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26 August 2011

Rupp: Providing Our Kids With a Safe Learning Environment

Next week, on Sunday, Aug. 28, countless bills passed by General Assembly and signed by the governor will officially become Missouri law. One of those measures, SB 54, would have been included in this list. However, a recent injunction (lasts for 180 days) has been set into place to stop this law from going into effect. In addition, the governor announced that he expanded his call for special session and is asking the General Assembly to repeal certain provisions of SB 54. This bill is designed to protect our children from sexual assault in our public schools.

Studies have shown that Missouri is the 11th worst state in the country for educators losing their licenses because of sexual misconduct — this is absolutely intolerable. As parents, we need to feel confident that our children are being taught in safe places by responsible adults, and our children need to feel comfortable in their learning environments.

Senate Bill 54 creates the “Amy Hestir Student Protection Act,” with the aim of preventing the sexual abuse of children. Amy Hestir, whom the legislation is named for, is a Missouri woman who was continually molested and assaulted by her junior high school teacher while she was in school. The teacher was employed by several school districts before winning a “Teacher of the Year” award before retiring. The practice of sexually abusive teachers moving across the state is so common that the Missouri Department of Education has termed the phrase “Passing the Trash.”

Under Missouri’s current employment law, school districts are hesitant to share information regarding former employees for fear of lawsuits. As a result, teachers who engage in sexual abuse or misconduct with students are able to relocate from one district to another, with the new school district uninformed of the employee’s prior record.

Senate Bill 54 states that Missourians who apply for a teaching certificate would be required to complete a criminal background check, and in order to be hired, the applicant cannot have been listed under the state sexual offender registry or the state child abuse registry. School districts in Missouri would also be allowed to discuss information about their employees with other school districts. In addition, school districts would be liable for damages if they dismiss an employee or allow an employee to resign for reasons of sexual misconduct, and then fail to disclose those reasons in an information request from another school district.

The bill also states that by Jan. 1, 2012, every school district in Missouri must develop a written policy addressing teacher-student communication and employee-student communication. The policies shaped by school districts are required to include appropriate use of electronic media as described in the act, including social networking sites. Teachers aren’t allowed to establish, maintain, or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child's legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian.

This portion of the act, which will be addressed during special session, was intended to allow districts to set their own communication policies, and take a team approach to create a system that works best for students, parents, and school employees. Two school districts in our area, Francis Howell and Fort Zumwalt, already have policies in place. According to a report published by Suburban Journals, the Francis Howell Board of Education approved a revision to the district’s social media policy in January, which will take effect Sept. 1. The revision states that employees are “prohibited from using their personal accounts to communicate with students unless the employee and student are related.” Superintendent of the Fort Zumwalt School District, Bernard DuBray, said in the report, “Basically our policy says that our teachers cannot have private conversations on a social network site. You can have students on Facebook and other sites, but you don't have a private conversation on them.”

We must take the steps necessary to prevent our children from encountering inappropriate situations — we have to be aware that in our fast-paced world of communication, these issues will continue to arise, and we have to work together for the betterment of our children. If you have questions about your child and his or her well-being, don’t hesitate to speak with your child’s teachers or school district officials. As always, please feel free to contact me if I can answer any questions for you.

Kelley: Four Bills Ahead In Special Session

Governor Nixon has issued a call for a Special Session to address certain specific issues which had great support from both the House and Senate Chambers during the Regular Session but on which the Chambers ultimately ran out of time in which to reach a compromised final position. The Governor issued the call on Monday, August 22nd. At this time, the anticipated schedule will bring some members back to the Capitol as early as Tuesday, September 6th with all members hereon September 9th.

We are aware of four (4) bills that will be filed during the Special Session pursuant to the Governor’s call. The first three are House Bills: 1) St. Louis City Police Department Local Control, 2) Election Law issues (to address the issues in the Election Law bill that the Governor vetoed), and 3) Tax Amnesty. The fourth bill will be the omnibus Tax Credit Reform/Economic Development/Job Creation bill that we understand will be filed in the Senate. On Tuesday, the three afore-mentioned House Bills will be filed and First Read. They will then be second read and referred to their respective committees for review. Additionally, it is anticipated that if/when these bills are voted out of their Committees, they will be immediately referred to the Rules Committee and the Rules Committee will take action on all three bills. I serve on Ways and Means so I will be on the committee hearing the Tax Amnesty legislation.

Perfection and Third Reading of the three afore-mentioned bills should take place by the end of the week.

After Week One of Special Session, we will be informed of the anticipated schedule for Week Two of Special Session, which will include Veto Session.

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


Lichtenegger: Back To School, Back to Chambers

Governor Nixon has called for a Special Legislative Session beginning September 6. The purpose is to finish work on several issues left unaddressed when the regular session adjourned last May. There are four bills to be addressed legislatively: the first three are House Bills: 1) St. Louis City Police Department Local Control, 2) Election Law issues (to address the issues in the Election Law bill that the Governor vetoed), and 3) Tax Amnesty. The fourth bill will be the omnibus Tax Credit Reform/Economic Development/Job Creation bill that will most likely be filed in the Senate.

Every year hundreds of people and student-groups from all over Missouri come to the Capitol for a tour of its grand marbled halls, observe House floor debates (January –May) and visit the museum displays where they can learn more about Missouri’s victories and struggles in its early history. We even get visitors from other states who marvel at the grand buildings and beautiful landscape.

