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25 March 2011

Schupp: Welcoming Students To Their State Capitol, Maybe You Feel Safer Now…

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you are all doing well. From sunshine to snow and back again seems to mirror the way things go in all of our lives at some points, doesn't it?

As you know, the legislature is considering changing laws supported by the voters including puppy mill reform and renewable energy sourcing. My plan is to stand by the will of the people. It would take quite a serious threat of harm to our region and our state to move me to overturn your vote.

Count on me to continue to carefully weigh ever-changing legislative proposals as we move forward.

You will receive a survey from my office shortly. As we move into the second half of our legislative session, your insights and comments are particularly helpful. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jill Schupp

Issues on the House Floor

Puppy Mills

Controversial legislation regarding Proposition B, commonly known as "Puppy Mill Reform," was heard on the House Floor. This is the legislation for which I have received the most correspondence this year to date. For those closely monitoring, the bill being discussed is House Bill 131. Some amendments have been added to the bill. However, in the midst of the debate, with additional amendments drafted but not yet proposed, the legislation has been laid over to return at a later date.

Guns (Maybe you feel safer now...)

Omnibus firearms legislation [HB294] passed through the house this past week just before we adjourned for Spring break. Some of the provisions of the bill include lowering the age for conceal and carry to 21, and ensuring that legislators and staff can conceal and carry on the house floor (but don't you bring your guns to the Capitol, we are the only ones who can be armed!) The bill makes certain guns purchased anywhere in the nation, not just in contiguous states, can be brought to Missouri, that no component parts of guns can be taxed at a higher rate than any other sporting equipment...this list goes on and on. Personally, I would feel safer and more protected if I knew that jobs were being created and people were earning wages needed to take care of their households.

2011 Legislation Receives Hearing

Enacting a Statewide Smokefree Standard and Encouraging Healthy Living

Two of the bills I filed for the 2011 session were heard in House committees just before break:

House Bill 438, creating a the statewide smokefree standard, was heard in the Local Government committee and has yet to be voted upon. As many cities and states across the nation adopt smokefree legislation aimed at promoting health and well being, this state legislation will support those efforts while leveling the playing field for businesses from one community to the next. Thank you to the organizations and individuals who came to testify in support of this legislation.

House Bill 520 seeks to reverse a 2009 change in tax collection that was implemented by the Missouri Department of Revenue. In November of 2009, Missourians taking exercise classes began being charged a 4% sales tax as part of the "Athletes and Entertainers" tax. As I have heard from so many people who take classes such as pilates for reasons of health, these classes are not about competing as an athlete or for entertainment. Real physical disabilities have been mitigated or overcome through exercise. Again, the promotion of healthy living and the burden collection and reporting of this tax has on small business owners were the reasons I filed this legislation. A vote on this bill has not occurred yet but we hope to have one in the coming weeks.

Welcoming Students to Their State Capitol

Representative Schupp speaking with fourth graders from the Saul Mirowitz Day School - Reform Jewish Academy in the hallway of the Capitol. These students researched 2011 legislation and brought their position papers and thoughtful ideas for discussion and debate.

Reminder! If you need to schedule a school visit to the State Capitol, time is limited! Please contact Anne Marie Rhoades at (314) 616 5009 or by email to book your visit today.

SCOPE Event: A Successful Community Connection

Thank you to all those who participated in the amazing SCOPE event at the Creve Coeur Government Center! I sponsored this event with Representative John Diehl. We are pictured above with SCOPE's executive director, Cynthia Kramer (L). She and her team did a wonderful job of connecting families with science and technology.

SCOPE (Science and Citizens Organized for Purpose and Exploration) is a state-wide organization that seeks to engage people in learning about science and technology. For information on future SCOPE events, visit the SCOPE website.

Volunteers from organizations and businesses around the community helped kids and parents explore science and experience exciting technology.

24 March 2011

Stouffer: The Missouri General Assembly Makes Progress

The Legislature has completed the first half of the 2011 legislative session. Although we still have a long way to go between now and May 13, a lot has already been accomplished.

