Control of the St. Louis Police Department
One of my top priorities for special session is to finally see local control legislation passed by the General Assembly. For years now, lawmakers have debated whether or not to return control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) back to the city — it's a matter I have fought for since I was elected to the Senate.
House Bill 1 was introduced to the General Assembly, and, if passed, would allow the City of St. Louis to maintain its own municipal police force. Under the legislation:
- Elected or appointed officials would be prohibited from interfering with a member of the police force in the performance of his or her duties, or with any aspect of an investigation.
- It is specified that it would be an unlawful employment practice for an official, employee, or agent of the police force to discharge, demote, reduce the pay, or retaliate against an employee of the police force for reporting in the conduct of another employee that he or she believes (in good faith) is illegal.
- Holidays, vacation, and sick leave remain the same for employees.
- The city would provide life, health, medical, and disability insurance; coverage for retirees; and would pay an additional shift differential. The spouses and dependents of retirees and deceased personnel who receive pension benefits must have access to coverage at the rate the coverage would cost under the appropriate plan if the deceased were living.
The legislation is currently under consideration in the Senate. To follow its progress, please click here, or visit www.senate.mo.gov and click on "Special Session Information" under the "Legislation" tab at the top of the page.
Circuit Breaker Tax Credits
On Sept. 13, an amendment was adopted in SB 8 to preserve the Missouri Property Tax Credit, also known as the Circuit Breaker Tax Credit. The program allows low-income, disabled, and elderly renters to claim a certain amount of their rent or real estate tax on the home they own or reside in.
I've been told stories of how much this tax break helps Missourians. Thanks to this program, citizens have been able to use the money they save to fix their broken-down cars and get to work, while others have been able to fix their refrigerators and other fundamental appliances and purchase necessary medications.
The amendment was approved by the Senate with a vote of 17-16, and I was happy to cast my 'yes' vote.
Lawmakers in both chambers are currently working toward a compromise regarding this economic development bill. Constitutionally, the General Assembly may continue its special session until Nov. 5 — 60 days after special session began. Please click here to listen to my interview regarding the First Extraordinary Session of the 96th General Assembly.
Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act
One of the special session bills passed by the Legislature and sent to the governor is SB 7, which was approved by lawmakers on Sept. 23. If signed by the governor, the bill would establish the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA). The legislation is designed to attract science and innovation companies to Missouri, creating jobs for countless citizens.
The act replaces the Missouri Technology Fund with the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Fund, which would receive annual appropriations made by the General Assembly, based upon recommendations made by the directors of the Department of Economic Development and Department of Revenue, and contributions made by private entities, the federal government, and local governments.
Although passed by lawmakers, SB 7 states that it would take effect only if SB 8 is approved by the Legislature.
Investigating the Mamtek Deal
While lawmakers in both chambers were working toward a compromise regarding economic development legislation, we heard news that a deal fell through that would have created an artificial sugar factory in mid-Missouri and up to 600 jobs. Mamtek U.S. Inc., the Chinese company that was to build the factory in Moberly, was offered more than $17 million in incentives to expand its business in Missouri. However, the company has missed its first bond payment to Moberly, and the plant remains unfinished.
To investigate what went wrong with this economic development project, I was appointed to the Senate Governmental Accountability Committee. It is very important for my colleagues and I to determine what mistakes were made and how we can learn from them, and how we can help the residents of Moberly recover from any financial loss they may have suffered. Fortunately, the $17 million in incentives I mentioned before were for job creation. Since no jobs were created, Mamtek did not receive any money.
Our first hearing to consider the Mamtek investigation took place on Oct. 5. Future committee hearing information will be posted on the Senate hearing schedule on the Missouri Senate website (www.senate.mo.gov).
Open Enrollment Reminder
Click on postcard [at left] for a larger image.
Don't forget, I will be hosting a FREE Medicare Open Enrollment event for senior citizens and citizens with disabilities:
Tuesday, Oct. 18., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church
5515 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. in St. Louis
There, you will be able to:
- Learn more about your Medicare options.
- Enroll in a new prescription drug plan for 2012.
- Visit with senior services organizations.
- See if you qualify to pay less for Medicare.
- Paraguad Independent Living Center
- St. Louis Area Agency on Aging
- People's Health Centers
- Gateway Chapter of the National MS Society
- Susan G. Komen for the Cure: St. Louis
- Grace Hill Health Centers
- Myrtle H. Davis Comprehensive Health Centers
- Monsanto Family YMCA of St. Louis
- Meals on Wheels of Greater St. Louis
I offer my deepest thanks to Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for their kindness and partnership. Along with this event, they helped me host my health fair last August. The church members have been a pleasure to work with, and they truly live by their mission, which is to help create positive change within the people and the community.
For more information regarding open enrollment, please visit www.missouriclaim.org or call 800-390-3330.
Click here to view my postcard for the event, and visit this link for further information regarding senior assistance. As always, don't hesitate to call my office at (573) 751-3599 if you have any questions.
