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07 January 2011

Tilley: 'To whom much is given, much is expected'

Many are probably familiar with the maxim, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” I believe that simple philosophy couldn’t be truer this week as we started the 96th legislative session in Jefferson City.

Looking back over the last several years, the opportunity I have been given as your State Representative has been such an amazing honor and privilege. The thousands of people I have met, families that have opened their doors, and friends I have made are humbling beyond belief.

The past election cycle marked my last and final term to serve in the Missouri House of Representatives for the people of the 106th district, and in addition I was chosen by my peers in the state legislature to serve as Speaker of the Missouri House.

The magnitude of this responsibility at times has seemed overwhelming, but “to whom much is given, much is expected” and I fully recognize that much will now be expected of me. I have always been someone who believed leadership does not only fall to the individual with the most striking personality, but also to the one who demonstrates they can find results and sets an example to others by their deeds.

My comfort has always been in leading by example, in working together to find solutions, and always respecting the individual not just their position. This is the way I have attempted to represent our district in Jefferson City and why I believe I was chosen by my colleagues to serve as their leader.

Missouri is at a pivotal crossroads and the future of our state, and frankly our country, will be taking on changes very soon. I believe Missourians want action, they want common sense solutions to our problems, and they know the status quo has not been working. These are the very things I have always taken with me to Jefferson City and have now been asked to lead the Missouri House by.

On the opening day of session, I made the promise that the people of Missouri would and should be able to expect more from their state government because they deserve it. The largest part of that responsibility lies on me, but I am proud that I have already taken action on that pledge.

I bucked the trend of waiting until session started to organize ourselves and named chairmen more than a month in advance. We also established what members would be serving on the different committees and notified them before opening day even came. Further, I asked three Democrats to serve as Chairmen of substantive committees because I was more interested in their ability than their party designation.

I cut my own office budget by 15% and asked the rest of our leadership teams to meet a 10% reduction in theirs. I think these things were an important part of demonstrating that just because things are always done one way doesn’t mean they should always be done that way.

I also laid out a plan called the Show Me Solutions Initiative that rests on four core principles: fiscal prudence, limited government, personal responsibility, and individual freedom. Based on those principles we crafted a series of legislative proposals aimed at balancing our state budget, improving the economic environment, rooting out more waste, fraud and abuse from government, protecting education, and increasing the quality of healthcare.

My goal is to make the citizens of Missouri proud in my capacity as Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives during the next two years, but my success and appreciation goes out to the people of the 106th district for choosing me as their Representative along with the common sense values we share and they have taught me.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve here in the House of Representatives. As always, I welcome your comments. You may reach me at 573-751-1488, send your e-mails to steven{dot}tilley{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov or write to me at the Missouri House of Representatives, State Capitol, Room 308, Jefferson City, MO 65101. If you know of anyone who would like to receive my Capitol Reports electronically, please contact me with their e-mail address.

Stouffer: Lawmakers Plan to “Reboot” State Government in 2011

The gavel has officially fallen in Jefferson City, and lawmakers are back for another year of work at the State Capitol.

We are starting work a bit differently than normal. In a year after an election, we swear in newly-elected and re-elected members and start over with committees and committee assignments. We are also taking a different approach at the beginning of session to revisit the Senate’s "Rebooting Government" efforts, which actually were started last spring.

We will spend three days, in different work groups, reviewing ideas submitted by the general public. I will be on the panel that will look at agriculture, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and transportation. Once all of the groups finish, panel members will report their recommendations to members of the Senate.

We took a day last year to review the public's recommendations, and we were able to turn some of those into legislation that is now saving the state money. What we do this month will further those efforts and make the state's government run more effectively, which is important in a year where we are facing another budget shortfall.

Just as it has been for the past two years, the state's budget will be the focal point once again this session. The governor's office, along with Senate and House budget teams, put together what they call the Consensus Revenue Estimate every year before the session starts. This year, we face a $300 million to $500 million shortfall. We will not have any federal stimulus money, so we are on our own. With new folks in the Senate and new leadership in both chambers, I have no doubt this will be the year we make tough decisions, which will go along with our continuing efforts to streamline state government.

I have also filed several bills, some of which you have seen from me before. Senate Bill 3 would establish voter I.D. rules in Missouri, but would put it to a vote of the people. If we need photo I.D. to rent a movie or send something via U.P.S., then it should also be required for one of the most important things we do as citizens.

Senate Bill 4 would repeal the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act” that was passed last year as Proposition B. Too many folks were misled by millions of dollars in out-of-state money — it is time to put the record straight and I aim to do that this session. Senate Bill 5 would require drug testing for applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). We have heard the stories of parents using these tax dollars to buy drugs, and there is no way of stopping this from happening currently. My proposal introduces some common-sense solutions to the idea.

We have a lot of work to do between now and the middle of May. Rest assured, I am listening to you and will do everything I can to continue to make rural Missouri a great place to live, work and raise a family. We want to get folks back to work, and I pray this will be on everyone's mind in the Legislature throughout the 2011 session.