In the Missouri Senate, we have managed to pass three of the mandates of “Fix the Six.” These include:
  • FRANCHISE TAXES (Senate Bill 19): Capping the state’s corporate franchise tax and phasing it out over a five-year period. The franchise tax was devised in 1917 as a way to help pay for the First World War. At the same time Missouri started to impose this, the federal income tax came into being — for exactly the same reason. The franchise tax is double taxation and has been unnecessary for almost as long as it has been law. Ending this tax will mean businesses can grow again, plus new businesses will want to move to Missouri.
  • WORKER’S COMPENSATION (Senate Bill 8): Making changes to Missouri’s workers’ compensation system. For nearly a decade, judges have been scooting around the comp laws and have started to allow bigger awards to folks who sue coworkers and employers. When lawmakers passed tort reform in 2005, we started to make a dent in this. But activist judges continue to skirt the law and make interpretations that do not match what is on the books. We need to change this before it gets so far out of hand that no company will want to do business in Missouri.
  • FEWER FRIVILOUS LAWSUITS (Senate Bill 188): Changing the Missouri Human Rights Act so that it again mirrors the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is a similar situation to what has been happening with workers’ comp. Judges make decisions that add their own interpretation to the law and instruct juries to only look at parts of the law. These cases have been benefitting folks at the same time they have been scaring companies from coming to Missouri. Instead of having only case law, judges would have statutory law, which means there is a clear definition to follow once again.
We will start on the Fiscal Year 2012 Missouri budget after we return from mid-session recess. As in previous years, balancing the budget and getting it to the governor by May 6 will be a large task. Fortunately, smart fiscal policy has kept Missouri’s head above water.

Other issues ahead include considering laws regarding nuclear energy, dog breeding, education reforms and lawsuits against farms. The Legislature will continue to seek input from the public on ways to put Missouri back to work and to also reduce the size of our state’s government.

I have every confidence we will continue to make the tough decisions and hold on to necessary programs that benefit our state and its future.

Korman: Keeping It Short This "Break" Week

The Missouri General Assembly was on Spring Break this week so there were no trips to Jefferson City. When we return we will have seven weeks left before Session adjourns and the first order of business will be approving Appropriation Bills. Since I am on “Break” I’ll try to keep it short this week.

While on Spring Break, I had the opportunity to visit with some cities and schools in the District. At the schools I delivered a very handy teaching tool on Missouri called the Showing You The Show-Me State. I spoke with 3rd and 4th graders at St. Vincent in Dutzow and with 4th graders at Marthasville Elementary. I delivered the books to Rebecca Boone Elementary in Warrenton and look forward to the visit I will have with them in May. I must say that talking with eager to learn kids is one of the best parts of the job!

Since there isn’t any legislation to discuss this week, I would like to introduce Bonnie Linhardt, Legislative Assistant for the 99th District. If you call my Capitol office you will be greeted and assisted by Bonnie.

Bonnie’s duties include: responding to constituent issues by phone, mail or fax, sending out press releases, weekly Capitol Reports, maintaining the official calendar, coordinating and scheduling meetings and hearings, assisting with my legislative agenda by performing all clerk tasks and monitoring the legislation, and providing general office assistance to list a few. She also helps me in the learning process on a daily basis.

It has helped that Bonnie is not new to the Capitol; she has worked as a legislative assistant for over a year and prior to that, she had advocated in Jefferson City for the American Heart Association for nine years. She has worked on legislation, with media, and in public relations. Bonnie has an educational background in political science, history, sociology and computer systems.

Bonnie is a wife and mother of 2 adult children and grandmother of six. She and her husband, Todd, live in rural Cole County, have livestock operations, and raise a few row-crops. I feel she is a great fit for the 99th District and has been learning about the District daily.

That is it until next week!

Please feel free to stop by or contact your 99th District office at:

201 W Capitol Ave., Office 114C
Jefferson City, MO 65101

Kelley: Seven Weeks Left In Session

This week the Legislature marked its annual spring break. This is traditionally considered to be the halfway point of the legislative session, but when we return, there will only be about seven weeks left before the May adjournment.

By most accounts it has been a successful session so far. Although the budget is always the focus of each General Assembly, this year it is especially important. Missouri has not escaped the economic downturn which has affected the entire country. Our state’s constitution requires the budget to be balanced each fiscal year.

The chairman of the House Budget Committee is in his first year on the job. Representative Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) took over from former Representative Allen Icet (R-Wildwood) who was forced out by term limits. Silvey drew high praise from both republicans and democrats for how he handled the committee proceedings.

Prior to adjourning for spring break, the House Budget Committee passed its version of the budget. When we return on May 28th, the entire House will debate the budget. Since there is a limited amount of money to spend, there will not likely be many amendments which will be seriously considered. Money added in one area must be subtracted from another area. As a member of the Appropriations-Education Committee I have seen firsthand how many good ideas there are which are worthy of funding. The task at hand becomes trying to decide which good idea is going to be left behind while another moves forward.

The House as also addressed legislation requiring driver’s license tests to be taken in English [HB167], phasing out the corporate franchise tax [HB76], reforming the worker’s compensation system [HB91], and making constructive changes to the recently passed Proposition B [HB131]. As Missouri attempts to pull out of the economic downturn, it is important we do all we can to not only bring new businesses to Missouri, but also to retain those we already have. Successful businesses tend to grow over time, adding new jobs and activity along the way.