The Capitol is not the only site open for tours; there are many more sites in the neighborhood that are walking distance from the Capitol building. The Governor’s Mansion tour guides will tell you stories of intrigue about guests, parties and the fountain sculptures of children playing. A visit to the Supreme Court building will lend insight into how some of the most difficult court cases are decided. If you link here to the Missouri State Parks website you’ll get a one-stop-shop for descriptions of tours, detailed tour information and to make your reservations. The available tour dates and times fill up very fast, so I encourage you to secure your reservations now! You can call my legislator assistant, Denia, at 573-751-6662 or go online to view available tour times and dates.

If you’re a teacher with students, a couple or an individual and you’ve made your own reservations please don’t hesitate to let me know the day and time of your visit. It would be my pleasure to meet with you.

You really don’t have to make a reservation to tour the Capitol if you’re by yourself or with a small group. You can stop by the Capitol information center where small group tours are conducted every half-hour without reservations. Again, don’t forget to stop by my office in room 409 and say “hello”!

Constituent Corner

My office has received a number of complaints regarding the Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS) and its home-health care assessments. Many of my constituents receive home health care through the SEMO (Southeast Missouri) Alliance for Disability Independence, Inc. (SADI) and SEMO Options. In my May Capitol Report I mentioned that DHSS contracted with an Indiana-based company (with a subsidiary in Ballwin, MO) to take over the assessments previously done through DHSS and/or providers such as SADI.

The complaints have all been with regard to SynCare’s assessments resulting in reduced ours of home-health care. This caused a number of needy disabled and elder persons to not receive the care they need. This is unacceptable and I am working to gather facts and information as to how this situation came about.

There are several facts I want you to know:
  • Home-care providers such as SADI and SEMO Options ARE NOT responsible for the reduced care of the needy. That lies with DHSS and SynCare.
  • I and many of my colleagues here at the Capitol are working to hold DHSS and SynCare accountable for a poorly planned transition of health care assessments.
  • An August 31, informational hearing is scheduled with DHSS here at the Capitol. This meeting should result in needed changes. At the very least the meeting should result in DHSS understanding that this situation needs to be rectified immediately.

25 August 2011

Neth: Special Session Ahead, Facebook Controversy, Nixon Visits LNHS

I hope you are keeping cool as we endure another round of extreme heat here in the heartland. It is an understatement to say that we have endured some heat this summer.

Over the past few months I have been working on some legislation and having meetings with people in the district, but most of all, I have had a great summer with my family. The previous summer was filled with working on my election and my wife finishing graduate school, so family time was not prevalent. This year, though, we have been able to do a lot of things together and do some travelling as well. Our big thing was a classic road trip to the west that included the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam and many other sights- 3100 miles total. It was a lot of driving but gave us memories that will last a lifetime. Probably the best thing was to experience that portion of the country with my kids and talk about the vastness of the west and how it is a great part of the United States.

There has been a lot of things happen statewide in the last few months that I will discuss in this update. These include the upcoming Special Session called by the Governor to work on uncompleted economic development legislation and tax credit reform; some great honors for the City of Liberty; and some discussion on the recent controversy on the Education legislation passed last session and its effect on electronic communication and Facebook.

Most schools are now in session and Fall is near. I know I am happy to be back on a normal school schedule at home. This new school years sees my daughter in High School (wow!) and actively involved there, my son attending a new school for his 5th grade year and my wife continuing her role as 3rd grade teacher. A lot going on, but I wouldn't have it any other way.


Special Session 2011

The Missouri Constitution allows for the Governor to call the legislature back into session after its Regular session is complete. Thus is the case this year as we have been called back on September 6. The primary objective will be to work on and hopefully pass some sweeping economic development legislation as well as some major tax credit reform. You can read more information on some of the details here.

Overall I am in favor of what we will try to accomplish in the Special Session. MOSIRA and the Data Center package are two things that can directly impact the 34th District in a positive way and the tax credit reform proposed is something long overdue. Some of the other items, such as Aerotropolis which benefits only St. Louis, are a little more difficult for me to accept, but will do so if we can get the rest of the package done.

Liberty Honors

The city of Liberty has been on a roll recently with some high profile honors. First was recognition from Family Circle Magazine and Liberty being chosen the 3rd most family friendly city in the nation. Money Magazine then awarded Liberty the distinction of being the 7th most livable city in the nation. I am proud to call Liberty home and to represent it.

Governor Visits Liberty

I accompanied Governor Nixon as he spent the morning of August 25 in the Liberty area. First at Continental Disk company recognizing their growing firm and the amount of exports they have. Next he visited Liberty North High School to highlight the state's A+ Program and LNHS getting A+ certification its first year in existence.

Facebook Controversy

There has been much discussion in the press regarding a new law recently passed- Senate Bill 54 or the Amy Hestir Protection Act. It is named after a student who was repeatedly sexually abused by her teacher, and in which the teacher was subsequently hired by numerous school districts before retiring. Prior to the law going into effect, school districts feared being sued for sharing information about former employees, and as a result, many teachers were able to transfer districts without having information about misconduct disclosed.

To put an end to this practice, the new law requires criminal background checks for teacher applicants, allows school districts to share information with other districts regarding sexual misconduct by their employees, and makes districts liable if they fail to disclose information regarding misconduct upon request by another district.

