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17 June 2011

Mayer: Measure Addressing Production of Records Signed Into Law

JEFFERSON CITY – Legislation authorizing the use of subpoenas by the General Assembly, sponsored by Senate Leader Robert N. Mayer, R-Dexter, received the governor’s approval today. Senate Bill 68, starting Aug. 28, 2011, will allow the Senate President Pro Tem or the Speaker of the House to issue subpoenas, or a written order, requiring state agencies or other organizations to provide records they’ve failed to provide when previously requested.

“When making tough decisions on state spending or public policy, it’s important to have as much information as you can as a basis for your decision,” said Sen. Mayer. “That’s why I filed Senate Bill 68, which allows lawmakers to obtain the information necessary to verify what witnesses say during their testimony in committee, for example.”

The Senate has been working to provide greater transparency to Missourians. In addition to Sen. Mayer’s legislation, he also oversaw the Senate’s “Rebooting Government” hearings at the beginning of the 2011 legislative session.

“The Senate has worked to provide greater transparency and governmental accountability to Missouri taxpayers,” said Sen. Mayer. “My legislation goes hand-in-hand with the work of these ‘Rebooting Government’ panels in that it will lend greater oversight to other branches of government and the Legislature’s ability to root out inefficiencies in state government.”

For more information on Senate Bill 68 or other legislation Sen. Mayer filed this year, visit and click on the Sponsored and Co-Sponsored Bills link under the legislation tab.

16 June 2011

Nolte: Legislative Award from St. Louis Business Journal

JEFFERSON CITY Mo. – The St. Louis Business Journal has selected state Representative Jerry Nolte, R-Gladstone, as a recipient of the 2011 Legislative Award. The honor is given annually to lawmakers who have positively impacted the business interests of Missouri residents. Nolte was selected based on his efforts as the chairman of the House International Trade and Job Creation Committee and the numerous bills he handled during the 2011 session aimed at sparking job growth.

“We had a productive session with several key pieces of legislation that moved through the process,” said Nolte. “I’m excited by what we were able to accomplish but also motivated to get back to work to help create more jobs for Missouri families. I am honored to be recognized for my work but realize we have much more to do if we are going to make Missouri the competitive force it can be.”

Nolte sponsored a number of economic development bills in the 2011 session. He handled numerous bills aimed at addressing the “Fix the Six” issues identified by Missouri’s business leaders. Nolte also was the primary handler for legislation that will provide substantive tax relief to many Missouri businesses. He guided legislation through the process that will phase out Missouri’s corporate franchise tax and end what is, in effect, double taxation on approximately 3,000 Missouri businesses.

“We have to make Missouri an attractive location to do business and I believe our agenda is moving us closer and closer to that goal,” said Nolte. “We need existing businesses to stay and create more jobs within our borders as well as new companies to choose our state as the ideal location to do business. If we can continue down that road, the good-paying jobs Missouri families need should follow.”

Nolte will be presented with the award at the St. Louis Business Journal Legislative Awards Breakfast on June 17, 2011.

Tim Jones: Fathers Day, Plant A Tree In Joplin, Missouri Rx A Legislative Priority

Only we Missourians have the “joy” of experiencing Bipolar Weather. We are often lucky enough to be able to use our heaters and our air conditioners all in one week. The recent hike in early heat and humidity has been followed by strong storms and then a return to otherwise cool and breezy early summer days. Following the spring floods and horrible Joplin tornado, we now anxiously await and prepare for the rising Missouri river that will affect another great portion of our State.

Honor your Dad on Father’s Day

On Sunday, June 19th, please take time to celebrate your dad, and all the great dads in your family, on Father’s Day. I want to take this opportunity to thank my dad, Dr. Bill Jones, for always being there for me, for believing in me and encouraging me. My dad has always been an inspiring presence in my life with his incredible work ethic and his devotion to his family, his friends and his community. He has always been there for me; he has always picked me up when I have been knocked down and always inspired me to reach ever higher. Thank you, Dad, and Happy Father’s Day!

