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30 June 2011

Dempsey: Ensuring Our Most Sacred Rights

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

This Fourth of July marks the 235th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. As we take time to celebrate our heritage as Americans with family and friends, it is important to reflect on the values that were of supreme importance to the founders of our Republic. As they expressed clearly in the solemn declaration they sent to the British monarch, our forefathers believed that the rights they claimed were not granted by governments, but rather were bestowed directly from the Creator.

Each generation must be vigilant to ensure that these sacred rights are protected and preserved. This session, the Missouri Senate worked to pass legislation that does just that. On May 10, only days before adjourning, we passed a measure specifically designed to protect one of the most basic and cherished of our civil liberties – the free expression of religion.

Freedom of Religious Expression - House Joint Resolution 2

This legislation had been a long time in the making. In the past, a vocal minority used a procedural device to prevent lawmakers in the Senate from being able to even vote on the proposal. However, this session the bill was allowed to come up for a vote – resulting in passage by a vote of 34 to 0.

HJR 2 would guarantee the right of all Missouri citizens to freely express their religious beliefs. It would also ensure that school children are allowed to voluntarily pray in school and would require that copies of the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution be displayed in all schools.

Since this proposal requires a change to the Missouri Constitution, it must ultimately be sent to voters for their approval.

Removing Taxes on Religious and Non-Profit Activities – House Bill 470

Another important bill passed this session also touched on respect for religious liberties and institutions. This legislation (House Bill 470) involved a change to the statute governing how the state taxes non-resident entertainers. Under current law, Missouri collects a tax on the amount of money a visiting performer earns within our borders (such as when a pro football team or musical band comes here for a game or a concert). However, it didn’t seem fair to require a church congregation or non-profit organization to collect taxes on a visiting musical group when they receive no other benefit other than the enjoyment of hearing the performance. Under HB 470 (which has now been sent to the governor for his signature) non-profit organizations would be exempted from the entertainer tax.

I always appreciate hearing from you. If you have any questions about this or any other issues, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Rupp: Working Together to Ensure A Bright Future for Missouri

The First Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly was completed seven weeks ago, but lawmakers still have plenty of work to do for our great state. Plans for our government are constantly changing — it was inconceivable for us to think that a deadly EF-5 tornado would demolish much of Joplin, taking the lives of more than 150 people. That tornado and the numerous other natural disasters that continue to affect our state have led to the creation of the Senate Interim Committee on Natural Disaster Recovery.

The committee will consist of three subcommittees: the Subcommittee on Emergency Response, the Subcommittee on Fiscal Response, and the Subcommittee on Insurance Response. I have been appointed to serve on the Subcommittee on Insurance Response, and I will work dutifully to find the best solutions possible for the thousands of Missourians who are dealing with heart-wrenching loss. Members of the subcommittees will work with the appropriate administrative agencies and will create preliminary reports that will be given to the committee’s chairman before our annual veto session begins on Sept. 14.

I’m also honored to have been appointed to chair the Senate Interim Committee on Health Insurance Exchanges. I will be responsible for leading six of my colleagues in our duty of researching our state’s options regarding the establishment of a health insurance exchange and to study its effect on existing state laws. Health insurance exchanges are mandated under federal law. Our current health care system is complicated and many people have varying opinions regarding their health care and insurance, but I will do my part in recommending solutions that will work best for our state and for our citizens.

On July 1, Missouri’s operating budget for Fiscal Year 2012 will begin. The governor approved the budget, but reduced the funding that the General Assembly had approved by $172 million. I was very disappointed to hear that education in particular received a huge hit — this includes $14.9 million for universities, $1.9 million for community colleges, and $8 million for school transportation. With gas prices continuing to rise, Missouri schools, particularly those in rural areas, will have difficulty transporting our kids to and from school. I absolutely understand that our state is facing difficult financial times, especially considering the effects of all the natural disasters, but I wish we would tap into our state’s rainy day fund to help aid the disaster relief. To listen to my interview addressing the budget withholds, please click on this link, or visit my “Multimedia” page on my Senate website ( and scroll down to find my June 13 interview.

Thank you for reading this legislative column. I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend with your family, and a safe and fun Independence Day.

Allen: Reappointment to Committee Tasked With Ensuring Proper Spending of State Funds

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, announced that Rep. Sue Allen, R-Town and Country, will once again sit on the House Interim Committee on Budget Transparency. The committee was created last year to further focus on the need to openly scrutinize government spending of taxpayer dollars.

"This is a continuation of the committee that Representative Flanigan and I initiated last year in order to rein in spending and hold our government agencies accountable for every tax dollar they spend,” said Allen. "Proper oversight from the legislature is critical to good government."