Although this was the focus of the new law, there were other provisions related to teacher/student contact, and specifically internet communication. Lately there has been much discussion related to how this might relate to Facebook communication and other forms of electronic communication. Here are some of the key points from that section:
  • Senate Bill 54 requires all school districts to adopt policies relating to student-teacher internet communication. These policies must be adopted no later than January of 2011.
  • The law requires school districts to adopt policies which prohibit "exclusive communication" between teachers and students on internet websites. In other words, all communication between teachers and students on the internet must be accessible to parents and administrators.
  • These policies DO NOT prohibit online communication between teachers and students unless the communication is not accessible to parents and administrators.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 154-0 and the Senate by a vote of 34-0. It is also important to note that this bill has been under consideration in the legislature for the past four years, and this year, was supported by the following groups: Missouri State Teachers' Association, Missouri National Education Association, Missouri School Boards Association, American Federation of Teachers of Missouri. (As a note, the MSTA has recently filed a suit to stop the implementation of the law after their initial support.)

I am hopeful that school districts will work hard to find common sense guidelines that do not prohibit useful internet communication. Given the fast pace of change in this new world of communication, we need to be flexible enough to recognize the positive of electronic communication while recognizing the need to protect the appropriate relationship between teachers and students.

Like all legislation, there is a chance of unintended consequences from its implementation and interpretation. If that is the case, I am confident the legislature will work to correct and ensure the law does what it is intended to do- protect our children.

Upcoming Local Events

Liberty Fall Festival September 23-25

William Jewell College Homecoming October 7-9

Liberty Farmers Market Every Saturday through October

Check out your local High School sports schedules. Great Friday night football and other sports.
Liberty Public Schools, North Kansas City Schools

Dempsey: MoDOT to shift traffic around Mid Rivers Mall Drive August 31
Note: A detour map is attached to the link.

ST. LOUIS – The Missouri Department of Transportation and its contractor, Fred Weber, Inc., will make several changes to traffic around Mid Rivers Mall Drive and Route 94 starting August 31.

Access between Mid Rivers Mall Drive/, Route 94 and Pitman Hill will change after this switch.

The traffic switch will take place between the morning and evening rush periods, weather permitting. Crews will open the southbound lanes of the new Mid Rivers Mall Drive bridge and make the south outer road one way between Pitman Hill and the temporary signal east of Mid River Mall Drive. They will also open the ramp from eastbound Route 94 to Pitman Hill and open a temporary ramp from southbound Mid Rivers Mall Drive to westbound Route 94

There are several traffic switches due to this change. Here are the planned switches and detours:

To eastbound Route 94:
  • From southbound Mid Rivers Mall Drive – cross the bridge, take the north outer road to the temporary signal and turn right onto eastbound Route 94
  • From Pitman Hill – Take the north outer road to the temporary signal and turn right onto eastbound Route 94.
To westbound Route 94:
  • From southbound Mid Rivers Mall Drive – take the new temporary ramp from the new southbound lanes to westbound Route 94.
  • From Pitman Hill – take the north outer road to the temporary signal, cross eastbound Route 94 and turn left on westbound Route 94
To northbound Mid Rivers Mall Drive:
  • From westbound Route 94 – turn right at the temporary signal, turn left onto the new north outer road and follow it to Mid Rivers Mall Drive.
  • From eastbound Route 94 – go past Mid Rivers Mall Drive to the temporary signal, turn right and cross westbound Route 94, turn left onto the new north outer road and follow it to Mid Rivers Mall Drive
  • From Pitman Hill – turn right onto the south outer road, cross Route 94 at the temporary signal, turn left onto the north outer road and follow it to Mid Rivers Mall Drive.
To Pitman Hill:
  • From eastbound Route 94 – take the new exit ramp before Mid Rivers Mall Drive
  • From westbound Route 94 – turn right at the temporary signal and turn left onto the north outer road. Turn left across the new Mid Rivers Mall Drive bridge to Pitman Hill.
  • From southbound Mid Rivers Mall Drive – Cross the new bridge to Pitman Hill.
During this traffic shift, the first signals north of Route 94 (near Mobil and the McDonalds) will only allow drivers to turn right into the businesses or right out of the entrance. Drivers can use next signal (by Home Depot and St. Louis Bread Company) to make all turns onto Mid Rivers Mall Drive. Drivers can expect further changes on Mid Rivers Mall Drive in about two months weeks.

This is part of a $25.5 million project to extend Route 364 from west of Central School Road to Mid Rivers Mall Drive in St. Charles County. Crews will also construct bridges at Kisker Road and Mid Rivers Mall Drive over the new route. The project is scheduled to be complete in 2012.

Denison: Special Session Officially Set, More MoDOT Work

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Special Session Officially Set

In previous reports I’ve mentioned the likelihood of the legislature returning for a special session. This week it became official as the governor set the call for an extraordinary session that will begin September 6. The primary issue, petitioned by the legislative body, is to address a wide-ranging economic development bill meant to attract new businesses and create good-paying jobs. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the bill contains a number of proposals designed to restructure the way the state’s incentives are used to attract and retain businesses. One portion of the plan would overhaul our existing tax credits to save the state approximately $1.5 billion over the next 15 years. Other provisions would create new incentives designed to make the airport in St. Louis an international trade hub; encourage the growth and development of science and technology-based companies; and attract computer data centers to locate in Missouri. The plan also would create incentives designed to help existing companies stay in Missouri instead of moving to other states.