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” – Billy Graham

House Members Travel to Joplin After Deadly Tornado

At right: With Rep. Noel Torpey & others, waiting on chainsaw operators to clear debris as we assist with Joplin cleanup on June 9th.

On Sunday, May 22, a massive, EF-5 tornado set down in Joplin killing more than 150 residents and creating billions of dollars of damage. On Wednesday, June 9, nearly 40 members of the Missouri House, along with their family and staff, traveled to Joplin to view tornado damage and volunteer in the cleanup effort. Reps. Bill White (R-Joplin) and Rep. Charlie Davis (R-Webb City), along with many other Southwestern Missouri Representatives organized the trip. The tour began at Missouri Southern State University and traveled to the Duquesne neighborhood that lost 90 percent of its homes. Representatives were taken to stops near Range Line Road and Joplin High School. After a lunch break at Freeman Hospital, the group assisted in the clean up of debris at work sites on 22nd and 23rd streets in Joplin. The destruction we witnessed was completely indescribable. Having grown up in the “flood zone” around the Meramec River, I have witnessed my share of Mother Nature’s might during my forty years on this Earth. But never before have I stood in a disaster zone, like I did in Joplin, and been surrounded by utter destruction as far as the eye could see in every direction. The experience was surreal, mind numbing and heart breaking. However, the outpouring of humanitarian relief, the amount and type of “boots on the ground” from every civic and charitable organization that you can imagine, and the spirit, determination and drive that we witnessed from the community was inspiring and will be the forces that help rebuild this vital community. May God bless and remember the Joplin residents in your prayers and be with those during the long months and years ahead.

The City of Joplin has established an official website connecting needs with resources in the wake of the tornado. The mission of the site is to provide dependable and trusted avenues for those wishing to help those affected by the storm. You can lend a hand by volunteering time, donating needed items or giving money. This site shows you how. Go to:

Help Plant a Tree in a Missouri State Park and Joplin

You can help plant a tree in a Missouri state park and in the city of Joplin without lifting a shovel. Missouri State Parks is participating again this year in the Odwalla Plant a Tree Program that allows people across the nation to vote where they would like trees planted. Odwalla has committed $100,000 to the campaign and each vote will be equal to $1 that can be used for trees. The number of votes a state receives will determine the number of dollars it earns to purchase and plant trees in state parks. If you enter the six-character code printed inside the Missouri state park system’s new Welcome Kit, Odwalla will donate an extra dollar per vote. Voting will continue through August 31, 2011. This year the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is helping our neighbors in Joplin and will donate as many trees as they can to the city of Joplin and Joplin city parks. To vote for Missouri state parks and help the city of Joplin, go to and click on the link to vote and receive more information about the Odwalla Plant a Tree program. Please take a moment to cast your vote!

I also want to encourage you to get out and enjoy the beautiful trails and parks that Missouri has to offer. If you would like to plan your own family adventure in Missouri, please visit the Missouri State Parks website at

The Legislature Makes the Missouri Rx Program a Top Priority

In 2011, the General Assembly made the reauthorization of the Missouri Rx Program a top priority and it has been signed into law. The Missouri Rx Program helps more than 212,000 low-income Missouri seniors and those with disabilities afford essential prescription medicine. Without this three-year reauthorization, the program would have expired in August, but now it will continue until 2014. This program is true health care cost reform that is market based and effective.

Established in 2006, when Medicare Part D took effect, Missouri Rx works with Part D plans to lower the out-of-pocket expenses eligible seniors and individuals with disabilities pay for prescription drugs. The program pays 50 percent of all out-of-pocket costs for medications that are covered by a senior’s Medicare Part D plan, including the cost of the deductible and co-payments. In addition, Missouri Rx continues to provide benefits when seniors are in the Medicare Part D coverage gap, also known as the “donut hole.” There is no enrollment fee, premium or deductible to join Missouri Rx. Currently, more than 212,000 Missourians are enrolled in the program. Missouri Rx is open to Missouri residents who are enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan and who meet income-eligibility limits. Elderly and disabled Missourians enrolled in MO HealthNet are automatically enrolled in Missouri Rx. For more information on Missouri Rx, please contact the MoRx Plan Help Desk toll free at 1-800-375-1406 or visit

Personal News & Notes

On June 15, our oldest daughter, Katie, turned 6 and prepares to enter First Grade in the Fall! A fun-filled family party was held to honor this most joyous occasion.

