Weather-Related Disclaimer: missives from legislators concerning road conditions, although timely and important, should be considered snapspots in time. For the most recent travel information, please consult MoDOT's Web site at http://www.modot.org/.

Disclaimer:
except when the post starts "MO Expat", all content published on Missives from Missouri is written and supplied by the noted legislator. Said missives will not necessarily reflect the views of Kyle Hill, the operator of Missives from Missouri, and as such the operator does not assume responsibility for its content. More information
Share this missive:

26 February 2011

Schupp: Three Bills Pass House, Local Woman Receives State Appointment

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The halls of the Capitol were abuzz with visitors from around the state. Members of the Missouri University Extension program, the Missouri Chamber, Planned Parenthood and students and teachers supporting Gifted Education Day brought their messages and advocated for their groups' interests.

In committee and on the House floor, we continue to consider whether the legislation we enact will help move the economy forward and put people back to work.

Census Data became available as we were in our final day of session for the week on Thursday. Re-drawing of congressional lines will be among the first orders of business. As you will recall from earlier news this year, Missouri will lose one of its Congressional seats due to a downward shift in population relative to other states.

Hearings are being held around the state beginning this week. If you'd like to know more, please call my office. In whatever ways we are able, we look forward to being helpful to you.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve,

Truly,

Jill Schupp

This Week in the Hou


HB (House Bill) 71 (Local Control) was passed and will move forward in the process. This legislation moves the control of the City of St. Louis' municipal municipal police force under the city's authority.

With the unanimous passage of those voting on HB 139 (Accountability Portal) the Office of Administration will expand its internet coverage of public school, county and municipal government information, including the governor's travel information, on the Missouri Accountability Portal.

The House passed HB 209 (CAFO: Confined Animal Feeding Operations) by a vote of 109-43. This bill revises, and I believe weakens, an affected property owner's opportunity to receive adequate damages through the court system when there is an ongoing nuisance (such as terrible odor) from a large nearby farming operation.

Congratulations Dianne Modrell!



Governor Jay Nixon has appointed Dianne Modrell of St. Louis, to the State Committee on Marital and Family Therapists. The State Committee of Marital and Family Therapists protects the public from unlicensed, negligent, incompetent, and dishonest mental health services provided by licensees and individuals under supervision for licensure. The state committee enforces licensure standards through the implementation of legislative and administrative regulations and provides guidance to supervisors and applicants for licensure to insure compliance with Missouri law and regulations.

Modrell received her master's of public administration degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1998, and is currently the business manager for Parkway Gardens Condominium Association, St. Louis. The Governor has appointed her for a term ending Oct. 8, 2015.

Science & Technology Event! Save the Date!


Interested in the latest opportunities in Science and Technology? Know a future astronaut? Looking to explore the high tech environment? Join us and take hold of your future!

Hands on opportunities, resources about camps, internships, scholarships, higher ed and job opportunities

Free and Open to the Public
Co Hosted by Rep Jill Schupp and Rep John Diehl

Saturday
March 5, 2011
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Creve Coeur Government Center - Gym
330 North New Ballas Road
Creve Coeur, Missouri 63141


A SCOPE* Event
* Science and Citizens Organized for Purpose and Exploration

Partners include: Boeing, BDPA, Washington University Science Outreach, St. Louis Community College, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and more...

Green Tip of the Week

by Liz Augustine, legislative intern


Green living starts at home! Here are three great ways to create a "tree-free" home, brought to you by globalstewards.org:
  1. Leave messages to family members and reminder lists on dry erase boards
  2. Replace paper towels and napkins with cloth.
  3. Reuse as much stationery as possible. For example reuse envelopes

25 February 2011

Neth: Stressful Yet Exciting Effort On House Floor, Committee Action, Getting To Know…

Each week gets busier and busier, all the while providing for new experiences. This week, I was involved in the floor debate regarding HB 205 - an employment law bill. I proposed an amendment to the bill and was involved in debate on it for several hours. My amendment aimed to prevent discrimination in the workplace and force legislators to write solid legislation that would be easier for laypeople to interpret. After hours of lengthy lawyer-speak from those in opposition to my amendment, my amendment failed and the bill was passed. Some have asked for my opening comments, which you can find at this link.

This was the first time I had spoken on the House floor and it was quite an experience. Although very stressful, it was very exciting as well. The response I received for holding true to my principles made me glad that I spoke up and held my ground.

The legislation is starting to hit the floor pretty heavy now and it is just the start of things to come. I will not lie; at times it is very difficult to keep up with all the material that is presented in the various committees and bills. However, I continue to do my best to sort through the massive amount of information that flows into my office.

You will notice one new addition to our weekly report - "Getting to know..." I hope to use this from time to time to introduce you to people that are making things happen in the Capitol and around our community. I am starting this week with my Legislative Assistant, Bill Musick.

As always, I appreciate any input to help me make better decisions for the people of the 34th District.

Myron

Visitors to the Capitol


Andrea Tinsley, a Liberty native and a graduate student studying Physical Therapy at Missouri Baptist University, stopped by with two of her professors.

At left: Mr. and Mrs. Don Jackson from Freedom Road Riders

Mr. and Mrs. Don Jackson visited our office on their annual tour to the capitol. The Jacksons have been involved with Freedom Road Riders for many years.

Brook Pangburn with Skills USA dropped by my office. She is a student from Liberty.

Paul Harrell visited my office this week. He works with North Kansas City Schools.

At right: Friends from MU Extension

Nancy Mensy, Vern Windsor, and their colleagues with the University of Missouri Extension program stopped in to discuss a variety of issues including funding for the 4H program.

Floor Action


HB 14 and HB 15 were the first budget bills we faced this year. They relate to the supplemental budget. The supplemental budget addresses funds and refunds that have become available this year that we must allocate to various departments by the end of the fiscal year.

We passed HB 205 which will change the way we do employment law in Missouri. I offered an amendment to this bill that would eliminate a section of the law that I felt made the legislation unfair for employees. In addition, I felt the language was poorly written and went well beyond the drafters' intentions. My amendment failed and the bill passed. In my opinion, it will water down our discrimination laws in the state and prevent legitimate suits to be filed against those that practice discrimination. Proponents of HB 205 say it will be good for business in the state. This claim may be true because it protects businesses from being sued for discrimination against their workers. Although I can appreciate the intent of the bill, the practical outcome of the language does more harm than good. We could have done it differently and helped businesses in Missouri just as effectively. I gave it a good shot and gained some clout as a good orator and a principled representative. We will see what the Senate does and if they can improve the bill in any way.

The passage of HB 209 limited nuisance lawsuits against farmers and agriculture in the state. Currently, there exists a situation where lawsuits can be brought forth over and over again for the same offenses, such as odor, etc. The bill still allows for suits to be brought and damages to be paid, but limits how many times an operator can be sued. As one who works in animal agriculture, this bill hit very close to home.

HB 139 is one of my favorite pieces of legislation offered this year. If passed out of the Senate and signed by the Governor, it would require public school and municipal government spending to be posted in an online format that would be easily accessible for Missouri citizens. The Missouri Accountability Portal website shows all the expenditures of every state department. This system would provide an important checkpoint for the citizens and taxpayers. I have been a huge proponent of requiring information relating to the expendature of taxpayer dollars being available to the public without a sunshine request. If this legislation does not pass, and information regarding the expenditure of taxpayer money is withheld, it will continue to be like putting money into a bank and never getting a bank statement.

Finally, House Bill 107 was passed which requires special elections to fill vacancies for the positions of United States Senator, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, and State Treasurer. Currently, the Governor appoints an individual to fill the vacancy until the next general election. These non-elected officials could stay in power for up to 4 years.

Committee Action


Education

HB 473 - This would expand Charter Schools in Missouri. We heard a lot of testimony addressing the pros and cons of this expansion. My main goal with any legislation of this type is to ensure accountability in the use of funds and student performance.

HB 362 - Establishes a tax credit which could be utilized by children in an Individual Education Program (IEP). This is a very worthy concept, but I feel we need to scrutinize how these funds are used and distributed. I ask for your patience as we discuss this controversial issue. I will be hearing all sides of the debate and would appreciate your measured opinions.

Elections

HJR 16 - This would modify the constitutional requirements that describe how an initiative petition or referendum is placed on the ballot. I am in agreement with this bill because I feel that it has been too easy to place issues on the ballot in the past. Although I agree with the ability for citizens to do file a petition initiative, by setting the threshold too low, we allow too many special interests to pervade our time-honored process.

