Legislation Addresses Administrative Child Support Regulations
To ensure legal proceedings regarding child support cases are time-efficient and effective, I introduced SB 739 in the Missouri Senate on Feb. 2. The legislation would grant authority to administrative hearing officers from the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) to set aside or correct administrative child support decisions or orders and proposed administrative modifications of a judicial order.
Currently, DSS administrative hearing officers do not have the statutory authority to correct errors in child support orders. As these officials are unable to correct such mistakes, cases have to be reheard in court. This is not a good use of time management, and as a result, other cases awaiting consideration are backed up on the calendar. My legislation would allow officials to step in and correct mistakes that occur in legal proceedings, ensuring that justice is properly served and the legal process remains smooth.
The Non-Human Primate Act
Recently, we have seen tragic outcomes occur when people improperly care for non-human primates, such as gorillas, great apes, and chimpanzees. These wild animals can become aggressive without warning, posing a risk to themselves and the community.
Senate Bill 666 would create the Non-Human Primate Act. I was proud to work with the Saint Louis Zoo in drafting this legislation.
The act still allows ownership of all non-human primates; it simply adds a requirement that large, non-human primates must be registered with the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Under current law, all non-human primates must be registered with the local sheriff.
The bill would require a person to acquire a permit issued by the Department of Agriculture allowing him or her to possess certain non-human primates, such as chimpanzees or gorillas. These permits are valid for up to three years and are renewable. Missouri citizens who seek a permit must be at least 21 years of age and cannot have pled guilty (or have been found guilty) in the past for charges of animal abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
This measure would protect citizens and non-human primates alike.
In an ABC News article, according to the Human Society, 11 states have restrictions in place regarding the ownership of these animals, and 24 states completely ban ownership of non-human primates. I do not want to prohibit law-abiding and responsible citizens from owning these animals, but Missouri needs adamant laws set into place to protect communities.
Missourians have experienced instances where non-human primates escaped and caused trouble. In 2007, the Columbia Missourian reported that a monkey got loose in Columbia, Mo., and bit a 7-year-old boy at Stephens Lake Park. It was also reported by CBS News that a 300-pound chimpanzee escaped its confines and entered a Kansas City, Mo., neighborhood in 2010.
Helpful Tax Resources
The timeframe for filing taxes is upon us — the filing season deadline this year is April 17. You can learn more about filing your taxes by visiting www.irs.gov/individuals.
On this website, you can access numerous online services.
- Find out if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Get your Electronic Filing PIN, a one-time code used to verify your identity.
- Find out the status of your refund.
- If you can't pay your taxes in full and on time, find out if you qualify for an Online Payment Agreement.
- If you have tax law questions, use the Interactive Tax Assistant to help find answers.
- Use the Sales Tax Deduction Calculator to figure the optional amount you can itemize on Schedule A, Form 1040.
- Use the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Assistant to determine whether you may be subject to AMT.
- Use the IRS Withholding Calculator to estimate the amount that should be withheld from your paycheck for federal income tax purposes.
- The First Time Homebuyer Credit Account Look-Up Tool.
Missouri Department of Revenue 1099-G Inquiry Service
The Missouri Department of Revenue is currently providing 1099-G information online via a secure server.
The department's website states, "Form 1099-G reports the amount of refunds, credits and other offsets of state income tax during the previous year. The Department of Revenue’s 1099-G only applies to individuals who itemize their deductions on their income tax return. If you claimed the standard deduction and did not itemize last year, you will not have a 1099-G."
Please visit https://sa.dor.mo.gov/tax/1099g/ to learn more about this inquiry service. You may also call (573) 526-8299 to obtain your 1099-G information.
Helping You with Insurance Complaints
Missourians depend on insurance to protect themselves, their loved ones, homes, and property from unexpected events. Sometimes, however, problems arise. If you are experiencing an issue with a recent insurance claim, whether it’s a home, auto, health or another type of claim, it may be beneficial to issue a complaint with the Missouri Department of Insurance.
In 2011, consumers who filed complaints with the department recovered a record $19 million combined in additional claim payments, topping the department’s previous record of $14.4 million set in 2009, according to a Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions, and Professional Registration (DIFP) representative.
If you’ve been offered a lower amount than expected or had a claim wrongly denied, file a complaint.
The department also helps consumers:
- Answer insurance-related questions;
- Understand their insurance policies;
- Find missing life insurance policies or annuity contracts;
- See which insurance companies have had the most complaints in the past three years; and
- Verify if an agent or agency is licensed to sell insurance in Missouri.
St. Louis Arc Family Workshop Series 2012
The St. Louis Arc is a non-profit agency sponsored by United Way that provides support and services to more than 3,000 adults and children with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and their families.
Some of its support programs include:
here to view a full calendar of events.)