This weekend my family will attend my younger brother’s wedding in Louisville, Kentucky where I am honored to serve as his best man. I want to wish Ryan and Kim all the warmest wishes for the best in life as they both look forward to a shared future of love and friendship.

Thank you for reading this Interim Report. If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this Interim Capitol Report, please click the “Capitol Report Signup” button on my member home page at and enter the appropriate information to receive the Capitol Report. If you happen to see me in and around the District this summer, please feel free to introduce yourself and say hello! I have been very busy traveling all over the State and speaking to various groups about our many substantive and important legislative accomplishments. If you would like for me to speak to your group or community, please contact Jody at our office at 573.751.0562 and we will be happy to accommodate you.

Finally, if we can ever be of any assistance to you at your State Capitol during the coming months even while we are in the Interim Session, please 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. If you ever find yourself in or around Jefferson City at any time during the year, please feel free to visit the Majority Leader’s Office in Room 302 and Jody will be happy to meet and greet you!

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

Stouffer: Governor Withholds Money Promised to Schools

Click to read Sen. Stouffer’s Review of the 2011 Legislative Session.

For the third straight year, the governor will deny Missouri schools the funding promised to them by the General Assembly.

Upon signing the $23.2 billion Fiscal Year 2012 Missouri budget, the governor recently announced $172 million would be withheld. This includes $14.9 million for universities, $1.9 for community colleges and $8 million for school transportation. With these cuts, the governor now has the 7 percent cut to higher education he proposed back in January.

The worst part of this is, after lawmakers worked to add $10 million for school transportation, the governor has gutted the funding yet again. He withheld funding from this area last year and has basically stripped the money for districts to bus kids to and from school again. With gas prices hovering between $3.50 and $4 a gallon, rural districts will get hit the hardest.

The reason behind the withholds is touted as the need to pay for last winter’s blizzard, the Joplin tornado and flooding in Missouri. No serious discussion has taken place on whether or not to tap the state’s rainy day fund to pay for these expenses.

The other reason given is a revenue loss from capping the corporate franchise tax. This surprises me because the franchise tax limit for this year is the same as last year. Additional revenues from this tax were projected to increase, so there is no way to know if the state will actually lose money because of capping the tax. Bear in mind, the governor signed Senate Bill 19, which caps the corporate franchise tax and eliminates it over the next five years

After months of promising schools flat funding this year as compared to the year before, I am disappointed to deliver this news to educators. I am particularly concerned about how rural schools will continue to meet transportation needs with increased costs and reduced revenues.

Lawmakers have worked hard to fund education at the cost of other state programs over the last several years. Few in the education community have noticed or appreciated this commitment. It has been a struggle to meet the state’s needs while funding education at such high levels during down times in our economy. The governor’s decision to put education first, but only when it comes to cuts, makes this news even more difficult to deliver to those educating our future workforce.

There are a lot of folks in the Missouri General Assembly who plan to fight this every step of the way. It is important to note, it is the Legislature’s duty to approve the governor’s proposed budget. The governor should not take it upon himself to pick winners and losers without lawmakers’ consent.

This is not the time to take steps backward. This is the time to move forward on ensuring Missouri students get a first-class education.