Hopefully you have received the legislative survey I sent out a couple weeks ago. I encourage you to fill it out and send it back at your earliest convenience. The more I know about your views and opinions, the better job I can do representing your interests in Jefferson City. The learning curve has been steep, but I am thoroughly enjoying the job you have entrusted me with. I again thank you for the honor of being your voice in the Missouri House of Representatives.

Until my next update, I am, and remain, in your service,


23 March 2011

Torpey and Kraus: REMINDER! First Annual 52nd House District and 8th Senatorial District Legislative Forum

Please pass along to your friends!

First Annual
52nd House District and 8th Senatorial District
Joint Legislative Forum

Representative Noel Torpey and Senator Will Kraus

Date: Thursday, March 24, 2011

Time: 7 to 9 p.m.

Location: Midwest Genealogy Center
Northeast Hall

3440 S. Lee's Summit Road
Independence, MO 64055-1923

Kelley: A Tale of Two Weeks in One

A tale of two weeks in one over the past few days carried us to the Capitol in a nearly blinding snowstorm on Monday and then saw us home in brilliant sunshine and warming temperatures by weeks’ end. Old Man Winter still blows across the northern States with all sound and fury while in the lower Heartland thoughts are turning to gentle spring days and blossoming flora. Beneath the Capitol Dome, activity has reached a steady, drum like pace as we await the coming behemoth of the State’s Budget…

“Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can.” —Samuel Adams

FLOOR ACTION: Monday, March 14th

HCS HB 213, of which I am Co-Sponsor, continued debate on the House Floor today. This bill is referred to as the late term abortion ban. The bottom line: It is a constitutionally defensible position that the State should protect those who are most needy. With respect to the neediest, who could be more in need of protection than the unborn child? In the State of Missouri, if you are an unborn child who has reached the level of viability, you are currently not afforded any legal protection. We must take the steps necessary to correct this injustice and HB 213 does exactly that by making it a class-C felony to perform an abortion after 20 weeks without determining viability and assessing penalties to the facility used to perform the late-term abortion. When debate ended, HCS HB 213 was ordered perfected and printed by an overwhelming vote of 120 to 37.

HJR 6, sponsored by Rep. Mike Cierpiot (R-56), proposes amending the Missouri Constitution to include a 35th section in Article I which would guarantee the right to vote by secret ballot. This is a key concept in maintaining the integrity of the voting system. HJR 6 passed and was ordered perfected and printed.

HCS HB 29, sponsored by Rep. David Sater (R-68), was ordered perfected and printed. This bill establishes the Volunteer Health Services Act which allows a licensed health care provider to render volunteer professional health care services for a sponsoring organization.

HCS HB 89, sponsored by Rep. Darrell Pollock (R-146), was ordered perfected and printed. This bill changes the laws regarding deposits into the State Park Earnings Fund, notice requirements of the Clean Water Commission, and certain water pollution control fees; eliminating the ability of the state legislature to sweep the funds into the general revenue. The funds are meant for the parks, not for general revenue. The fear of having funds swept and budgets reduced for the following year creates incentive for hasty, irresponsible, and wasteful spending in order to secure funding levels. This bill removes this incentive by solidifying the funds for use by the State Parks.

FLOOR ACTION: Tuesday, March 15th

HCS HB 431, as amended, sponsored by Rep. Ward Franz (R-151), was ordered perfected and printed. HCS HB 431 changes the laws regarding foster care and adoption, establishes the Missouri State Foster Care and Adoption Board, and creates the Foster Care and Adoptive Parents Recruitment and Retention Fund. This would generate additional funding for recruitment of foster care providers and promote foster care activities in Missouri.

HJR 29, as amended, sponsored by Rep. Solon (R-55), was ordered perfected and printed. HJR 29 proposes a constitutional amendment requiring the State Lottery Commission to develop and sell a Veterans Lottery Ticket to support the Veterans Commission Capital Improvement Trust Fund. Neighboring states have indicated such a ticket does not reduce the amount of revenue generated for education, but rather, creates an increase in overall sales and revenue generated by lottery ticket sales. During tough economic times when across board budget cuts impact areas like the Veterans Commission Capital Improvement Trust Fund, this is an innovative way to generate additional funding.

