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08 July 2011

Stouffer: Missouri’s Rainy Day Fund

Ever since a devastating tornado hit Joplin back in May, some questions have arisen over how to pay for the recovery efforts. The governor started to withhold money from the Fiscal Year 2012 budget, in part, to afford this. But, what about the “budget reserve,” a.k.a. the “rainy day” fund?

What we know now as the rainy day fund in Missouri was borne of Senate Joint Resolution 25 in 1999, by then-Missouri Sen. Larry Rohrbach. His proposal was placed on the ballot in 2000 and approved by 59 percent of the voters. This fund combined the “budget stabilization fund” of the early 1980s with the “cash operating reserve fund” that was created in 1986. The “rainy day fund” simply provides the ability to meet cash flow needs in times of emergencies or budget shortfalls.

The rainy day fund can be used to make cash operating transfers to meet the immediate cash requirements of the state without legislative authorization. These must be repaid by May 15, with interest, and no transfer can happen after May 15. The state routinely uses the fund for this purpose. For instance, in Fiscal Year 2011, $150 million was transferred to the general revenue fund in March 2011 and was paid back in April 2011.

The fund may also be used in the event of a disaster or to meet budget shortfalls within the current fiscal year. In both cases, the governor must request an emergency appropriation and the General Assembly must approve the bill by a two-thirds vote. The money must be repaid, along with interest, in equal payments during each of the three following fiscal years.

The fund has been used consistently to maintain cash flow, and has never been used to stabilize the budget. Before the rainy day fund existed, the only time money was appropriated was in 1993, in response to widespread flooding. A special session was called in the fall of 1993 and $16.1 million was appropriated by the General Assembly to finance reconstruction after the flood.

Whether or not the rainy day fund will be tapped into to help pay for the Joplin tornado or flooding along with Missouri River remains to be seen. We may have a better answer before lawmakers return to Jefferson City for the annual veto session in September.

07 July 2011

Denison: Improving Missouri's 911 System, Sound Barriers Along Highway 65

“There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.” –Henry Ford

Interim Committee Will Look at Ways to Improve Missouri’s 911 System

Another interim House committee announced recently by House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, will spend the next several months studying ways to update and improve the state’s aging 911 emergency services system. Missouri House Speaker Tilley said he created the Interim Committee on 911 Access to find ways to bring uniformity to what some have called a patchwork of systems.

“Technology has improved at a rapid pace but the systems our municipalities use to provide emergency services have not kept up with the advances,” said Tilley. “One of the biggest issues we see is that our 911 call centers are funded by a surcharge on landlines but the majority of users have moved away from landlines to cell phones. The result is a lack of funding that has prevented call centers from upgrading equipment to provide a reliable system that is compatible with current technology.”

Tilley said he expects the committee to look at ways to provide the funding necessary to improve 911 emergency service systems across the state. The legislature has seen bills filed in recent years to allow local governments to add a charge to cell phone users’ monthly bills to fund 911 call centers. Tilley said that a statewide user fee is another option that has been looked at in the past, but pointed to two rejected ballot measures as an indication that voters do not support a fee increase to pay for 911 service. Missouri is the only state in the nation without a statewide fee for wireless 911 service.

In the District

Construction for the new noise barriers along Highway 65 has begun this week and will be installed in the residential areas and in some of the business areas as per the original contract. This process will be ongoing until the six lanes are complete. Please see news release below.

Also, you may have noticed the east and west ramps for Highway 60 over the railroad tracks are beginning to take shape.

Following is the MoDOT news release:

Construction of Five Sound Walls Begins Along Route 65 in Springfield

MoDOT, Southwest District, Springfield -- A project to build noise-reducing barriers, or sound walls, in five locations along Route 65 in Springfield is scheduled to begin Tuesday, July 5, the Missouri Department of Transportation said. The work for the next few weeks will include clearing trees and brush. Beginning the week of July 11, crews will begin building footings for the new sound walls.