Related topics

Fate of Education Reforms Now Decided
Education First in a Balanced Budget
Recognizing Our Best Teachers
Keeping School Funding Stable
Lawmakers Considering Education Reform, Not Reductions

Denison: Joplin Cleanup Continues

“Characters do not change. Opinions alter, but characters are only developed.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Interim Committee to Look at Missouri’s Disaster Recovery Plans

The weather-related devastation that has impacted Missourians in all parts of the state has led House Speaker Steven Tilley to bring together a group of legislators to take a closer look at how Missouri responds to natural disasters. The Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery will spend the next several months taking a closer look at areas such as Joplin, Sedalia and Southeast Missouri that were hit hard by storms. Their immediate goal is to put together recommendations to the Speaker for any action the legislature could take in the short term to facilitate the recovery process. They will have that recommendation to the Speaker by July 31. Their big picture goal is to provide a report to the General Assembly by December 31 detailing long-term recovery strategies and how the state can be better prepared for future natural disasters.

Legislators Lend a Helping Hand in Joplin

While the interim committee is beginning to do its work, many legislators are already actively involved in helping Missourians recover from the natural disasters that have hit our state. In addition to coordinating relief efforts in their home districts, many members gathered together to travel to Joplin to not only survey the damage, but also to chip in by helping to deliver supplies and clear rubble. I was proud to be among the nearly 40 members of the House, along with family and staff, who traveled to Joplin on Wednesday, June 9 to help with the cleanup effort. Reps. Bill White, R-Joplin, and Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, organized the trip. Our tour began at Missouri Southern State University and traveled to the Duquesne neighborhood that lost 90 percent of its homes. We were then taken to stops near Range Line Road and Joplin High School. After a lunch break at Freeman Hospital, we began to help by cleaning up debris on 22nd and 23rd streets in Joplin. I know the trip helped all of us to gain a much deeper understanding of how much work will be necessary to return Joplin to where it was before the tornado.

Members along with family and staff working in the cleanup effort.

Interim Office Hours

Interim office hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Normal schedule will resume December 1, 2011. If you need to call me at home, my number is 417-887-3353.

I look forward to hearing from you. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office. Best wishes.

Holsman: Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - State Rep. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, has been appointed to the newly created House Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery that is charged with developing ways for the state to best recover from the series of natural disasters that have recently struck Missouri.

Since the spring, Missouri has been hit by a series of tornadoes that has caused serious damage in the St. Louis area, Joplin and Sedalia. There has also been massive flooding along the Mississippi River and other rivers in Southeast Missouri. Officials are further concerned that in the coming weeks Missouri River flooding could wreak havoc along the state's northwestern border to Kansas City and through the state's central corridor to St. Louis.

The committee was formed shortly after a group of lawmakers traveled to Joplin earlier this month to help out with tornado relief efforts.

"After witnessing firsthand the devastation in Joplin and with concerns about future flooding along the Missouri River, I look forward to working with other members of the committee to develop effective responses to the challenges taking place in out state," Holsman said.

Holsman filed legislation, House Bill 615, this year that would have established Civil Disaster Response Corps consisting of up to 1,150 people who would be trained in emergency response, hazard mitigation and disaster recovery. Find that legislation here.

Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, has been chosen to lead the committee as chairman. His office has announced several meetings in the month of June including: June 22 in Sedalia, June 27 in Joplin, and June 30 in Sikeston.

Avaiable Resources for Joplin relief efforts

The American Red Cross has played a vital role in the Joplin relief effort. They have a resource center accepting volunteers and donations located at:

1110 East 7th Street
Suite 13
Joplin, MO 64801

Red Cross general information number: (866) 206 - 0256

American Red Cross Joplin website linked here

Another great resource, for donating or connecting with other organizations in the area, established in the wake of the tornados is RebuildJoplin has been endorsed by City of Joplin, Joplin Schools, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Southwest Missouri & Southeast Kansas and multiple partner organizations. is linked here

Rupp: Protecting One of Our Greatest Liberties

The right to vote is one of the most important and valued freedoms in our country. Throughout history, thousands of Americans fought for the right to vote and dedicated their lives to the cause. The best way to honor these individuals is to exercise our right to vote, and never take this right for granted. To maintain honesty and integrity at the polls, two measures were passed by Missouri lawmakers — SJR 2 and SB 3. These measures target voter fraud in our state.

