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03 September 2011

Newman: What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Friends, neighbors and constituents keep asking me what I'm doing with my time since the 2011 legislative session ended this past May in Jefferson City. A few aren't sure if I work in Washington D.C or the state capitol so I wanted to bring you up-to-date. It feels like I haven't slowed down all summer!

My biggest joy since adjournment has been watching our youngest graduate from high school and prepare for her next chapter. After wonderful celebrations with family and friends, our daugher is now a freshman at the University of Missouri - quite thrilling for her father, a double Mizzou alum. This summer I have been busy spending time with her and all the preparations required for freshman orientation/moving her into her tiny dorm room in Columbia. I'm pleased to report the empty nest transition is going well as Tiger fever completely envelopes our family.

Hope you have a safe and relaxing Labor Day weekend.


Although I'm working fulltime back in the district with the aid of my legislative assistant, Carla Leubbert in my Capitol office, constituent concerns and legislative research is ongoing. My days include meetings with various constituents, community events, talking with the media often on short notice and sorting through the mountains of files that came home with me.

The week following session I had fun working with the 21st Century Leadership Academy fellows through the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life at UMSL. I co-hosted a dinner with a group of young college women who already are leaders and learned way more from them than they know.

In addition I was excited and proud to see my former seat mate and close colleague, Rep. Jean Peters Baker sworn in as the new Jackson County Prosecutor. Her swearing in ceremony at the county courthouse in Kansas City mid-May was packed with her family, supporters and numerous elected officials. I will miss her in the legislature but we need her more where she is - pursuing criminal justice and making our lives safer.


I presented my annual post-legislative updates to the Richmond Heights and Clayton City Councils (Maplewood - stay tuned) and at various events with N.O.W./PROMO/St. Louis Women's Political Caucus and the Jewish Community Relations Council. It's vital that our local community and groups stay in tune with bills that have passed, those which didn't and our efforts.

I made my first trip back onto the floor of the House of Representatives since adjournment working with over 150 high school juniors and seniors (from all parts of the state) at the annual Missouri Girl's State on their mock legislative day. I have worked with MO Girls State since 2002 so it was invigorating to see how professional the girls were in arguing with passion on many serious issues. Can you find Rep. Mary Still and me here?

Occasionally my events involve theatrics. No really! I was a special guest at the original performance of the "Big Fat LGBT Show" at Monsanto's Creve Coeur campus in recognition of equality month. Monsanto was designated a "Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality" by the national Human Rights Campaign in 2010. The show, created by local award-winning director Joan Lipkin, is designed as a new tool for diversity training specifically for corporations, which include Brown Shoe and Ameren Corp.

And occasionally my life involves parades. I joined with colleague Rep. Tishaura Jones in riding in the 31st annual St. Louis Gay Pride Parade. The festival drew record crowds (it was hot of course) and a record number of supportive companies, religious organizations and elected officials.

At left: Me and a couple of green Energizer Men at Pride Fest in Tower Grove Park in St. Louis following the parade.


I was fortunate to escape St. Louis' intense summer heat as my work took me on the road. With a small bipartisan group of legislators, I spent several days in San Jose CA at Cisco's Executive Briefing Center, EMC and VMware headquarters. We were given extensive tours and thorough presentations regarding the future of telecommunications as it affects Missouri. I saw tech communications of the future and learned that our state already is a leader as we bring our state communication systems into the 21st century and beyond.

A day later I flew to Washington D. C. where I was selected to participate in a strategy session hosted by the Center for Women Policy Studies. With 18 women state legislators representing 15 states (including Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona and Kansas), we developed collective strategies (and terrific friendships) to combat future legislative assaults on women's rights.

At right: My bipartisan "sister" women legislators from all parts of the United States.

With little time to unpack, I then participated in a day long summit on state revenue at Lincoln University in Jefferson City hosted by Jobs With Justice. The summit involved almost 100 statewide activists who are concerned with the decline of state revenue as it impacts many programs and services our citizens dependt on, particularly with disasters and high unemployment in Missouri.

However the highlight of the month was my first in a series of "Farm to Table" dinners as personal research for my Urban Agriculture Committee. I created, shopped for and cooked an entire meal with as many local products/produce as possible to determine how accessible local foods are.

At right: Hands down, the best local organic fried chicken this side of the universe,compliments of Thomas Keller's "Ad Hoc at Home" recipe


Hot days of summer continued with a 2 day House Democratic Caucus Summer Caucus in Jefferson City. We met with statewide officials and various issue representatives as we worked on 2012 agendas and enjoyed being together as "family".

St. Louis ALIVE magazine called and wanted to photograph my home office for a feature series on local professionals and their offices. I wasn't allowed to clean up much (what do you think I did?) but their beautiful photograph actually made me want to spend more time working at home.

I participated in my first appearance on "Capitol Dialogue" with fellow legislators. A monthly series by the capitol communications staff, it was fun to rehash the previous session as we look towards special and veto session.

The month continued with the Springfield venue for our interim joint Urban Ag committee statewide hearings. We toured a local food market, elementary school and even an urban farm (just blocks from downtown Springfield) prior to the three hour public hearing with fascinating testimony. And just a few days ago I was a panelist at Congressman Russ Carnahan's well-attended 2012 Farm Bill event hosted by Maplewood-Richmond Heights high school. MRH high school will also host the Urban Ag Committee St. Louis hearing on October 4th - so mark your calendars for a truly fascinating community event.

At left: With commmitte members at Adam and Melissa Millsap's Urban Roots Farm in Springfield. Their children provided a precious unrehearsed photo op.

This month I celebrated the 91st anniversary of women gaining the right to vote at the MO Women's Network luncheon and presented a governor-signed copy of the new 2011 domestic violence law to executive director Susan Kidder of Safe Connections (women's equality/issues are major issues for me), but my most favorite activity was working with a very young activist.