Hoskins: Recap of First Week, Legislation Filed

The Missouri 96th session of the Missouri General Assembly is now officially underway. Wednesday was primarily a day of ceremony and festivities as all 163 members of the House of Representatives were sworn in for another term. With all the guests from home districts in the Capitol, celebrations went late into the night. Rep. Scott Largent (District 120 from Clinton) shares office space with me in the Capitol so we welcomed constituents from his district and mine, too. Among those that came by my office included April Anderson, Ashley Cason, Lorrie Myers, Heather Myers, Mary Ellen Young, Stormy Taylor, Violet Corbett, Destry and Cricket Hough, Celeste Hough, Eddie and Betsy Chitwood, Parker and Stella McNeel, Kyle Shell, and Sam Hill. They all agree that my new office has much more room for visitors than I had in the office for my first term. I apologize if I missed anybody that was by for the inaugural but I look forward to you coming to visit my office any time.

Of the 163 members, 79 are new to the House as freshman. Having been in that situation just two years ago when I was newly elected, I understand the enthusiasm combined with confusion they are all feeling. I have been appointed to mentor five new freshmen Representatives and look forward to helping to clarify some of the questions they undoubtedly have. I sure appreciated some of the more senior members of the House helping me understand the workings specific to the House. It is just amazing how much I’ve learned in these past two years.

After the members of the House were sworn in yesterday, the rest of the official business involved electing the leadership. We unanimously elected Rep. Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) as the new Speaker of the House for the next two years. Speaker Tilley is beginning his fourth term in the House. In the private sector, he is Dr. Tilley, an optometrist. Speaker Tilley’s predecessor, Speaker Ron Richard, was no longer eligible to serve in the House due to term limits. He is now Senator Richard, serving Southwest Missouri including Joplin in the Missouri Senate.

During his opening address, Speaker Tilley identified his policy platform for this session while reinforcing the importance of bipartisan cooperation. Under Speaker Tilley’s leadership, the House will balance the budget while holding the line on taxes; be placing a moratorium on new regulations, fees, or taxes for businesses; increase accountability in state government; improve the state’s system of education; and implement free market health care concepts. I agree wholeheartedly that whether Republican or Democrat, every member of the House needs to look at how to make Missouri a better place to live, work, and raise a family. I know there will be differences of opinion, but I believe the House wants to work together to move Missouri forward.


So far, I have filed one bill and am fine-tuning several others to be filed. The bill I have already filed is HB 45. I am proposing changes to the laws regarding the Big Government Get Off My Back Act and providing an income tax deduction for certain small businesses that create new full-time jobs. I am looking forward to moving this bill forward as a tool to support small businesses. Although big companies are what make headlines when they come to Missouri, the vast majority of new jobs are created by small business. They may not make big headlines but they do make big impacts for the families their jobs support.

Next Week

The inaugural festivities are now over and it’s time to get to work. I am delighted be back in Jefferson City and continuing to provide representation to the 121st District in Jefferson City. Remember that my constituents are always welcome to see me at the Capitol or in Johnson County.

Please share this report with anyone you feel would be interested in this information. It is genuinely a privilege to serve as your state representative.

Dempsey: Senate's Priorities

This week marked the beginning of the First Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly in Jefferson City. As a class of newly-elected legislators was sworn into office and the Senate convened we turned our attention to what promises to be a session full of challenges.

Most notable among the issues we will have to address is shoring up Missouri’s budget for the new fiscal year which will begin in July. While the economic horizon is showing signs of a silver lining, we are still expecting a budget shortfall of somewhere between $300 and $500 million. This reality will cast a long shadow over this year’s legislative session. Nonetheless, we are committed to balancing the state budget without raising taxes but substantial cuts to state programs will be required.

The good news is that Missouri is in far better shape than many of our sister states. A long list of budget cuts in past years has helped to keep our financial house in order. We are also looking for ways to further streamline with our “Rebooting Government” program. As we open a new legislative session we are asking for input from all Missouri citizens to help us identify wasteful spending and find ways to operate more efficiently. Senate committees will be assigned to review suggestions that have been provided. You can add your ideas to the list by visiting the following website:

Another priority of this session is job creation. We plan to move forward with legislation that will help create the right climate for producing jobs here in the Show Me State.

For starters, I will push to cap Missouri’s corporate franchise tax. Since this tax is levied on assets, businesses have to pay it whether or not they even earn a profit. This system encourages growing companies to move their operations out of state in order to protect themselves from double taxation. By capping it we can encourage companies to grow their in-state operations and hire more Missourians.

Also, the time has come to restore balance to the Missouri Human Rights Act. A series of court decisions has exposed companies and individuals to unnecessary litigation. Proposed legislation would ensure that employees cannot be sued by a co-worker for on-the-job accidents when they are, at the same time, collecting damages from the workers’ compensation system. Changing the Missouri Human Rights Act would also lower lawsuit damage caps, leaving employers with more money to pay out in wages rather than in expensive lawsuits.