Specifically, SJR 2 is a constitutional amendment that, upon voter approval, would require a voter to identify him or herself as a U.S. citizen and a resident of Missouri by producing a valid, government-issued photo ID. Senate Bill 3 is the enabling legislation mentioned in SJR 2 and would establish voter ID requirements. The measure is straightforward, and would be effective if enacted into law. The bill states that if a person is not able to obtain a government-issued photo ID, a provisional ballot would be provided, and would be valid as long as the person verifies his or her identity. Also, the measure requires the state to provide one free form of documentation for citizens, and establishes dates for presidential, senatorial, and statewide elections.

The governor has until July 14 to act on SB 3. I am hopeful that this measure will be enacted into law, because our job as lawmakers is to protect the rights and the voices of our constituents. It is not only unfair, but unconstitutional, for a fraudulent voter to cast his or her vote upon matters that are important to Missourians. You wouldn’t want an imposter to weaken an issue that you are passionate about. The legislation also makes sense in the fact that numerous, everyday tasks require a photo ID, such as checking out a library book or renting a movie. As one of the liberties that make our country known for its freedom and justice, the right to vote should be handled with care and the upmost respect, and I encourage you to make your voice heard on SJR 2 when you head to the polls.

Kelley: Governor's Budget Withholdings

An identical missive was sent by TJ Berry at 4:08p, 16 June 2011.

This week Governor Nixon announced his vetoes and withholds in the state budget. The total in all areas amounted to about $172 million. Unlike in Washington D.C. with the President, Missouri’s governor has line-item veto authority. This means the governor can veto individual spending items without killing the entire bill in which they are contained. In Washington it has not been unusual for members of Congress to attach funding for pet projects which would never pass on their own to spending bills that are a priority. When the bill reaches the President’s desk, he has no choice but to approve all spending projects or none at all, including the necessary items. While Missouri’s governor can veto spending items, he cannot add additional spending to the budget bills.

When reviewing the budget, the governor can either veto a spending item or withhold the funds. If he vetoes the appropriation, the money is simply not spent and is no longer part of the budget. If he chooses to withhold the money, the option is available to release the money at a later date. This option is used when money is not readily available, but could be later in the fiscal year. This year there was only one line-item veto, all the other reductions were withholds.

The largest withhold is an appropriation for almost $100 million in college and university construction projects funded through MOHELA dollars. Four year higher education institutions also saw a reduction of in excess of $14 million from what the legislature appropriated. The governor had recommended a 7% decrease for most state supported colleges and universities. During the budget process, the legislature added money to bring the reduction under 5%. Not only did Governor Nixon withhold the added money, but in the case of two universities he withheld additional dollars to bring their reduction closer to 8%. In his accompanying message he referenced that these two institutions had increased tuition costs by over 5% and should thus have additional money available.

While Governor Nixon did not withhold any money from his own office budget, he did cut money from the House, Senate, and State Auditor’s office. This was possibly a partisan move as the State Auditor is a republican and the House and Senate have republican majorities. No funds were withheld from democrat statewide officeholders.

While vetoes are subject to a legislative over ride attempt, withholds are not. The reductions will stand unless released by the governor at a later date.

Lichtenegger: Flag Day

Tuesday was flag day and very few know of its history or purpose. From its first unofficial observance in 1885 by a school teacher in the Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to its official declaration in 1949 when President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day, it has had a history rich in patriotism. Read more at the US Flag website, and be sure to check out the Historic and Current Flags of America section where you can view all the US Flag designs since Betsy Ross first sewed Old Glory together.

Link here to view a three minute video That Ragged Old Flag narrated by Johnny Cash.

Did you know there is special flag etiquette for displaying a flag indoors or at parades? Even the design elements and proportions of the flag are specified by law! And read here about the more than eight places where the flag is flown around the clock by Presidential Proclamation.