Traffic Impacts:
Much of the sound wall construction work will take place AWAY from traffic. However, it may be necessary at times for crews to close lanes of Route 65 during nighttime hours. Lane closings will be possible 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Sound Wall Locations:
  • Chestnut Expressway to Catalpa Street on southbound side of Route 65
  • Bennett Street to Sunshine Street on southbound side of Route 65
  • Battlefield Road to Gasconade Street on both sides of Route 65
  • Republic Road to Route 60 on the southbound side of Route 65
In December 2009, property owners living along Route 65 were given the chance to vote on whether they wished to have sound walls built adjacent to their homes. Seven locations were proposed. Only five locations were approved by the property owners.

Sound walls were proposed as part of the widening of Route 65 to six lanes between I-44 and Route 60 in Springfield. Under federal guidelines, the noise-reducing barriers are offered to property owners when noise increases to a certain level as lanes are added. The walls are proposed only if the barriers can effectively reduce noise.

The prime contractor on the project is Archer Western Contractors of Chicago, Ill., doing the work for a low bid amount of $4 million. The project is scheduled for completion by May 2012.

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.

Rupp: Deadline Approaching for Governor to Act on Legislation

When the 2011 legislative session concluded, there were 46 Senate bills and 101 House bills passed by the Legislature. Since session ended on May 13, several beneficial bills have been signed by the governor, including measures that will continue our valuable Missouri Rx program, which assists low-income seniors and disabled citizens with prescription drug costs, and phase out the corporate franchise tax, among other measures. However, numerous pieces of legislation are waiting on a stamp of approval, and the governor has until July 14 — 45 days after the constitutional end of session — to sign or veto these bills.

Two bills that I would like to see signed into law are my co-sponsored SB 65, and HB 213 — identical acts that would prevent late-term abortions in our state. These bills are crucial to protect life in Missouri and would allow viable babies the chance to live and prosper. Fortunately, our state has solid laws concerning abortion and women are encouraged to seek alternative options to abortion, but these bills would support life on an even greater level and would prevent unborn babies from facing a sad and horrible fate.

Under the legislation, the abortion of a viable baby of a gestational age of 20 weeks or more would be prohibited, unless the baby is unable to survive outside of the womb or if the life of the mother is in danger. If the unborn child is 20 weeks or more, not determined viable, and an abortion is performed, the doctor would be required to submit a report to the Department of Health and Senior Services. Any physician who doesn’t abide by the provisions of the bill would face a Class C felony, and physicians who plead guilty to or are convicted of performing an abortion in violation of this act could face having their medical license in Missouri suspended for three years. Hospitals would need to abide by the act as well, or risk having their licenses revoked. If signed by the governor, both bills would go into effect on Aug. 28.

I hope you will join me in supporting these two bills. You can keep track of the governor’s actions on bills passed by the Legislature by visiting the Missouri Senate website at, and clicking on “Governor’s Action on Truly Agreed Bills” under the Legislation tab. As always, please feel free to call my office if you have any questions about your government. Thank you and God bless.

Neth: Liberty named 3rd most family friendly town in America

Family Circle magazine has selected Liberty as their 3rd most family friendly town in America. Awesome! I love representing my hometown!!!!

You can find the whole article here. Following is what they had to say.

Liberty, Missouri

Jenny DeVry, 45, knows there's no such thing as school rivalry in this close-knit Kansas City suburb. Her 16-year-old, Kate, attends Liberty North High School, but the rest of the family-husband Hank, 51, Claire, 15, and Henry, 12-regularly attend games and parades at Liberty High as well. "This is a community with a lot of old-fashioned traditions, like supporting one another," says Jenny, a patient coordinator at an orthodontist office. The town also takes care of its kids: In recent years voters have approved $104 million in bonds to construct new schools and update existing ones. There are also ample park lands, miles of bike trails and the 146-acre Fountain Bluff Sports Complex. "Children here are given plenty of opportunities to follow their interests, whether it's playing basketball or joining the debate team," says Hank. "Liberty is a one-of-a-kind place."