HCS HB 131, sponsored by Rep. Cox (R-118), began debate today. HCS HB 131 and SCS for SB 113 have received a lot of press due to what some might call the intrusion of the state legislature into a proposition passed by the people; specifically Prop B. This legislation is actually receiving bipartisan support in the House. If you support Prop B, and have read what HCS HB 131 and SCS for SB 113 actually do, then you understand the bill actually strengthens the laws protecting animals while allowing lawful dog breeders to stay in business. The intent of Prop B was not to put dog breeders out of business, but to protect animals. Proposition B, as written, has several serious statutory flaws that must be corrected to make it effective. Proposition B is a statutory change, but because it was an initiative petition, it was a statutory change that did not go through the normal vetting process that every legislative vehicle does in the General Assembly. As Proposition B is currently written, it has the following serious issues: 1. It only applies to licensed breeders. 2. It is an unfunded mandate and has NO funding mechanism. 3. Pet is defined as “any domesticated animal,” which would improperly include livestock. 4. It is based on arbitrary regulations and not factual guidelines. 5. It requires feeding animals only once a day, when in fact, many animals require more feedings. 6. It establishes NO enforcement mechanism and does not even specify who is responsible to regulate the proposition or to whom to report violations. 7. It requires only one annual vet inspection. 8. It only requires the relevant facility to be determined to be sanitary once per day. 9. And it allows for waste/feces from upper cages to drop on dogs below without criminal offense. Every single one of these issues are dealt with and CORRECTED in the HCS for HB 13 and in the SCS for SB 113. It remains to be seen how this issue will be ultimately resolved. It is clear, however, that for the legislature to sit on its hands and do nothing, we would be committing what I submit is legislative malpractice and would potentially end the business of lawful bog breeding in Missouri. Is this what the people really intended? Personally, I am against any measures which would allow for the abuse of animals to continue unabated in the State of Missouri and I am opposed to any repeal of Proposition B but I am equally resistant to any measures which make the business environment so hostile to pet breeding that good, quality, lawful breeding facilities will be put out of business.

FLOOR ACTION: Wednesday, March 16th

HCS HB 294, et. al., sponsored by Rep. Jeanie Riddle (R-20), changes the laws regarding firearms, ammunition, and concealed carry endorsements. This will further protect the rights of law abiding gun owners in Missouri while strengthening the penalties against criminals. According to a report released Tuesday in the Huffington Post, the Obama administration is currently researching all the ways in which “executive order” can be used to place restrictions on your 2nd Amendment rights. We need to pass legislation to strengthen and protect your rights, not restrict and destroy them. Here in the Missouri House of Representatives, we plan to do just that with the passage of this legislation.

HB 252, sponsored by Rep. Stanley Cox (R-118), was ordered perfected and printed. HB 252 is the Business Premises Safety Act. This bill keeps business owners from being held responsible for providing safety for customers against the criminal acts of a third party. It also solidifies the right of a person to possess a firearm in their own personal vehicle. It only makes sense that a business owner is not capable of predicting the actions of a criminal and therefore should not be held responsible for any harm done in their committing of a criminal act.

HB 731, sponsored by Rep. Mark Parkinson (R-16), was ordered perfected and printed. This bill will add citizenship information to the sexual offender registration form and requires the State Highway Patrol to report to the federal government any non-U.S. citizen on the sexual offender registry.

As well as the aforementioned bills, many consent bills passed the house this week. Consent bills are not debated on the House Floor for a variety of reasons: 1. They are non-controversial (no opposition). 2. They have no fiscal impact. 3. They create no penalty provisions.

Third Read Thursday, March 17th

Today, the House gave final overwhelming and bipartisan passage to the following bills described above: HCS HB 213, HCS HB 29, HCS HB 89, HCS HB 431, HCS HB 294 et. al., HB 252, HB 731, HJR 6, and HJR 29.

Kraus: 2011 Mid-Session Update

Spring break is here for the Legislature, along with spring weather for all of us. It’s great to be back in the district and listening to the people of the 8th District. We have now completed half of a session. At the beginning of the year, Senate leadership set out its agenda for this session. Mid-session is a good time to review that agenda.

A key goal for this session is to pass legislation that “puts Missourians back to work by enabling all employers to invest in working families rather than government growth, improving employers’ ability to hire and retain quality workers, and making sure employees can’t be personally sued for honest accidents at work.”

This Legislature wants to help families survive by enabling employers to keep and create better paying jobs with benefits.

To meet the goal of enabling employers to invest in working families rather than government growth, Senate Bill 19, passed in the Senate and sent to the House for its consideration, phases out the corporate franchise tax. It limits, and then ends, the double taxation on employers so they can invest in hiring new employees instead of growing government through higher taxes.

Businesses must pay the franchise tax regardless if they are profitable. They should not have to pay a tax just to be in business. Kansas has been phasing out its franchise tax since 2007; beginning in tax year 2011, it will be repealed altogether.

By ending this double taxation altogether, it removes this disincentive for companies to invest in Missouri. Bottom Line: Companies can invest more capital in Missouri without being penalized, meaning employers can invest in hiring new employees rather than growing government through higher taxes.

Corporations already pay:
  • Income taxes on income earned by the corporation,
  • Sales taxes on some business inputs, and
  • Property taxes on land, structures, and personal property.
The Franchise Tax taxes these activities and properties again.