HB 54 - repeals the requirement to have party emblems on the ballot. This is a holdover from when we used to have strait ticket voting. Party emblems are unnecessary at this point in history.

HB 180 - This would require putting an email field on voter registration forms. Although seemingly not a problem, the issue that arose is that there is nothing in statute today that keeps election authorities from obtaining emails for the purpose of sending information to voters. Some election areas do it already. This is an unneeded law and, quite frankly, typical of a lot of the legislation put forth.

HB 240 - Requires anyone requesting fifty or more voter registration cards to meet certain criteria and give information to the election authorities on themselves and their organization. This type of legislation is good, but there are some loopholes that are not addressed. I agree with the intent and I am working to close the loopholes so we can pass solid and effective legislation.

Financial Institutions

Passed out of committee: HB 50, HB 173, HB 465. No new legislation was discussed in this committee. Please follow the hyperlinks to see descriptions of these bills.

Emerging Issues in Animal Agriculture

HB 458 - This bill proposes to create a Farm Land Trust Board to accept donated land and lease it back to beginning farmers. This is a good idea, but a lot of details need to be worked out.

Community Calendar


Feb 28 - Liberty City Council Meeting

Mar 7 - Jazz on the Square

Mar 10 - Girls Night Out

Mar 23 - Sleeping Beauty - Liberty Performing Arts Center

Click here for a list of events in the area.

Getting to know... Bill Musick


William "Bill" Musick is my right hand in Jefferson City. When you call my office, he is usually your first contact. He worked in his current capacity for three years for former Representative Tim Flook of the 34th District. I was pleased when he decided to stay with the 34th District and work for me on legislation, constituent issues, and general office maintenance.

Prior to working for the House of Representatives, Bill was a Political Science Major at Missouri State University. He has a Minor in Arabic Language and Biology. While he opted to leave his hometown, Columbia, MO, to pursue a college education in Springfield, MO, he returned to Columbia to work for the Missouri House of Representatives in 2007. In 2009, he married Jessi Musick, who is a practicing attorney here in Jefferson City. Together they have one son and another on the way. On the days when the weather is nice, she will walk over here or he will go meet her for lunch and I have to say "ok." How could I possibly deny a man from lunch with his pregnant wife!?!

Bill is an outstanding asset for both my office and our community. He has made great connections with the various state departments and with county level offices so he should be able to assist you in nearly any issue you are having with government. Moreover, when it comes to legislative policy, you can call our Jefferson City office and Bill will give you solid information on specific issues we are discussing in the Missouri House of Representatives.

It is an honor and privilege to serve the people of the 34th District and the State of Missouri. Let me know how I can better represent you.

Munzlinger: To Sue or Not to Sue

We have had an active week in the Missouri Senate. We are closing in on completing the second month of work in the Missouri General Assembly, with a lot left to do.

This week, Senate Bill 187 was debated on the Senate floor. This measure addresses nuisance lawsuits against agricultural operations. For the past 20 years, numerous farmers have faced repeated legal action taken by neighbors, claiming nuisances such as odor, dirt and noise. Sadly, many of these individuals turn around and sue again a few years later. This cannot be allowed to continue. Allowing people to repeatedly file suit between the same two parties for similar actions is pushing on farmers to the point that they cannot get insurance.

This bill is similar to one that I have filed this year. However, Senate Bill 278 is different in as that it would only apply to businesses — including agriculture — with permits that are in good standing. This is a positive move for all businesses. Owners should not have to wake up every day and wonder if they will be sued. This is the type of legislation that hopefully will allow business owners the ability to either locate or expand in the Show-Me State. It also makes loans and insurance easier to obtain for businesses.

I would like to take this time to thank everybody for their cards and prayers after my father passed away earlier this month. He was a great man and a great father, and we know he is in a much better place. As a Missourian who comes from a long line of farmers and agricultural industry professionals, I was raised to respect the land and the industry that provides so much for our state. My father taught me everything I know about farming in this great state and I will continue to share his wisdom with the next generation. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.

I would also like to let you know that the State Parks Youth Corps wants to give young folks the chance to experience Missouri’s beautiful outdoors. Those ages 17 to 21 can earn money while excavating historical sites, leading tours, building trails and other fun things. You can apply online at www.mo.gov.

This week, I would also like to invite you to view a quick update on education funding in Missouri. You can see it by clicking here.

Hoskins: Crowded Capitol Halls Signifies Citizen Participation, Peaceful Access To Political Process

My intention is to provide these weekly reports to you while the Legislature is in session. I’m afraid that with everything that has been happening these last two weeks, my Capitol Report was a casualty. This week’s Capitol Report is a two-week report. That doesn’t mean it will be twice as long, but I hope you find that it is packed with good information.

­

Legislation


Because of legislation being debated on the House floor, the halls of the Capitol have been quite crowded. Sometimes it could be tough to get to the House Chamber because there were so many people waiting to talk to their legislators. The up side is obviously that people were letting us know how they feel about different issues. These last two weeks, most of the people in the halls were private people here in support of their issue. For me, they’ve included student nurses, career and tech ed students, and University Extension. The down side is that sometimes most of the people in the halls are paid to be here to lobby. I appreciate that lobbyists are quite helpful in providing information but I honestly prefer hearing from constituents directly. I’ll leave that as a word to the wise to encourage you and other constituents in the 121st District to always feel welcome to contact me about issues important to you.

Last week, I was essentially consumed with the budget. I’m pleased to report that the budget continues making progress but it still has a long way to go before it will be finished. The Appropriations Committees are to have their work done now and my committee met the deadline. Now the appropriations bills will move on to the Budget Committee for further revision. Appropriations – Transportation and Economic Development, the committee I chair, completed hearing testimony from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DOLIR) last Monday. Last Tuesday, we met to go over all the budgets we’re assigned – from MoDOT, Economic Development, DOLIR, and DIFP (Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration). Then that Wednesday, we finished making modifications to that part of the budget and approved it to go to the full Budget Committee. As a member of Budget, I will continue exercising influence into creating the budget to ultimately be presented to the Governor.

So far in this session, 604 bills have been filed. Over half of them, 364, have been referred to a committee. The committee chair will determine when the bill will be heard, which determines if it will progress on to the full House. Unless I serve on the committee, my opportunity to act on a bill occurs when it comes before the full House.

In legislative action this week, we have been busy in committee and on the House floor. In Higher Education, we heard HB 223, which proposes the Caring for Missourians Program to provide grants specific for nursing students. We know our country has a nursing shortage so this grant would be a way to educate more nurses to help fill that void. I was thrilled to see a large contingent of UCM nursing students here at the Capitol in support of this bill.

In the Veterans Committee, we heard testimony on HB 368 to issue an identification card for veterans. I appreciate recognition for our veterans but I wonder if this could be accomplished with a notation included on a Missouri driver’s license. The driver’s license option is now under consideration.

On the House floor, we advanced a number of bills. HB 205 will change the laws regarding unlawful discriminatory employment practices as they relate to the Missouri Human Rights Law and establishes the Whistleblower Protection Act. I see this as important for employers and employees. HB 209 is designed to limit the damages a plaintiff can receive from a nuisance lawsuit to any farm regardless of size and to require that to bring a lawsuit, the plaintiff must own or have possessory interest in the property being affected. The way it now stands, someone that has no vested interest in the area can file suit against a farmer. Another bill we are advancing through the House Chamber is HB 107 to require special elections to fill certain vacancies in the positions of United States Senator, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, and State Treasurer. As it now stands, if any of these positions are vacated between elections, then the Governor appoints the replacement. I agree that these officeholders should be elected by the voters.

Capitol Visitors


Education is a common thread among almost all visitors coming to the Capitol. If they are not students, then they are generally here to educate us as legislators. Education is truly a life long process. This week, I welcomed nursing students from UCM, people from University Extension, and career and tech ed students.

Last week, one of the largest and perhaps most inquisitive groups was at the Capitol for International Education Day. UCM’s Joy Stevenson and Heather Hoel spearheaded the effort to coordinate with colleges and universities from all over the state to host 375 international students representing 74 countries. Add in the faculty and staff from the 24 Missouri schools participating plus representatives from the Missouri Departments of Higher Education and Economic Development and you can see it was an impressive group. Students from around the world come to the United States for top-ranked post-secondary education available in essentially any educational discipline. The purpose of International Education Day is to show students from different governmental structures how our democracy works. Open entry into our Capitol building is one of the messages I use to illustrate our belief in peaceful access to our political process. Visitors often comment about the ease of admission into our Capitol. You are safe to assume there is security in place, but I appreciate that we don’t limit access with metal detectors as in many government buildings.