Good Deeds

The 200 members of the Liberty Giving Circle each contribute $300 a year to local charities, including a food pantry and a thrift store.

Population: 30,192
Median Income: $64,409
Median Home Price: $138,750
Households with Kids: 37%
Student/Teacher Ratio: 19:1
Great Schools Rating: 8

Dempsey: Bills Passed by Legislature Await Action by Governor

Each year, the Missouri General Assembly meets in Jefferson City to consider issues facing the state and to craft legislative responses. The bills that are filed vary widely in terms of their impact and cost. Some proposals make broad changes to public policy and dramatically alter the laws relating to education policy, tax structures, criminal sanctions and a host of other topics. Other bills have a much smaller effect and concern matters such as conveying small parcels of state-owned land or designating a certain day or week as a time of public awareness about a particular issue.

Getting a bill passed is no easy task. As hundreds of bills vie for the limited time and attention of legislators, many are bottled up or defeated in committee and are never actually voted on. Others are voted down or run out of time waiting their turn to be debated before the full House or Senate. When the legislative session comes to a mandatory close each May as required by the Missouri Constitution, all bills not already passed automatically die.

This session, out of more than 1,400 bills filed, the General Assembly passed 149 of them (approximately 10 percent). This relatively low percentage of bills passed is not at all unusual, although the actual number may be misleading since bills containing similar topics are often merged.

Once a bill has passed both the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate in the identical form, it is then sent to the governor for his signature. The governor has 45 days to review bills presented to him after the Legislature adjourns for the year (15 days if a bill is presented to him during the Legislative session). He can either sign these bills or veto them. If he does neither, the bill automatically becomes law as though it were signed.

This year, the governor has until July 14th to sign or veto the bills presented to him. So far, he has signed 71 bills and vetoed five others. Typically, once a bill is signed into law, it takes effect on August 28th of the same year. However, legislators are free to alter this typical rule by attaching an emergency clause (causing the bill to go into effect immediately) or by setting a later effective date. Certain pieces of legislation (joint resolutions passed by both chambers proposing changes to the Missouri Constitution) do not require the governor’s signature and go directly to the Secretary of State to be placed on the ballot for a public vote.

Legislators will be watching the events of the next few days closely to see what the governor does on several important pieces of legislation. Bills still in limbo at the time of this writing include measures that would protect the lives of viable unborn infants and allow drug screening for certain welfare recipients.

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

06 July 2011

Holsman: Committee on Urban Agriculture Monday July 11th

Representative Jason Holsman's Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture will hold its first informational hearing on Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Pierson Auditorium on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus.

The General Assembly authorized the creation of the committee with passage of Senate Bill 356 earlier this year. The committee will investigate trends in urban agriculture, including vertical farming, urban farm cooperatives and sustainable living communities and evaluate existing services, resources and capacity for such urban farming and the impact on local communities. The committee will use this information as the basis for future legislation.

The informational hearing will provide a forum for investigation and exploration of these urban agricultural issues with testimony from various advocacy groups, professional urban farmers, and at large members of the agriculture community.

What: Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture Committee hearing

When: Monday, July 11 at 5:30 p.m.

Where: University of Missouri-Kansas City, Pierson Auditorium
      5000 Rockhill Road, Kansas City

Contact information for the hearing

For additional information on the Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture's informational hearing at UMKC please contact:

Representaitve Holsman's Office
Dan Bryar
Legislative Assistant
(573) 751-6607

UMKC Contact
Troy Lillebo
Director of External Affairs
(816) 235-6585

05 July 2011

Keaveny: Salute to Veterans Air Show, Free Health Fair, Budget Withholdings

23rd Annual Salute to Veterans Air Show

At left: I had the pleasure of flying in a military aircraft over Memorial Day Weekend last May.