Garden District Commission Awarded NAP Tax Credits
I'm happy to announce that the Garden District Commission (GDC) has recently been approved for $105,350 in Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) tax credits. The GDC will use the funding for the redevelopment of the last eight and a half blocks of its Botanical Heights project, which is designed to improve local communities into sustainable and safe neighborhoods for families.
Founded in 1998, the GDC is a non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to neighborhood revitalization in the Botanical Heights, Shaw, Tiffany, and Southwest Garden neighborhoods in St. Louis. Please visit the GDC website at www.gardendistrictcomission.org for more information. Congratulations to this caring organization on its accomplishment.
Stella Maris Child Center
I had the recent pleasure of visiting the Stella Maris Child Center in St. Louis. It was an honor to meet the organization's dedicated staff, and the children who are enthusiastic to learn.
Founded in 1849 as a children's orphanage (operated by the Daughters' of Charity), the Stella Maris Child Center was organized to benefit children of all races and backgrounds, and provide them with access to an affordable education. Each year, the organization serves an estimated 164 children and families.
Stella Maris' programs focus on three priorities:
- Early Childhood Development — creating opportunities for children to develop the appropriate skills to be successful in kindergarten and beyond.
- Family Development — helping families identify their strengths, reach their goals, and develop strong family relationships.
- Early Intervention Services — providing support systems and resources to help children and families overcome barriers to success.
Covenant House Missouri Receives YOP Tax CreditsCovenant House Missouri is a non-profit organization that empowers homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth to live independently and become contributing members of our community.
Covenant House Missouri, an organization providing housing and support services to homeless and at-risk young adults, has recently been awarded more than $200,000 in tax credits, provided by the Department of Economic Development's Youth Opportunities Program (YOP). This funding will be directed to Supportive Living Programs, which provide counseling, education, employment counseling, job-readiness classes, and life skills training to help young people become productive members of the community and obtain a bright future.
Covenant House Missouri specifically serves young adults age 16 to 21 — many of them suffering from abuse, neglect, and/or a lack of education. Nearly 37 percent of these kids are St. Louis County residents. During Fiscal Year 2011:
- More than 290 youth were admitted to programs.
- Counseling helped 166 people.
- More than 190 young adults were enrolled in GED classes.
- The average-aged person in Covenant House Missouri programs was 19.
- More than 2,884 homeless or at-risk youth benefitted from resources and supplies.
- GED, literacy, and tutorial services
- Employment services
- Health care assistance
- Individual and family counseling
- Case management
National Council of Jewish Women
The National Council of Jewish Women- St. Louis Section is dedicated to ensuring a high quality of life for women, children, and families, among many other priorities. (Click on photo [at left] for a larger image.)
I recently met several of my constituents who are members of the National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section. I was happy to discuss several legislative matters with these ladies, including payday loan reform, women's health, and the Illinois VESSA Act. I look forward to meeting with them again in the future.
The National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section is a volunteer-based organization that has stood up for social issues and the well-being of women, children, and families for more than 110 years. The group is also very active in the community — every year, volunteers participate in thousands of hours of community service to help the people of St. Louis.
To learn more about the National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section, visit www.ncjwstl.org or call (314) 993-5181.
Grants Available For Health Conscious Communities
The Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) is requesting applications for local policy change efforts that would encourage healthy communities. Applicants are allowed to request up to $75,000 for a project lasting one year. Applications are due Tuesday, Nov. 1.
A MFH correspondent stated that while people can apply from anywhere in the MFH area, MFH is specifically interested in "Let’s Move Cities and Towns," which includes St. Louis.
Communities participating in the "Let's Move" program are dedicated to:
- Reducing the risk of obesity in early childhood.
- Making healthy food affordable and accessible.
- Providing healthy food in schools.
- Increasing physical activity.
St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE)
Visiting with Michael Holmes, executive director of SLATE. (Click on photo [at right] for a larger image.)
In today's job market, a competitive edge and polished, professional skills are a must. To help give Missourians an edge in the career field, SLATE Missouri Career Centers are available.
These career centers provide training and job placement services to St. Louis City's adult workforce — some of these services, many of them free, include:
- Job placement
- Career counseling
- Professional development
- Access to training opportunities
Please visit one of the Missouri Career Centers at the following locations:
1520 Market St., 3rd Floor, St. Louis, MO 63103
Phone: (314) 589-8000
Central West End
4811 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108
Phone: (314) 877-0916
Canine Cruelty Prevention Website LaunchedPlease visit the Canine Cruelty Prevention Unit site to learn more about how we can protect our pets.
I'm happy to say that Missourians now have another tool in their toolbox for preventing cruelty and abuse to man's best friends. The attorney general's website now includes a "Canine Cruelty Prevention Unit" page.
The page includes information on many important issues, including:
- What you should do if you bought an animal that is sick.
- Contact information to see if a dog-breeding facility is licensed in Missouri (573-751-3076).
- Facilities' inspection and business history.
- How you can file a complaint against a dog-breeding facility.
Please click here for more information about the Canine Cruelty Prevention Unit, or visit the attorney general's website (www.ago.mo.gov) and click on the "Canine Cruelty Prevention Unit" link under the "Agriculture & Environment" tab.