Though there are many challenges, I look forward to a productive session. As always, I appreciate and welcome your comments. Please do not hesitate to contact me on these or any other issues of concern to you.

Rupp: Prefiled Legislation to Benefit Missourians with Special Needs

The First Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly began this week, and I am looking forward to proposing legislation that will better the state of Missouri and make our state a great place to live and raise a family. One measure I have already prefiled is Senate Bill 56, which would require the Department of Mental Health to hire an expert to submit a plan for transitioning individuals with mental disabilities from state facilities to appropriate, residential facilities. Ideally, I would like to see this study completed within a year, and I would like to see the transition completed in the next five years.

As a member of the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders, I care deeply about the well-being of special needs children and adults, and it is my goal to make sure all people with needs are cared for in proper establishments. Although Missouri’s current facilities are in fine shape, they cost our state millions more than necessary. To house a person in a state institution costs Missouri $350-$600 each day. However, housing a person in a community facility would cost roughly $200 a day. This would help relieve Missouri’s budget constraints drastically, and residents would still receive the exceptional, constant care they deserve. We have already seen 12 states dissolve their state institutions and begin serving citizens in community facilities, and it would be beneficial for Missouri to do the same.

This measure was partially inspired by the “Rebooting Government” workgroups that met last March, when the Legislature requested the opinions of Missourians regarding how we can best streamline state government. I was happy to be appointed to the social services workgroup, a department which uses much of Missouri’s tax dollars. During our “Rebooting Government” event, more than 3,000 Missourians participated and vocalized their suggestions. Though many of these ideas, we concluded that from social services, $79-$117 million could be saved from Missouri’s budget; $9-$20 million of this amount can be saved from gradually moving citizens with disabilities from state centers to community-based care.

Many families who have had family members transition out of institutional settings and move into communities have reported that their loved ones’ quality of life and happiness dramatically improved. When given the choice, most people prefer to live in a community rather than in an institution.

Keeping the good of Missourians in mind, I will continue to be an advocate for citizens with disabilities, and I will also strive to protect taxpayer dollars and reduce government spending. As the 2011 legislative session gets underway, we will continue to welcome ideas and suggestions from Missourians on how we can make our state a better place to call home. Please visit the Missouri Senate website ( and click on the “Rebooting Government” logo to submit your suggestions for improving your government.

If you have any questions regarding this matter or any other issues within state government, please visit my website at You can also e-mail me or call my office toll-free at (866) 271-2844.

Missouri Senate Convenes for 2011 Legislative Session

Senate Elects New Leader and Leaders List Legislative Priorities

The first day of the 96th General Assembly, First Regular Session began with 17 newly elected and re-elected members taking their oath of office in the Missouri Senate.

Twelve new members, who each won their respective November 2010 general elections, took their place in the upper chamber:
  • Senator Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City (District 6)
  • Senator Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit (District 8)
  • Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis (District 14)
  • Senator Dan Brown, R-Rolla (District 16)
  • Senator Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown (District 18)
  • Senator Jay Wasson, R-Nixa (District 20)
  • Senator John Lamping, R-St. Louis (District 24)
  • Senator Brian Nieves, R-Washington (District 26)
  • Senator Mike Parson, R-Bolivar (District 28)
  • Senator Bob Dixon, R-Springfield (District 30)
  • Senator Ron Richard, R-Joplin (District 32)
  • Senator Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph (District 34)
In addition, five members were re-elected to the Missouri Senate, including Sen. Scott T. Rupp, R-Wentzville (2nd District); Sen. Joseph Keaveny, D-St. Louis (4th District); Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City (10th District); Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah (12th District); and Sen. Ryan McKenna, D-Crystal City (22nd District).

In early November, the Senate Majority Caucus endorsed Sen. Robert N. Mayer, R-Dexter, to serve as Senate President Pro Tem. The Missouri Senate unanimously approved Sen. Mayer’s nomination to serve in this capacity. The pro tem is in charge of appointing committee members, assigning legislation to committees, and ruling on points of order raised during debate, among other responsibilities.

During Sen. Mayer’s opening day address to the Senate, he lists the chamber’s legislative priorities for the 2011 legislative session, including improving Missouri’s economic climate by focusing on job growth and retention; creating a balanced and fiscally responsible budget while protecting Missouri taxpayers; continuing the Senate’s commitment to education by providing every Missouri student with a world-class education; making health care more available, affordable and portable for all citizens, and also focusing on other issues such as agriculture and election reform.

Lawmakers also adopted a rule change regarding several Senate committees. The Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee is now the Committee on Governmental Accountability, which is responsible for reviewing, studying, and investigating all matters to the application, administration, execution, and effectiveness of all state laws and programs, among other charges. The committee also considers legislation relating to improving governmental efficiency and management.

“Emerging Issues” was added to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs, Pensions and Urban Affairs Committee. Now known as the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Emerging Issues, Pensions and Urban Affairs, members of this panel are charged with considering and reporting on bills concerning veterans’ affairs; issues of statewide or immediate concern; retirement; pensions and pension plans; and urban renewal, housing and other matters relating to urban areas.