In just a matter of days we will discuss this incredibly important bill in the halls of the state Capitol. There are many things to like about it including the fiscal accountability measures that will save our state more than $1.5 billion in the years to come. The other incentives we’re looking at must be looked at carefully to ensure they represent the best possible utilization of state resources. We want to make smart, responsible investments that will lead to sustainable economic growth and, most importantly, good-paying jobs for the many Missourians who continue to struggle to find work. As we spend the next several weeks in Jefferson City, we will do our best to create a strong jobs bill that will help bring down our unemployment rate and put Missourians back to work.

In The District

Following is the work being accomplished this week on three of the road construction projects in Springfield. The information is from MoDOT:

Route 60/65 Interchange Reconstruction, Springfield

  • Pouring concrete for new pavement for eastbound Route 60east of the Lake Springfield bridge
  • Building crossovers in median of Route 65 on either side of Route 60 between old northbound lanes and southbound lanes
  • Hauling in rock and dirt to build new westbound lanes of Route 60 leading to new bridge over railroad tracks west of Route 65
  • Building columns for new eastbound and westbound Route 60 bridges over railroad tracks west of Route 65

Route 65 Six-Laning Project, Springfield

  • Installing street lights at Chestnut Expressway, Division Street and Kearney Street interchanges
  • Installing road signs in various locations between Sunshine Street and I-44
  • Dirt work and spreading grass seed and mulch in various locations
  • Pouring concrete for soundwall footings on west side of Route 65 between Gasconade Street bridge and Route 60
  • A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for September 7, 2011

I-44: Night work

One eastbound lane closed between Glenstone Avenue and Route 65. Mile Markers 80-82. Pavement repairs. Work hours: 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

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.

Kraus: Difficult Decisions Ahead

Each year, the legislators who represent you, whether at the city, state, or federal level, are faced with hundreds of votes. Those votes often have significant consequences for that government’s finances, vision, and for the well-being of its citizens. It would be nice if all those votes were specific to a certain issue and uncomplicated by multiple items and additions, but in many cases, that just doesn’t happen.

More often than not, these complicated pieces of legislation lead to very difficult votes for your legislators. You may know where a specific legislator stands on an issue, but will see him or her vote the opposite because language was tied to a bill that has another topic he or she strongly supports or does not support.

A good example is the bill we are about to debate in an upcoming special session in September. The bill is mostly an economic development bill designed to both create new economic opportunities, as well as rein in some economic development programs that have either gotten too large or are no longer needed.

Many of you know that I have strongly supported a revision of Missouri’s tax credit programs. I filed four bills this year to cap, eliminate, or sunset almost all of the existing 60 or more tax credit programs. Other senators were less interested in fixing the current tax credits, but instead had one new program they wanted to pass to incentivize development near the airport in St. Louis. Standing alone, I was against that program.

In the Senate, a compromise bill was drawn up which gave $300 million to the Aerotropolis project for St. Louis, while slashing other tax credit programs. It also provided job retention funds for the Kansas City region in order for that area to compete with Kansas. The entire bill saved taxpayers over $1.5 billion. I was one of 32 senators to vote for the bill; in my case, because the overall savings justified supporting a program I wouldn’t normally support.

While the bill passed the Senate, it did not pass the House in the same form and died in the final hours of session. A new compromise was reached over the summer and we will be debating the bill again during the special session in a few weeks. I can’t say what the final language will look like or how I will vote, but I will almost surely have a tough decision to make.

One thing is certain, as I have learned over the seven years I have served in Jefferson City – if you are unwilling to compromise, you quickly become irrelevant. That may be even truer in the Senate. While I would love to get everything I can for the constituents of the 8th District, sometimes compromise is needed to get the most important things accomplished.

Back to School

Access to the Internet is becoming more and more critical, especially in education. Programs to increase broadband availability are in process throughout the state. Still, a significant percentage of our population does not have Internet access, primarily due to lack of funds. For those in District 8 who are in an area served by Comcast, there is a potential solution. Comcast offers a program called Internet Essentials, which provides affordable Internet and even low-cost computers to low-income households. Partner programs are available for those wishing to help. You can find more information at, or by calling 1-855-8-INTERNET.

Upcoming Town Hall Meeting

I will be hosting a town hall meeting in Blue Springs with Rep. Jeanie Lauer. The town hall meeting will be held Thursday, September 29, at the Country Club in Blue Springs, 1600 NW Circle Drive, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. I look forward to seeing you.

24 August 2011

Mayer: Audio and Video On Sentencing, Corrections Working Group

Jefferson City — Senate Leader Robert N. Mayer, R-Dexter, recently added new audio and video links to his multimedia page, which is located on his Missouri Senate website. This page features audio and video links (both streaming and broadcast quality — when available) for visitors to listen to and watch Sen. Mayer address issues that are important to him and the citizens of the 25th Senatorial District.

Senator Mayer met with leaders from other branches of Missouri state government during a press conference to help announce the creation of the Missouri Working Group on Sentencing and Correction. As Senate leader, Sen. Mayer has named several members of the Missouri Senate to serve on the working group, which held its first meeting today.