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I had the honor of participating in the 23rd Annual "Salute to Veterans Air Show," and I was invited to fly in a military aircraft.

I was truly honored to participate in this flight. The opportunity to stand alongside our admirable veterans was a humbling experience, and I am very grateful for all the sacrifices they have made to keep our country safe.

I serve on the Senate Veterans' Affairs, Emerging Issues, Pensions and Urban Affairs Committee, and remain extremely dedicated to ensuring that veterans receive the care and respect they deserve.

St. Louis offers a Veterans Ombudsman program, located at 8702 Manchester Rd. in Brentwood. For more information about the Veterans Commission or Veterans Ombudsman, please visit or call (573) 751-3779. Also, please click here for helpful information regarding benefits for you and your family.

City of St. Louis Website

Our great City of St. Louis is host to hundreds of fun events, attractions, restaurants, and state monuments. Our city also offers several beneficial services.

A great resource is our city's website, There, you can view services the city offers ( — this page serves as the "Yellow Pages" of the website), links to your government officials, pages of great family-friendly attractions, information for businesses and potential investors, and news and media information.

Another helpful resource is the Citizen Service Bureau, which handles the City of St. Louis' nuisance issues and complaints. If you have concerns about refuse collection, street maintenance, traffic control signals and signs, street lights, requests for building inspections and health inspections, stray or vicious dogs, accumulations of trash and weeds or similar problems, contact them at (314) 622-4800 or click here to directly visit the website.

The Governor's Response to Passed Legislation

The July 14 deadline for the governor to act upon measures passed by the Legislature is approaching. Here is an update on the governor's actions toward several bills.

On June 17, the governor vetoed SB 3, a measure that would have established unjust requirements for voting and voter photo identification for elections. I believe that the proposed photo ID requirements for voting would have done nothing to prevent voter fraud, and would only have excluded many eligible citizens from voting. In the end, I did vote in favor of SB 3, because I agreed with the provision regarding advance voting, but disagreed with the voter photo ID requirements.

The governor understood my point of view, stating that the SB 3 photo ID requirement would "disproportionately impact senior citizens and persons with disabilities, among others, who are qualified to vote and have been lawfully voting since becoming eligible to do so, but are less likely to have a driver’s license or government-issued photo ID."

The governor has acted upon several other bills passed by the Legislature:
  • Senate Bill 19 was signed by the governor on April 26. This bill will phase out the corporate franchise tax over a five-year period and will attract more business opportunities for our state.
  • Senate Bill 38 was signed by the governor on June 17. The legislation will establish a prostate cancer pilot program to provide screening, referral services, treatment, and outreach to men battling cancer. In 2010, more than 217,700 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the United States, and many men can't afford medical care. This legislation will help those men fight the deadly disease.
  • Senate Bill 188 was vetoed by the governor on May 13 — I was happy to be present at the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis with my constituents to support the veto. The bill would have made it more difficult to identify discrimination in the workplace, and would have diminished the voices of those who have been discriminated against.
  • House Bill 163 was signed by the governor on April 13. The bill granted an extension of unemployment benefits to thousands of Missourians who had been out of work for more than 79 weeks. While the bill was moving through the Legislature, a handful of senators filibustered the bill, much to my disappointment. Although this measure went through a lengthy battle and compromise had to be made, I am glad this bill was enacted into law and Missourians got the assistance they need.
  • House Bill 412 was signed by the governor on June 10. The bill will will continue the Missouri Rx program, which helps pay the prescription drug costs of low-income seniors and disabled citizens covered by Medicare.
For more information about the governor's actions on legislation, please click on this link, or visit the Missouri Senate website at and click on "Governor's Action on Truly Agreed Bills" under the "Legislation" tab.

St. Louis Veterans Affairs Medical Center

At right: Director of St. Louis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Rimaann O. Nelson, and I at the hospital.