And if you’ve never seen a flag-folding ceremony you’ll be awed by the honor and respect paid to the greatest symbol of the greatest nation! You can view a variety of such ceremonies by conducting a web-search. Type the words “flag folding ceremony” in your search engine’s box. Most are via YouTube and are military video clips.

Most American Legion Posts regularly conduct a dignified flag burning ceremony, often on Flag Day, June 14th. Many Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, and Girl Scout Troops retire flags regularly as well. Contact your local American Legion Hall or Scout Troop to inquire about the availability of this service.

Don’t forget to fly your flag November 11 for Veterans Day in honor of all those who have given their time, energy and life to keep America safe and Freedom alive!

Constituent Corner

Serving our Missouri Veterans is one way in which we can demonstrate our appreciation for their service. If you are a veteran or know someone who is you may want to view the Missouri Benefits and Resource Guide book available on the Missouri Veterans Commission website. Locate the publication by clicking on the State Veterans Benefits Guide on the left-most portion of the webpage. This guide contains important, useful information such as education benefits, employment assistance, VA Health Care and much more. (The Missouri Veterans Commission is a division of the Missouri Department of Public Safety).

If you want a hard copy of the afore mentioned publication please call my assistant at 573-751-6662 by June 27 to order a copy.

15 June 2011

Kraus: Joplin’s Long Road to Recovery

Last Saturday, June 11, I was honored to lead a team of dedicated volunteers from the 8th District to Joplin to help in their recovery effort. When we first sent a request for volunteers a few weeks ago, I expected to have a car or two. In the end, over 25 people went to Joplin to lend a hand.

Working in conjunction with College Heights Christian Church, our group managed a variety of tasks. College Heights is managing a distribution center for donations, so much of our group worked there.

From driving a forklift, and driving a truck to pick up and drop off pallets at local warehouses, to sorting items, and acting as personal shoppers for residents in need, our volunteers served dozens of families representing hundreds of displaced Joplin residents. The group also helped make and serve lunch to all the volunteers at the church campus, and delivered the same lunches to volunteers in the field.

Another group went to an address of a home provided to us and began cleaning up the yard. Nothing was left but a foundation and a yard full of debris of all kinds. It was hard to know where to start. But we divided up areas, dug in, and our work made a definite difference.

At the end of the day, those who remained took a driving tour of the devastated areas. We were warned that what we would see was more than could ever be conveyed in pictures or video. The warning was right. The utter destruction, and the lack of sense of what was destroyed and what was left standing in some areas, was hard to fathom, even in person.

Before we left, we ate at a restaurant literally three blocks from the damaged Home Depot and Wal-Mart. Three blocks separated from total destruction and death, the restaurant was intact and crowded with life. There are such signs of recovery all around, but the images that remain are still those of the damage done.

Missourians have stepped up in so many ways to help. Whether via donations to churches, the Red Cross, or other groups helping on the ground, or by volunteering time, Missouri has done its part to help. I hope each of you can find some way to reach out to Joplin. We are planning one more trip later this summer, and would love to have you join us.

Back in the District

We have settled into our interim schedule pretty well. Both my Chief of Staff and I are in the 8th District meeting with residents and businesses and working on projects for next session. If you would like to meet with us, please send us an e-mail or call the office. Our contact information is at the bottom of this newsletter.

Last week, we presented a proclamation to the John Knox Village emergency team who responded to Joplin and spent days down there handing emergencies. They are representative of so many different groups that have helped.

We also attended a briefing by the Kansas City Economic Development Council. Retaining jobs and growing business in the region is high on my list, so this was a valuable visit.

Coming Up

Don’t forget our town hall meetings coming up in July. I would love to see large crowds at each of them and hear your feedback and ideas.