Finally, the Senate Ways and Means Committee is now known as the Committee on Ways and Means and Fiscal Oversight. Among other charges, the committee is responsible for considering and reporting on all bills, except regular appropriation measures, that require new funding or expenditures in excess of $100,000.

Engler: The 2011 Legislative Session Begins

At noon on Wednesday, January 5, the 2011 legislative session began and we welcomed 12 new colleagues to the Senate. This year is sure to be an interesting one—in his opening day address the President Pro Tem made it clear that the Senate would be taking up several controversial issues this session.

Republicans hold a large advantage in the makeup of the Senate, but that does not mean differing opinions should be rejected. The economic and budget situation in which we find ourselves requires everyone – democrats, republicans, moderates, conservatives, and liberals – to work together to find common sense solutions to our most pressing issues.

We are facing many challenges this session. For the coming fiscal year, we are expecting a $300 to $500 million revenue shortfall. We must make tough decisions and find ways to cut state spending, but we have to do so without hurting education in our state. If we cut funding to higher education and force Missouri colleges to raise tuition, we are essentially passing a tax increase onto our students, and that is unacceptable.

One priority that is sure to be a focus this session is job creation. There are a lot of initiatives we will be discussing to promote job growth and make sure Missouri’s economic environment encourages businesses move to and expand in our state. We have to take a balanced approach that will create jobs and will support, rather than harm, the state’s workforce.

Next week, we will begin work on finding creative ways to trim state spending through the continuation of the Senate’s “Rebooting Government” initiative. This program, which began last year, takes suggestions from the public and allows senators to sit down and discuss these ideas. I am encouraging citizens throughout the 3rd District to go online and submit their ideas on how to reshape and right-size state government by visiting

Legislative work will begin in earnest next week after committee assignments are announced and we can begin to meet to discuss the bills proposed this year. In an upcoming column, I will discuss some of my legislative priorities for the session, and I will continue to keep you informed on what is going on in the Capitol throughout 2011.

Tim Jones: Session Commences, Taking the Helm, Show Me Solutions

As the wonder, beauty and awe of the brilliant snow filled holiday season become distant yet pleasant memories, preparations quickly turned to returning to Jefferson City and the work of the People via their elected Representatives and Senators.  Chilly, crisp yet sun drenched pale winter skies wrapped around the Capitol dome as legislators, family and friends journeyed to the Capitol City from the four corners of the State.  Ceremony, steeped in decades and decades of tradition were the order of the day this week and legislators continued to file legislation in anticipation of a challenging and busy legislative schedule…

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." –James Madison

Commencement of the First Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly

On Wednesday, January 5, 2011, legislators from across Missouri returned to Jefferson City to convene the First Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly.

The General Assembly begins each year at noon on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in January at the State Capitol in Jefferson City.  Here, legislation will be introduced and debated on both the Senate and the House floors.  The General Assembly meets until the first Friday following the second Monday in May.

The Missouri General Assembly is made up of 34 members of the Senate, who are elected for four-year terms and 163 members of the House of Representatives, elected for two-year terms.  This year the General Assembly has 12 new members in the Senate and 81 new members in the House.

Taking the Helm

At left: Presiding over the House Chamber

Yesterday, I entered the Chamber of the Missouri House of Representatives and ran the Floor of the Missouri House for the first time as the new Majority Floor Leader. I am happy to say that we completed our first ceremonial day ahead of schedule and without error!  If only I could be assured that the next 5 months would run so smoothly!  In all seriousness, I want to sincerely thank all of my family, friends and supporters who shared this very special day with me, especially my wife Suzanne, my daughters, Katie and Abby, parents, Dr. Bill & JoAnn Jones and my brother in law, Marc Baca.  And I want to again thank my 105 new colleagues for their trust, support and friendship in selecting me as their Majority Leader.  Now, we can get down to the business and the challenge of working to make our great State of Missouri a better place in which to live, work and raise a family.

The Show Me Solutions Initiative

In his Opening Session Address, Speaker Tilley set forth a bold agenda for the Missouri House to attend to titled the "Show Me Solutions Initiative" that encompasses five (5) key areas:  Job Creation, Taxes and Spending, Government Accountability, Education, and Healthcare.  Over the next few weeks, I will focus in on each of these topics.  First, I will discuss what the State of Missouri can do to help create jobs.

Our first priority is to help put Missourians back to work.  If we do our job, we can take steps to improve employers' ability to hire and retain employees, and secure certainty in take-home pay of every working family in Missouri.  Government is not the solution to our bad economy, but we need to assure that our state government is not making it worse.  TAX REFORM, TORT REFORM, and REGULATORY REFORM will help make our state more attractive to the business investors that will put our folks back to work.  The specific legislative areas on which we will focus are:

Reducing Small Business Regulation & Taxes. The Missouri House will review and reduce job killing regulations on small businesses and work to phase-in full deductibility of federal income taxes from state taxes.
Small Business Tort Reform. This legislative item (which I have sponsored over the past few years) significantly improves the workplace environment in Missouri by strengthening the legal requirements to file a suit and capping damage awards that have gotten out of hand from a handful of poorly decided court decisions that are wreaking havoc on Missouri businesses as a whole.
Immigration. We will seek to protect Missouri workers by adopting an immigration bill similar to the law passed in Arizona, but expand it to include human trafficking and cross referencing the sexual predator list.
Nuisance Laws. We must stop repeat lawsuits from out of control trial attorneys on small businesses and family farms.