Maddie Goldberg, a 5th grader at Reform Jewish Academy in St. Louis and I are working together on new legislation to help those with epilepsy be able to adopt children. Maddie works closely with the national Epilepsy Foundation, has lobbied Congress /the Missouri State Legislature and is at her age an expert on what she advocates. Our collaboration promises great things for next session - including perhaps my future replacement in the State House.


Summer is almost behind us as Special Session begins on Sept. 6 with Veto Session following on Sept. 14 in Jefferson City. I will be involved this week as a member of the Elections Committee on the bi-partisan presidential primary bill and also working to keep the Missouri Film Office/state film industry alive during the assuredly lively committee and floor discussions on economic development and jobs.

Yes, a woman's work in the House is never quite done.

02 September 2011

Keaveny: Special Session and Veto Session Approaching, Open Enrollment Event Approaching, Remembering 9/11

Special Session and Veto Session Approaching

My colleagues and I will collaborate again soon for the First Extraordinary Session of the 96th General Assembly, and when we meet for our annual veto session. Our special session is scheduled for Sept. 6, and veto session is scheduled for Sept. 14.

While in Jefferson City, one of my top priorities is to focus on returning control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department back to the city. Fortunately, the local control matter was included in the governor's call for special session.

This is a matter that I have been working on since I was elected to the Senate — it's about time we update the current governance structure to be more efficient and increase collaboration among departments. Local control of the police department will save the City of St. Louis money and increase safety.

A delicate compromise was reached between the city and the St. Louis Police Officers Association, which sets the stage to return control of the police department back to the city. With many citizens and lawmakers backing the passage of the local control measure, it is my hope that we will be able to take the steps necessary to return control to the City of St. Louis.

For my complete interview regarding special session and local control, please click on this link or visit my Missouri Senate website at and click on "Multimedia" under the "Media" tab. You can also follow the progress of special session and veto session by visiting the Missouri Senate website.

Take Steps to Prevent Becoming a Victim of Crime

Nothing is more important than your family's safety — there are many steps you can take to prevent becoming a victim of crime. Please take the time to review these important safety tips, provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Preventing Crime at Home

  • If you don’t belong to a Neighborhood Watch Program, join one, or form a new group if your neighborhood doesn’t have one. Contact the Community Outreach officer in your district for more information.
  • If you’re going out of town, load luggage into the car inside your garage. Don’t advertise you are going out of town.
  • Install quality dead bolt locks with one-inch bolt lengths on each door in your home.
  • Use an alarm system. While no system will make your home 100 percent safe, a quality alarm system can be an excellent crime deterrent.
  • Install a wide angle (180 degree) peephole on doors. This will allow you to see those outside your door but prevent anyone from seeing you.
  • Make sure your street address number is clearly visible from the street, especially at night, in case you require police service.
  • Illuminate your residence at night and regularly replace bulbs. Use timers and motion detectors if possible.
  • Don’t leave spare keys in recognizable spots.

Personal Safety Tips

  • Trust your intuition. If you feel threatened or something doesn't feel right, take action immediately.
  • Pay close attention to your surroundings.
  • Know safe places in the areas where you live, work, and play.
  • Don’t let strangers get too close to you, even if they seem to have a reason.
  • Walk with a purpose. Know where you are going ahead of time.
  • Avoid shortcuts that take you through alleys, gangways, and other unlit, isolated areas.
  • Have a plan before you see trouble. Be prepared to cross a street or duck into a store, if needed.
  • Carry a small amount of cash, and only the credit cards that you intend to use.
  • If carrying a wallet, carry it in a front pocket.
  • Leave your expensive jewelry at home.
Please click here for more safety information, or visit the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department website at

Open Enrollment Event for Seniors and Disabled Citizens

Click on picture at right for a larger image.

I will be hosting a FREE Medicare Open Enrollment event for senior citizens and citizens with disabilities:

Tuesday, Oct. 18., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church
5515 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. in St. Louis

There, you will be able to:
  • Learn more about your Medicare options.
  • Enroll in a new prescription drug plan for 2012.
  • Visit with senior services organizations.
  • See if you qualify to pay less for Medicare.
Medicare experts will be available to answer any questions you may have — counseling is FREE and confidential.

Organizations interested in participating in this event are absolutely welcome — if you would like to participate and provide your services to seniors and disabled citizens, please call my office at (573) 751-3599.

For more information regarding this open enrollment, please visit or call 1-800-390-3330.

Click here to view my postcard for the event and click here for further information regarding senior assistance.

Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents, and Survivors

Please read over the 2011 Edition of the Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors guide to review your benefits.

The 2011 Edition of the Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors guide is now available on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' website. This guide serves as an overview of benefits you and your family may be eligible for. The 2011 version also contains any changes in these benefits in the past year.

I strongly encourage you to take a look at this online guide. You will be able to review information regarding:

Please click here to go directly to the guide, or visit

BIO Benchmarking 2011 Event

At left: My friends and I at Gallus BioPharmaceuticals, located 4766 LaGuardia Dr. in St. Louis. Click on picture above for a larger image.

The Missouri Biotechnology Association (MOBIO) recently launched its "BIO Benchmarking 2011" event, in which I was happy to participate.

The program lasts four months, and is a "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.
  • Sustain informed, open dialogue to facilitate bipartisan development for long-term and sound public policy.
We had the pleasure of touring many locations, including:

Click on this link to learn more about the event. To learn more about MOBIO, please visit or call (573) 761-7600.

Recap of the August Health Fair

I'd like to thank everyone who volunteered and participated in the health fair that was held on Aug. 13. We had more than 45 organizations present at the fair that offered valuable health information. Some of the participating organizations included:
  • Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services — provided disease prevention education, tips on how to handle tick and mosquito bites, information regarding safe swimming, and more.
  • City of St. Louis Department of Health — provided lead screenings, as well as information regarding HIV and hepatitis (314-877-2800).
  • St. Louis Women on the Move — conducted stress management workshops.
  • American Home Care — offered information regarding veterans' programs and seniors who need long-term home care (314-367-0600).
I'd also like to send my gratitude to members of Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church — you were very gracious hosts, and I appreciate your hospitality.