Also last week, the Missouri Arts Council announced the winners of the 2011 Missouri Arts Awards. I am extremely proud to share that this year’s promotional poster features Warrensburg artist Teresa Dirks. Her featured work is entitled Tide of Fate and uses mixed media on canvas. I especially like the strong, dramatic colors. I am honored that the Missouri Arts Council presented me with a framed poster, which will proudly hang in my Capitol office.

Warrensburg’s CLIMB High brought nearly 25 high school sophomores for their annual trip to Jefferson City last week. After their original plans were cancelled due to the weather, they could not have had a more beautiful day. I think it was pretty windy for Eddie Chitwood driving the bus but there was no danger of snow with 70+ degree weather. Stormy Taylor should be very pleased with such an attentive group. After seeing the sights and going to the top of the Dome, CLIMB High finished their day with ice cream at Central Dairy, an important Jefferson City landmark.

At the Big Brothers Big Sisters Silent Auction earlier this year, Mary Shippy purchased my donation, a trip for two on Amtrak to spend the day in Jefferson City. Mary made a great choice in selecting a perfect day to redeem her trip and brought Donna Bennett with her to see the sights. Besides the Capitol, they toured the Governor’s Mansion and the Supreme Court. Warrensburg is fortunate to have an Amtrak stop for Missouri’s only passenger route to completely cross the state.

News You Can Use


The State Parks Youth Corps is gearing up to help young Missourians ages 17-21 gain work skills, experience beautiful outdoors, and put money in their pockets. This is a great opportunity for Young Missourians to have a great summer job while building trails, leading tours, excavating historical sites, designing marketing campaigns, and much more. I’d consider this an especially good resource for Johnson Countians since Knob Noster State Park is one of the locations available where young Missourians may be able to work. There are limited slots available statewide and there are also income eligibility requirements. Go to the website at www.MO.gov to check out the details and get the application. Summer will be here before you know it!

LOVE Approach Volunteer Training

NewBeginnings will be hosting LOVE Approach Volunteer Training on Saturday, March 19 from 9:30-2:30 at the Childrens Building at First Baptist Church in Warrensburg. The cost is $25 to cover lunch and training supplies. This is an important ministry in the Warrensburg community making a difference in the lives of children, adults and families every single day. For questions or to register, contact Carol Graham at 660-747-3593 or cgrahamnb{at}yahoo{dot}com.

Reminder


In the last few days, I have sent a survey to voters in the 121st District by household. I have found the information quite useful from the two previous surveys I’ve sent out and anticipate this one will yield information just as useful. For the first time, you have the option of providing your input by return mail or you can submit your responses on-line through my State Representative page on the House website at www.house.mo.gov. I appreciate the input of my constituents.

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.

Allen: On The Hunt For Available State Funds, Tax Amnesty, Comparative State Audit

Personal Note


It’s great to be home back in the district after a very slow trip thanks to more bad weather. The last two weeks have been very busy. My apologies for rushed meetings with constituents, PT’s, nurses, students, Jr. League members, and others.

Our Health Appropriations Committee has officially made recommendations that will be provided to the Budget Committee which will start meeting daily as of next week. In the Appropriations Committee we came up with close to $100 million to help cover the budget shortfall. The tax amnesty bill [HB116], which I have worked closely with Rep. Flanigan, should net the state $74 million and we have saved $29 million from decision items and other various savings (more about these below). With these savings, I will be adding a budget amendment for restoring funding for
Meals on Wheels, community mental health programs, and in-home services for
Professional Registration and the disabled. I have also found funding for MO HealthNet Integrity to help their continued efforts to uncover Medicaid fraud. This should have a reasonable return investment. I will be working to find $1 million for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. I will also be fighting to protect Lafayette Industries, an adult sheltered workshop in Manchester.

I requested to be on these committees because I believe they are key ingredients
for our state – be careful what you wish for! Despite the hard work, these commit-
tees will help shape our state and I am happy to be a part of them.

Legislative Updates


HCR 9 – Constitution Convention

HCR9, sponsored by Rep. Jay Barnes, was discussed in the House last week. This resolution would formally add Missouri to the list of states calling for a national constitutional convention. The proposed bill requests the US Congress to call an amendment convention which would be limited to discussing an amendment that
would allow the repeal of any federal law with the approval of state legislatures of 2/3 of the states. Opponents to this resolution are worried that this could “open the floodgates” to other amendments once the states are convened, however supporters wish for the convention to focus solely on ratifying the suggested amendment.

Such an amendment would give states the power to oppose ever-increasing federal mandates and give states an equal footing alongside the federal government’s “power of the purse.” After a good floor debate, this resolution has been laid aside for the time being and may be revisited in the future.

HB 116 – Tax Amnesty

This is the bill that Rep. Flanigan and I have been working on since last year. It authorizes amnesty from the assessment or payment of all penalties, additions to tax, and interest on delinquencies of unpaid taxes administered by the Department of Revenue which occurred on or prior to December 31, 2010. A delinquent taxpayer must apply for amnesty and agree to comply with state tax laws for the next eight years from the date of the agreement. Tax Amnesty is estimated to generate $74 million for the state by the end of the year. This influx will help our budget shortfall as similar measures have helped other states in recent years.

HB 657 - Comparative State Audit

This week I introduced HB 657 which calls for a comparative state audit of our state’s 5-10 largest agencies, depending upon how much money is appropriated to the Auditor’s Office. This bill, which is strongly supported by the Auditor's Office, is expected to result in new audits that will recommend changes to agency policy or state law that should reduce the amount of government spending. State audits are one of the best ways to ensure effective oversight in order to maximize every tax dollar and provide a framework for performance-based analysis. Comparing agencies in one audit will allow the best and most efficient practices to implement across department. This methodology conforms with private sector practices.

I have found past audits to be exceptionally helpful with my appropriation and budget committees. They often find big ways to save without hurting people, which is crucial during these tough times. I am proud to work with the Auditor’s office in this matter and am looking forward to having this bill move forward.

Prop B Concerns


Many constituents have called my office and have urged me not to repeal Prop B, which passed on last November’s ballot. I agree that it would not be proper for the legislature to overturn the will of the people. Missouri has spoken and I respect that decision, despite my own personal reservations.

I believe that the public needs to realize the fiscal implications of Prop B. Our budget situation already requires major cuts. It will be tough to fully fund Prop B enforcement which, according to the fiscal note attached to the proposition, will cost $521,000 per year and an additional $133,000 in the first year. As I frequently ask these days, does anyone have any suggestions where this money should come from - without hurting other vital functions such as education, social services, Medicaid, mental health, and nearly every other service?

Thank You Junior League!


I would once again like to thank the Junior League for coming by the Capitol on February 16th to support my cyber-bullying bill, HR 273 [HB273]. Over 80 of their members from St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and St. Joseph Chapters and went door-to-door around the Capitol to spread the word about cyber-bullying and my legislation. It was not too long ago that I was doing the same for children and physical therapist related issues.

Denison: First Appropriations Bill Advances, Protecting Missouri's Farmers and Whistleblowers

“Kind words are jewels that live in the heart and soul, and remain as blessed memories years after they have been spoken.” –Marvea Johnson

School Funding (HB 15)


This week we advanced a bill on the House floor that will use $189 million of additional federal stimulus money for public schools. The plan we approved would use some of the money to offset a shortfall in funding that was caused by lower-than-expected casino tax revenues. The bulk of the additional federal money would be used in place of state revenues already budgeted for schools this year. This allows the state money to be saved and distributed to schools next year. We’re confident this spending plan will give our schools a steady funding stream that will allow them to plan their budgets with confidence.