In future reports, I will discuss in detail other elements of the Show Me Solutions Initiative and will report to you the progress of these efforts.  I will also report on the progress relating to reordering the priorities of State government as we work through the budget.  We have to do more with less, just like nearly every Missouri business and family.  By living within our means, we can position Missouri well when the economic recovery begins.

These are massive challenges but they present major opportunities for your legislature this year.  It is now time for us to go to work for the People.

Visiting the Capitol

At right: Missouri Community College Association presenting me with the Distinguished Legislator Award in November 2010

If you ever find yourself in or around Jefferson City at any time during the year, please feel free to visit us!  Stop by our new office location in Room 302 and we will be happy to meet and greet you!

Personal News & Notes

On behalf of myself, my staff and my family (especially my very patient and very supportive wife, Suzanne), I want to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year…may it bring you great peace and prosperity.  My two daughters, Katie and Abby remain constant reminders to me of why I have chosen public service as part of my career and that there are future generations and a "greater good" that we are all striving for when we "set to the task" each year in Jefferson City.  Please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can ever be of any assistance!

Until our next update, I am, and remain, in your service.

06 January 2011

Nolte: Bills To Improve Missouri’s Job Climate Pre-Filed

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - As the 2011 legislative session begins, state Rep. Jerry Nolte, R-Gladstone, has filed legislation designed to improve the business climate in Missouri without adding to the state’s budget shortfall. Nolte, who chairs the Missouri House Committee on International Trade and Job Creation, pointed to several bills he is sponsoring as important changes that need to be made to help Missouri retain and attract businesses.

“As we look at ways to bring more jobs for Missouri families, we must create a business-friendly environment in our state,” said Nolte. “We’ve had a tough time competing with other states that are able to offer lower regulatory and tax burdens. We need to give our businesses a level playing field in that competition.”

Legislation introduced by Nolte would reduce the tax burden on small and medium sized businesses. House Bill 78 provides relief by allowing them to deduct a percentage of business income from their taxable income. Missouri is one of a few states that imposes both a corporation income tax (a tax on income) and a franchise tax (levied on assets, regardless of profitability). Another bill (HB 76) would put a cap on the franchise tax and would encourage businesses to potentially put more of their assets in Missouri.

“To attract businesses and to keep the ones we have, we need to keep our tax burden low and competitive with other states. The economic gains that will result from attracting new businesses will help bring more jobs to Missouri,” said Nolte.

Another part of Nolte’s legislative package would protect workers and businesses by providing additional liability protection. House Bill 91 would restore co-employee liability protection in Missouri’s Workers Compensation Act taken away last summer by the courts. This bill addresses an issue raised last year when a court ruling allowed an injured worker to sue a co-worker after already settling a workers' compensation claim against his employer. Nolte’s legislation would prevent such lawsuits unless an employee is injured by the purposeful, affirmatively dangerous conduct of another employee.

HB 61, pre-filed by Nolte, would prohibit the state minimum wage from exceeding the federal minimum wage. Missouri is one of a few states that sets automatic accelerators to their minimum wage increasing the cost of hiring workers above that of every other state in the area except Illinois. Missouri’s minimum hourly wage is currently $7.25, which is the same rate as the federal minimum wage; passage of this bill would not decrease any worker’s pay. Nolte said, “It is important that it is not significantly more expensive to hire people and do business in Missouri than in almost any other state in our region.”

“Missouri families expect us to create jobs while being fiscally responsible. These measures promote a pro-business environment that makes Missouri attractive to companies from all over the globe to create jobs, without breaking our budget. Missouri families must live within their means; our state must do the same.”

Nolte’s bills await assignment to committee for discussion. The 2011 legislative session began Wednesday, Jan. 5.

04 January 2011

MO Expat: Housekeeping

With the new session beginning tomorrow, housekeeping is in order. Bills mentioned last session and departed legislators are no longer listed to the left. An archive page now exists to catalog previous contributors and bills mentioned in previous sessions.

Currently, only sessions prior to the last session are listed on the archive page. As bills mentioned from the last session now need the session number (95) appended to them, that listing will take some time to finalize. Some may omit missives as they are all manually relabeled. Our apologies as we complete building the archive page.

Edit @ 1555, 5 Jan 2011: Archive page & labels updated.

03 January 2011

Keaveny: Prefiled Measures, Returned Refund Checks, Community Services Directory

Prefiled Measures for 2011 Legislative Session

For the 2011 legislative session, I have prefiled several bills that, if passed, will benefit the state of Missouri.