Lee’s Summit

On Monday, July 25, I will be hosting a town hall meeting in Lee’s Summit. Representatives Jeff Grisamore (House District 47), Mike Cierpiot (House District 56), and Gary Cross (House District 48) also plan to be in attendance, so it is a great chance for you to talk with your state elected officials. We will be there to discuss this year’s legislative session and to answer any questions that you might have about state government. It will be held at Lee’s Summit City Hall in the City Council Chambers, located at 220 SE Green, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. I hope to see you there!

Blue Springs

On Tuesday, July 26, Rep. Sheila Solon and I will be hosting a town hall meeting in Blue Springs. It will present several opportunities for you to meet with your elected officials from the Blue Springs area. From 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Rep. Sheila Solon (House District 55) and I will be available to discuss this past legislative session and to address any questions that you might have about state government. In addition, Blue Springs City Council members Ron Fowler and Grant Bowerman will be available to answer questions about local government. It will be held at Moreland Ridge Middle School, 9000 SW Bishop Drive. I would enjoy seeing you there!

Tishaura Jones: Uncoming Meeting with President Obama, Administration Officials in Washington

State Representative Tishaura O. Jones (D-63) will travel to Washington, D.C. Friday to meet with members of the Obama administration and attend an intimate reception with the president. Rep. Jones is one of a small number of members of People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network, a network of young progressives in elected office, who was invited to the White House to discuss important issues facing states and localities.

“A quality education is the key to economic recovery and I applaud the President on his progress in both areas,” said Rep. Jones. “I’m very interested to discover his plans for our continued economic recovery and how we start preparing our children to compete in a global economy.”

The Young Elected Officials Network, a project of People For the American Way Foundation, provides support and training for over 600 progressive state, county and city elected officials from all 50 states.

“We are thrilled to be able to take the observations and concerns of so many young, progressive elected officials to President Obama and the Administration,” said Andrew Gillum, Executive Director of the Young Elected Officials Network. “These young leaders are on the front lines of progressive change, fighting for the values of fairness, equality and opportunity in their home communities. President Obama, a successful grassroots leader himself, understands that national movements are built by individual citizens and their elected representatives working hard to bring about positive change in their own communities. We’re tremendously proud to be able to help the president get to know our communities and discuss the issues affecting states and localities across the country.”

14 June 2011

Lant: Budget Priorities, State History Tidbit

On Monday and Tuesday last week, I was at the Capitol for an interim meeting on the budget process. This was strictly a voluntary event at no taxpayer expense. The purpose was to better acquaint some of us to the appropriations process. Appropriations committees begin their hearings almost immediately upon the start of Session. Because they have to complete their process before budget processes begin, there really isn't much time to teach incoming freshmen what to do and how to do it. We were shown several of the Budget Committees' work sheets from last year, and the instructors explained the sometimes painstaking process of extracting information from department heads.

Each of the many departments that have funds appropriated by the General Assembly are required to appear before the designated appropriations committee and explain their budget requests for the upcoming year. It will probably not come as a surprise to you that no one wants to get by for less than they did last year. Our training was mostly focused on what questions to ask and how to ask them. For instance, we should not be afraid to ask the department heads if they accomplished what they proposed last year. It's really not that different than when we ask our children what they did with the money we gave them last week. (Surprisingly, some of the answers sound very much like the ones' our kids give us!) We were also told that it's sometimes a good idea to ask what portion of their budget they need the most. While none of us want to cut our spending, with the tight budget we are facing, it's a good idea to prioritize. It's too early to know with any certainty what our budget numbers are going to be, but it's a pretty good bet that we will have less revenue than we were projecting and consequently we will have additional cuts to make.

I was interested in seeing the "Summer Floor Schedule for America's Job Creators" memo from Washington D.C. last week. It read almost identical to our State itinerary. Their priorities were:
  • Empower Small Business by Reducing Regulatory Burdens
  • Fix the Tax Code to Help Job Creators
  • Increase Competitiveness for American Manufacturers
  • Encourage Entrepreneurship and Growth
  • Minimize Domestic Energy Production to Ensure an Energy Policy for the 21st. Century
  • Pay down America's Unsustainable Debt Burden and Start Living within Our Means
I wonder if there is any significance to living within our means being the last item on their list.