Missouri Accountability Portal (HB 139)


Another bill we passed on the House floor this week would give Missourians easy access to information related to government spending. For several years now, the state has operated the Missouri Accountability Portal to provide citizens with the transparency they want from state government. The site gives all of us the opportunity to see exactly where our tax dollars are going. The bill passed this week would expand the site to also include details about school districts and municipal and county governments. The site would contain information such as budgets for local governments and the salaries, benefits and extra duty compensation of employees. An amendment added to the bill would also require that Gov. Jay Nixon’s travel expenses be posted to the site. The governor has drawn criticism from legislators from both parties for his practice of charging state agencies for his flights instead of paying for them from his own budget. In total, he has billed various state departments for approximately $400,000 in travel expenses since becoming governor. The amendment added to the bill would require travel destinations, times and dates to be posted to the Missouri Accountability Portal. It also would require information on the purpose of trips, passengers accompanying the governor and travel expenses. The amendment and the bill received overwhelming approval in the House because we believe this is a way to increase accountability in government spending. We want you to know where your hard-earned money is going and we want to prevent government officials from being able to hide their expenses from the public eye.

Employment Law (HB 205)


This week we also approved one of the legislative priorities for this session. Often referred to as one of the “Fix the Six” bills proposed by Missouri’s business community, the bill would address the disturbing trend of legal decisions we have seen in this state that have eroded the intent of Missouri’s employment law. With each court decisions we have seen our state become more anti-business compared to the states around us – something that greatly impairs our ability to attract and retain businesses in our state. The bill we passed this week would reform the Missouri Human Rights Act regarding discrimination claims to more closely reflect federal Title VII protection. The MHRA has been interpreted in ways more plaintiff friendly than the federal statutes. In effect, court decisions in Missouri regarding the MHRA have made it much easier for employee plaintiffs to get claims to an expensive jury trial, and to impose liability on the employer and individual supervisors. The bill also would cap compensatory jury awards and impose lower limits on punitive damages to bring them in line with federal standards. Missouri currently has unlimited compensatory damages and a significantly higher cap for punitive damages. The bill also would tighten whistleblower protection, so that it applies only in cases when an employee alerts authorities to an actual illegal act. We believe this combination of changes will help create a more business-friendly environment that will allow us to retain and attract businesses at a time when we desperately need the economic activity they generate. At the same time, we continue to provide adequate protection to employees who have suffered from discrimination. This is not a weakening of our employment laws but instead an attempt to bring them in line with federal standards. We hope this will give us an advantage when competing with neighboring states for new businesses.

Legal Protection for Missouri Farmers (HB 209)


Another bill passed by the House this week would help to protect Missouri farmers from the nuisance lawsuits that have increased in number in recent years. While the legislation provides additional protection for large-scale animal farms that are often targeted by nuisance lawsuits, it provides the same protection to all Missouri farmers as well. The bill we passed would affect nuisance lawsuits against the owners of property used for such things as animal or crop production. It would limit the compensatory damages people could win in such cases and restrict their ability to sue multiple times. The bill would not prohibit people from recovering damages for other claims, such as lawsuits alleging discomfort, sickness or emotional distress. With this we give some much-needed protection to the farmers of our state who help put food on our tables. They have come under attack by out-of-state lawyers and the legal climate that has been created is threatening to run some of our large farm operations out of the state. The bill passed this week will address that issue not by limiting an individual’s ability to sue but by putting some reasonable limits in place on compensatory damages and limiting the number of times an individual can sue. We believe it strikes a good balance that protects the rights of Missourians while also helping to preserve an industry that is an integral part of Missouri’s economy.

Visitors


Pictured at left: Rich Anderson, Sherri Anderson, Tarryn Anderson, Rep. Denison

On February 21st, Rich and Sherri Anderson, and Tarryn, Springfield, visited my office and shared information about Missouri Operation: Military Kids.

On February 22nd, Terry Cox, Kelly Coleman, and Beth Williamson, all Physical Therapists from Springfield were in the Capitol visiting legislators. Also, February 22nd was the 25th Annual MONA Nurse Advocacy Day at the Capitol. Visitors from Springfield were: Terri Schmitt and Kitina Braithwaite.

Pictured at right: Ross and Paula Stuckey, Rep. Denison

On February 23rd, Springfield City Attorney, Dan Wichmer visited.

Also, on the 23rd, Ross and Paula Stuckey, Springfield, were at the Capitol on behalf of Missouri Interfaith Impact.

On February 24th, Dennis Grisham, Springfield, and Greg Whitlock, Strafford, were at the Capitol with the University of Missouri Extension. I appreciated the opportunity to visit with all who were at the Capitol and stopped by my office.

I look forward to hearing from you, and if you will be in Jefferson City, please stop by my office. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office. Best wishes.

Stouffer: Getting an Education on School Reforms

When it comes to providing a world-class education to all Missouri students, the stakes are extremely high. If we are to compete in the global economy, we must have a skilled work force.

While some politicians are looking to reduce the amount of days that students spend in classrooms this year as part of a “snow day bailout,” other decision makers are working hard to ensure every second our students spend in a classroom is making a difference. Among the issues related directly to this topic in 2011 is a look at charter schools.

First opening their doors in Kansas City in 1999, and a year later in St. Louis, charter schools are a relatively new approach to education in Missouri. A charter school is the same as a public school, with the exception of its organization. A charter public school is governed by an independent school board. Just like standard public schools, charter schools are free and open to all students in the districts where they operate, and are held accountable for the results they produce.

This year, school and parent choice are taking shape in the Missouri House of Representatives. Among the bills that have caught the attention of educators and parents is House Bill 393, which would establish the “Parent Empowerment and Choice Act,” or the “Parent Trigger Act.” This would allow parents to shut down a school if it is struggling to the point that children are suffering academically.

In other words, parents could “pull the trigger” to stop the way a school is operating, and then re-open the school with either a new staff or as a charter school. Other states have started using this policy. Parents are fed up with lackluster schools and teachers who do not seem to care about anything more than their paychecks, pensions and when the next vacation day will be. Fortunately, I do not believe we have schools like this in our area. This law would allow parents to take action and fight for the future of their child’s education.

Another proposal, House Bill 473, would expand charter schools to all of Missouri. Currently, charters can only be found in St. Louis and Kansas City. Charter schools are working in these cities to improve the odds for local students. Today, we estimate the number of prisons we will need based on the reading performance of our young students. I believe every kid deserves a fighting chance in life. This new option may also provide opportunities for teachers looking for creative ways to educate students of varying backgrounds. Of course, all of the discussion around charter schools — like traditional public schools — should include accountability and performance.

I look forward to debating these ideas, and others that may also be taken up this session. Anything we can do to expand world-class educational opportunities in Missouri has to be looked at. We are in a battle with not just other states, but other nations, when it comes to producing the best people we can for the jobs of the future. I am very interested in doing what is right for these kids and their parents, regardless of the political consequences.

Dempsey: Planning for Missouri's Energy Future

With the turmoil in the Middle East, oil prices are nearing record highs once again. Today, the price of gas is over $3 per gallon and many of us are concerned about how much higher the cost will get. These headlines underscore a very important point. Now more than ever, the United States needs to become energy independent. It’s a matter of national security. Furthermore, with additional efforts put into exploration, production, and new infrastructure, thousands of new jobs would be created nationwide.

In Missouri, we have our own energy policy to pursue. We export a substantial amount of energy to our neighbors, which, in part, allows us to have lower electrical costs than most states.

This situation could change, however, as federal lawmakers support policies to phase out coal-burning plants. Eighty-two percent of our energy is produced by decades-old, coal-fired plants. Modifications to reduce pollution will extend the life of those facilities, but that’s not a long-term solution to our energy needs. The desire for cleaner burning energy production has forced us to begin planning for a future that includes less energy production from coal.

Legislation filed this session [HB124] would begin the process of building a second nuclear power plant in Missouri. It is clean and safe. While a nuclear plant is the most expensive technology to build, it is relatively cheap to operate. Investments in wind, solar, biomass, and other renewable energy sources can be expanded too, but those methods are unable to supply the dependable base load generation our economy demands.

As we consider the legislation, we need to make certain that safeguards are in place to protect ratepayers. It is my hope that we can move forward with an efficiently-run building project that would employ thousands of Missouri workers and provide low-cost, cleaner-burning energy long into our future.

I always appreciate hearing from you. If you have any questions about this issue or any legislation pending before the Missouri Senate, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Rupp: Voter ID Legislation Sent to Missouri House for Debate

One of the most important bills introduced during the 2011 legislative session, Senate Bill 3, was passed by the Missouri Senate and has now moved to the House for debate. I’m thrilled that we have established the framework of a voter ID process, if approved by the voters. We have approved the mechanics of a voter ID measure to protect one of the most important liberties we have in the United States — the right to vote.