Senate Bill 24 would increase the fine for seat belt violations from $10 to $50. Evidence shows that higher fines are associated with higher seat belt usage. In fact, surveys in 1998 and 1999 found that seat belt usage increased an average of 6 percent in states that had fines of $30 or more. In Missouri, studies show that only 77.2 percent of motorists wear seat belts. This percentage of people not wearing seat belts accounted for 425 traffic-related deaths in 2009 from people not buckled up. Safety is a top priority for me, which is why I support the passage of this bill.

Another measure I have prefiled, Senate Bill 23, is similar to a bill I filed last year. This bill would allow the City of St. Louis to have control of its own police force, with no state intervention. The bill will not alter the current police pension system for members of the St. Louis Police Department, which will continue to be governed by state statute. The move to local control will not affect any officer benefits or residency requirements, and would allow for collective bargaining of uniformed officers. The citizens of St. Louis clearly support returning control of our police department to the local level. On Nov. 2, 2010, 69 percent of St. Louis voters approved Proposition L, the measure that asked voters if they want authority over the police department to return to local control. I think those results send a strong message to Missouri lawmakers that City of St. Louis residents want the local charter to be enacted.

To follow the status of measures throughout the legislative session, visit the Missouri Senate website at

Returned Refund Checks from the Missouri Department of Revenue

In the hustle and bustle of moving, many forget to send their updated addresses to the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR). This results in more than 10,000 income tax refunds that are returned back to the Department of Revenue. If you have moved and would like to update your address, please see the "address change request" page under the "returned refund checks" link on the DOR website at If you have not received your check and would like to see if it was returned to the department, visit the "returned refund checks" page. If your name is on the list, please e-mail the department or call (573) 751-3505 to notify them of your check status.

"Rebooting Government" in Missouri

With the First Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly approaching on Jan. 5, I am eager to get measures passed that will improve the quality of life in Missouri. Your well-being is my priority, and I work dutifully throughout the year to initiate measures that will benefit our great state.

The Legislature would also like to hear from you. After all, it is your voice that matters the most. Last year, the Missouri Senate began the "Rebooting Government" program, which allows Missourians to submit their ideas online about how we can better our state government. We plan to continue "rebooting government," and we would like to hear your thoughts and concerns regarding how we can make Missouri a better place to live. To submit your views about how we can better your government, visit and click on the “Rebooting Government” link.

Missouri Rapid Response Program

During the recession that our country has experienced and is still dealing with, downsizing companies and cutting jobs have been unfortunate symptoms. As of November 2010, the rate of unemployment in the United States was 9.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This percentage is equivalent to 15.1 million people.

To help ease the stress of unemployed Missourians, the Missouri Rapid Response Program, offered through the Missouri Department of Economic Development, is available to provide assistance, with a mission to, “provide employers and employees who are affected by business closing or layoffs with information and assistance to help alleviate the unemployment and economic distress that results from these unemployment actions.”

When Rapid Response receives confirmation of a layoff at a company, a dispatched coordinator from the program conducts a meeting with the company and plans outplacement services for employees losing their jobs. The unemployed men and women are then able to attend meetings, where the following services are provided:
  • Information about new employment opportunities
  • Resume workshops
  • Career counseling
  • Job training for a new career
  • Unemployment insurance options
Funding for these programs is provided by the Missouri Department of Labor under the Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker Program. For more information about Rapid Response services, visit or call toll-free 1-800-877-8698.

2011 Community Services Directory

A priority of mine is to make sure all St. Louis citizens have access to and are aware of local services available. Therefore, my office is providing a community services directory for 2011 with contact information for St. Louis establishments. The directory contains content information for programs offering:
  • Educational opportunities
  • Emotional support groups
  • Emergency organizations for those abused or stressed
  • Employment offices
  • Housing establishments
  • And much more!
My 2011 community services directory is available on my website at For those without Internet access, the directory is available through mail order. For further inquiries, please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-3599.

Missouri AIDS Taskforce

One of the biggest health issues the world is facing is the epidemic of HIV/AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). According to the Global Health Council, nearly 25 million people have died from AIDS in the last 27 years. Members of the Missouri AIDS Taskforce, whose mission is to provide a voice for Missouri citizens living with HIV/AIDS and to, “…shape public policy to increase access to care, supportive services, education and prevention through a coalition of AIDS service providers and advocates,” are raising awareness in their community by hosting events to promote knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS.

Findings by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services show that in 2009, almost 5,000 people in the city of St. Louis and in the county were infected with HIV.

The Missouri AIDS Taskforce is a branch of DOORWAYS, an interfaith organization which provides housing and assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS. DOORWAYS has many housing options and currently serves 570 adults and 300 children each month. To find out more about the Missouri AIDS Taskforce, visit, and to learn more about DOORWAYS, visit or call (314) 535-1919.