Senate Bill 8 returns Workers’ Compensation as the Exclusive Remedy, and it has also been passed in the Senate and sent to the House for its consideration. It protects individual employees from personal lawsuits for their role in honest accidents at work (Robinson vs. Hooker).

Missouri employees and employers face higher risks due to an appeals court ruling that says co-workers can be sued for their role in workplace injuries, even when it was shown to be simply an accident (purely negligence). Before, a co-worker could only be held personally liable if it was shown that the individual purposefully and dangerously caused an employee’s risk of injury. By restoring protections, Missouri employees will no longer have to seek insurance to protect against lawsuits if an accident were to occur.

Senate Bill 8 also holds that employees who are intentionally put at risk for injury or death by their employers could have the courts as an avenue to seek resolution. Employers who deliberately and intentionally put their employees at risk will not be tolerated.

Additional Legislation

Following is a list of all legislation that has been passed in the Senate so far this session and sent to the House. If you want to know more about these bills, simply click on the bill number, and you will be taken to the Senate web page that provides a summary, the entire text of the bill, and all the actions taken since the bill was introduced.

SB 3 Allows enabling legislation for advance voting and photographic identification of voting

SB 8 Restricts co-employee liability in workers’ compensation cases

SB 13 Requires the Joint Committee on Education to oversee a task force on teacher compensation and effectiveness

SB 17 Requires the Department of Health and Senior Services to make available resources relating to umbilical cord blood

SB 19 Phases out the corporate franchise tax over a five-year period

SB 33 Repeals a provision of law that requires the Department of Transportation to submit to binding arbitration in negligence actions

SB 38 Establishes a prostate cancer pilot program to provide screening, referral services, treatment and outreach

SB 55 Classifies sawmills and planing mills as agricultural and horticultural property for tax purpose

SB 58 Modifies various provisions relating to the regulation of household goods movers

SB 61 Requires that one of three commissioners appointed in condemnation cases in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Jackson County be a real estate broker or appraiser

SB 63 Prohibits large water consumers from taking water outside of the Southeast Missouri Regional Water District if such activity interferes with certain others’ use of the water

SB 68 Authorizes the issuance of subpoenas for the production of records by the General Assembly

SB 71 Eliminates a requirement that banks, savings institutions, and credit unions file a certain notice with the Missouri Real Estate Appraisers Commission

SB 77 Expands the types of directional signs that may be erected and maintained within highway right-of-ways

SB 83 Allows for the sale of deficiency waiver addendums and other similar products with respect to certain loan transactions

SB 101 Creates requirements for contractors who perform home exterior and roof work

SB 108 Extends the expiration date concerning the installation of fire sprinklers in certain home dwellings to December 31, 2019 and modifies adoption by a political subdivision of certain residence codes

SB 113 Modifies the Animal Care Facilities Act and the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act

SB 131 Exempts qualified plug-in electric drive vehicles from the motor vehicle emissions inspection program

SB 133 Modifies law regarding commissions’ authority to enter into additional design-build contracts

SB 135 Modifies provisions pertaining to the storage and dispensing of motor fuel and extends the expiration date to August 28, 2017 for environmental laws relating to dry-cleaning facilities

SB 145 Requires the auditor of any county with a charter form of government to take an annual inventory of county property with an original value of $1,000 or more, rather than $250

SB 161 Allows the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority to provide loan guarantees for loans to agribusinesses

SB 162 Creates the Farm-to-Table Advisory Board

SB 163 Modifies the composition of higher education boards and changes the name of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education to the Board for Higher Education

SB 166 Requires title agencies and title agents to maintain a physical place of business in Missouri as a condition of licensure

SB 173 Requires the Joint Committee on Missouri’s Promise to develop long-term strategies and plans relating to developing a modern infrastructure and transportation system

SB 174 Allows cities, towns and villages in St. Charles County to seek voter approval to impose a fee for water lines repairs

SB 180 Specifies a “Walk & Bike to School Month,” “Walk & Bike to School Day,” “Missouri Bicycle Month,” and “Bike to Work Week”

SB 187 Modifies the laws regarding nuisances and junkyards

SB 188 Modifies the law relating to the Missouri Human Rights Act and employment discrimination

SB 207 Repeals the requirement that the Missouri Energy Task Force must meet at least once annually to review progress

SB 219 Allows owners of automated teller machines to charge access fees to those with bank accounts in foreign countries

SB 220 Modifies liens for certain design professionals

SB 243 Establishes the “Sharing of Services and Increasing Efficiencies Act” to allow school districts and other entities to achieve efficiencies

SB 250 Requires sexual assault offenders to complete certain programs prior to being eligible for parole or conditional release

SB 284 Modifies the disciplinary authority of the Board of Pharmacy and defines the term legend drug for the purpose of certain pharmacy statutes

SB 306 Modifies laws relating to the administration of credit unions

SCR 1 Disapproves a final order of rule making by the Public Service Commission regarding Electric Utility Renewable Energy requirements

SCR 7 Authorizes the employment of an independent certified public accountant or certified public accounting firm pursuant to Section 21.760, RSMo

SJR 2 Establishes photo identification requirements for voting and requirements for advance voting

Town Hall Meetings

I hope that you will be able to attend one of the two remaining town hall meetings that I am hosting over spring break.