If you weren't able to attend the health fair and would like information regarding health services, please don't hesitate to call my office at (573) 751-3599.

Help Your Child Develop Good Homework Habits

As a lawmaker and parent, the quality of our children's education is of utmost importance. To help our kids succeed, we need to encourage them to make wise academic decisions, starting with focusing on homework.

Here are some tips you can use with your child to ensure he or she focuses on schoolwork.
  • Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework. Youngsters need a permanent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that offers privacy.
  • Schedule ample time for homework.
  • Establish a household rule that the TV set stays off during homework time.
  • Supervise computer and Internet use.
  • Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child's homework for him or her.
  • Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue, and brain fatigue while studying. It may be helpful to close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically when it will not be too disruptive.
  • If your child is struggling with a particular subject, and you aren't able to help him or her yourself, a tutor can be a good solution. Talk it over with your child's teacher first.
(The tips above were provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics. You can visit its website at

I have the pleasure of serving on the Senate Joint Committee on Education — our goal is to provide our kids with the best opportunities available by monitoring the progress of our public schools throughout the year. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions regarding our public schools or your child's education.

Memory Care Home Solutions

At left: Senator Keaveny visits with Memory Care Home Solutions staff. Click on picture above for a larger image.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, there are an estimated 5.4 million people living with Alzheimer's disease in the United States, and every 69 seconds, someone develops the disease. (Click here for more facts about Alzheimer's Disease.)

Memory Care Home Solutions was created to accommodate this high number of adults who need care and family support. The non-profit organization was established to extend and improve quality time at home for families caring for loved ones with memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Memory Care Home Solutions operates three programs: Customized Caregiver Training & In-home Consultation, Education & Outreach, and Geriatric Care Counseling.

Customized Caregiver Training is the primary direct service program, and was created to reduce caregiver stress, promote the functioning ability of the person with dementia, and reduce the cost of health care. The Education & Outreach program offers free workshops and seminars for the community, and the Geriatric Care Counseling program provides on-demand, short–term telephone counseling and referrals for clients and the general public who are facing immediate elder-care crisis regarding memory impairment, or who need guidance in securing community services.

It was my pleasure to visit Memory Care Home Solutions — this organization is an excellent resource for families helping loved ones with memory loss.

To learn more about how you can help, please click on this link, and for more information about Memory Care Home Solutions, please visit

Ensuring Quality Health Care for Missourians

Missouri's federally funded, high-risk health insurance pool recently announced that it would reduce its customer rates by 23 percent. The pool guarantees health care coverage for Missouri citizens with pre-existing medical conditions who are often unable to purchase a policy from a private insurance company.

The Missouri Health Insurance Pool stated in a press release, "Our aggressive rate reduction is intended to make this much-needed health coverage more affordable. This pool is now insuring more than 550 Missourians who previously had no health coverage because they could not find affordable coverage in the commercial market. This premium reduction will make comprehensive health care coverage more accessible to Missourians with pre-existing medical conditions."

The quality of Missourians' health care is a vital issue. Last June, the Senate Interim Committee on Health Insurance Exchanges was created, and I was happy to have been chosen to serve on the panel.

The committee is responsible for researching Missouri’s options regarding the establishment of a health insurance exchange and to study its effect on existing state laws. Health insurance exchanges are required under federal law — states may decide whether they would like to form their own health insurance exchange, team up with neighboring states to form an exchange, or join an exchange established by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

The Senate Interim Committee on Health Insurance Exchanges will share its recommendations on the establishment of Missouri’s health insurance exchange and its effect on state law to the General Assembly.

Please click here to listen to my full interview regarding the Senate Interim Committee on Health Insurance Exchanges.

Remembering the Victims of September 11, 2001

It's hard to believe that 10 years ago, we were attacked by terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 American men, women, and children. I think we can all remember where we were that day when we heard the awful news.

So many feelings went through our heads — shock, fear, disbelief, anger, sadness, and the list goes on. We will never forget that horrible September day in 2001, but I believe our resolve is stronger than ever, and Americans stand even taller than before. The spirit of our country can never be diminished or destroyed.

I am so proud to be a citizen of this great nation and to represent you in state government. God Bless you and God Bless America.

01 September 2011

Allen: State Terminates Contract with SynCare, LLC.

Yesterday, August 31st, the Interim Committee on Budget Transparency met with the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to discuss the failing contract with SynCare, a provider of third party assessment services. Bowing to legislative pressure, the Department announced today that the SynCare contract has been terminated.

SynCare began its contract with the State last May. SynCare was contracted to screen over 53,000 Medicaid clients statewide to determine their eligibility for home care services and assess appropriate levels of service. Almost immediately, I heard from multiple sources that SynCare was not doing its job properly or handling cases in a timely manner. Representative Tom Flanigan, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee for Health, Mental Health, and Senior Services, and I have been meeting with DHSS Director Margaret Donnelly and Division Director Celesta Hartgraves since early July about this issue and raising concerns about Syncare.

It was also found by the committee that DHSS “loaned” upwards of 33 state employees to do SynCare’s job to make the contract work. State employees were answering SynCare related calls and helping to complete the assessment process.

With the SynCare contract disbanded, the State will temporarily take over the role of performing all assessments until a new contractor can be found or new procedures can be put in place. The Budget Transparency Committee will now focus on ensuring that the taxpayers of Missouri are reimbursed for the unnecessary expenditures incurred by the State as well as any additional penalties against SynCare for breach of contract.

Next Thursday, September 8th during our Special Session, the Appropriations Committee on Health, Mental Health, and Senior Services will conduct a public hearing regarding the Home Care Services Program.