How to Stay Safe on Wintery Roads

Winter is officially here, and with the chilly season often comes dangerous conditions in our state. Here are some tips for driving in snowy and icy circumstances, provided by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT):

Before the Trip

  • Prepare your car with fresh antifreeze, a good battery, a properly operating exhaust system, and oil that will withstand the rigors of cold weather.
  • If possible, avoid driving until the roads are safe and passable.
  • Inspect your tires, brakes, windshield wipers, and windshield wiper fluid before you get on the roadways.

During the Trip

  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Adjust your speed to suit driving conditions.
  • Give snowplows plenty of room, and don't pass them.
  • Driving is most dangerous when temperatures are near 32 degrees.
  • Watch for other vehicles having problems with road conditions.
  • Keep mirrors, windows and lights clean; keep your lights on.
  • Don't pass other vehicles on or near bridges.
  • Keep your fuel tank at least half full.
  • If you don't feel comfortable driving, park at the first safe place.

If You're Trapped in Your Car

  • Stay in the vehicle. Don't leave to search for help. It's easy to become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow.
  • Display a trouble sign. Hang a brightly colored cloth on the antenna.
  • Run the engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater and turn on the dome light only when the vehicle is running.
  • Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a window slightly for ventilation.
  • Clap hands and move your arms and legs occasionally. Don't stay in one position for too long.
  • If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.
  • Huddle together for warmth.
  • Use newspapers, maps, and even car mats for added insulation.
This winter, please stay safe and drive carefully. For more information about winter traveling, please visit or call 1-888-275-6636.

"Yes You CAN Make Missouri Litter Free" Trash Can Decorating Contest

At right: The first-grade class of Potosi Elementary School were the winners of the 2010 "Yes You CAN Make Missouri Litter Free" Trash Can Decorating Contest. (Photo courtesy of the MDC "No MOre Trash!" campaign.)

An important tool in keeping a litter-free society is to educate children to throw waste away properly, and Missouri schools are teaching young students that maintaining a tidy community is important and can be fun.

Litter in Missouri is becoming increasingly problematic. Joe Jerek, coordinator of the Missouri Department of Conservation's (MDC) “No MOre Trash!” campaign, said that MoDOT spends more than $5 million a year removing litter from highways and streets. In addition, the MDC spends $1 million each year to remove litter from conservation areas. This is very saddening, as this litter is sometimes responsible for killing Missouri wildlife.

As part of the 2011 “Yes You CAN Make Missouri Litter Free” campaign, Missouri elementary, middle, and home-school students are invited to participate in the “Yes You CAN Make Missouri Litter Free” Trash Can Decorating Contest. The contest has no entry fee and is sponsored by the MDC and MoDOT as part of Missouri’s “No MOre Trash!” campaign.

Students are encouraged to decorate the trash cans and display the “No MOre Trash!” logo, as well as their own personal message encouraging others to protect the environment and discourage littering. Entries must be placed by March 1. Admissions earning first place will receive a $100 prize and are eligible for the ultimate reward of $500 and a trophy. For more information about the contest, visit or call (573) 522-4115.

"Thank You" For Your Generous Cards

At left: I had the privilege of visiting Wilkinson Early Childhood Center this past year.

One of the most satisfying duties of my job as a legislator is improving the well-being of children in Missouri. Education is one of my top priorities, and it makes me happy to know children are receiving the opportunities they deserve.

It also brings me great joy to receive cards and letters from students, and I would like to thank Wilkinson Early Childhood Center for the creative and thoughtful cards they sent me. I really appreciate your kind words, and I was glad to have met you. I would also like to send my gratitude to St. Raphael School for sending me the delightful thank you card. I'm glad to have met your faculty and students, and I was very pleased to hear from you.

It is my pleasure to visit schools and meet with students in the 4th Senatorial District. If you would like me to visit your school or place of business, please contact my office.

Happy New Year 2011

I would like to wish a very happy new year to my fellow legislators and to all whom I represent in the 4th Senatorial District. It is an honor to serve you and I hope your holiday season was filled with joy. I am looking forward to representing you during the 2011 legislative session, and I encourage you to call my office or e-mail me if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you again for this privilege and may 2011 be a year of happiness for you.

02 January 2011

Schupp: The Back Story Looking Forward, Committee Updates, Budget and Balance

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

While we welcome in 2011, we also welcome the new 96th General Assembly which will be sworn in on January 5.  With so many new members, tickets are scarce and the gallery will be full for the noon swearing-in ceremony.  Of course,the evening Legislators' Ball is open to all, so please find me if you are attending at our beautiful State Capitol in Jefferson City!  The new office is 102-B.

Just back from a family getaway, it was wonderful to be able to ring in the new year with my husband, children and their friends.  As we move into 2011, I know my family has much to be thankful for.  I am hopeful you and yours do, too.

During our layover in Atlanta on New Year's Day, we learned the news of the fierce reality of events beyond our control:  the lives lost and damage done by tornados, including those in St. Louis.  These events served as a reminder of the awesome responsibility we have to reach out to a neighbor and to help take care of each other, addressing those things we have the power to control.