Senator Mayer will continue to add audio and video clips throughout the year. You can download his podcast and listen to it by going to Sen. Mayer’s multimedia page:

22 August 2011

Lant: Economic Development Workgroups

We started last week with a trip to Jefferson City on Sunday evening. There is a lot less traffic on weekends and it lets me get ready for Monday's meeting. At 9:00 A.M. Monday, we started our Interim Workgroup meeting on Economic Development. We had a three hour presentation and round table discussion with Representative Barney Fisher. Representative Fisher from Nevada, is the Chairman of the House Workforce Development Committee. He shared proposals and bill presentations from his past seven years on the committee. He emphasized how much change there has been in the past few years. Today's problems are totally different than what they were facing in 2004. Our priority now is to help generate jobs in Missouri by whatever means we have at our disposal. Our recent session fell short of expectations, but I think that the special session that has been long awaited and next winters' regular session will be much more productive. Representative Fisher drew our attention to Missouri's unemployment laws and how there are so many inconsistencies that it's hard to know exactly what we are responsible for. We need to find some new ways to police the system and cut down on the waste, fraud, and abuse that we hear so much about. There have been several theories about retraining, workfare, and revising eligibility, but there is no clear answer to all the problems. It is certainly something that we need to address and soon! We also were brought up to speed on the pending problems with our Veteran's homes. Several years ago, the voters approved an assessment from Casino entry fees to help fund the Veterans Homes. This proved to be so successful that an excess soon appeared. Before it could be used to build additional homes, it caught the eye of some progressive thinking legislators and was appropriated for other purposes. Needless to say, now that costs have increased, the pittance they left for the original purpose of funding the Homes, is now inadequate. I'll bet it will be a lot harder to get some of it back than it was to give it away! Regardless of the method, it is something that we must address and find a solution for. We absolutely cannot let our Veterans' Homes go in need.

The next two sessions were conducted by Jim Kistler, President and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors and Ray McCarty, President and CEO of Associated Industries. Jim presented a power point lecture dealing with the Right to Work issue. We were shown figures and comparisons to the six of eight surrounding states that have Right to Work status compared to ourselves. One interesting contrast was drawn between ourselves and Tennessee. We have very similar populations, transportation facilities, infrastructure, educational opportunities and workforce. We were, in fact, nearly identical statistic wise until Tennessee became a Right to Work State. They have, since that time, continued to widen the gap between us.

Mr. McCarty addressed our problems with the second injury fund. Missouri has a large liability that will continue to grow larger unless the legislature makes some changes to the program. This fund was established after World War Two to give some protection to employers who wanted to hire vets with war injuries. It's intent was to keep an employer from exorbitant workman's comp claims in case of an additional injury. As with most programs that started with good intentions, loopholes have been found and created that have turned a good thing into a nightmare. One of the most mind numbing revelations was that our Governor, when he was Secretary of State, allowed trial attorneys to attach 25% of an injury settlement fee. These fees are paid on "disability" claims that are paid out monthly for life! We were shown examples of workers who are still employed, who have been awarded three 50% disability claims! Yep, they are 150% disabled and still working every day. Remember the trial attorney, he is drawing 25% of all three settlements monthly as long as the worker lives. Who needs a 401K with that kind of deal.

When I first started these interim study groups, all I was trying to do was get a little better educated and a little better prepared for next session. The 20 or so of us that have participated have gained insights that would have taken us years to acquire otherwise. I intend to continue this method of self education and I'm willing to bet that other groups spring up next session when they hear about our success.

Mr. Aaron Jeffries with the Conservation Department was kind enough to accompany me to Stella on Wednesday to take a look at Indian Creek. Several weeks ago Jane and I stopped at Big R's in Stella for lunch and got to talking with Randy Crawford. (It's nearly impossible to go there and not talk to Randy) We were reminiscing about the trout placements in Indian Creek that the Department did years ago. One thing led to another and I went back to Jeff City and asked Aaron about the possibility of doing that again. On Wednesday Aaron showed me data that they had collected and apparently the aquifer is lower today and the water temperature is a few degrees to warm for trout to live year around. He did agree to add smallmouth on occasion. Aaron was very impressed with the Park in Stella and told me that Indian Creek is one of the healthiest streams in Missouri. He will continue to monitor the Creek for us and when the water temperature drops a few degrees, we can try to get trout again. It's probably a good thing that Jane wasn't with us because Aaron stepped on one of the slick rocks and went in to his knee. When he was scrambling out he disturbed (you guessed it), a couple of snakes that were sunning on the rocks.

I received an e-mail from State Auditor Tom Schweich on Friday saying that the audit of the Governors' withholdings from the 2012 Budget were improper. The Governor withheld 170 million from Community Colleges, Children's Services, Courts and Judges, Senior Health Programs, and others.These withholdings were made before the 2012 fiscal year began and before the disasters that have stricken our state. The Missouri Constitution allows for withholdings when revenues are less than estimates, not when there is an increase in inappropriate costs. It appears that the Legislature has yet another project on its' hands for the Special Session. With as many Lawyers as we have in Jefferson City, you would think some of these mistakes could be avoided. Oh Well, I'll have more next week!

Until then, I am, and remain, in your service,
Bill Lant

21 August 2011

Holsman: Special Session Rumors, Urban Ag Hearings, Transportation Corridor Funding

Dear Friends,

I hope that you have had a satisfying summer here in the mid-west despite the temperature gauge hitting 113 degrees on the dashboard.