I had the pleasure of touring the St. Louis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center with Director Rimaann O. Nelson, RN, MPH/HSA.

The hospital serves veterans across Missouri and Illinois, and offers outpatient clinics in Belleville, Illinois; North St. Louis County; St. Charles County; and Washington, MO. The hospital has two divisions, the John Cochran Division and the Jefferson Barracks Division. Both provide inpatient and ambulatory care in medicine, surgery, psychiatry, neurology, and rehabilitation, and many other subspecialty areas.

The John Cochran Division, named after the late Missouri congressman, is located in midtown St. Louis and has all of the medical center's operative surgical capabilities, the ambulatory care unit, intensive care units, outpatient psychiatry clinics, and expanded laboratory.

To learn more about this hospital and its caregivers, please visit To contact the St. Louis County facility, please call toll free (800) 228-5459, or visit its location at 6854 Parker Road in Florissant.

My Free Health Fair

Click on flyer for a larger version.

Remember to mark your calendars for my FREE health fair on Saturday, Aug. 13. The fair will be held at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church (located at 5515 Martin Luther King in St. Louis), from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

My annual health fair is an excellent opportunity to learn how to stay healthy. More than 40 organizations will be present at the fair and will offer complimentary screenings. These professionals will check your blood pressure, eye health, posture, and body fat percentage.

Some of the health organizations that will be happy to help you at the health fair include:
For more information about the health fair and volunteer opportunities, please call (573) 751-3599 or (866) 783-1534, or e-mail Stacy Morse or Wilma Rowden.

FY 2012 Budget Withholdings

On June 10, the governor approved Missouri's operating budget for Fiscal Year 2012, which begins on the 1st of this month. [Click on image at right for a larger version.] The governor decided to withhold $172 million from the budget. These cuts include $14.9 million for universities, $1.9 million for community colleges, and $8 million for school transportation.

I am disappointed that Missouri schools took a hit in the budget, but I understand that making these decisions aren't easy. Our state faced difficult financial times before we were hit with nature's wrath, so I understand that tough decisions had to be made.

To hear my interview regarding our Fiscal Year 2012 budget, please click on this link, or visit my "Multimedia" page and click on the "Audio" link for my full interview on June 20.

Energize Missouri Schools

Preserving energy and finding smart energy alternatives is helpful for both the environment and the pocketbook. In a news release issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), it was announced that the department would provide Missouri school districts, local governments, and public colleges and universities up to $10 million in low-interest loans for energy efficiency projects though its Energize Missouri Schools and Local Governments program.

Some examples of eligible projects include:
  • Heating and air conditioning upgrades
  • Lighting improvements
  • Boilers
  • Window replacements
All applications must be submitted to the department by Sept. 30, 2011, and applications and additional information are available on the department's website, For more information about the program, please call (573) 751-7466.

I am thrilled that DNR is offering this program — it is a great step to provide clean energy for our state, stimulate our economy, and provide new opportunities for work and education.

Protecting the Welfare of Dogs in Our State

At right: Visiting the Humane Society of Missouri to ensure the protection of dogs.

A top priority to me and my constituents is ensuring that the well-being of Missouri dogs is protected. I am happy to announce that Missouri is taking positive steps forward in protecting our beloved four-legged friends.

On June 14, I met with the governor and Dr. Jon Hagler, director of Agriculture, and we visited the Humane Society of Missouri to discuss increased enforcement of dog breeding facility regulations.

A positive tool we possess is Operation Bark Alert, which was launched in 2009 by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Since its creation, Operation Bark Alert has rescued nearly 5,000 dogs, and hundreds of unfit breeding operations have been eliminated.

To learn more about Operation Bark Alert, visit To report an unlicensed breeder, please click here.

St. Louis Police Officers and Canines Graduate From Canine School

I would like to applaud two police officers and their canine companions who have completed the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department's 14-week canine school program.

