, his or her children would continue to receive them through a third party selected by the state. The bottom line is that individuals should not be allowed to use taxpayer dollars to purchase illegal drugs. The bill that will soon be law ensures that individuals with a substance abuse program will have the option to either get help or lose state assistance.

Interim Office Hours

Interim office hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Normal schedule will resume December 1, 2011. If you need to call me at home, my number is 417-887-3353.

I look forward to hearing from you. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office. Best wishes.

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