The makeup of the bill is simple, but would assure that voting in Missouri is kept fair and constitutional. Senate Bill 3 would require Missouri voters to produce a photo ID when casting their ballot. It’s as clear as that. By producing a required photo ID to vote, your vote will not be diluted by someone who is committing voter fraud. You wouldn’t want your vote regarding an important issue to be weakened because someone is acting as an imposter at the polls, unconstitutionally altering the outcome of an issue that matters most to you. Senate Bill 3 is absolutely logical, because in our country, you need to present a photo ID for many purposes. You need a photo ID to cash a check, and even to check out a library book or rent a movie. Presenting a photo ID to conduct one of our most important responsibilities just makes sense.

To make sure all Missourians are able to vote if this law is passed, a provisional ballot would be provided to those who don’t have photo identification when at the voter polls. However, the provisional ballot will only be counted if the voter can prove their identity. Also, the state of Missouri, including any license fee office, would issue at least one form of identification required to vote free of charge to the voter. I want to make sure this legislation does not complicate the act of voting for citizens, and does not put a financial burden on Missourians.

This measure is the simplest way to prevent voter fraud in our state. The right to vote is a liberty that many across the world do not have, so it is our duty to respect this freedom and not take it for granted. I will continue to fully support this legislation, and hope to see it passed by the Legislature and enacted into law.

As always, if you have any questions regarding this issue or any other matter within state government, please visit my website at www.senate.mo.gov/rupp. Here, you can also subscribe to my RSS feed on the main page of my website; it will keep you up to date on all my columns, press releases, and multimedia postings. Always feel free to e-mail me or call my office toll-free at (866) 271-2844.

Korman: Job Shadows, Callaway II, Limiting Ag "Nuisance" Lawsuits

This week was a calm week for weather but another busy week for the House of Representatives in Jefferson City.

Job Shadows


This week I was honored to have two job shadows. Job shadowing allows young people to see how government works by spending a day with their legislator. On Tuesday, Lorna Jeanne Dreyer of Warrenton participated in a job shadow project of the 4-H Legislative Academy. Then on Wednesday, Ruby Rahn participated in the FCCLA Legislative Shadowing. Ruby attends Northwest University, her hometown is Warrenton. Thanks for coming to the Capitol.

Committee Work


In the Utilities Committee this week we passed out of committee House Bill 124. The next step in the process will be for HB 124 to be heard in the Rules committee. HB 124 will help reduce the interest costs for consumers associated with obtaining an early site permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for energy production.

Floor Action


The House of Representatives debated and passed House Bill 209 this week. HB 209 seeks to protect farmers from junk “nuisance” lawsuits that can levy virtually unlimited damages against a farmer for operating their business. Right now, someone can move next to a farm that has been operating the same way for generations and sue them because they don’t like the noise, or the smell. Worse yet, a “nuisance” could be anything that a person could dream of – there’s really no limit to what a “nuisance” even is. This bill will protect the family farmer’s operations by limiting the amount of “nuisance” lawsuits and keep them from reoccurring time and time again.

Visitors at the Capitol


We had many visitors this week including nurses, food & commercial workers, school administrators and teachers from Montgomery City, Wright City and Warrenton, University Extension staff, surveyors, Parents as Teachers instructors, propane distributors and other constituents to visit and see the Capitol. Please feel free to stop by or contact your 99th District office at:

201 W Capitol Ave., Office 114C
Jefferson City, MO 65101
573-751-2689
Bart{dot}Korman{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov

Engler: Introducing Legislation to Protect Patients, Malpractice Insurance Consumers

At this writing, 350 bills and 39 resolutions have been introduced in the Senate....with almost 700 filed in the House. This week, I added to this list of proposed legislation by introducing two new patient protection bills on the floor of the Senate.

Senate Bill 303 would strengthen the authority of the Board of Healing Arts to take action when a doctor is becoming a danger to their patients. Senate Bill 303 would also allow the public to learn if any disciplinary action has been taken against a doctor in Missouri or another state.

A recent investigation by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found multiple situations where substantiated complaints against doctors to the Board of Healing Arts have gone nowhere. This is an important patient protection bill that needs to be enacted so bad doctors do not continue to put patient’s health in danger.

I also filed Senate Bill 302, which would affect some associations that provide medical malpractice insurance.

To reduce their medical malpractice costs, some doctors are buying into plans that underinsure them. Without these new regulations, these associations could run out of cash if they had to pay out multiple claims. Senate Bill 302 will require them to maintain a surplus of at least $600,000 in order to ensure that they have the assets to handle major claims. We are all required to have a minimum amount of car insurance to cover reasonable claims and doctors should also have a malpractice insurance minimum. This will ensure that doctors and patients are protected alike.

There is an issue that has been ongoing since the Civil War, when the state took control of the St. Louis police force. This week, the House of Representatives passed legislation [HB71] that would allow the City of St. Louis to take control of its own police force. A similar bill, Senate Bill 23, was voted out of the Senate committee this week, showing that the legislation is gaining steam this year. I think we need to be sure to evaluate the issue carefully and decide what will be best for the police officers and citizens of St. Louis City.

Two bills approved by the Governmental Accountability Committee this week convey land in our area. Senate Bill 96 would convey state land in Farmington to the Habitat for Humanity of St. Francois County, and Senate Bill 97 would convey state property in Farmington to the city of Farmington for an outer road. These bills were placed in the Senate Consent Calendar, meaning they are noncontroversial and are on the fast track to be voted on by the full Senate.

Tilley: Making School & Local Government Expenses Easier To Review

One of the most important things that I believe is essential for democracy in our state and in our country is transparency. By making government more transparent average citizens and taxpayers will have better piece of mind that their elected officials are delivering on their promises made during a campaign.

This week we took a great step at increasing transparency in our state government. The two largest government entities under the umbrella of Missouri state government are counties and school districts. These entities have budgets that are sometimes millions of dollars and all of them receive revenue from local taxpayers. Because these entities are so large and receive such a large portion of their revenue from local taxpayers we felt it was important to provide people public access to the financial situation these entities are facing. Currently there is no easy way to get this information. The information is public, but incredibly hard to find.

As a result, this week we passed HB 139. This bill requires school districts and county governments to collect information that is already public and send it to the Missouri Accountability Portal at – http://mapyourtaxes.mo.gov/

Once this information is sent to the Portal, individuals will be able to search for all kinds of information as well as public employee salaries. In addition, an amendment was added that would require the Governor to disclose how much money he is spending on state travel and what the trips are for. Governor Nixon’s travel has come under great scrutiny lately when we found out he has spent nearly $400,000 in statewide travel since being in office. Aside from the staggering amount, some of the events he went to were sporting events and political events. While it is important for our Governor to be able to travel the state, especially in emergencies better transparency on this issue would also lead to more accountability.

Once this information is available on the internet, citizens will be able to hold their county and school district officials accountable for the decisions they make. We will also be able to keep a better eye on the Governor’s extensive travel habits and make sure they are appropriate. It’s your taxpayer money and you should have better access to how it is spent.

Also, researchers will be able to use the information to compare salaries across counties and school districts, as well as other data. This could help develop ideas to reduce costs and create more efficiency. Right now it’s hard to develop plans on how to save money on a state-wide level without easily knowing where it is all being spent and then is a step in the right direction.

In the meantime I would definitely encourage you to check out http://mapyourtaxes.mo.gov for more information.

Thank you for 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.

24 February 2011

Mayer and Ridgeway: MO Chamber Supports Worker Protection Law

Most Chamber Members Support Making Missouri a “Right to Work” State


“It is great to hear that Missouri’s business leaders understand that we cannot continue to do the same things and expect better outcomes for our state. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s support of making Missouri a ‘Right to Work’ state shows that more and more Missourians are realizing the positive impact a worker-protection law could have in our state.

By simply making sure that paying dues or joining a union can no longer be a condition of getting or keeping a job, we can bring more jobs to our state. By better competing with our neighbors, especially when it comes to manufacturing, we can put more Missourians back to work. Six of Missouri’s eight neighboring states are ‘Right to Work’ states, and all but one has a lower unemployment rate than Missouri. Tennessee, the only ‘Right to Work’ state with a comparable unemployment rate to Missouri, gained jobs in 2010 while Missouri lost jobs.”
-Senate Leader Robert N. Mayer, R-Dexter
Supporter of Senate Bill 1*


“Fifty percent of manufacturers refuse to consider Missouri as a place to locate new jobs because Missouri law has no protection against forced unionization of their workers, according to testimony presented to senators. I am glad the Missouri Chamber’s members have joined us in hearing the wake-up call that if we don’t change our practices, we will continue to cost Missourians’ jobs.