I was in Joplin nearly every day last week and it does your heart good to see progress already being made on the clean up. All the roads are open and the power companies have electricity nearly everywhere. I am amazed at how fast repairs are being made on some businesses and new structures are going up all over. Although the number of deaths and injuries were awful, the repeated instructions we have had over the years in how and where to take cover, saved countless lives. I'm sure some valuable lessons were learned that will further minimize future injuries and deaths. I can tell you that the whole world is amazed at how we stick together and take care of our own! We also have the full support of our State and Federal Government and an amazing amount of help, both physical and financial from virtually all over the world.

I promised a little more Missouri history in my reports. When Jefferson City was designated the State Capitol, there was a need for a Supreme Court. Since Judges were selected from all over the State, they had to have a place to stay while court was in session. It was soon deemed inappropriate for them to stay in hotels as they were subjected to questions and opinions from plaintiffs, lawyers, etc. It was decided to build a courthouse with quarters on the third floor to house the judges. If you visit me at the Capitol, I will get you a tour of the Supreme Court which will include a visit to the Judges' Quarters which are still being used for the same purpose today!

13 June 2011

Kelley: House Members Help Joplin

Last Thursday, we joined a group of about 70 from the Missouri House of Representatives, of which around 40 were House Members and the rest were staff and family. We were informed that to date, there have been more than 16,000 volunteers and around 60,000 man hours in the area, trying to help in any way they could. This ¾ mile by 13 mile area that was hit, resulted in a 7 mile area of around 7,000 homes totally devastated and 22,000 people displaced. This area was left with nothing that can be repaired or saved. The bare remains of their homes will be leveled and removed once all of the debris has been sorted into piles of lumber, metal, plastic, clothing, appliances, etc. Most items are not even recognizable from the other. Close your eyes and imagine if you can a toy city that someone took and put through a shredder. This is not your typical community with windows broken, trees down, and no electricity. They were left with nothing, no home, clothing, food, or even a vehicle to drive away from their home. We also visited the CEO’s of hospitals, St. Johns which was totally destroyed, and Freeman hospital. They said the biggest problem in trying to treat the victims was the lack of space, no check-in area so they couldn’t even take down names or know how many they treated. Because of all the broken water lines, the water pressure was too low to sanitize their tools. Each time they sent ambulances to neighboring hospitals they asked them to bring back sterilized equipment. They have continued to operate even though they have no building. They operate out of tents, similar to a M.A.S.H unit. They have learned from this tornado that when they rebuild, it will not be in the vicinity of another hospital, to lessen the chance of both hospitals being the victim of any possible future acts of nature. We then went to the victims’ homes and helped remove and sort debris around the houses. However, the main purpose of the Missouri House’s visit was to take a first hand look at the infrastructure of the City of Joplin and determine how we as legislators are going to ensure the support that is going to be needed for many years to come. With a third of the cities income tax base gone, they are faced with major challenges to keep the city operating to meet the needs of its citizens.Our citizens have worked from day one to do whatever they can to rebuild Joplin. They are already putting up new buildings and joined forces to work together as a community to reach out to their neighbors in a time of need. Missourians know how to take care of business! How to be there for each other, to offer our support, to lend a helping hand, to show our love, and most importantly offer our prayers. Mike

In this photo: Trevor Hobbs Aaron Finney , Chandler Drollinger Kieran Hanley , Tommy Richards (, Rep. Mike Kelley Rep. Jeff Grisamore's daughters

In this photo: Kieran Hanley , Tommy Richards , Aaron Finney , Rep. Mike Kelley , Chandler Drollinger, Trevor Hobbs

In this photo: , Trevor Hobbs , Rep. Mike Kelley , Aaron Finney Kieran Hanley

Sater: House Members Travel To Joplin After Deadly Tornado

Attached is a special edition of This Week in the Missouri House

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