The school year has started and the past few nights I could feel fall on the horizon. The NFL is back and the Missouri Tigers kick off their football season on Sept 3rd.

The political scene in our country continues to be divided. On the national level we have been witness to a bitter wrestling match between Democrats and Republicans over the status of our nation's debt and deficit.

Despite our ideological differences, partisanship should never be allowed to be an excuse for ineffective government.

Here at home, Missouri state officials have tried to come to a consensus over issues to call the general assembly back into special session in September. I support a return to Jefferson City to work on an economic development bill in order to create jobs for Missourians.

Over these summer months I have spent a good deal of energy focused on the Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture. The committee is poised to conduct its second informational hearing this Tuesday 8-23-2011 in Springfield Missouri. Thank you Missouri State University for hosting the committee.

In addition to my legislative duties, I have received an invitation from the Truman National Security Project to participate in their organization as a Partner. My involvement begins later this month with leadership training seminar in Chicago.

I want to thank my Legislative Assistant Dan Bryar who has done a tremendous job since joining my office in June. He assembled many of the articles in this newsletter and too often politicians don't recognize the fact that providing effective leadership on any issue is a team sport. Thank you Dan.

If we do go into a special session, I'll have another update when their is something to actually report. Otherwise I'll not burden your inbox.

It is my honor to serve you in our state capitol. Thank you for reading.


Special Session: To be or not to be...

In a dizzy of rumors and speculation, Missouri state lawmakers are still uncertain over being called back to Jefferson City.

The close of the 2011 legislative session left some lawmakers, Governor Nixon, and many special interests wanting more time on the the clock for the general assembly.

The Missouri Constitution allows for calling lawmakers back to Jefferson City for a "special session." The call for special session can be initiated by either the Governor or members of the general assembly.

Among the most hot-button issues vying for consideration in a potential special session, is an omnibus tax credit and economic incentive package including the creation of the the St. Louis Lambert airport "aerotropolis".

Other issues that may come up in specials session include: a bill to delay Missouri's 2012 presidential primary to comply with new rules imposed by the national Democratic and Republican parties, establishing local control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, as well as accessing the state's "rainy day fund" for disaster relief.

The special session, if called, is said to run more or less concurrently with veto session, which is scheduled for September 14th.

Holsman Invited to become a Partner in the Truman National Security Project

The Truman National Security Project is a highly competitive leadership development program for individuals who show promise to become our country's future progressive leaders and are committed to advancing Truman internationalist policy over the course of their careers.

The mission of the Truman National Security Partnership Program is to create a community of change agents who share the same values and have the desire, ability, and network to propel Truman internationalist policies to the forefront of U.S. foreign policy.

The Partnership program trains and positions future policymakers to help advance their principles while not letting their values fall by the wayside in the face of everyday pressures, politics, and career advancement.

The program facilitates strong community ties among Truman Partners in order to implement security policies by connecting policymakers of common conviction. Beyond leadership development, the Partnership serves to catalyze effective, strong, progressive policy.

Holsman's role in the Truman National Security Project will begin in Chicago with seminars in leadership training.

More information on the Truman Security Project can be found at this link.

Urban Agriculture Hearing Missouri State University 8/23

The next hearing site for the Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture will be Springfield, Missouri. Missouri State University will host the committee's second informational hearing.

When: Tuesday August 23, 5:30 PM
Where: 300 South Jefferson Street, Springfield, MO 65806 (Kenneth E. Meyer Alumni Center)

The committee will conduct additional public informational hearings to be announced.

In accordance with state statutes the committee will condense the information that has been presented in theses hearings into a report, with legislative reccomendations, to be delivered to the Governor, Speaker of the House, and President Pro Tem of the Senate by December of this year.

Congressional Delegation Announces Federal Funding for Jackson County

Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, joined by Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II, announced on Thursday August 19th that the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have awarded Jackson County a $652,200 competitive federal grant to study a transportation corridor in south Kansas City.

"I want to thank Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the Federal Highway Administration for their continued support of regional transportation in the Kansas City Metropolitan area," said Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders. "The momentum to study and ultimately build a competitive and efficient transportation system in our region continues to get stronger. This would not be possible without the support of our local elected leadership in Washington D.C. including Senator McCaskill, Senator Blunt and Congressman Cleaver. Their vision on this issue has helped secure critical funding for our community."

The grant funds will be used to conduct a transportation alternatives analysis in the U.S. 71 Highway commuter corridor including Kansas City and Grandview in Jackson County and Raymore and Belton in Cass County.

"We're moving in the right direction and this funding will put us one step closer to bringing commuter rail to the Kansas City region," said U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill. "This project has the potential to attract new jobs to our state and to grow our economy."

Jackson County, in partnership with the Mid-America Regional Council, Kansas City, Missouri and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is currently conducting a similar study on two other corridors including I-70 between downtown Kansas City and Odessa and the Rock Island Railroad between downtown Kansas City and Pleasant Hill. Funds for this study were received last December.

"I'm pleased that the DOT has decided to grant this important funding, which will help us better understand the transit options for the region, encourage economic growth and improve access to private sector jobs," said U.S. Senator Roy Blunt.

The FHWA received more than 1800 applications for funding from 14 different grant programs. Requests for these funds came from every state as well as Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.