‘Right to Work’ is not about whether unions can continue to operate in Missouri, rather it is about removing a legal barrier that is harming our state’s ability to compete for jobs that impact the 89 percent of Missourians that are not union members.”
-Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville
Sponsor of Senate Bill 1*


*Senate Bill 1 is currently on the Senate Informal Calendar for debate. To learn more about the bill and sponsors, visit www.senate.mo.gov.

Torpey: Accountability Portal Expanding To Cover Schools, Local Governments, Governor's Plane Trips

A Special Note


On Monday, we had Boy Scout Troop 347 (of Independence, Missouri) visit the Capitol. Even though they were here to meet the Governor on behalf of a few of the scouts receiving their Eagle Scout awards, we were happy to host them in our office with drinks and a tour of the beautiful building we work in. We enjoyed speaking with the scouts and look forward to another visit from the troop in the future. In the next coming months, our office will be receiving visits from elementary students across our district. If you would like to set up a visit for you or your group, please contact my Legislative Aide, Amanda, at 573-751-3623 or amanda{dot}petelin{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.

2011 Legislative Session continues


House Bill 209, sponsored by Rep. Casey Guernsey, received approval from the General Assembly this week. The bill protects farmers from recurring lawsuits. It also specifies the exclusive damages that may be awarded to a claimant for a private nuisance originating from property used for farming, agriculture, crop, or animal production purposes. A permanent nuisance judgment cannot exceed the fair market value of the property.

House Bill 139, sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith, passed and was sent to Fiscal Review. If turned into law, it requires the Office of Administration to maintain public school and county government accountability information on the Missouri Accountability Portal. The Office of Administration must also maintain travel accountability information detailing the Governor's travel information on the portal which includes, but is not limited to: the departure date, departure time, arrival date, arrival time, accompanying passengers, duration of the trip, purpose of the trip, destination, and detailed travel expenses. Municipal government accountability information must also be maintained by the Office of Administration on the portal. Find more information about the accountability portal at http://mapyourtaxes.mo.gov/.

Committees


Fiscal Review Committee met this week to discuss two bills sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith. The first bill, House Bill 107, would require special elections to fill vacancies in statewide elected offices. The second bill, House Bill 139 (see above), would require school districts and local government financial information to be included on the Missouri Accountability Portal. Both bills passed the committee by an 11 to 0 vote and will be heard on the floor again as early as next week.

On Thursday, March 24th, Senator Will Kraus and I will be holding an open Legislative Forum for our constituents of the 52nd House District and the 8th Senatorial District. The event will be held at the Midwest Genealogy Center (3440 S. Lee's Summit Road, Independence, MO 64055) from 7 to 9 pm. We very much look forward to speaking with you and answering your questions. Please feel free to contact our office if you have any questions about this event. If you would like to learn more about the Genealogy Center, visit the website by clicking HERE.

Also, do not forget to RSVP for the first annual 52nd District Day (April 19th) by calling or emailing our office. I look forward to hosting my constituents here in the Missouri House of Representatives.

Kelley: Holding Conservation Department To Task For Elk Reintroduction

Despite intense public opposition, the Missouri Department of Conservation continues to move forward with plans to introduce elk into the state. Many agricultural businesses have expressed concern because of the possibility of disease and damage the animals could cause. Elk can reach weights of several hundred pounds and cause damage to crops, fences, and vehicles. They also can carry diseases which may be transferred to cattle and other livestock.

The House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee held a hearing on a bill [HB115] which would hold the Department of Conservation responsible for damage caused by the elk. If the bill were to pass, the department could be required to pay for damage caused to crops, real estate, property, and vehicles. Any losses caused by disease spreading to livestock would also be the responsibility of the department. Under the bill, it would also be permissible to kill elk which are causing damage to property.

There appears to be support among legislators for the bill. Naturally, the department was opposed to the bill and testified in opposition. Requiring financial compensation from the department for damage caused by wildlife is not a new concept. In the 1990’s a bill was introduced which would have forced the department to pay either $500 or the insured’s deductible in the case of a deer/vehicle accident. The bill received considerable debate but did not pass. The issue had faded from view for several years before being revived with the elk restoration plan.

The House passed and sent to the Senate a bill [HB209] which would help protect farmers and ranchers from losing their livelihood as a result of nuisance lawsuits. A trend has been developing as people move to the country; farmers are being sued for conducting basic, accepted agricultural practices. Some of these include machinery noise, dust, odor, and burning of crop residue.

Most farmers and ranchers are not only good stewards of the land, but also good neighbors. Whether it is clearing a neighbor’s driveway of snow or helping fix a fence, farmers have a well earned reputation of trying to help others. Although most of them were in the area first, often for generations, they attempt to minimize any inconveniences to their new neighbors. Having a family farm tied up in court over a nuisance lawsuit is not something we need in Missouri.

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

Schaefer: Disconcerting Change To State's Consolidated Healthcare Plan

I would like to address a development that has received a lot of attention in the media recently. The Missouri Consolidated Healthcare Plan has recently changed its policy by altering the definition of "generic drugs." This basically allows for pharmaceutical drug replacements between therapeutic drugs, which can create outcomes that are sometimes less beneficial for the patient and can happen without the patient’s consent.

This is a major concern of mine that I am going to be tracking closely, so if you have any stories you would like to share with me about how this affects you personally, feel free to send me an e-mail at kurt{dot}schaefer{at}senate{dot}mo{dot}gov or call my office at (573) 751-3931.


Over 90 students from the gifted education program in Columbia pose on the Grand Staircase in the Capitol with Sen. Schaefer.


Lieutenant Gov. Kinder, John Kadlec, and Sen. Schaefer pose with Kadlec’s courtesy resolution.


Senator Schaefer takes a photograph with the Freedom of the Road Riders organization in the Senate Chamber.


Senator Schaefer poses after he was presented with his very own Freedom of the Road Riders vest.


Senator Schaefer and Coach Anderson shake hands inside the Senate chamber.


Alex Logan, Krista Crider, and Whitney Jones, three of the interns from Sen. Schaefer’s office, pose with Coach Anderson after the University of Missouri Caucus.
This week was a busy one at the Capitol, as it was the last full week of session in which senators may file bills. I personally filed Senate Bill 323, which would require the Missouri State Auditor to conduct a one-time comparative audit on between five and 10 of the largest state agencies in Missouri by Aug. 28, 2013. With the information gathered in the audit, the auditor would then be required to issue a report with suggestions for possible cost saving measures for these agencies. This bill has the potential to save the state money while creating a more efficient government.

Another one of my bills was heard in committee this week. Senate Bill 213, which would modify the information required in a petition for guardianship for a minor or an incapacitated person, was heard in the Judiciary Committee on Monday (2/20) night.

Tuesday (2/21), I had the privilege of introducing a group of gifted elementary school students and teachers from Columbia Public Schools on the floor. The group was visiting the Capitol for Gifted Education Week.

I also had the pleasure of introducing John Kadlec on the floor Tuesday and presenting him with a courtesy resolution. Kadlec, otherwise known as “Mr. Mizzou,” has been the color commentator for University of Missouri football games for the past 16 years. After this past season ended, Kadlec announced he was giving up the microphone in order to become more involved in the fund-raising activities at Mizzou. Kadlec first came to the University of Missouri in 1947 to play on the offensive line for then-coach Don Faurot, and has been a big part of the University of Missouri athletic community ever since.

On Wednesday (2/22), I introduced the “doctor of the day,” Dr. Nicholas Golda, MD, who is an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

I also introduced several members of the Missouri Circuit Clerks Association and my job shadow for the day, Marissa Tierney, who was representing the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, or the FCCLA.

In addition, I had a job shadow on Tuesday, eighth grader Trent Ludwig, representing the 4-H Club. I also got to meet with the Freedom of the Road Riders organization on Wednesday for their Legislation Day, as well.

On Thursday (2/23), I introduced University of Missouri Men’s Head Basketball Coach Mike Anderson on the Senate floor as a special guest. Coach Anderson gave an encouraging speech on teamwork and perseverance and also spoke at the University of Missouri Caucus that morning.