Rupp: Keeping Synthetic Drugs Out of Missouri

In our great state of Missouri, it is important that we keep our citizens safe and prevent harmful substances from entering into our midst. My colleagues and I heard countless stories of people who had their lives turned upside down because of dangerous drugs masked as ordinary household items, such as synthetic cocaine, marketed as bath salts and selling under the names “Ivory Wave” and “Vanilla Sky.” These products were selling in local stores and drew buyers in with brightly colored packaging. The fact that this dangerous and deadly substance has been sold at local businesses is disturbing, to say the least.

To prevent synthetic drugs from entering the hands of our friends, family, and children, HB 641 was passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, and took effect on Sunday, Aug. 28. The bill changes the laws regarding controlled substances, and states that it is illegal to sell, distribute, or possess synthetic cannabinoids (K2 and K3, used for synthetic marijuana), synthetic cocaine (bath salts), and other similar drugs. These synthetic drugs can now be found under Missouri’s Schedule I list of controlled substances, and a person who possesses any of the chemicals used to create these synthetic drugs will face the same charges as the illegal drugs the substances imitate.

Many people who take synthetic drugs aren’t aware of the danger they possess. Synthetic cocaine contains the chemical methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and can be deadly — side effects of this element have included paranoia, seizures, kidney failure, and hallucinations. And the number of people taking synthetic drugs is increasing — according to a report published by The Associated Press, the American Association of Poison Control Centers determined that throughout the first several months of 2011, there were more than 2,700 cases of people falling ill from synthetic drugs. In all of 2010, there were less than 3,200 such cases.

As you can see, these dangerous drugs have caused serious problems for Missourians, and I am thankful that a measure like HB 641 was enacted into law. Young people especially will be tempted to try drugs, and aside from educating our kids to just say “no,” we need to do what we can to keep these substances out of sight. As always, if you have any questions regarding this or any other governmental matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me and the information below.

Lichtenegger: Update Regarding Special & Veto Sessions

Special Session currently is planned for September 6 -9. The purpose of the special session, which was called by Governor Nixon, will be to pass a number of important bills. Most importantly, the legislature will consider a major job creation proposal that will help revamp our state’s economic incentives and create tens of thousands of new, family-supporting jobs. The bill, which has received broad support from both Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate, will be an important step in getting Missouri’s economy moving again. The major provisions of the innovative jobs package are incentives that will help create high-tech jobs, attract amateur sporting events, spur the creation of data centers throughout the state, and bring tens of thousands of new jobs to the state by making the St. Louis Airport an international cargo hub for trade.

In addition to creating these new incentives, the state will overhaul the existing incentive programs that we currently use. These changes could create a savings over 1.5 billion dollars over the next fifteen years that can be used for other important priorities such as education. The jobs package will also create new accountability measures that will include periodic review of these programs and sunset dates that will end the programs if not renewed by the legislature.

While this major jobs package will help jumpstart our state’s economy and create the kind of jobs our state so desperately needs right now, we will also consider a number of other important bills during the special session.

The following is the list of what will take place here at the Capitol during those dates:
  • Tuesday, September 6: TECHNICAL DAY ONLY. There will be no Committee meetings or House floor activity on these dates. The following House Bills will be filed and First Read: 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.
  • Wednesday, September 7: TECHNICAL DAY ONLY. The three afore-mentioned House Bills will be Second Read and referred to the following committees: 1) Local Control to Urban Affairs, 2) Election Law Issues to Elections and 3) Tax Amnesty to Ways & Means.
  • Thursday, September 8: COMMITTTEE MEETINGS. The three afore-mentioned committees will meet to review the bills described and will most likely “Do Pass” (vote) them out of the committees to which they were assigned. Additionally, it is anticipated that if/when these bills are voted out of the Committees, they will be immediately referred to the Rules Committee for further action.
  • Friday, September 9: FLOOR DEBATE. Perfection and Third Reading of the three afore-mentioned bills is scheduled for this day. All members of the House should be in attendance.
Because of the overwhelming support that the three afore-mentioned House bills had during the Regular Session, the House leadership has informed the Senate that they expect to send them the three House Bills by Friday, September 9th. Based upon our discussions and agreements reached with Senate leadership, we have been told to expect to receive the Senate’s Tax Credit Reform/Economic Development/Job Creation bill by the close of the House Journal (recorded minutes of House proceedings) on Friday, September 9th.

The Missouri Constitution requires that, each year, the legislature convene a ‘Veto Session’ in September. The purpose of the session is for the legislature to consider overriding any bills that were vetoed by the Governor. However, there has been no announcement of any planned overrides.

Constituent Corner

I want you updated regarding the state’s Medicaid home health care assessments. The August 31 meeting between the House Budget Transparency Committee and the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) regarding the SynCare debacle revealed a variety of facts and underlying issues. The MO House legislators will continue to hold DHSS and the Office of Administration (OA-who processes the bid contracts) responsible for ensuring that seniors and disabled Missourians receive needed home care. Many components of the May 19 transition to the third party home health care assessments were revealed during the two-hour meeting. But before I list some of those, I want you to know the public statement release this morning by DHSS Director Margaret Donnelly:

“Effective immediately, the Department of Health and Senior Services will begin to transition the duties previously performed by SynCare to DHSS. It is clear that the company is not able to meet the terms and conditions of their contract. The Department remains committed to ensuring that Missourians receive the services they need in a timely and efficient manner.”

