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26 July 2011

Lant: Meetings In Jeff City, Joint Resolution On Religious Freedom, McDonald County Fair Recap

Wow, what a busy week! I hardly know where to start. I drove to Jeff City Sunday afternoon to get an early start on Monday's Interim Work Group. I had agreed to host the meeting and I wanted to be sure everything was going to be smooth. We began at 9:00 A.M. with a series of presentations by the Director of Mental Health, Department of Health and Senior Services, and Department of Social Services. Each director was to make a presentation on their departments' duties and responsibilities followed by a question and answer session. I asked each of the directors to address four questions.
  1. How many employees do you have now compared to a year ago?
  2. What groups or individuals do you serve?
  3. What changes have been made to your budgets over the past several years?
  4. What is your perception of the impact of Obama care now and in the future?
We had a very informative day and a half. There was a two fold purpose for our meetings. First off, we were able to get factual information from the departments that will help us to make better decisions on appropriations and future legislation, but just as importantly, we were able to ask questions in an informal setting where both we and the department heads were able to get a better understanding of what the impact of our budgets would be on the people who are being served.

Our next Interim Work Group will take up Workforce Development issues and is planned for mid August.

Last Session Representative Mike McGhee invited me and many others to co sponsor HJR2. This Joint Resolution was an effort to place on the ballot a religious liberty amendment. The central provision of this amendment is a constitutional guarantee that students have the right to pray and express their religious beliefs on a voluntary basis in the public schools. The amendment also assures adult citizens and elected officials the right to pray and acknowledge God on public property and governmental premises. It also protects the right of government bodies to invite ministers and clergypersons to offer invocations before government meetings. It also requires a copy of the Bill of Rights be posted in every public school in Missouri. This legislation was approved by a vote of 126 to 30 in the House and by a unanimous vote of 34 to 0 in the Senate. Please be prepared for attempts by the ACLU to confuse the issue. My prediction is that Missouri voters will overwhelmingly approve this legislation!

Last week Missouri House and Senate leaders came to agreement on a comprehensive jobs agreement. The economic development bill includes an International trade hub proposal for St. Louis Airport, incentives for Data Centers to locate in our state, funds to help Kansas City retain jobs, new job training programs, a Science and Innovation Reinvestment act to help attract high tech industries, and incentives to attract sporting events and the large economic impact they bring with them. The effort to call a special session to deal with economic issues and the over 9% unemployment we have in Missouri was helped by the Governor who, after hearing about the Senate and House announcement, called a press conference and jumping on the bandwagon by calling for a special session. We should have the opportunity to deal with this bill in August or September.

We ended our fun filled week at the McDonald County Fair. It really doesn't matter how hot it is at the fair, you can have plenty of fun and see some really great livestock and exhibits. I will never grow tired of watching the young people show their animals. They put an amazing amount of time and effort into raising their animals, preparing them to show and training them to lead just right. My favorite story of the week was the 7 year old exhibitor whose pig jumped out of the truck on the way to the fair. Naturally he was very upset, he even thought the pig was dead, but after reviving him, they went on to show him and despite some road rash, he placed second! I don't care who you are, that's a great story! Congratulations to everyone who put up with the heat and dust; now start getting ready for next year.

Until next week, I am and remain in your service.

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