In news outside the Capitol, the University of Missouri system is in the process of searching for a new president. If you are interested in receiving updates, information about the search, or sharing your thoughts about the process, you may visit www.umsystem.edu/ps.

Also, if you would like to plan a visit to the Capitol with your school group, contact my office at (573) 751-3931 if you would like to be introduced as guests in the Senate.

Mayer: Legislative Job Shadows from 25th Senatorial District

JEFFERSON CITY – Senate Leader Robert N. Mayer, R-Dexter, was proud to introduce to his colleagues on the floor of the Missouri Senate on Feb. 23, 2011, two young constituents who served as his legislative job shadows for the day. Jade Peel from Clarkton and April Hager from Holcomb made their way from Dunklin County and traveled approximately four and a half hours to Jefferson City to observe Sen. Mayer in his day-to-day tasks as the leader of the Missouri Senate.

“I’m always honored to have young citizens from our district visit our State Capitol to learn more about the legislative process and see first-hand how bills become laws,” said Sen. Mayer. “Those individuals who shadow their state senators and representatives have the unique opportunity to get an inside look at how lawmakers work for the citizens who sent them to Jefferson City to be their voice in state government.”

Senator Mayer urges his young constituents who are interested in serving as a job shadow or working as a legislative intern to visit his Missouri Senate website (Swww.senate.mo.gov/mayer), and click on the “Apply to be an Intern” link under the “Constituent Services” tab.


Jade Peel of Clarkton and April Hager of Holcomb pose with Sen. Mayer in his Capitol office. Both District 25 constituents served as job shadows for Sen. Mayer on Feb. 23, 2011.

Kraus: Capitol Events

Pace Picks Up in Jefferson City


As we get deeper into this session, the number of activities continues to increase every week. The Capitol has become a daily whirlwind of events, including meetings with constituents, Senate floor debates, and committee hearings.

We continue to look for ways to improve the business climate in Missouri so that we can see our economy grow and get people back to work. On Friday, Feb. 25, I will be in Lee’s Summit to hold a round table discussion with several businesses to hear their concerns and ideas for creating a better business climate. Darrell Brammer, with the University of Central Missouri’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies & Development, has been assisting me in organizing this meeting.

I am looking forward to working with this group. I hope to hold more of these discussions in the future; if you are in business and are interested in being a part of a future round table discussion, please either respond with an e-mail or call the 8th District Capitol office at (573) 751-1464.

Along those lines, the Senate recently approved legislation that would cap corporate franchise taxes for companies at the 2010 rate and phase out that tax over a five-year period as a way to make Missouri a more attractive state for businesses.

The corporate franchise tax is an obligatory amount based on a percentage of a company’s assets. Senate Bill 19 would freeze this amount at what was paid in 2010 and then reduce it gradually, beginning Jan. 1, 2012, until a final sunset on Jan. 1, 2016. Companies from outside Missouri that move in after 2010 would only be charged this tax for the first full year of existence within the state. Senate Bill 19 is now in the House of Representatives for consideration.

I spend about seven hours a week in Senate Appropriations Committee meetings. Before crafting the budget for the state, we are considering testimony from all of the state departments’ budgets.

As always, I am here to serve you.

Welcome Visitors


Again this week, many constituents from District 8 visited this office, which I am always happy to see. Some of those who stopped by were: Scott Knoche, Kerry Boehm, Tracy Halphin, Pamela Hayes, Holly Iglehart, James Anderson, Twila Gregg, Brian Noller with students from the Career and Technology Center in Independence, Sabina Hersh, Vicki Tawney, Molly Blocker, Jeannette Ashby-Welter, Angela Newmaster, Jessica Wasmer, Mike Frommer, Eric and Brianna Kelly, Stephen Moore, and Craig VanBebber.

I was pleased to be able to talk with the students of Sni-A-Bar Elementary School from Grain Valley and provide them with information about state government. It was also a pleasure to meet students from the Oak Grove High School Social Studies Department.

Upcoming Elections


The following elections are scheduled in Eastern Jackson County. I encourage you to remember the dates for your area and get out and vote!
DateElection
Mar. 22Kansas City Mayor/City Council General Election
Apr. 5Municipal Elections for the following:
Kansas City (Earnings Tax Question)
Blue Springs
Grain Valley
Greenwood
Lake Lotawana
Lake Tapawingo
Levasy
Lone Jack
Oak Grove
Raytown
Sibley
Apr. 5School Board Elections for the following:
Lee’s Summit R-VII School District
Blue Springs R-IV School District
Grain Valley R-V School District
Oak Grove R-VI School District
Lone Jack C-6 School District
Raytown C-2 School District

Nance: Protecting Farmers From Recurring Lawsuits, Accountability Portal Expands to Local Governments and Schools

"Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth." –George Washington

HB 209 received approval from the General Assembly this week. The bill protects farmers from recurring lawsuits.

The bill also specifies the exclusive damages that may be awarded to a claimant for a private nuisance originating from property used for farming, agriculture, crop, or animal production purposes. A permanent nuisance judgment cannot exceed the fair market value of the property.

HB 139 passed and it requires the Office of Administration to maintain public school and county government accountability information on the Missouri Accountability Portal.

The Office of Administration must also maintain travel accountability information detailing the Governor’s travel information on the portal which includes, but is not limited to, the departure date; departure time; arrival date; arrival time; accompanying passengers; duration of the trip; purpose of the trip; destination; and detailed travel expenses. Municipal government accountability information must also be maintained by the Office of Administration on the portal.

In Committee


On Wednesday we discussed HB 423 which would enter Missouri into a compact with other states which pledges to improve Healthcare Policy with the consent of Congress.

The House Transportation Committee voted do pass HB 167, which would require Missouri driver’s examinations to only be administered in English.

The House Elections Committee voted do pass HJR 14, which proposes a constitutional amendment changing the laws regarding elections by authorizing provisions relating to advance voting, voter identification, and absentee voting.

HB 409 has our teachers and retired teachers in an uproar, but I do not believe it will ever be voted on in committee. Discussion today was dominated by the many groups wanting to keep the current system.

Visitors


Excelsior Springs Career Center students visiting the Capitol were Dustin Lloyd, Eric Jones, and Devan Crow. Sue Hargreaves and Brooke Gray visited us on Tuesday.

Tim Jones: Floor Action Increases, Addressing Voter Fraud, Kidney Donor Needed

The Old Man known as Winter stole stealthily back into the Heartland this week, blowing cold northern winds across otherwise crisp sunny skies. By week’s end, grey horizons marched through mid-Missouri as action beneath the Capitol Dome began a slow, steady simmer with Floor Action intensifying and looming Budget Battles threatening the uneasy peace…

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”—James Madison

FLOOR ACTION: Monday, February 21, 2011


At left: Speaking to the St. Louis RCGA Public Policy Council Meeting.

HJR 24 through HJR 26 were second read. HJR 26, related to state sovereignty, proposes a constitutional amendment prohibiting the state government from recognizing, enforcing, or acting in furtherance of certain actions of the federal government when it is determined those actions exceed the limited powers enumerated and delegated to the federal government. HB 549 through HB 588 and SB 3, the voter ID bill, sponsored by Sen. Stouffer (R-21), were also second read. HJR 14 was reported Do Pass out of the Committee on Rules. See the “Addressing Voter Fraud” section for more detailed information on this quality legislation.

FLOOR ACTION: Tuesday, February 22, 2011


HB 589 through HB 603 were second read. HB 71, sponsored by Rep. Nasheed, was read the third time and passed by a vote 109-46. This bill, if it becomes law, would allow the City of St. Louis to establish and maintain a municipal police force completely under the city's authority. This would be a dramatic change in public policy from what has been the law in our State for over 150 years. Although I personally voted against the bill, I am in full support of continuing to advocate for transformational change in my beloved City of St. Louis that will truly help the City and all its residents enjoy a better education system, an improved form of government and the opportunity for a successful life. HCS HB 14 and HB 15, both relating to appropriations, were ordered perfected and printed. HB 15 stabilizes the distribution of education funding from this years funding levels to next.