Listed below are several facts that emerged during the August 31 meeting:
  • The initial reason for the department switching to a third party assessor was a perceived conflict of interest, a desire for consistency in assessments and the estimated savings for the state of $3.5 million / year.
  • DHSS has been paying SynCare 50% of the total monthly service invoice (according to the contract) and recently hired temporary staff and re-directed other DHSS staff persons to conduct needed assessments.
  • DHSS has yet to collect any of the $5,000 per month penalty from SynCare for not completing 95% of reassessments within the contractual timeframe. SynCare was apparently not able to meet this timeframe due to the non-functioning web-tool software used to process and communicates assessments. The software is a new, untried electronic system. This allegedly contributed to the back log of information.
  • The state’s bid process-conducted by the Office of Administration- returned 11 bids from companies none of which had experience in third party home-health care assessments! The $6.8 SynCare contract was awarded primarily because they were the lowest bidder.
  • DHSS announced a new bid because the old bid produced responses that indicated a need for different regulation requirements for the call center.
There are many more bits of information associated with this situation, much of which is complex and involved, please call my office if you have questions or need clarification.

Nance: Job-Creation Priorities Dominate Special Session, Beach At Watkins Mill Still Closed

Throughout this year’s legislative session, the legislature worked together to craft a major job creation bill that would help give our economy a boost. Unfortunately, on the final day, the efforts came up just short.

Throughout the summer months, leadership from both bodies continued working to forge a compromise. In July, an agreement was reached on a monumental jobs bill that will overhaul our state’s job creation incentives and help attract 21st century employers to our state.

The compromise includes incentives to add high-tech jobs, expand job creation and job retention incentives, and open the state’s products to international markets. This package will create various programs that will bring new jobs to Missouri in the fields of science and technology, innovation, construction, and administration. It is estimated that these incentives will create thousands of new Missouri jobs.

To pass this important legislation, the General Assembly must return for a special session next week..

The Governor’s call specifies a number of job-creation priorities the General Assembly will consider during the special session, including:
  • Enacting the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA) to encourage the growth of science and innovation businesses in the state;
  • Enacting the Compete Missouri Initiative to provide additional incentives and benefits to attract and retain businesses, to streamline and update Missouri’s training programs, and to increase the efficiencies of the state’s business development incentives;
  • Enacting legislation to increase exports and foreign trade through the development of an international air cargo hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport – a project with the potential to create thousands of construction jobs, and thousands of additional jobs once the hub is operational; and
  • Enacting legislation to help construct and develop high-tech data centers.
In his call, Gov. Nixon also asked the General Assembly to take up three additional proposals during the session:
  • Enacting legislation moving Missouri’s Presidential primary to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March of each Presidential election year;
  • Enacting legislation authorizing the transition of governing the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department from a board of police commissioners to the City of St. Louis; and
  • Authorizing tax credits to help attract amateur sporting events to Missouri.

In The District

I attended an event a STEM education event on August 18, co-hosted by Bayer Corporation and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute. Nicole (Riley) Riegel, Project Manager for the Kansas City Science Initiative (KCSI), was recognized for her work with Kindergarten through 8th Grade systemic science education reform program initiated by Bayer Corporation in 2003.

I attended the Tri-County Gala on the 22nd and ESHS principal Dr. Chris Lake received the ”Volunteer of the Year Award”.

Congressman Sam Graves was in the district for a meet and greet at the “Blue Moon” banquet facility on the 24th.

Governor Nixon met Clay County Representatives at the Continental Disc Company in Liberty on the 25th to announce an increase of employment of 10% at the facility. They sell their product internationally.

Also, the beach at Watkins Mill State Park is still closed.

Denison: Other Issues For Discussion In Special Session, Disaster Funding Not One Of Them

“Success in life is a matter not so much of talent or opportunity as of concentration and perseverance.” – C.W. Wendte

Other Issues To Be Addressed During Special Session

While the jobs bill is the most important issue we will address during the special session, it is not the only item we will discuss. Also on the agenda for the legislature is a plan to increase the efficiency of the collections operations of the Missouri Department of Revenue. In addition, we will discuss the creation of a tax amnesty period that would allow Missourians to pay delinquent taxes without owing penalties or interest. By offering a clean slate to taxpayers who have fallen behind, we believe we can generate in excess of $70 million in tax revenue.

Also on the agenda is a piece of legislation that would move the presidential primary to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March of each presidential election year. For the 2012 presidential primary the change would move the date from February 7 to March 6. The change is necessary to comply with the rules of both the national Republican and Democratic parties. During the regular session, we approved Senate Bill 282 to make the change but the governor vetoed the bill because of other provisions contained in the legislation. Now during special session we will take up this issue again with the intent of passing legislation to make this important change.

Another issue that will be addressed in the coming weeks deals with control of the St. Louis Police Department. Currently the department is under the control of the state through a board of police commissioners appointed by the governor. The legislation we will consider would move control of the department to the City of St. Louis.

Disaster Relief Funding Not Included In Governor’s Call

One issue that won’t be discussed during the special session is how to pay for the billions of dollars in damages that were caused by the severe weather that has ravaged the state this year. While it was originally part of the governor’s plan to include this important topic, the fact that we still don’t know the full extent of the damage makes it extremely difficult to determine the best way to fund our recovery obligations. The chairman of the House Disaster Recovery Committee agreed with the governor’s decision and said it makes sense to slow the process down until we have more detailed cost figures. We hope to have those soon and when we do we will take quick action to help out all those in need – the families in Joplin who are recovering from the tornado that destroyed much of the city in May as well as those who were impacted by tornadoes in Sedalia and St. Louis County and the many Missourians in Northwest and Southeast Missouri who have suffered heavy losses due to flooding. We stand ready to honor our commitment to the communities of Missouri who need our assistance to recover and rebuild.

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.

