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29 December 2011

Sater: Preparing For Last Session In House

It is now time for another year to unfold. I hope 2011 was a good year for you and that 2012 will even be better.

Our state economy, although poor, is much better than others surrounding us. We are fortunate to live in Southwest Missouri. Every time I visit Kansas City or St. Louis for meetings, I look forward to returning to Barry County. This is my last year as your state representative. We can only serve 8 years and then are termed out of office. When the term limit initiative was on the ballot in the early 90’s, I was in full support of it. My thought was to kick those career politicians out of office and give others a chance to serve. And, without this, I would not be where I am today. I have come to realize that 8 years is too short a time. By the time you get the hang of this job, it is time to retire. Eight years gives more power to the bureaucrats and lobbyists, because they know that the new kid does not know anything about the functioning of government. Any legislation that would change this would not apply to me or anyone serving presently. It would just affect future legislators.

This 2012 session will be one that concentrates again on the budget and our shortcomings on funding. It will also feature legislation that will have a bearing on people trying to get re-elected. Some things never change. This is why many people do not have a favorable opinion of legislative bodies - either nationally or statewide. Our budget does not have any federal stimulus dollars left to plug the holes. Medicaid costs continue to increase with more people on the rolls and inflation driving up cost. Seven years ago, we passed legislation that decreased the federal poverty level on which one qualifies for Medicaid benefits. Because of the Federal Affordable Health Care Act, we cannot reduce expenditures for Medicaid because the federal government will threaten to take away federal dollars which account for over 60 percent of the total funding. Before this, we could reduce some programs to save others. This is why last year, education was cut for the first time because we could not cut some Medicaid programs.

I understand the Governor wants to borrow money from the state colleges and pay it back over 5 years. That probably will meet with stiff resistance. It will be interesting to see what the Governor’s budget recommendations are.

This will be my last stint at chairing a committee. It will be my seventh year as Chairman. I have learned a lot and, hopefully, have made a good difference in policies that are health related. The one piece of legislation that I hope will pass is my bill that lets medical personnel volunteer their services without compensation and without having to purchase liability insurance. Right now, if you volunteer, you would have to purchase a separate policy for this. The bill would free medical volunteers to give their time back to society.

I will be keeping you informed on issues coming before the House in future releases. Thank you for allowing me to serve. My Capitol Office is open now Monday through Friday and can be reached at (573) 751-1480. You can also call me at my home in Cassville (417/847-4661).

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