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14 February 2012

Lant: Temporary Motor Vehicle Permits, Tax Breaks For Data Storage Centers

We had a busy week with some lively discussion and ended up passing several bills. HB 1329 authorizes the Director of the Department of Revenue to issue temporary permits for motor vehicles and trailers and simplifies motor vehicle registrations, HB 1311 authorizes local sales and use tax exemptions for storage centers and farm facilities. Both of these bills should encourage industry to come to Missouri creating jobs, expanding existing operations, and adding employment. HB 1219 changes laws regarding unlawful discriminatory employment practices and establishes the Whistleblower Protection Act. This allows a level playing field for all employers and employees. In this difficult economic environment where we are faced with increasing burdens in taxation, regulation, and litigation, we should all do what we can to ensure our small business owners have the best chance to flourish. HB 1104 specifies that a person seeking to vote in a public election must show valid photo identification to election officials before they can receive a ballot and have it counted. In this day and age of rampant voter fraud and voter registration fraud, we need to do all we can to protect this sacred and fundamental right. As you can imagine, these bills caused some great floor debate with differences of opinion noted by both sides. In the end they passed with bi-partisan support and will be sent to the Senate for their consideration.

The media last week accused our state of wasting huge amounts of money on a presidential primary that was little more than a "beauty contest". We in the General Assembly were accused of inaction by not passing legislation to prevent this 7 million dollar waste of effort. What they fail to mention is that we did pass legislation and the Governor vetoed it. By his failure to allow the election to be moved to March as both national Parties wished, we had to go to the caucus system in order for all our delegates to count. It's amazing how much clearer it becomes when the whole story is told.

I've got some news that is not nearly as much fun to report as some things I get to write about. I've been made aware that Southwest Missouri leads the state in child abuse. How on earth is this possible? I couldn't believe what I was hearing so I started checking with people who are much better informed than I am. Educators, Law Enforcement people, Children's Services, Office of Child Advocate, Division of Family Service, Emergency Service personnel, and others, all agree that the system is broken. While I was still trying to figure out if we need different laws or better enforcement of existing laws, I was informed that even if we were to remove more children from abusive homes, there aren't enough foster homes to place them in! This is an unbelievably complicated issue. I am going to do everything in my power to help find a resolution to these problems and see that the most precious asset we have, our children, are properly cared for and protected. Awareness of the problem is the first step, and now you are aware of the problem as I. The first step, as I see it, is to increase the number of Foster Homes in the area. I have been told that because there is no place to put children, some borderline abuse cases are overlooked. This is simply not acceptable. Why not appeal to faith Based organizations, (I just did), to implore their congregations to become active in the Foster program. Once the agencies know there are ample safe homes to place abused children in, they can become more proactive in their investigations. This is
truly the 800 pound gorilla in the room! We absolutely must find a solution to these problems. I plan to have informational seminars at the Capitol and bring in the Family Services and Child Advocates office to help us understand the extent of the problems. I welcome any input, advice, good ideas, etc. We can find solutions if we all get involved and work together.

We had a lot of bills moving out of committee this past week so there should be plenty of floor work coming up. I'll keep you posted. Until then, I am, and remain, in your service.

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