The committee, chaired by Rep. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, will work through the interim to study the efficiency and transparency of all branches of government including the possible existence of fraud, mismanagement, corruption, waste, conflict of interests, and the improper expenditure of Government funds in transactions, contracts, and activities by Government officials and employees.

Lichtenegger: How You Can Influence State Legislation

You don’t want to miss this informative July 11 meeting. Ever wonder how you can influence state legislation? At what stages can a bill die? What influence do House Committees have on the passage of legislation? Here’s your opportunity to find the answers! I will host a meeting July 11 at 7 p.m. It will be held at the MU Extension Small Business Development Center, 684 West Jackson Trail in Jackson. It is my desire that my constituents be well informed –not just about politics in general- but how concerns and ideas become bills and subsequently laws. I would like to thank the SEMO Black and Gold Chapter of the MU Alumni Association for sponsoring this meeting.

It’s wonderful to celebrate July 4th and our American freedom, but there are lesser-known stories, such as, who controlled the war funds and how was the Revolutionary War financed? And read here about the Prime Minister of Great Britain who opposed the war against the North American colonists. For more such stories and to view a short video produced by The History Channel link here: The U.S. Declares Independence.

Whatever your plans for this Fourth of July holiday, don’t forget to pray for and honor those in our armed forces who are fighting this very day to secure our Nation from those who seek to annihilate every form of democracy on earth. Fly your flag proudly!

Constituent Corner

During interim is a good time to get familiar with the House of Representative Website

There you will find various information about House activities; a list of famous Missourians; the Capitol Gallery full of photos in and around the Capitol area; and links to the Governor’s website and other State Departments.

Expose yourself to it now and by the time the 2012 Session starts in January you’ll be a pro at finding and tracking any legislation so that you can take an active role in promoting or preventing passage of House Bills.

Denison: Celebrating Independence Day, Interim Committee on Budget Transparency

“We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.” ~Robert J. McCracken

Celebrating Independence Day

As we head into the three-day weekend, I hope all Missourians will take time from celebrating to recognize the true significance of the Fourth of July holiday. Yes, it’s a time to enjoy barbecue and fireworks, but it’s also a time to celebrate our freedoms and to honor the many men and women who have made sacrifices to give us those liberties. So while you enjoy your time with family and friends, keep in mind that all over the world, soldiers and sailors are spending time away from their own loved ones to support the vision of America that became a reality 235 years ago. These brave men and women are spending their Independence Day on foreign soil because of their commitment to preserving the freedoms far too many Americans take for granted. They’re also there to help bring the gift of independence to people who have never experienced what it means to be truly free. Those efforts should serve as a reminder to all of us that freedom is not free and it is only with patriotic dedication that it can be won and protected.

During this Fourth of July weekend, I ask all of you to remember the reason for the holiday. Take some time from your picnics and softball games to send a prayer of thanks - thanks to our forefathers for their vision that produced the greatest nation on Earth and thanks to our soldiers and sailors around the world for their dedication to preserving and protecting that vision. We are truly blessed to live in this great nation. Let us never forget that.

Interim Committee on Budget Transparency

An interim House committee announced recently by House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, will spend the next few months looking at ways to improve Missouri’s budget process. Tilley said the House Interim Committee on Budget Transparency will continue the work of a similar interim committee formed last year for the same purpose.

“As Missouri families and business continue to work to do more with less during these tough economic times, we believe state government must do the same,” said Tilley. “I have encouraged the members of the committee to look for ways to root out waste, fraud and abuse in government and ensure a more efficient and accountable state government.”

The committee will be chaired by state Rep. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, who also chairs the House Budget Committee and who served as chair of last year’s interim committee. In 2010, Silvey and his colleagues pored over budget details as they met with representatives from every state department during a series of weekly hearings.

"We’re looking at yet another budget situation that will require state government to tighten its belt in much the same way Missouri families do when times get tough,” said Silvey. “We’ve made a serious commitment to ensuring we have the most efficient government possible – one that doesn’t duplicate services or waste money on ineffective programs. My plan with the committee is to continue that effort and find fiscally responsible solutions for the budget challenges ahead.”

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.

29 June 2011

Kelley: Freshman Legislator Of The Year

Jefferson City - To honor and recognize the efforts of Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Barton, for his work this year on education issues, Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives Steven Tilley, R-Farmington, awarded him the Freshman Legislator of the Year Award for Education. “I firmly believe actions speak louder than words and as an elected official, those actions are crucial to the well-being of our constituents. I commend Rep. Kelley on his actions regarding education issues showing firsthand that his actions demonstrate leadership for the people of his district,” said Speaker Tilley.