The officers work alongside their dogs throughout the entire program, and teach the dogs lessons in obedience, aggression, and searching. Dogs in canine school are educated to find either explosives or narcotics. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has 11 canines that serve in the field. Congratulations to the graduating officers and their canines — a job certainly well done.

Prepare for Natural Disasters

This spring, our state has seen its devastating share of bad weather — from the flooding Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, to the numerous tornadoes that displaced entire communities.

When the tornado struck St. Louis in April, we were lucky in the fact that there were no fatalities. Unfortunately, Joplin was not as lucky. Please continue to keep the families affected by the EF-5 tornado in your thoughts and prayers as they recover and rebuild.

Although tornadoes usually occur in the spring and summer, one could form at any time if conditions are favorable. On New Year's Eve last year, a tornado hit several St. Louis communities, including the Lewis Place neighborhood. The community is still dealing with the after-effects of the tornado and residents need help. If you are interested in donating funds, please visit

It is important to be prepared in case your family is affected by Mother Nature. Please visit the FEMA website at to view storm safety tips. Another helpful resource is the Missouri Department of Public Safety website,, which also offers tips on how you can protect yourself and your family from harm.

Lant: Local Town Festival Appearances

Last week was certainly a busy one!! We started with a lunch on the Pineville square benefitting the Bunker Hill Quilting Club. From the length of the line, I would say that was a real success. The burgers and hot dogs were good but the pineapple upside down cake was excellent! Old Mining Town Days were held last week also. I was given the distinct honor of providing and reading proclamations for four lovely ladies. The first one was for the Distinguished Citizen of the Year and was awarded to Jo Ann Lamp. From the look of surprise on her face, I would say that she was unaware that she had been chosen. I also was privileged to award proclamations to two ladies at Granby House that have achieved the age of 99 years. Mrs. Helen McDaniel and Mrs. Jennie McFarland were both a lot of fun to visit with. Finally, on Sunday evening I had the great honor to offer a proclamation from The Missouri House of Representatives to Mrs. Eunice Lewis who is the oldest Woman's Army Corps member in the United States. Eunice will be 97 on the 7th of July and I would encourage anyone to send her a card or stop by and wish her a Happy Birthday. This turns into an opportunity for me to climb up on my soapbox! We have nursing home facilities all over Newton and McDonald counties that are full of seniors with fantastic memories to share. Many of these older folks no longer have family or friends to visit with. There is no better project that I can think of for youth groups or service organizations than to adopt one of these facilities. They have amazing stories to tell and can share historical information with you that is available no where else. Most importantly, you can make them feel wanted and needed and there is no feeling of satisfaction better than that!

Over a month has now passed since Session ended. Since that time we have had record flooding around the state and the horrific tornadoes that struck Joplin and the St. Louis area. The Speaker Pro Tem, Shane Schoeller, was asked to form a committee to look into our preparedness and responses to these disasters. Although there was substantial warning in some areas, it appears that we might be able to do better in some of the more rural areas. I have had my attention directed to some possible blank spots in radar coverage and have also been made aware that The National Weather Service has been contemplating reducing the number of Weather Satellites. Congressman Longs' office assured me that they are actively opposing such a move and they don't think it will happen. We need to keep an eye on this as well as explore better coverage for some areas. I will be trying to get a bill passed that will enable home owners to qualify for some type of assistance if they install Storm Shelters. We are researching the best way to approach this now.

Over the next couple of months I will be attending some conferences on Work Force Development. I can't think of many issues more important than the creation of good jobs in our area. We have much to offer industry, not the least of which is a well trained and eager work force. In the aftermath of the awful tornado, we have an opportunity to draw some new businesses to our area. Let's all hope that they move quickly to take advantage of all the folks needing jobs. I welcome your thoughts and ideas, and certainly welcome your prayers as we try to work out our problems.

Until next week, I am and remain, in your service.