House Holds Short Week to Save Taxpayer Dollars
The House shortened its work on the floor this week in an effort to save taxpayer dollars. Normally, we hold legislative sessions Monday through Thursday. However, with most of our work currently being done in committee, we made the decisions to not hold a full session of the House on Thursday. That decision means the state will not have to pay the 163 members of the House their daily expense allotments. The action resulted in thousands of dollars in savings and is one I think is a smart decision during these tough budget times. Despite Thursday’s lack of floor action, my colleagues and I continued to work in committee and to attend to our duties as state legislators. We will be back on the floor in the coming weeks as more bills make their way to the House Chamber.
Missouri House Approves Bill to Institute Periodic Review of Government Rules and Regulations (HB 1135)
The approximately 6,300 rules of Missouri’s state agencies would be reviewed on a regular basis under a bill we passed this week. The goal of the legislation is to make certain the regulations followed by agencies from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Social Services make sense and aren’t overly burdensome for Missourians. The bill would require agencies to take a closer look at their rules on a regular basis and cause existing rules to expire unless the agency acts to renew them. Rules that are too restrictive, overly burdensome or simply obsolete will be eliminated or revised. With this we believe we can clear up some of the red tape that is too often found in government agencies and make the experience of dealing with our various state departments much easier for all Missourians.
County Debt Disclosure Bill Receives House Approval (HB 1140)
Also this week, the House approved a bill that would require municipal and county governments and public schools to provide details of their financial obligations on the Missouri Accountability Portal website. These entities would provide everything from budget information to employee compensation data to details on bonded indebtedness. With this we believe taxpayers will have a much clearer picture of how their local governments and schools are handling their money. It’s something we have done for years now on the state level with great success. It’s a matter of transparency and accountability and something I feel is a good idea for all levels of government. Feel free to take a look at the current accountability portal at www.mapyourtaxes.mo.gov.
Voter Identification Bill Receives Committee Approval (HB 1104)
The House Elections Committee approved a bill that would require Missourians to show a photo ID when they vote. The bill is similar to one passed last year by the General Assembly that was ultimately vetoed by the governor. We will try again this year to pass a bill I believe is necessary to protect the elections process from potential fraud. It’s a simple concept but one that my colleagues and I believe would be extremely effective to ensure all voters are who they say they are. Critics have said a photo ID requirement would disenfranchise some voters who don’t have identification. One of the provisions of the bill addresses this concern by requiring the state to provide photo identification to those who don’t have it. The bill also exempts older Missourians who were born before Jan. 1, 1941 from the requirement. With these provisions I believe we have a bill that protects the voting process while also ensuring each and every Missourian of voting age will be able to cast their votes at the polling place.
On Wednesday, January 25th, the Springfield House delegation was visited by community leaders from the Springfield area. I was so pleased to visit with the leaders from the Springfield area, and to discuss legislative priorities for our area. Those at the Capitol were: Jim Anderson, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce; Greg Burris, City Manager, City of Springfield; Bob Stephens, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Springfield; Jim Viebrock, Presiding Commissioner, Greene County; Clif Smart, Interim President, Missouri State University; Scott Miller, General Manager, City Utilities of Springfield; Dr. Hal Higdon, President, Ozarks Technical Community College; Dr. Norm Ridder, Superintendent, Springfield Public Schools; John Wilson, 2012 Chairman, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce; Jerry Harrison, Immediate Past President, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Partner, Harmison and Pearman Law Firm; and other staff, Sandy Howard, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce; Scott Marrs, Governmental Services Group.
Meeting in Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller’s Office
Community Leaders from Springfield and Springfield House Delegation
Lt. Governor’s Senior Service Award
Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is accepting nominations for this year’s Lt. Governor Senior Service Award. This is an opportunity to nominate a senior whose service and dedication to the Springfield community has made a positive difference. If you know a deserving individual at least 60 years of age and who volunteers a minimum of 25 hours per year, please contact my office.
I look forward to hearing from you, and if you will be in Jefferson City, please stop by my office. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office. Best wishes.