Through his role as a member of the House Committee for Education Appropriations, Rep. Kelley helped promote legislation that would improve the education of Missouri’s youth. Rep. Kelley has also been asked by Rep. Lair the chairman of Education Appropriations committee to do detailed research into the transportation budget for K-12 and the use of state funds at MSSU, Crowder College and OTC.

“While we are not fully funded, the schools’ budget statewide is better than originally thought,” said Rep. Kelley, “I look forward to next year’s legislative session.”

Kraus: A Holiday Worth Remembering

With the Fourth of July holiday upon us, I feel the need to say thank you. This holiday is typically one we celebrate with family and friends, barbeque and fireworks, whether we travel across the state or just to our own backyards. But it means so much more than that. It’s a day of gratitude and remembrance, as well.

Independence Day is recognized as the day upon which the forefathers of this country made the distinctive move to separate themselves from the tyranny and oppression of the British Empire by signing the Declaration of Independence. The freedoms those men were seeking, the self-evident truths and unalienable rights, the aptly named “American experiment,” were so important, they were willing to lay down their very lives to attain them. With their decision and their signatures, they set this country on the path to become the nation that it is today. Their strength imbued a country with the conviction and the courage to stand up against subjugation, and it is for that purpose on July 4 we celebrate the event that began the history of our great nation.

While we are discussing Independence Day, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those men and women that choose to take up the mantle of continued courage and serve our country. We hear often that freedom isn’t free. I know that firsthand. I am honored each and every day, knowing there are brave people standing up for this country I love and keeping it safe, no matter where they may be stationed in the world. Our country is great for many reasons, but not the least of which is our soldiers’ belief in its greatness. They fight our battles, both here and overseas, so that we might have the opportunity to celebrate with our friends and families this Independence Day.

It is for these reasons I say thank you. I thank the men and women that rose up against those that would have kept us bound to their way of thinking. And I thank the people that still today believe that this country is great and choose to defend our very way of life.

As you celebrate this weekend, please take a moment to remember what it is the celebration stands for. We have the opportunity to gather together because we are free. We set off fireworks emulating the rockets and cannon fire that was necessary to secure our freedom. On Independence Day, let’s celebrate the fact that we are Missourians, that we are Americans, that we have the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, and these gifts have been handed down to us at a considerable cost.

Named to Interim Senate Committee On Natural Disaster Recovery

Senate Leader Robert N. Mayer, R-Dexter, has appointed me to the newly created Senate Interim Committee on Natural Disaster Recovery.

I welcome the chance to serve on this committee, especially after having been involved on a personal level with the recovery efforts in Joplin. When I offered to help in Levasy, I was gratified to learn that the flood preparations were well attended by volunteers. It is important to me to be able to offer aid in any form I can.

This committee is broken down into three subcommittees, consisting of Emergency Response, Fiscal Response, and Insurance Response. I will serve on the Subcommittee for Emergency Response. Each subcommittee is responsible for gathering public testimony related to its own area, as well as for working with the agencies and administration tied to the specific area.

This year’s weather pattern has been unpredictable and destructive. Missourians should be able to know without a doubt that, if a catastrophic weather event occurs, their state government is doing what it can to protect them and assist them as much as possible to get back to a normal, everyday lifestyle.

Flood Information for Independence Day Travelers

Rain, runoff, and reservoir releases have contributed to flooding along the Missouri River. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is partnering with Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska to provide road closures and detour information to travelers who may be heading across the nation’s heartland this Fourth of July.

MoDOT’s flooding web page,, provides information on the latest road closures with a link to the Traveler Information Map and detour information. Visitors can also get information about how to prepare and travel safely around flooded areas.

Currently, Interstate 29 remains closed in the northwestern corner of Missouri at the Route 136 interchange at Rockport. Downstream from there, current predictions indicate the river will crest later this week on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday at levels below the records set in 1993, but above flood stage in some areas. However, with additional rainfall and levee breeches, these predictions change regularly. Information on predictions can be found at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website at

District Activities

Last Friday, I attended a meeting of the Eastern Jackson County Betterment Council. The next day, my family and I made another trip to Joplin to help with recovery efforts. There is still much to be done.

This week, I hope to attend the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Council meet and greet for members of the Kansas City Caucus and for the Kansas City mayor and city council.

