The 96th General Assembly 2nd Regular Session opened for business on Wednesday, January 4th. Speaker Tilley started with a message to remind legislators to never forget who we serve and who our real friends are in life. All too often in the hustle of Jefferson City politics some forget these sentiments. After the opening speech, the Preamble and Article I of the Missouri Constitution were read aloud by members of the House. The reading reminded us of the values of the drafters of our constitution and the values of all Missourians.
Procedure requires the House to pass resolutions to inform the Governor and Chief Justice that the House is established and prepared to receive messages and ready to establish a date for the State of the State and State of the Judiciary. The State of
the State will be given by Governor Nixon on January 17th at 7:00pm. The State of the Judiciary will be given by Chief Justice Richard B. Teitelman on January 18th at 10:30am. You can check your local television stations to watch the speeches live or visit http://house.mo.gov/ to listen to live audio.
Blueprint for Missouri
The main agenda during this session will focus on the “Blueprint for Missouri”, formulated by House Leadership and the entire Majority Caucus. The four planks of the Blueprint consist of advancing legislation in support of: 1) Missouri Jobs, 2) Missouri Taxpayers, 3) Missouri Schools and 4) Missouri Values. Much of my time will be spent on appropriation and budget related matters as our state currently faces an estimated $300-700 million shortfall.
With the Missouri unemployment rate hovering around 9%, the House will debate how we can foster the right climate for job creation in our State and what tools employers need to retain workers and add new employees to their payrolls. We will discuss Workers Compensation Reform (Co-employee liability, Occupational Disease, Second Injury Fund Reform), Prevailing Wage Reform, the Missouri Entrepreneur Virtual Resource Network, and tort reform measures that will include Employment Discrimination Law Reform, Loser Pays proposals, and Joint and Several Liability Reform.
To protect Missouri Taxpayers we will be focused on advancing the Taxpayer Protection Act and will once again adhere to our “No New Taxes” pledge together with a balanced budget. Criminal Justice Reform (which can dramatically reduce excessive economic drags on the State Budget) will also be on our docket and will consist of recommendations from working groups and interim committees.
With attention being drawn to the now unaccredited Kansas City School District and the long unaccredited City of St. Louis School District, there will be free market legislation advanced regarding tuition tax credits in unaccredited districts and
expanding charter schools. Other measures include the Turner Fix, the Teacher Quality Act and a Foundation Formula Fix. My belief is that control of school districts should be as local as possible and a way to accomplish that is to truly give parents the power and choice to control the tax dollars that fund the education of their children in Missouri’s public schools.
Other issues include veterans’ home funding, pharmacist & health care provider conscience bills, expanded college savings plans, and voter photo ID-enabling legislation.
My Current Legislation
Below is a list and brief summary of the bills I have filed so far this year. If you would like to read them in the full text, please visit: http://house.mo.gov/billreport.aspx?select=xSponsorDistrict:092&year=2012&code=R
- HB 1032 - Adds a licensed professional counselor to the list of those authorized to conduct a full investigation into whether an individual is suitable as an adoptive parent.
- HB 1033 - Requires health care providers to provide a mammography patient with a copy of the mammography report and information regarding the benefit of supplemental screenings for dense breast tissue patients.
- HB 1049 - Changes the laws regarding bullying in schools and defines cyber-bullying.
- HB 1051 - Requires the State Auditor to perform, on a one-time basis, a comparative audit of at least five, but no more than 10, of the largest state agencies with the goal of eliminating inefficiencies and significantly reducing costs. This has been done in several other states with significant cost savings.
- HB 1052 - Establishes a closed primary election system for Missouri.
- HB 1188 - Allows school nurses to use asthma related rescue medications on students experiencing asthma attacks.
- HB 1189 - Eliminates the 30-day hold for sellers failing to provide proof of identification to pawnbrokers and requires valid proof of identification for all transactions between sellers and pawnbrokers. This was filed for a constituent who had grave concerns about pawnshop operations. After my office did some research, we felt that this action was appropriate.
- HB 1190 - Repeals antiquated sections relating to the mandated paper copying and storage of local police records by the county. This issue was brought to my attention by the Manchester Police Department and the Department of Public Safety.
Congratulations to Matt Schumann!
I am happy to announce that as of Saturday January 7th my Legislator Assistant, Matt Schumann, is now engaged to a lovely lady from the Kansas City Area. When I asked him about how he afforded such a beautiful engagement ring on his small salary, he said he scraped it together from some of his old paper route money that he had stashed away from his youth. This is a message that we should share with our children. Working hard and saving money in their youth - whether by a paper route, raking leaves, shoveling snow, cleaning gutters, or any other odd jobs – does payoff in the future, especially as unexpected expenditures arise. In this case, the payoff is obviously something that cannot be quantified. I wish Matt and his new fiancée the best on their new journey!