On Thursday, March 24, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., the town hall will be held at Places Manhattan Room, John Knox Village at 1001 NW Chipman Road, Lee’s Summit. State Representative Gary Cross, District 48, will also be in attendance to answer questions.

Also on Thursday, March 24, from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the town hall will be held at Mid-Continent Genealogy Center at 3440 S. Lee’s Summit Road, in Independence. State Representative Noel Torpey, District 52, will also be on hand to answer questions from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

I look forward to seeing you at one of these events!

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!

Apr. 5Municipal Elections for the following:
Kansas City (Earnings Tax Question)
Blue Springs
Grain Valley
Lake Lotawana
Lake Tapawingo
Lone Jack
Oak Grove
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

21 March 2011

Schaefer: At The Halfway Point, MoDOT Property Auction, Central MO Honor Flights

At right: Senator Schaefer converses with Moberly Chamber Director Debbie Miller while he flips pancakes to celebrate Missouri Tourism Day last Thursday (3-10).

This week was the Senate’s last week at the Capitol before Spring Recess, the halfway mark in the legislative session. Quite a few bills were passed by the Senate on Thursday morning (3-17) in preparation for the holiday.

One of my bills, Senate Bill 236, was discussed in the Health, Mental Health, Seniors and Families Committee on Tuesday (3-15). I believe this bill is incredibly important and good for Missouri citizens because it would limit the interference of non-physicians, particularly pharmacy benefit managers, in patient care.

House Bills 1 through 15, the budget bills that include the supplemental budget, are progressing through the House of Representatives and are due to be reported to the Senate by the last week of March. The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin mark up as soon as the final House bills are received. Working through the funding shortfalls in Missouri has and will always be a tedious process for the committee, but I have faith that we will work to keep the best interests of Missouri citizens in mind while we finalize the budget.

Recently, the Second Injury Fund has been a topic of concern for citizens in the district and around the state. The Second Injury Fund pays for injuries suffered on the job by people with previous injuries or existing disabilities. It was originally created to assist disabled World War II veterans obtain jobs from employers who were reluctant to hire the disabled or injured. Since the fund is now insolvent, the Senate is exploring options in regard to funding for current recipients of the program, but presently, solutions are limited because the Legislature cannot add items to the supplemental budget if the Governor did not originally ask for additional funding.

In other news, on Tuesday, I met with several county recorders from the 19th district, as well as Dan Niec, the Missouri Department of Transportation/Moberly District Engineer. Wednesday (3-16), I met with a few members from the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants who paid a visit to the Capitol.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has opened bidding for five properties in North Central Missouri as part of the Realty to Roads Program. Bids will be opened at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 30. Information about each property is listed below, and all land areas listed are approximate:
  • Randolph County - 16.146 acres just east of the Moberly city limits on the north side of U.S. 24 adjoining the east side of the Moberly maintenance lot.
  • Linn County - 34 acres four miles east of Brookfield on the south side of U.S. 36. This is a wetlands mitigation site next to Yellow Creek. There is no direct access to the property. This site has restrictions.
  • Macon County - 20.24 acres between Callao and Bevier on the north side of U.S. 36. This is a wetlands mitigation site. This site has restrictions.
  • Putnam County - 19.37 acres west of Lucerne on the north side of U.S. 136 at the junction of U.S. 136 and MO 139. This property includes 12.14 acres of stream mitigation area.
  • Putnam County - 17.59 acres at Lucerne on the north side of U.S. 136 east of the railroad.
To learn more about each property, visit
For information about submitting bids, contact District Right-of-Way Manger Sam Grimes at (660) 385-8680.

Applications for Annual Katy Trail Ride are now available for bicyclists who would like to participate in the 2011 Katy Trail Ride, a ride on the nation's longest developed rail trail. The annual weeklong bicycle ride will take place June 20-24 and will travel across Missouri on Katy Trail State Park.

Sponsored by Missouri State Parks and the Missouri State Parks Foundation, this scenic bicycle ride will go approximately 225 miles from Clinton to St. Charles. The 2011 Katy Trail Ride will allow bicyclists to experience the entire Katy Trail State Park, which takes travelers through many of Missouri's rural communities, along open fields and near the Missouri River and its bordering bluffs. Daily mileage ranges from 37 to 68 miles. Stops will include Sedalia, Boonville, Jefferson City and Marthasville.