Kelley: Auditor Lawsuit Talking Points

  1. August 26th 2011 State Auditor Tom Schweich filed a lawsuit against Governor Nixon for violating the constitution with the withholding of over $170 million appropriated by the Legislature.
  2. The Constitution allows the Governor to withhold money when revenues are below projections. In this case, the Governor announced his withholdings in June before the fiscal year had even started.
  3. Withholding when revenues are up is a violation of the separation of powers set up in the Missouri Constitution. The Legislature has the power to appropriate money, not the Governor.
  4. The Governor withheld money from the Republican controlled legislature and the Republican State Auditor’s office but left his own budget alone as well as all other Democrat statewide officials.
  5. The withholds were made from appropriated funds for: Parents as Teachers, Bright Flight Scholarships, Medicaid, community colleges and state universities, veterinary student loans, the Missouri Film Office, community intervention programs, Area Agencies on Aging (funding partially restored), domestic violence grants (funding partially restored), children's treatment services, the judiciary, trade zone facilities, regional port authorities, math and science tutoring, the Scholars and Fine Arts Academy, the Missouri Lottery, the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Missouri Federal and State Technology Partnership Program (MOFAST), MOHELA Projects, the Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP) Remediation, marine maintenance facility, civil detention and legal fees, Alzheimer's grants, Access Missouri Scholarship, crisis care services (funding partially restored), the Missouri Research and Education Network (MOREnet), the Office of Child Advocate, Boonville Readiness Center, community development corporations, transportation, early grade literacy, industry training, local air pollution control, eating disorders staff & expenses, mediation and firefighter training.

Tilley: Special, Veto Sessions Await

The Missouri Constitution requires that, each year, the legislature convene a ‘Veto Session’ in September. The purpose of the session is for the legislature to consider overriding any bills that were vetoed by the Governor. However, this year will be unlike any other veto session as the legislature will also return to hold a special session concurrent with this year’s veto session.

The purpose of the special session, which was called by Governor Nixon, will be to pass a number of important bills. Most importantly, though, the legislature will consider a major job creation proposal that will help revamp our state’s economic incentives and create tens of thousands of new, family-supporting jobs.

The bill, which has received broad support from both Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate, will be an important step in getting Missouri’s economy moving again. The major provisions of the innovative jobs package are incentives that will help create high-tech jobs, attract amateur sporting events, spur the creation of data centers throughout the state, and bring tens of thousands of new jobs to the state by making the St. Louis Airport an international cargo hub for trade.

In addition to creating these new incentives, the state will overhaul the existing incentive programs that we currently use. These changes could create a savings over 1.5 billion dollars over the next fifteen years that can be used for other important priorities such as education. The jobs package will also create new accountability measures that will include periodic review of these programs and sunset dates that will end the programs if not renewed by the legislature.

While this major jobs package will help jumpstart our state’s economy and create the kind of jobs our state so desperately needs right now, we will also consider a number of other important bills during the special session. The bills will:
  • Change the date of Missouri’s Presidential Primary in 2012 to comply with rules established by the national parties to ensure our state does not lose delegate representation at the nominating conventions
  • Create a tax amnesty program that allows forgiveness of penalties on delinquent taxes in exchange for paying all back taxes and remaining up-to-date on taxes in the future
  • End state control of the St. Louis Police Department that began during the Civil War by returning it to the City of St. Louis
Thank you for the opportunity to serve here in the House of Representatives. As always, I welcome your comments. You may reach me at 573-751-1488, send your e-mails to steven{dot}tilley{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov or write to me at the Missouri House of Representatives, State Capitol, Room 308, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

31 August 2011

Tim Jones: St. Louis RCGA Honors for Leadership, Economic Development Efforts

St. Louis, Missouri – The St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA), one of Missouri’s top organizations devoted to economic and commercial progress, has named Rep. Tim Jones, R-Eureka, as a recipient of the Lewis and Clark Statesman Award.

“I am honored to have received this award. One of my priorities is to create an environment that will allow Missouri’s economy to thrive,” said Rep. Jones. “With the economy in the state it is today, it is important that my colleagues and I do all that we can to retain and create more jobs for Missourians. The spirit of this region, exemplified in the leadership of the men and women who work so diligently for it every day, ensures that there will be a brighter and more prosperous tomorrow, for the great State of Missouri and our entire region.”

The RCGA bestows the Lewis and Clark Statesman Award annually to lawmakers who have demonstrated leadership and continued to promote economic development for their district by working to improve business environments, create new trade and industry development tools and expand proven programs.

Rep. Jones, along with a select group of Legislators from both Illinois and Missouri, received the Lewis and Clark Statesman Award on August 29th during the RCGA’s annual reception in downtown St. Louis.

Ridgeway: Special Session Called: Tax Credit Performance Review

In past writings and speeches I have referred to myself as a recovering tax credit addict. The description is still accurate today. Missouri has over sixty different tax credit programs that represent a large portion of our state budget although it does not show up as a line item anywhere.

As a fiscal conservative, I originally found the concept of tax credits extremely appealing. After all, how could keeping money out of the hands of government and putting it in the hands of private citizens not be a win-win situation? As it turns out, not only are we still picking winners and losers through the legislative process, but in some cases we are getting a terrible return on the taxpayers’ money.

The original concept of tax credits was to divert money that would normally come into the state to private entities or individuals who would use it as seed money to create jobs. Like anything conceived in the halls of government, the idea morphed into a wide range of projects, some of which did nothing to create jobs and cost more than they returned.

Now we are on the verge of convening in a Special Session to address the ongoing issue of tax credits again. The basic idea is to eliminate or reduce some credits that are not providing a reasonable return and implement or amend programs that will. My personal belief is that government needs to get out of the business of picking winners and losers and return to a level playing field where market forces and consumers make such decisions. As we undertake this process, we need to remember government’s track record for creating jobs, especially when we look at tax credits associated with a land assemblage project in St. Louis.

Passed in 2007, the legislation allowed for tax credits to be issued essentially for one developer to purchase land for the purpose of development. While the cost of the land did not qualify for tax credits, the interest, maintenance, and taxes did. To date, the project has not taken off although the taxpayers of our state are on the hook for in excess of $25 million. Paying interest and taxes do not create jobs. Directing such a significant amount of resources to one project is risky and has not provided a substantive return, if any at all.

The governor has set September 6th, 2011, as the first day of special session. We need to stay focused on what most of us promised when originally running for office: getting the most value for the taxpayers’ dollars while emphasizing free enterprise rather than expanded government. Nothing less will do.