"Positive and Effective Strategies to Address Problem Behaviors"
Thursday, Feb. 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Designed to help people understand why someone with a disability, particularly a teen or adult, may have certain behavioral problems, and how to help him or her handle the surrounding world.
"Fostering Self-Determination and Independence in Teens/Young Adults"
Thursday, Feb. 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Focused on supporting families as they help teens and young adults develop goal-oriented, independent behaviors.
"Relationships and Sexuality"
Thursday, Feb. 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Qualified instructors will discuss the importance of sex education and relationship building. Families will also receive information about positive social skills, appropriate public and private behavior, and how to prevent their loved ones from encountering sexual abuse.
Advanced registration is required for these seminars. You may register at www.slarc.org or call (314) 817-2275.
Saint Louis Crisis NurseryThe Saint Louis Crisis Nursery provides short-term shelter and care more than 7,200 children a year.
Dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect, the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery is available to help St. Louis families through difficult times.
The organization provides emergency intervention, respite care, and support to families in crisis by offering the following:
- Short-term care for young children in a safe and nurturing environment.
- Assistance to families coping with crisis.
- Resources for empowerment, ongoing support, and parent education.
- Community outreach and awareness.
- Advocacy for children and families.
While children are at the nursery (usually for a period of two to three days), they receive 24-hour care, a medical exam, a developmental assessment, nutritious meals, opportunities to participate in therapeutic and fun activities, and may participate in other services.
For more information about the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery or how to volunteer for this organization, please visit the organization's website (www.crisisnurserykids.org) or call (314) 292-5770.
St. Louis Healthy Corner Store Project
With a mission to provide nutritious food options to St. Louis neighborhoods, the St. Louis Healthy Corner Store Project strives to add healthy food options at small corner stores and markets in the city, primarily in neighborhoods without sufficient supermarkets or other sources of affordable nutritious food.
In some neighborhoods, residents don't have access to a vehicle, and the nearest grocery store could be miles away — too great a distance for walking. Therefore, some rely on fast food or gas stations for meals, which aren't always the healthiest options. I'm very glad the St. Louis Healthy Corner Store Project is striving to help promote nutritious food at an affordable price.
The St. Louis Healthy Corner Store Project was launched in early 2011 to improve access to healthy foods in St. Louis neighborhoods. The project is directed through a collaboration of the City of St. Louis Department of Health and the Department of Public Safety, University of Missouri Extension and the St. Louis Development Corporation.
Please visit extension.missouri.edu/stlouis/healthycornerstore to learn more about the criteria of a "healthy corner store," how you can participate in the project, and other pertinent information.
At right: I was happy to sponsor Mary E. Grimes' nomination to the Missouri Task Force on Prematurity and Infant Mortality.
On Jan. 11, I was happy to sponsor the gubernatorial appointment of Mary E. Grimes, for her nomination as a member of the Missouri Task Force on Prematurity and Infant Mortality. Ms. Grimes' term began Nov. 10, 2011, and will end on Jan. 1, 2015.
The Missouri Task Force on Prematurity and Infant Mortality has a mission to seek evidence-based and cost-effective approaches to reduce Missouri's preterm birth and infant mortality rates. The task force was created by a bill that was signed into law in 2011.
Grimes is the state director of the Missouri chapter of the March of Dimes, and is responsible for the management of all chapter staff and coordination with volunteers within Missouri and southwestern Illinois. She previously served as the director of corporate marketing for BJC HealthCare in St. Louis.
Blood Services in the St. Louis Area
One of the most generous, live-saving gifts you can provide is a blood donation. There is a great need for blood, and it's a need we may not think about often.
The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC) is the exclusive provider of blood products and services to 80 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin. This non-profit organization has a branch set up in the St. Louis area (Maryland Heights) and hosts countless blood drives each year.
The organization also provides several outreach programs:
- The Online Learning Center is available for students in middle school and high school for school projects regarding blood and blood donation.
- Information on how you can support MVRBC through Community Relations and Fund Development programs.
- African-American and Hispanic Advisory Councils.
- Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood.
- More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day.
- By donating blood, you have the potential to save up to three lives.
To contact the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, please visit www.bloodcenter.org or call (800) 747-5401. For the American Red Cross (St. Louis Area Chapter), call (314) 516-2800.
Interim Director of Economic Development Resigns
I'm disappointed to say that my constituent who was set to become the director of the Department of Economic Development has resigned, as the Senate did not approve his nomination to the position. The man in question, Jason Hall, was an excellent candidate for the position. Mr. Hall is bright and full of ideas that would have brought more jobs to the state of Missouri.
Some of my colleagues felt that Mr. Hall did not have the proper amount of experience for the position. I disagree. As I told CBS St. Louis, just because a person is young, does not mean he or she is incapable of monumental achievements. Mark Zuckerburg, for example, helped establish Facebook in his 20s with no private sector experience.
I find it unfortunate that the governor cannot get support from the Senate to confirm members of his own cabinet.