Participation is limited to 300 people and the deadline for registration is May 21. The registration fee includes breakfast and dinner daily, outdoor camping spaces each night, portable hot showers, gear shuttle, support stops and a Katy Trail Ride t-shirt and water bottle. Evening activities and daily trivia questions will highlight this five-day ride.

Transportation between St. Charles and Clinton on June 19 or June 24 will be available along with round trip transportation from Columbia to Clinton on June 19 and St. Charles to Columbia on June 24 for an additional fee. Day trips are available for bicyclists who would like to participate in this ride but do not have five days to spare.

The Katy Trail Ride takes 300 bicyclists through the many rural communities that border the trail, boosting the local economy. Riders purchase their lunch in a different community each day and several choose to stay in local hotels or bed and breakfasts rather than camp. Organizers also pay local establishments or organizations to provide breakfast and dinner daily to the participants and volunteers. Many businesses have developed in these small, rural communities since the trail was established and they rely on trail users for a big part of their business’ success.

For anyone who would like to help out with the ride, organizers are looking for friendly volunteers to load or drive the luggage truck, load bicycles, assist participants at the registration and information booths and support stops and to serve as ride sweeps. Applications for the ride and volunteer information are available at

For more information about the ride or for an application, call the Department of Natural Resources toll free at 800-334-6946 (voice) or 800-379-2419 (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) or visit

The Central Missouri Honor Flight’s next flight will be Tuesday April 5th. If you are interested in going on an Honor Flight, call (573) 256-1930 or visit the website at to apply.

On a more global issue, my thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the tragic and devastating events that took place in Japan last week. Let us all hope that the nuclear crisis is averted as swiftly and effectively as possible and that those with missing loved ones find them in good health soon.

As a final note, there will not be a Capitol Report next week due to spring adjournment. In the meantime, my staff and I wish you all a happy St. Patrick’s Day!

As always, I welcome comments and questions on legislative matters. Please fell free to call my office if you need assistance or information from any facet of Missouri Legislature, or if your school or group would like to schedule a visit or tour of the Capitol.

20 March 2011

Ridgeway: Welfare Spending at Popular Vacation Destinations

How many times have you been in line at the grocery store counting pennies to pay for imitation hamburger and off-brand pasta, only to see the person in front of you unload a cart full of steaks and then whip out a welfare EBT card to pay for it? It happens to me and I bet it happens to you as well. The program that provides for your hard earned money to be spent in this fashion by people as able-bodied as are you and I is called TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. If you get upset watching someone buy groceries with your money, hang on because you are about to get boiling mad.

Because welfare benefits are now delivered with a plastic debit card, where and when these benefits are spent is easily tracked. Chris Nagus, a St. Louis television reporter requested these records from the Missouri Department of Social Services (click here for a link to the DSS data). What he found is unbelievable. Keep in mind, this is just one month of spending.

Since most of Missouri’s population lives near a state line, it is not unusual for some benefits to be spent in adjoining states. However, some states were further away, much further away and not even connected to the mainland.

Over the course of one month, in Florida, Missouri welfare recipients spent $84,061 on food and withdrew $9,737 in cash from ATMs. In California, the month's totals were $69,672 for food and $7,818 in cash. In the biggest insult to taxpayers, during one month welfare recipients spent $2,737 for food and withdrew $175…in HAWAII!

I am sure many hard working Missourians would love to take their families on a vacation to Florida, California, or Hawaii. However, it now appears they cannot since they are busy working to pay for someone else to go who isn’t working. Personally, I would like to see any transaction that takes place more than one state away red flagged for inquiry. If there is not a valid reason for the person to be there, benefits should be terminated. The assistance is intended for needy families to survive, not for freeloaders to travel on someone else’s dime.

There was a time when being on public assistance came with a stigma. Now the government goes out of its way to sign up more people. Where public welfare used to be a measure of last resort, it is now considered normal since that is what their parents did and what so many of their friends continue to do. Young unmarried women have actually been heard saying they want to have their baby before marriage as then the birth and maternal after-care will be “free”.

Maybe this discovery will serve as a wakeup call that the program is out of control and must be reformed. Despite what the liberals will tell you, personal responsibility and charity are pretty good things, for everyone.

Neth: "Fast And Furious Week" of Consent Bills, Significant Changes To Controversial Education Measure

A fast and furious week before taking off for spring break. We had a lot of floor time this week debating legislation and working through what we call "Consent" Bills. These are bills are passed unanimously out of committee and have no cost to the state. They are then put on the Consent Calendar and, since they are non-controversial and have no fiscal impact, there is often little discussion and they are usually passed unanimously. We work through these at a very fast clip, therefore, we don't get far from our seats, because we are constantly pressing the button to vote.