30 August 2011

Stouffer: Auditor vs. Governor on Managing State Finances

Budgets and Withholds: Show Me the Money

The state auditor has been looking into withholds the governor has been making in Missouri’s budget, and has found some troubling results. To understand what this means, it is important to know the history of why governors withhold funds in our state and the division of powers between the branches of government.

So far, the governor has withheld $170 million from the state’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget. The budget year started on July 1, 2011, and will end on June 30, 2012. A number of withholds were made when the governor signed the budget bills back in June, several weeks before the 2012 fiscal year even began. These withholds keep us from spending more money than we bring in — a unique concept in state government as compared to those in Washington, D.C. — because we have to have a balanced budget.

In his report, the auditor studied the accounting and legal basis for withholding $170 million from the Fiscal Year 2012 budget. Most of this funding came from education, senior health programs and children’s services. The audit found nothing in the Missouri Constitution to justify withholding this money. It is the Legislature’s job to have the final decision on where funds should be spent if adequate funds are on hand.

The governor says the money needed to be withheld because of the cost of cleanup in Joplin, after the deadly tornado that tore through that community in May. No one is questioning the severity of the damage and lives lost, but there are other ways to fund emergencies, without ignoring the normal process to handle the state’s spending.

The state constitution clearly states that the governor is allowed to make withholdings if revenues fall short of what was projected by the Legislature. However, the state budget director could not come up with any justification for withholding the $170 million. Moreover, the withholdings came nearly a month before the start of the current fiscal year. Since paying for disaster clean up can take years, there is plenty of time to assess what is needed, without trimming money now.

When actual revenues are less than revenue estimates, the state constitution allows withholding money, but not for unappropriated costs related to disasters. But, there are ways to pay for disasters without moving money around. For instance, there was a $159 million surplus in Fiscal Year 2011. Tapping into the Rainy Day Fund is also an option; it was designed specifically for this purpose.

The state auditor’s findings are very complete and very thorough. I hope folks will look at them and pay close attention. We do not want to set a precedent where any governor, in the future, negates the work of the Missouri General Assembly, for whatever reason. If that becomes the case, why even have a Legislature? You can read the full audit by clicking here.

Some of these questions will likely be asked during the upcoming special session. My hope is that lawmakers will take a serious look at what is happening, especially given the budget for the next fiscal year. We must continue to make the tough decisions, and I will continue to serve as a fiscally conservative watchdog of your taxpayer dollars.

29 August 2011

Allen: Budget Transparency Committee, Upcoming Veterans Rally

Budget Transparency Committee

The House Interim Committee on Budget Transparency held its first hearing on Wednesday the 24th. The Committee primarily looked into budget withholdings by the Governor.

The Governor’s Budget Director, Linda Luebbering, was questioned about the Governor’s unilateral withholding of over $170 million to be reallocated to disaster relief. Although the Governor can withhold money when there is not enough money to fund the budget, reallocating funds appropriated by the legislature appears unconstitutional. State Auditor Tom Schweich has recently filed a lawsuit against the Governor over the constitutionality of these withholds. The Governor’s office has failed to provide justification that these withholds are necessary, has failed to provide revenue forecasts or a formula to account for how they arrived at $170 million, and has failed to provide a spending plan for the $170 million.

These cuts have come most heavily from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Higher Education, Medicaid, and the Department of Corrections. These cuts include over $14.8 million from 4-year Colleges and Universities, over $13 million from Medicaid, about $2 million from Community Colleges, over $2 million from Parents as Teachers, $2 million from Bright Flight Scholarships, and $2 million from the Department of Corrections.

While withholds and reallocation of government monies are often necessary, it must be justified and done in a transparent manner with legislative input and oversight.

Upcoming Veterans Rally at the Capitol

The Missouri Association of Veterans Organizations (MAVO) will be holding a rally at the Capitol on September 14th at 10:00am in the 1st Floor Rotunda to raise awareness for veterans’ issues and show support for keeping Veterans Homes open. Currently, seven Veterans Homes serving a total of over 1,300 veterans face closure if they do not get adequate funding. Since 2010, the Missouri Veterans Commission lost $42 million in general revenue support for the Homes Program.

In our Budget Transparency Committee, it was agreed that we are committed to funding these seven homes. I believe we need to develop a permanent solution to sustain the Veterans Capital Fund. In my opinion, funding the needs of our veterans is an appropriate priority for our state funds. These veterans served us when we needed them and now some of them need our assistance. I encourage all veterans who can spare some time to attend the rally. I would also be happy to meet with any veterans from the 92nd District to discuss issues you may have.

Nolte: St. Louis RCGA Honors for Commitment to Economic Development

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Just days before a special legislative session that will focus on passage of a critical economic development plan, one of the state’s leading economic development organizations will honor state Rep. Jerry Nolte, R-Gladstone, for his efforts to create jobs and attract new businesses. Nolte will be recognized by the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association with a Lewis and Clark Statesman Award. Nolte serves as the chairman of the House International Trade and Job Creation Committee.

“We had a good year that saw some positive steps forward that will help us keep businesses in Missouri, attract new ones and create jobs that will pay a good wage,” said Nolte. “It’s an honor to be recognized for this award but my focus is now on making the good year we’ve had into a great one by passing the economic development bill that will be discussed during the special session.”

Nolte, who also won the award last year for his success in passing the Manufacturing Jobs Act [HB2], handled several major economic development bills during the 2011 legislative session. He handled numerous bills aimed at addressing the “Fix the Six” issues identified by Missouri’s business leaders. Nolte also was the primary handler for legislation that will provide substantive tax relief to many Missouri businesses. He guided legislation through the process that will phase out Missouri’s corporate franchise tax [SB19] and end what is, in effect, double taxation on approximately 3,000 Missouri businesses.