So, as we head back for swearing in and the new legislative session beginning January 5, I will once again focus on supporting policies that help lift our neighbors up.  Economic growth is dependent upon the expansion and creation of employment opportunities.  It is up to us to provide an educational system that ensures that our Missouri students are prepared to compete globally.  And we have an opportunity to bend the curve on escalating healthcare costs by developing a sound exchange program that allows all of us to continue to see our doctors, to access care regardless of pre existing conditions, and that emphasizes critical preventive care and screenings.

There is good work to be done as we step into 2011 and avail ourselves of the opportunities we have to work on behalf of the people of Missouri.  I am hopeful we don't need another tornado to remind us of the importance of policies that support the lives of our families, neighbors and fellow Missourians.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve,


Family photo 2010
Mark, Jill, Brandon and Alex Wish You a Happy, Healthy New Year

Looking Forward

Legislature by the Numbers...the Back Story Looking Forward

The November elections expanded the divide between the parties in both the Missouri House and Senate.  Of the 163 member of the Missouri State House, 106 are now Republicans, and 57 are Democrats.  (For a visual, think of the Missouri House Democrats as the Heinz 57 blend.) In the House, to override any Governor's Veto, 109 votes are needed.

Just three votes shy of any Veto override, some find it interesting that three Democratic members were appointed to chair committees, appointments usually reserved for the majority party members.  Will these three Democratic Chairs vote with the Majority Party in the event of a strong partisan divide and a Governor's veto?  I frankly do not know what promises were made, if any.

Two of our Democratic members, one of whom was appointed to one of the Committee Chair positions noted above, were also provided third floor offices.  Again, these offices are generally distributed only among the majority party members.  Whether these special assignments will be used to undermine the Governor's Veto power has yet to be seen.  What is very clear is that in the House, with a divide this large, the Republican Majority Party has been given the power by Missourians to pass any legislation it deems important.

On the Senate side, the balance of power is also very much slanted to the Republicans.  With 26 Republicans and 8 Democrats, the Republicans hold a veto-proof majority.

Glean what you will from the information above.  What I know and believe is that there is room for some bipartisanship and work to be done that is thoughtful and centered on reasoned policy for Missouri.  I will do my best to work in that way and remain hopeful.

Committee Updates

Seniority comes into play in the assignment of committees.  Democrats are assigned through the Minority Leader's office and, depending upon the Rules passed early in session, may need approval from the Speaker of the House.  Currently, it looks as if my committees will include:  General Laws, Appropriations for Transportation and Economic Development, Higher Education, and Small Business. I am thrilled with those assignments!  The number of members from each party on each committee is proportionate to the total number of members from each party elected to the House.

I have also been appointed to the role of Policy and Member Engagement Leader for the Democratic Caucus.  During our first full week of session, I have scheduled speakers to come before the caucus who will provide insights into issues we believe might come before us ranging from Education issues including Open Enrollment, Teacher Tenure, Merit Pay and Charter Schools to Missouri's Non-Partisan Court Plan;  The "Fair" or "Mega" Tax; Construction Work in Progress; "Right to Work" and more.  While small in numbers, the Democrats will continue to work hard to understand the issues and advocate as each individual deems appropriate.

Budget and Balance

Not having dug out of a budget deficit, the State Legislature will once again be forced to either cut  $400 - $800 million dollars or find ways to increase revenues...often referred to as a "Balanced Approach."  The State is legally obligated to produce a balanced budget each year.  That is why, as the year progresses, you often hear about the Governor withholding dollars from previously approved appropriations.  As revenues and expenditures change from projections, the Governor must do what is necessary to keep the budget balanced.

Because of the formulation of the Budget and the relative amounts spent in certain departments, some programs that account for one third of our dollars are among those that will be under attack as we look at the 2012 budget.  Safety net areas including in the areas of Health and Mental Health, and programs such as Meals on Wheels become vulnerable. Our nationally renowned Parents as Teachers Program is unlikely to see restored funding.  HIgher Education may be forced to charge tuition increases, leaving some students unable to afford to attend, and K-12 cuts will further impact a budget that did not receive the increase of dollars promised under the Foundation Formula last year. For a state and nation that seem to understand the critical nature of educating its citizenry, we are looking at making choices that have weighty long term ramifications.

The "Balance Approach" is about looking at opportunities that will provide additional revenue. 

Putting into place the structure for internet sales tax collection seems as if it should be "a given" considering the stakes. 

A cigarette tax increase, moving us from being the 50th in the nation with our current rate of 17 cents per pack, will not only increase revenue, it will discourage young people from smoking! 

Would you support a plan to find alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders?  Such a plan has reduced recidivism in other states and helped foster the positive growth of those who today, in Missouri, are incarcerated.  With appropriate alternative treatment programs in place, non-violent offenders are able to live and work as productive members of society. We incarcerate so many non-violent offenders that providing alternative programs that work would allow us to close a prison, saving the state billions of dollars.  

Our budget reflects our priorities.  How will we think about the long term impact we make when we craft law in 2011?  Let me know your thoughts.