Weather-Related Disclaimer: missives from legislators concerning road conditions, although timely and important, should be considered snapspots in time. For the most recent travel information, please consult MoDOT's Web site at http://www.modot.org/.

Disclaimer:
except when the post starts "MO Expat", all content published on Missives from Missouri is written and supplied by the noted legislator. Said missives will not necessarily reflect the views of Kyle Hill, the operator of Missives from Missouri, and as such the operator does not assume responsibility for its content. More information
Share this missive:

14 January 2012

Davis: KZRG Staff Honored For Storm Coverage, Three Bills Filed

At left: Presenting Zimmer Radio Group with a resolution for their coverage during Joplin’s tornado. Larry Boyd, Chad Elliott and Sam McDonald came to the capitol for the presentation and a tour.

“Look at me! Look at me! Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun, But you have to know how.”
― Dr. Seuss


As our second week in session comes to an end, we are starting to see things gear up for a busy session. As a point of interest, the only thing that the legislature must do during session is pass a balanced budget. That’s it, everything else is a plus (or many times a minus, for our citizens.) The appropriation committees are in full swing as well as is the budget committee. The 4 committees I am on are now being assigned legislation for debate.

Increasing the size of government can only lead to higher taxes. So, whenever we have the opportunity to limit growth in the state government, I view it as an opportunity for us to resist raising taxes on hard-working Missourians. This week, committees in the Missouri House moved forward with our Blueprint for Missouri by passing several measures that focus on protecting you, the taxpayer.

Families and businesses across the state plan their budgets with an eye toward the future. We save money when times are good and dip into those savings when times are tough. That is the idea behind HJR 43, the Taxpayer Protection Act, which passed out of the Budget Committee this week.

During the economic downturn, we have been faced with a budget shortfall. Rather than hampering the recovery by raising your taxes, House Republicans have chosen to tighten our belts to keep the budget balanced. And we remain committed to doing it again this session.

However, while we work on balancing the budget this session, we must also plan for the future by taking steps that make budget shortfalls less likely in the coming years. The Taxpayer Protection Act is a step toward accomplishing this goal.

When times are good and the budget is flush with money, past legislatures have used the revenue windfall to increase the size and scope of government. The Taxpayer Protection Act limits growth by tying any increase in the budget to population growth plus the rate of inflation. Any money left over after the adjustment is saved for times when the budget is short.

Protecting you, the taxpayer, is a top priority for us in the House. The Taxpayer Protection Act protects you by limiting growth in the state budget and reducing the likelihood for tax increases in the future. By moving forward with this important piece of legislation, you can keep more of your money to plan for the future.

Thanks to Phil Cook for spending time with me this past Friday talking about K-12 funding. I simply went to the Carl Junction office to drop off my School Board Appreciation letters to honor those in CJ serving on the school board but I couldn’t get out quick enough before superintendant Phil Cook saw me and wanted to bend my ear. HAHA, just kidding, Phil. I have to admit, school funding is not my strong point and any time I can be educated, I am more than willing to listen. One thing that I learned is that the schools I have the honor of representing are doing a great job with the monies they are given from the state. Our schools are using the money wisely to ensure our children get the education they deserve. Keep up the good work and we will be fighting for every penny our schools get.

I filed 3 bills this week protecting and helping our veterans. One bill [HB1297] deals with the licensure of our separating military members and with education credits at our Missouri institutions of higher learning.

The second bill [HB1296] protects our noncustodial military members when they are deployed.

The third one is a resolution [HCR12] that designates the Honor and Remember Flag as the State of Missouri's emblem of service and sacrifice of service men and women who have given their lives in the line of duty.

I will file a bill this week that will combine the Show Me Heroes and the Heroes At Home programs in hopes that it will be more widely utilized by our returning military members.

Next Tuesday night at 7 PM, the governor will present to us the state of the state address. You can listen to it live HERE.

Thank you for allowing me to server as your representative in Jefferson City.

13 January 2012

Neth: Letting 17-Year-Olds Vote In Primaries Among Proposed Legislation

The first full week of session is complete. There is not a lot of official activity going on yet as it takes some time for many things to formally get going, such as bills being referred to committees and things to debate on the House floor. However, that does not mean that meaningful things are not going on.

I have spent a lot of time talking to numerous people about the issues that I will be most involved in this year. Many times it is these types of conversations and relationships that one builds on to be successful in anything one might do during the session. I always say that the most important thing to success in the political realm is the good relationships one builds in order come to consensus.

Listed below are the bills that I plan on sponsoring. This is not to say that there might not be others, but these are the things I currently have working. In addition, one thing that many people don't realize is that most of the time individual bills do not get done by themselves. Usually there is just not enough time to get through all the bills that are offered. Many time bills are made into amendments that are added to other similar bills in order to get done. So for those things that I support I continually work to find a place for it so I can ensure it gets done in some form.