The RCGA presents the Lewis and Clark Statesman Award annually to lawmakers who have demonstrated leadership and sustained effort in the area of economic development. The RCGA recognizes legislators who work to improve business climates, create new economic development tools and expand proven programs.

Neth: New Law Allows Military Spouses who Relocate to File for Unemployment

A new law passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor goes into effect today, allowing the spouse of an active member of the military to be eligible for unemployment benefits if accompanying the spouse in the event of a military transfer.

"Missouri is the proud home of Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force base. Each year, our military families face moves from base to base for the good of our national defense and these transfers cause unique financial pressures. In many cases, the non-military spouses may have to leave their employment due to a military transfer. Generally, individuals in Missouri that voluntarily quit their employment to move with a spouse are ineligible for unemployment benefits. This new law recognizes that spouses of military service personnel who must quit their jobs due to a military transfer are not quitting voluntarily but for the good of our nation. With this new law, the state is recognizing the sacrifices of military families who are relocating," says Department Director Larry Rebman.

Robyn McCullem, mother of two small children, is relocating from Missouri to join her husband Private First Class Ryan McCullem in Fort Huachuca, Arizona. She has worked as a Distributor Sales Consultant for the past three years. Her last day was Friday and she filed her unemployment claim today. "Being a military spouse presents its own unique challenges when it comes to having a full-time career. Leaving behind a job you love and uprooting your family isn't voluntary when you are a military spouse," says McCullem. "It's nice to know our state supports those who have to make big career sacrifices and transitions to be with their soldier as they continue serving our country."

House Bill 136 was sponsored by House Representative David Day, of Dixon. Rep. Day serves as Chairman of the House Veterans Committee. Prior to this new law, military spouses were not able to collect unemployment in Missouri if they left their job to travel with their spouse to a new duty station. Missouri is the 39th state to allow military spouses to file for unemployment benefits until they find full-time work.

Based on 2010 figures, this new law will provide benefits to more than 200 military families a year. For more information or to file for unemployment benefits, visit

Lant: Resident Turns 100, "Calamity Jane" Appears At Jesse James Days

Last week on Tuesday, I was privileged to be part of a Birthday Celebration for Mrs. Tressa Puhl. Her friends at Granby House notified me about a month ago that Tressa would be celebrating her 100th birthday on August 23rd. We got a Resolution from the House of Representatives and a big sheet cake and the party was on! The cafeteria at Granby House was filled up with family, friends, well-wishers, and lovers of cake by 2:00 P.M. and there were pictures, gifts and short speeches. Ii just doesn't get any better than that! I was delighted to get acquainted with Mrs. Puhl and her family and I look forward to next years bash already. Tuesday evening found us at a Heartland Conservatives meeting at Daddy Jims. There were a couple of short updates from Representative Reiboldt and myself after which we had a Presidential straw poll. The best part was the catfish dinner!

Wednesday morning we attended a ribbon cutting at Scholastic Book Clubs Inc. They had just opened a new addition and are in the process of adding 80 new jobs. There were a couple of speeches given outlining how Scholastic nearly picked a different city for their business after flooding out in downtown, but because they were reluctant to lose their excellent employees here, they were able to work with the city and area banks to relocate to their present building and now are expanding already. Once again I am reminded how people in this part of the country can be fiercely self-reliant! We are truly showing the rest of the country how to work yourself out of a recession. Whether its floods or tornados or whatever else comes our way, we don't just sit around and wait for hand-outs, we get up and do something about our problems.

On Friday morning I joined all the area legislators for a tour of Access Family Care in Joplin. They told us about their part in the Tornado aftermath and gave us an update on their future plans. The facility was extremely impressive with both medical and dental services offered. They have ample room for expansion, and from what I saw, they are going to need it. I'd like to personally thank Dr. Bentlage and the very capable staff at Access Family Care for what they are doing for our community.

Jesse James Days at Pineville took up Friday and Saturday. The celebration is commemorating the movie starring Tyrone Power that was filmed in Pineville. They usually have a play depicting the foiled bank robbery, but this year the actors had another commitment. Never mind that, there was plenty of fun to be had. They had a carnival set up on the square with lots of local vendors serving food, drinks, and all sorts of fun stuff. All the area fire departments participated in fund raising events for much needed equipment such as bunker gear and respirators. Saturday evening we were in a parade that was surprisingly well attended. It took nearly an hour for all the entrants to make it around the square. If you didn't get to see Jane in her "Calamity Jane" outfit, you missed something!

By now you have probably heard about the Governor calling a special session. We are to convene on Tuesday following Labor Day and as of now, there are only 4 bills that will be filed. 1) St. Louis City Police Dept. Local Control, 2) Election Law issues (to address issues in the election law that the Governor vetoed), 3) Tax Amnesty, 4) The Omnibus Tax Credit Reform/ Economic Development/Job Creation Bill that the house passed will be filed in The Senate. Because of the overwhelming support the first 3 bill received in the House, we expect to send them to The Senate by Friday. We have been told that The Senate should be ready to send us their bill by Friday also. There is a lot of change possible in these scenarios. By now I am learning that almost anything is possible. Senator Richard is hoping to see a "New Markets Tax Credit Program" that was passed in 2007 for businesses devastated by Katrina introduced. Joplin and the Missouri River flood areas need to be included in this bill. It would allow business owners who find themselves without suitable buildings, inventory, machinery, or working capital, to qualify for one dollar in tax credit for every two dollars in private funding. This type of incentive costs the taxpayer nothing, but has huge benefits for the community. Please help us to convince lawmakers to back this incentive program.

Finally, I have to point out how confusing Politics can get. We have a Democrat Governor who withheld 170 million dollars from social programs such as The Fine Arts Academy, Medicaid, Parents as Teachers, Area Agencies on Aging, The Office of Child Advocate, and many others and a Republican Auditor who filed suit to have him restore the programs. If you figure this one out, let me know will you?

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