I will probably take a week off from my Capitol Report while on break. I hope to spend some good time with my family and connect with a few people in our district during the week.

Education Update

For those of that have been keeping up with the activity in the Education Committee, I thought I would give an update. The original HB 628 exists now as a second committee substitute that is much different from the original bill. There has been a lot of talk about the bill, and I have received an outpouring of mostly negative feedback via form letters.

As of now, the bill has not been brought to a vote in Committee. Recently, I have been involved in a lot of closed door discussion surrounding HB 628. The result of these meetings was the ultimate decision to temporarily put the brakes on this legislation. We will be talking extensively over the next few weeks to find language that is more effective. Hopefully, we will vote something out of committee right after the break so we can hear some broader debate on the floor. I am in agreement with the majority of our members that meaningful reform is needed with regards to teacher tenure and how school districts are able to determine pay for teachers. Other items that need to be addressed are questions of effective evaluations and ensuring student achievement. I am excited to be in the thick of this important process and am happy to discuss this or any other issue with you in the coming weeks as the plan comes together. Once a bill is passed out of committee, I will make a full statement on it at that point.

Visitors to the Capitol

My wife, Cammy (a teacher), son, Mitchell, and daughter, Kelsey, came down to visit me this week. They are on Spring Break and wanted to come and hang out in Jefferson City. I had the honor and privilege of announcing them on the House Floor.

My Field Representative, Chris Till, and our Intern, Rachel Hain (above), also joined us this week and I was able to introduce them on the Floor as well.

Floor Action

Two bills of interest covered this week were HJR 6 (also known as "card check") which deals with requiring unions to use secret ballots when voting on union positions and HB 89 (relating to ATM Fees) which came out of my Committee on Financial Institutions. For all other information on this week's legislative session, please visit the website for the house journal. Or just ask. I am always happy to discuss what we voted on and how I voted on any particular issue. The full journals of the house session can be found at

Currently in Missouri, we have what is known as "card check" where union votes must be open to all union members. This means that the union leaders know how you voted on any given issue. The intrinsic conflict in this process is evident. If you do not vote the way the union bosses want you to vote, your job can quickly become less pleasant. If HJR 6 passes, then the decision will be left to the voters to decide if secret ballots should be allowed in Missouri. If the people agree to make the union ballots secret then the change will come into effect upon the passage of the bill by the people at the next major election.
HB 89 deals with ATM Fees. If you want to travel the world and use an ATM in Europe, China, South America, etc. You are imposed a "foreigner" fee. In Missouri, we are not allowed to charge these types of fees. HB 89 would allow Missouri ATM's to charge additional fees to customers who bank outside the country.

Committee Action


This week we heard HB 463 which changes laws relating to Virtual schools. There are a host of options in the market to offer online learning for those with learning challenges, gifted abilities, and those for whom a normal brick and mortar school does not work. The goal of the legislation is to allow a funding mechanism for these students through the existing funds used for education. I am a proponent of this legislation, but we need to work out a few details on the funding mechanism before I could support it.


In response to the crisis in Wisconsin, we heard HJR 33 which proposes a constitutional amendment requiring any office of a senator or representative to be deemed vacated if the member removes himself or herself from the state during session to avoid an official vote. Again, details need to be worked out before this bill could be passed.

We also heard both HB 72 and HB 39. These bills deal with prohibiting state legislators or senators from becoming lobbyists within two years of vacating public office. The legislation would prevent former representative and senators from using their experience gained in the legislature towards a future position. On the surface, this appears to be a great idea, however, the question of, "how far do we take this?" comes into play. There are jobs one can gain with as much or more power than lobbying upon concluding a term of elected office such as government appointments or jobs in the Executive Branch.

Financial Institutions

We heard HB 661 relating to debt adjusters and how debt collectors can work in Missouri.

We also heard HB 787 which relates to residential mortgage loan brokers and their licensing.
We did a lot of voting this week in the Committee on Financial Institutions. We voted on both bills we heard (HB 661 and HB 787) and we voted on nearly all the bills we heard in past sessions including; HB 550, HB 132, and HB 656.

Community Calendar

Mar 23 - Sleeping Beauty - Liberty Performing Arts Center

APR 4 - Jazz on the Square

Visit the Clay County Museum any time Tuesday through Saturday 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Click here for a list of events in the area.

Making Laws in Missouri

This week, I sent an article to the Liberty Tribune and Kansas City Star that spoke to the powers of checks and balances of the legislature and electorate. It dealt with the power of the petition initiative, Proposition B, and how at times we have to scrutinize our own language as well as the language offered by the public. To see a copy of the opinion piece, you can find it on my Facebook Page or you can click this link.