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31 January 2012

Kelley: Safer Roads With English-Only Tests

Three pieces of legislation I am co-sponsoring this session received committee approval last week. The first two (HB 1147 and HB 1186) would make a “common sense” change to the way our driver examinations are administered. Many of you may not be aware, but right now our state currently offers exams to obtain a driver’s license in 12 languages including English. As someone who believes it is important to be able to read and comprehend English in order to safely operate a motor vehicle, I think this is a change that needs to be made sooner rather than later. We want drivers to understand the signs and safety warnings they see while on our roads. Ensuring they understand English is the best way to do that and to make certain that our roads are as safe as possible. The bills passed by the House International Trade and Job Creation committee this week will make certain that driver exams are given in English and will prohibit the use of language interpreters, with the exception of sign language interpreters.

The other bill (HB 1185), approved in committee last week, would expand the state sex offender registry to include information on citizenship. The bill makes what I believe is a very important change that will help law enforcement to crack down on the growing problem of illegal immigrant sex offenders. We know there are tens of thousands of sex offenders who are here in our country illegally and it’s a problem we must address to ensure the safety of our citizens. By requiring this information on the sex offender registry, we can ensure we are dealing with legal residents and we can deal appropriately with those who don’t belong in our country. The bill also would require the State Highway Patrol to report to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or other appropriate federal agency certain information regarding any person on the sexual offender registry who is not a citizen of the United States and to request a determination as to whether the person is subject to deportation as a criminal illegal alien.

All the bills now move to the House Rules Committee for approval before moving to the House floor for discussion.

Glimpse at the Week Ahead

A pivotal centerpiece of the Speaker’s “Blueprint for Missouri” agenda has been placed on the House Calendar for Perfection:

HB 1219, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Elmer (R-141), will protect Missouri jobs and Missouri employers by returning Missouri law to a position that is consistent with the federal Civil Rights Law. The bill removes provisions which currently make a manager liable for the actions of an employee and establishes a graduated scale for damages based on the number of employees which provides a level of uniformity in awarding damages. Court cases need to be handled more quickly and efficiently, businesses need to be free to appropriately handle problematic, harmful employees to keep the workplace safe and this bill reinstates the original summary judgment standards, that have existed in our nation and state for many decades, to help courts accomplish this objective. Businesses need certainty if we want employers to expand, grow and re-invest. With the current system set up to punish employers, businesses are having difficulty dealing with our current litigious environment. HB 1219 restores certainty and fairness and treats employers and employees equally.

Bills Passed out of the House Rules Committee

There were several bills passed out of the House Rules Committee this afternoon. These include HB 1036, Political Party Emblems on Ballots, sponsored by Rep. Tony Dugger (R-144); HB 1039, Local Government Employee Retirement, sponsored by Rep. Mike Leara (R-95); and HB 11, Vietnam Veterans Day, sponsored by Rep. Paul Fitzwater (R-27). These bills will now move to the House Calendar for consideration.

Please contact me with any suggestions that you may have for Missouri legislation. Also, if you should experience problems in contacting or resolving an issue with a Missouri state agency, please feel free to call my Capitol office at (573) 751-2165 or email at mike{dot}kelley{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov. Thank you for the honor to serve as your Representative in the Missouri House of Representatives. Until my next update, I am, and remain, in your service.

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