“With the many difficult issues facing our lawmakers, it is important that they maintain a solid connection to their faith.” —Monsignor Kurwicki

FLOOR ACTION: Wednesday, February 23, 2011


HJR 27 through HJR 29 were second read. HJR 27, sponsored by Rep. Brattin (R-124), proposes a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to possess or purchase ammunition and mechanical parts essential to the proper functioning of firearms. HB 139, as amended, was ordered perfected and printed. HB 139 would require the Office of Administration to maintain public school and county and municipal government accountability information and the Governor's travel information on the Missouri Accountability Portal. HB 209 was ordered perfected and printed. HB 209 revises the laws regarding private nuisances when it originates from property used for farming, agriculture, crop, or animal production purposes and when a court must visit an alleged affected property. HB 107, as amended, was ordered perfected and printed. HB 107 would require special elections to fill certain vacancies in the positions of United States Senator, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, and State Treasurer. This would prevent the Governor from picking and choosing whom they want to fill these vacancies. Instead, these elected positions would again be filled by the people. HCR 3, relating to a proposed federal balanced budget amendment, was third read and has been laid over. If this were to be accomplished, it would force the federal government to operate within its means, just like every state in the nation does, and just like you and I must do. We must take these measures to regain strength and trust in the American dollar, and our economy.

FLOOR ACTION: Thursday, February 24, 2011


Today, the House Third Read and gave Final Passage to the afore-mentioned appropriations bills (HCS HB 14 and HB 15) and Third Read and gave Final Passage to the following House Bills with overwhelming majority: HB 139, HB 209, HB 107, and HCS HB 205. HCS HB 205 changes the laws regarding unlawful discriminatory employment practices as they relate to the Missouri Human Rights Law and establishes the Whistleblower Protection Act. This is an excellent piece of legislation I have sponsored for many years. It simply places Missouri law in compliance with the statutes and caselaw under the venerable Federal Civil Rights Act while protecting small businesses from damaging frivolous law suits.

Addressing Voter Fraud


One of the most sacred rights we have as Americans is the right to vote. This is evidenced by the countless citizens whom dedicated their lives to either gain the right to vote or to protect the right for others through service to this great country. That anyone could disrespect this sacred right by committing voter fraud is sickening; yet it happens. We must be able to depend on our government to establish a system of fair and accurate elections. House Joint Resolution 14 and House Bill 329 address the issue of voter fraud by requiring voters to provide photo identification before voting and establishing procedures for early voting. The combination of these two pieces of legislation, sponsored by Rep. Stanley Cox and Rep. John Diehl respectively, addresses the concerns of practicality and discouraging voting by providing exemptions for the elderly, disabled, and poor, providing free voter ID for those unable to pay, and establishes regional voting centers for early voting. This legislation is several years in the making and would reduce illegal voting and increase legal voting. SJR 2 and SB 3 is the sister legislation in the Senate.

Important Tax Information


Taxpayers making $58,000 or less can visit http://www.irs.gov/efile/ to prepare and E-File federal tax returns, for FREE, through a landmark partnership between the IRS and tax software providers.

Michelle Moore Needs Your Help!


Michelle Moore is a great friend and colleague back in the St. Louis region. This week we found out that she is projected to be on the kidney donor wait list for 3 years. Do you know someone who can help? Please visit http://www.atraditionallifelived.com and/or http://twitter.com/Michelle_Moore for more information. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BEING TESTED FOR DONATING YOUR KIDNEY TO MICHELLE, PLEASE CALL 314-362-5365 OR 800-633-9906 - OPTION 2 - BEFORE APRIL 25TH.

Visiting the Capitol


At right: With the Glory of Missouri Award Winners from Rockwood Valley Middle School.

If you ever find yourself in or around Jefferson City at any time during the year, please feel free to visit us! Stop by the Majority Leader’s Office in Room 302 and we will be happy to meet and greet you!

Personal News & Notes


This past weekend, I attended the Wildhorse Township Republican Club and spoke to the many members gathered there. After the meeting, I assembled what I affectionately call my “Kitchen Kabinet” and we convened at Michelle’s CafĂ© for a hearty breakfast and discussed all the big issues of the day. I think we solved the world’s problems in about two hours! Saturday night we had a great time at a family engagement party for one of my second cousins down at the fine St. Louis City establishment known as McGurk’s. On Sunday, my daughter Katie helped me pick up some household provisions at the local Home Depot and then we treated ourselves to some treats at Starbuck’s. It was a very special afternoon spending some quality time with Katie! That evening I had both girls (Katie & Abby!) up on the couch reading book after book to them. Those are the special family times I will always remember. As Session continues to pick up steam and the days become longer and longer, I continue to owe a debt of gratitude to my colleagues at my law firm of Doster Ullom and to Suzanne who rides solo herd on the girls running to this and that event all week long until I return late on Thursdays. And finally, if we can ever be of any assistance to you at your State Capitol, do not hesitate to contact us at: 573.751.0562 or you can reach my primary assistant, Jody at: jody{dot}williams{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.

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

Lichtenegger: Committee Reinstates Meals On Wheels Funding

It has been a busy few weeks here at the Capitol, and I am enjoying the legislative process and embracing its many challenges. In this Capitol Report I would like to update you on several pieces of legislation that have been filed and several that have been passed out of the House.

A good portion of my active legislative life has been the Appropriations Committee of which I am Vic Chair. The 12-member committee has just completed its work for this session, and I am happy to report that the committee reinstated the $1,422,018 budget amount for the Meals on Wheels program! Although our Appropriation-committee recommendation still has to survive the Budget Committee, it is satisfying to know the program’s potential to keep our senior citizens out of nursing homes. It is my hope that the Budget committee members will recognize the program’s value to Missouri taxpayers and make it a priority budget item.

On a more local note, I met with Saxony Lutheran High School Administrator, Craig Ernstmeyer, February 11 to discuss the impact of two planned quarries near the school site. The Strack quarry site-center would be developed 950 yards from the high school and only 320 yards from the school building to the site perimeter. The other proposed quarry, Heartland, will be 450 yards (center-site to school’s building) and 80 yards, site-perimeter to school property line. Another concern Ernstmeyer mentioned is “the fugitive dust with both -individually and collectively- but the Strack proposal is closer to residential and the Heartland one is closer to the school; we typically have a prevailing south wind,” he said.

Recently I filed a bill, HB 591, that would allow the state dental board to issue a limited teaching license to a dentist employed as an instructor in an accredited dental school in Missouri. This bill will help to alleviate the dental instructor shortage.

Legislation passed from the House and now in the Senate

  • HB 46 -changes the laws regarding fire sprinkler system installations.
  • HB 162 -changes the laws regarding workers’ compensation liability.
  • HB 73 & 47 –requires certain applicants for and recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program benefits to be tested for the illegal use of controlled substances.
  • HB 163 -changes the laws regarding unemployment compensation in order to receive federal funds and removes the 10-year time limit an obligation under a financial agreement for compensation funds can continue.
  • HB 45 -changes the laws regarding the Big Government Get Off My Back Act and provide an income tax deduction for certain small businesses that create new full-time jobs.
  • SCR 1 –disapproves a final order of rule making by the Public Service Commission with regards to the Electric Utility Renewable Energy requirements.

Constituent Corner


  • February 17 (photo above left) was Municipal League Day at the State Capitol. I met with (left to right) Rodney Bollinger, Jackson Public Utilities Director, Mary Lowry, Jackson City Clerk/Treasurer, Dave Hitt, Jackson Alderman-Ward 2, Barbara Lohr, Jackson Mayor and Tim Welker, Jackson Alderman-Ward 1.
  • Emily Holman (photo above right) an 8th grader from Cape Girardeau Junior High presented me with her framed artwork “Stormy Sea”.
  • MO DOT news: North & south bound lanes of I-55, Route 61 in Cape Girardeau & Scott Counties will be reduced to a single lane 6 pm to 6 am for construction Feb 25 through March 5.
  • This year, every taxpayer with a 2010 Adjusted Gross Income of $58,000 or less may visit www.IRS.gov/efile for free tax preparation software and e-filing. To access this help visit the IRS website, www.IRS.gov, and click on the “Free File” icon. There you will find a list of Free File Alliance member companies and may either choose the one that fits their needs or utilize the “help me find a company” tool. After selecting a company, taxpayers will be transferred to the company's website to prepare, complete and electronically file their federal income tax returns. “The IRS Free File program walks taxpayers through the filing process to make it simple, fast and free,” said Tim Hugo, executive director of the Free File Alliance. “Free File software not only increases accuracy but delivers a quick turn-around on tax refunds, getting it to you in as little as 10 days. Free File Alliance member companies have continually worked with the IRS to strengthen IRS Free File and ensure that it remains both accurate and secure.”