Dugger: Independence Day

Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people. We sometimes forget that great truth, and we never should. – Ronald Reagan

Monday, we, as a country will come together to commemorate the Fourth of July. For many, this holiday weekend will be filled with numerous festivities. Families will gather for barbeques, communities will gather for parades, and of course, the night skies will be lit up with the colorful display of fireworks. While barbeques, parades, and fireworks are all vital to the celebration of our Independence Day, we often forget the true meaning of the Fourth; freedom.

Nearly 240 years ago, on April 19, 1775, the Revolutionary War began with firing of the “shot heard round the world” in Lexington, Massachusetts. For months, the colonial war effort pushed on with little success or direction until delegates from the original thirteen colonies assembled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These men knew the war effort needed leadership and direction or else it would fizzle out and the tyranny of a King an ocean away would continue to suppress their free will.

Quickly, they appointed a Virginian by the name of George Washington to be the commanding officer of the newly formed Continental Army. Nearly a year later, on the fourth day of July, in 1776, having expended all means of peaceful negotiation, the Continental Congress passed the Declaration of Independence.

Finally, the war effort received the direction and driving purpose it so badly needed. Freedom was that purpose. Freedom from oppression; freedom to live one’s life without unreasonable intervention; freedom as Thomas Jefferson described, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Though much has changed in America since the first Fourth of July, the driving spirit of freedom remains strong. Throughout the years many have sacrificed everything to protect the land we call home. It is because of these sacrifices that still to this day the United States of America remains a shining beacon in a world often plagued with injustice. As Ronald Reagan said, we should never forget the founding principles of our great nation nor those that have and continue to keep it free.

May God bless you and grant you a safe and enjoyable Independence Day.

28 June 2011

Nolte: Fifth Annual Information Fair for Senior Citizens

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Rep. Jerry Nolte, R-Gladstone, will host his 5th Annual Senior Information Fair to ensure Northland seniors are fully utilizing available benefits and services. The event is scheduled for Friday, July 8 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Campus Center Building, Room 110 at Maple Woods Community College located at 2601 NE Barry Road.

“I’m excited to be able to offer this to the members of our senior community again this year. Our past information fairs have been enormously successful with so many seniors attending and gaining access to information they may otherwise have gone without,” said Nolte. “I encourage all of our seniors to attend and take time to speak with experts who can help them access these benefits.”

Some of the participants this year will include: AARP, Clay County Public Health Center, Community Leaders Assisting the Insured of Missouri Program (CLAIM), the United States Social Security Administration, the Missouri Department of Revenue, and many more.

Seniors who attend the information fair will receive free information, literature and Circuit Breaker applications. Complimentary coffee and donuts will be provided.

27 June 2011

Lant: Voter ID Vetoed, Local Activities

Along with all the disaster news this past week is a quiet little tidbit from our Governor. He decided to veto the legislation for Voter ID and Early Voting. Missouri has tried to implement this idea before, only to be ruled unconstitutional in the courts. This time, after lawmakers worked to address the courts' concerns, it happens without the voters having the opportunity to voice their opinions. This will benefit only those who work to poison our elections through fraudulent and illegal activities.

There were provisions in the bill [SB3] to issue provisional ballots for those who didn't have proper ID, thereby they could come back later with proper papers. You can't even rent a movie nowadays without a picture ID, you would think the sacred right to vote would be at least as well protected.

Even though this has been vetoed, you will still see this question posed on the 2012 ballot as Senate Resolution 2 will proceed. We also have the opportunity to try a veto override or just try again next year. One thing I have learned for sure is very few things are passed the first time out. In reality, this is probably a good thing as we are forced to look at bills more than once and sometimes find better ways to present things.

The McDonald County Republican Club met last week and had a great meal at the home of Kenny Underwood. We were able to award two scholarships to area youth and heard from a couple of State Senate hopefuls. We also heard reports on the flooding and the great work of our local emergency responders. I've said it before, but we really need to offer a "Hats' Off" to all our volunteer fire and rescue people. They put in countless hours of training in order to be prepared to deal with disasters. Along with the tragedy at Joplin, we had tornado damage at Diamond and Granby and terrible flooding in McDonald County. This has been a rough spring for us but folks around here are amazingly tough! Now it looks like it's going to get hot and dry.

We can look forward to parades, picnics, fireworks and family get together of all kinds over the next couple of weeks. Last week I touched on how much there is to do right here in our area. We really have a lot of attractions close by that we overlook. In addition to the camping and river activities in McDonald County, we have the Carver Park in Diamond and the National Fish Hatchery in Neosho just to name a couple of attractions. There are many celebrations like Old Mining Town Days in Granby to look forward too and most of these things take very little gas and are either free admission or very cheap to participate in.

Have a safe and fun week. As always I am and remain, in your service.