"This project reflects a coordinated regional approach to assess the costs and benefits associated with rapid rail transit, leverage prior local, state and federal investments, and advance the livability outcomes for communities within the Fifth District," said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. "I am happy to see the funds being awarded to Jackson County and I know the grant will yield dividends for all my constituents."

The "Alternatives Analysis" is a necessary step in the process of applying for and receiving federal transportation dollars which lead to the construction of new transit systems.

Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association Forever Families Gala

On Aug 20th over 300 individuals gathered at the Intercontinental hotel for the Forever Families Gala to raise money for the Midwest Foster Care Adoption Association.

Representative Jason Holsman served as Master of Ceremonies with speeches from Kansas City Mayor Sly James and child abuse survivor Nathan Ross.

Proceeds of the event will benefit Foster Families across the Mid-west.

Urban Agriculture Hearing: University of Missouri - Columbia, 9/13

The Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture will have its third public informational hearing in Tiger country on September 13th, on the University campus at a site to be announced.

Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture Review: UMKC Hearing

At right: Gov. Jay Nixon talks about agriculture before signing Senate Bill 356 reauthorizing the Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture on July 11th

Following the Governor's signing of Senate Bill 356 the Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture held its first of four public informational hearings on July 11th at UMKC's Pierson Auditorium.

The meeting was well received, attended by over 80 audience members. The joint committee, comprised of both representatives and senators, took nearly three hours of testimony from 17 different presenters. Presenters discussed concepts relating to changes in Kansas City zoning ordinances, cottage food laws, and economic growth of the urban agriculture industry.

At left: View of the informational hearing July 11th UMKC

Prior to the hearing members of the committee were led on a tour, by faculty from UMKC's Architecture, Urban Planning, and Design discipline of Katz Hall, showcasing related academic work being conducted at the university.

At right: Professor Jacob Wagner gives committee members a tour of UMKC's Katz Hall before the July 11th hearing

UMKC's course UPD 499B: Planning for Urban Agriculture, taught by Daniel Dermitzel of the KC Center for Urban Agriculture, and Jacob Wagner examines urban agriculture, including the ways in which food production, distribution, consumption and disposal shape cities. Topics include planning and design of urban food systems, soil and civilization, food policy and cities, and urban material flows that impact food production, distribution and consumption. Assignments will include readings, site visits to the local food system, guest speakers, and in-class exercises on site design, policy analysis, and urban ecology.

For more information on:
UMKC's Architecture Urban Planning and Design Programs visit this link

Members of the Joint Committee

Rep. Jason Holsman, D - Kansas City
Rep. Zachary Wyatt, R - Green Castle
Rep. Tom Loehner, R - Koeltztown
Rep. Lincoln Hough, R - Springfield
Rep. Stacey Newman, D - St. Louis
Sen. Will Kraus, R - Lee's Summit
Sen. Jim Lembke, R - St. Louis
Sen. Kevin Engler, R - Farmington
Sen. Jolie Justus , D - Kansas City
Sen. Maria Chappelle, D - University City


On August 13th, I was fortunate to attend "Farm Aid," a dynamic concert festival celebrating and supporting the modern family farm.

Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp organized the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. Dave Matthews joined the Farm Aid Board of Directors in 2001.

Farm Aid has raised more than $39 million to promote a strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture. This year the Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas played host to the celebration. Farm Aid is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on their land

For more information please, visit the following site.

Budget Director Reports No Word on Disaster Expenses

At left: Holsman in Joplin

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering on Aug. 16 told a Senate budget subcommittee that total costs to the state for a devastating tornado that hit Joplin in May and recent flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers are still unknown. Gov. Jay Nixon has already set aside $150 million for disaster relief, but additional money is expected to be needed.

Family Vacation and Wilderness Exploration

Having some time away from Jefferson City I was able to explore the natural wonders that our beautiful country has to offer on our family vacation.

We headed up I-35 to the US Canadian border next to Lake Superior in the Minnesota Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

My father-in-law accompanied me on a four lake back country overnight. We paddled and portaged our canoe and gear over 15 miles of inclined rough terrain into the wilderness.

Holsman paricipates in Missouri Biotechnology Tour

At left: The MO Bio tour vists the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Greenhouses in St. Louis on July 13th

The Missouri Biotechnology Benchmark tour ran from July 10th through July 14th, and toured industry facilities all across the state, beginning in St. Joseph and concluding in St. Louis. All members of the general assembly were invited to participate in the program, and was attended by 17 current members. Fellow Kansas City area lawmakers to participate in the tour included representatives: T.J. Berry (R-Kearney), Mike Cierpiot (R-Lee's Summit), Mike McGhee (R-Odessa), Kevin McManus (D-Kansas City), Sheila Solon (R-Blue Springs), and Noel Torpey (R-Independence).

This program, hosted by the Missouri Biotechnology Association, is a four-month, four-phase nonpartisan legislative leadership education initiative and fact-finding tour.

