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19 December 2011

Lant: "Blueprint For Missouri", Pet Peeves

I said it was going to be a busy week and it sure was! We began with a ceremony on Monday for a Newton County Drug Court graduation. We met at 5:30 at the Neosho R5 Administration Building and what a crowd there was! I counted over 120 people there for the ceremony, of course there was a school board meeting following, but I can't tell you how moving that graduation was. Judge Perigo has done a marvelous job in creating an alternative to jail time for these young offenders. I'm not talking about a slap on the wrist, these young offenders have a tough go of it meeting the requirements of this program. The marvelous thing is that very few slip back into their old life style. It is noteworthy that Justice Ray Price of the Missouri Supreme Court is making it a priority to encourage more Drug Courts throughout our State. I'm going to say more about this in future columns, but for now my hat is certainly off to Judges Perigo and LePage for the wonderful work they are doing.

Seneca's Chamber of Commerce meeting was held at noon on Thursday and they are planning a great 2012. It is a great feeling to see so many business people interested in improving their town. Much like Noel, the Chamber in Seneca is working diligently to bring new businesses and a new look to their downtown. There has been a real flurry of activity in Seneca this past year with new business and improvements to old businesses. Josh Dodson and his Chamber invite everyone to come see the differences in town!

The big news for the week was the Caucus meeting in Jefferson City on Saturday. Speaker Tilley and Speaker Elect Tim Jones spelled out our Legislative Priorities for next session. The plan is called "Blueprint for Missouri". The 4 major priorities are : Education, Jobs, Economy, and Taxpayer Protection. First and foremost we will balance the budget with NO new taxes. We will propose a Taxpayer Protection Act, County Debt Disclosure, Prevailing Wage Reform, Criminal Justice Reform, Workers Comp and 2nd Injury Fund fixes, Tort Reform (loser pays), Foundation Formula fix and Teacher Quality Act, and Veterans Home funding fix. There are also going to be bills addressing such things as protection for Pharmacists whose conscience will not let them sell "Morning After Pills" , A Mandatory Reporter Reform bill to insure that the tiny percent of educators that are sick enough to sexually prey upon their students are reported and permanently removed from the system, and making it mandatory to take your drivers test in English. Please remember this was not a bi-partisan meeting and we will have a great degree of difficulty getting some of these bills through the Senate and then getting the Governor's signature. This agenda does however reflect the will of the majority of the members of The House and, I believe, the people of Southwest Missouri.

Finally, I am going to air one of my pet peeves. There is not a single one of us who hasn't contributed in one way or another to the relief of the Tornado Victims and the herculean clean up and rebuilding project in Joplin. Over 100,000 people have been recorded as volunteer help. They have come from literally all over the world. Many, many dollars have been contributed to offset the enormous cost of rebuilding homes, businesses, and schools. There is much more to do, but we are well on the way to recovery. We have, in the eyes of the world, accomplished the near impossible to be as far along as we are in so short a time. Now to my "Pet Peeve", every time a corporation or philanthropist makes a contribution to the rebuilding effort, we are treated to another appearance by the Governor. I'm sorry, but he has no business showing up every time someone has a check for the Joplin Schools or a Park project. This is the same guy who withheld from this year's budget over 33 million dollars for education. I'm talking about money that the General Assembly included in the Budget for things like Tutoring, Transportation, and Children's Treatment Services. The Auditor has a pending lawsuit to make him return the funding but who knows how that will come out. Just for fun I have asked for an accounting of the cost of the Governor's trips. I'll bet we could build a couple of those low income houses with the cost to the state. Oh well, I guess that is enough for now. Until next time, I am and remain in your service,

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