The program's objectives are to:
  • Promote engagement between Missouri's policymakers and the state's biotechnology leaders;
  • Broaden awareness of biotechnology's economic impact across Missouri;
  • Share experiences from other states engaged in the biotechnology sector; and, ultimately,
  • Sustain informed, open dialogue to facilitate bi-partisan development for long-term and sound public policy.
At right: Rep. Jason Holsman and Rep. Glen Klippenstein speak with a St. Louis Community College Biotech student

The 2011 Bio Benchmarking Tour featured leadership briefings and tours of the following facilities:
  • Boehringer-Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc
  • Missouri Western State University's Institute for Industrial & Applied Life Sciences
  • Kit Bond Science and Technology Incubator
  • BioTechnology Mobile Laboratory - "Bio Bus"
  • Kansas City Life Sciences Leadership Dinner
  • MRIGlobal
  • University of Missouri - Kansas City
  • UMKC Vision Research Center
  • Global Prairie
  • Polsinelli Shughart PC
  • Kansas City's Partnership for Regional Educational Prepartion (PREP-KC)
  • Human Health - Regional Economic Impact
  • Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute
  • Children's Mercy Hospital
  • St. Luke's Brain and Stroke Institute
  • Kansas City Area Development Council
  • Stowers Institute for Medical Research
  • Civic Council of Greater Kansas City
  • American Royal Association
  • University of Central Missouri
  • Center for Alternative Fuels and Environmental Systems
  • Alternative Fuels / Automotive Research Laboratory
  • University of Missouri-Columbia
  • MU Life Science Incubator at Monsanto Place
  • MU Research Reactor (MURR)
  • Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center
  • Missouri Orthopedic Institute
  • Soy Labs, LLC
  • ABC Laboratories
  • Immunophotonics
  • Pfizer Global Research & Development
  • Monsanto Company
  • Business Impact Panel
  • Daniel & Henry Life Sciences Insurance Group
  • RubinBrown
  • St. Louis County Economic Council
  • Clayco, Inc.
  • BJC Institute of Health at Washington University School of Medicine
  • Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
  • Bio Research & Development Research Park
  • Venture Capital Forum
  • Advantage Capital Partners
  • St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association
  • Stifel Nicolaus & Company
  • Plant & Life Science Network
  • Washington University School of Engineering
  • University of Missouri - St. Louis
  • Genomics & Cancer Research
  • Consortium for Translational Research in Advanced
  • Imaging & Nanotechnology (C-Train)
  • Galera Therapeutics
  • Nidus Investment Partners
  • Gallus BioPharmaceuticals

For more information on the Missouri Biotechnology Association: please visit the following link.


Nearly a year after he ruled in the first part of a lawsuit challenging a statewide ballot measure that forces Kansas City and St. Louis voters to reauthorize their 1 percent local earnings taxes every five years, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem completed the case by upholding the constitutionality of the measure, which has since become law.

Kansas City officials filed the case last year in an effort to keep the measure, Proposition A, from appearing on the November 2010 ballot. Beetem on Sept. 20 rejected the city's claim that Proposition A was improperly before voters because it violated constitutional prohibitions against ballot measures containing multiple subjects. The city also challenged Proposition A as unconstitutional on its merits for imposing unfunded costs on it, but Beetem said that part of the case wouldn't be ripe for litigation unless Missouri voters approved it and deferred consideration of that point until after the election.

Proposition A passed with 68.4 percent support, triggering the first round of local reauthorization votes in April. In Kansas City, 78 percent of voters favored keeping the tax, while it passed with 90 percent in Saint Louis. Proposition A will require another vote on the issue in 2016.

In his recent ruling resolving the case, Beetem said Proposition A imposes no unconstitutional costs on Kansas City because officials aren't required to hold renewal elections since they have the option of simply letting the tax expire.

Background information on that case can be can be found at this link.

Missouri Celebrates 190th Anniversary of Statehood

Missouri recently marked the 190 anniversary of its admission into the Union. President James Monroe signed the proclamation making Missouri the nation's 24th state on Aug. 10, 1821.

Missouri had expected to join the union in 1820 - the year that still appears on the state seal - but its admission was delayed because the state constitution submitted to Congress prior to statehood included a provision that attempted to prevent free blacks from entering the state. Since the U.S. Constitution requires states to grant citizens of other states the same privileges and immunities under the law that they grant their own citizens, that provision of the Missouri Constitution was deemed in conflict.

As part of the Missouri Compromise, in which Maine broke off from Massachusetts and became its own state, adding another free state to offset Missouri's admission as slave state, the Missouri General Assembly on June 26, 1821, passed "a solemn public act" agreeing to not enforce the offending section of the state constitution in exchange for its admittance to the Union.

MoDOT Completes 500th Bridge

The Missouri Department of Transportation on Aug. 10 completed its 500th bridge under a years-long effort to repair or replace 802 of the state's worst bridge.

The milestone 500th bridge is located on U.S. 61 over Apple Creek in Perry County. The $685 million bridge repair program is running a year ahead of schedule and is now expected to be completed by the end of 2012.


Separate commissions respectively charged with redrawing new districts for the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives have both ended their work in partisan deadlock. The job of drawing 34 new Senate districts and 163 new House districts will now pass to a commission of six judges from the Missouri Court of Appeals.

The House redistricting commission declared it was at an impasse on Aug. 12, while the Senate redistricting commission followed suit on Aug. 16. Both commissions, which consist of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, faced an Aug. 18 deadline for filing preliminary redistricting plans and a Sept. 18 deadline for finalizing their proposals.

With the passage of the first deadline without action, the work of the Senate and House commissions essentially is over. Under the Missouri Constitution, however, the appellate commission won't get jurisdiction to take over redistricting until the second deadline passes and the original commissions are officially discharged. The appellate commission has until Dec. 17 to complete its work. The new legislative districts will be used for the next decade, beginning with the 2012 elections.