I know I have been seen, heard and quoted some lately in the press regarding the Kansas City School District and its future. As things are still a little fluid there I'm not ready to give a full accounting of things quite yet. However, I am committed to ensuring that the kids in Kansas City do not lose any more years of learning due to the dysfunction of their adult leaders and that those actions do not negatively impact the surrounding districts.

Have a great weekend.
Myron

Martin Luther King Day Celebration


I will have the privilege of joining many others around the nation on Monday of being a part of an event celebrating Martin Luther King Day. William Jewell College will be holding an event at 10:00 AM on campus at Gano Chapel. I will making some brief remarks during the event. The featured speaker will be Patricia Okonta, a Liberty High School graduate.

Student Proposed Legislation

Local students work to get the law changed


I am preparing to file a bill later in the month that would put on the ballot a Constitutional change to allow 17 year olds the ability to vote in a primary election if they will be 18 at the time of the next General Election. This was brought to my attention by the AP Government classes at Liberty High School and Liberty North High School and their teacher Kurt Gates.

After much research on the part of the students and finding out that several other states allow this in some capacity I decided to support the students' efforts. Besides working to change existing law, it is proving to be a great lesson in the legislative process, both in theory and reality.

Currently, the students are contacting my fellow House members to let them know about the bill and to ask them to support or co-sponsor. I have talked to the classes about the best way to do that and good strategies. Once the bill is filed, I will hopefully get a hearing in Committee and have some students testify on behalf of the bill and then work some more on lobbying for the bill.

I have received many compliments already on the students' efforts and am receiving a lot of commitments for co-sponsors. Let me know your thoughts and I will pass it on to the students so they are aware of the feedback.

Planned Legislation 2012


Assault on a Police Animal Penalty

This came to my attention via Corporal Kendrick with the Clay county Sheriff's Department. In the current Missouri statute if a Police animal is intentionally assaulted it is a C misdemeanor. This legislation would change the penalty to an A misdemeanor.

Ball Room Dancing for credit in Schools

This would allow a school in Missouri to offer Ballroom, Square, or Country dancing to be taken as a class/course for physical education requirements. This effort is the result of efforts by 34th District resident Will Adams.

Private Contractor/Owner Payment Contracts

This Bill would create provisions meant to protect contractor payments. It puts in place safeguards to make sure expected payment is made and expected work is done when in the private sector. This matches the current requirement on public construction.

Allowing 17 year olds to vote in the Presidential Primary

This idea was put into motion with the help of Kurt Gates' AP Government Classes at Liberty High School and Liberty North High School. The Bill would allow voters who will be 18 years old by the November Elections of a Presidential voting year to vote in the Presidential primary at the age of 17 years old.

School Bonding increased Indebtedness

This would allow schools increase their bonded indebtedness as long as they meet set criteria.

Term Limits

Term limits would be set to a total of 16 years of time served in the House and Senate combined. Instead of being limited to eight in one and eight in the other, it can be all in one body or the other or any combination.

Grade Cut-Off Dates

This would establish that no school districts may establish a cut-off date for final grades that is more than two days before the last day of school, except for that of graduating seniors.

Engler: Senate Committees Begin Work on Bills

Most of the work in the Senate this week took place in committee hearings, where senators consider different bills and hear testimony from related experts and the public. Since this is the second regular session, committee membership generally remains the same, resulting in less introductions for committee procedure and moving bills through committees a little quicker. I serve as the chairman for the Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee, and we’ve already been assigned 18 bills. The Senate will likely debate its first bill sometime next week, with many more following as the session progresses. I’m hoping the Senate turns to a consensus building approach this year to accomplish what’s best for the people of Missouri.

I filed Senate Bill 633 this week, which would allow scrap metal operators to acquire vehicles or vehicle parts that are 10 years old or older without the original certificate of title. There are a lot of old cars around Missouri that are no longer road-worthy, but still hold value as scrap metal or parts. Senate Bill 633 would make it easier for people to sell these vehicles to scrap yards, but keep in place the proper restrictions to protect the public. This is a straight-forward bill that tackles a clear issue with common sense. I’m hoping my colleagues in the General Assembly recognize this and move quickly to send the bill to the governor’s desk.

Besides committee work, we’re also gearing up in the Senate for the upcoming budget process. Next week the governor will give his State of the State address and release his budget proposal. After that we’ll begin crafting the Senate’s version of the state’s spending plan. This won’t be easy as we’re facing a significant shortfall, but we remain committed to doing the best thing to properly fund K-12 education.

We’ll also begin looking at ways to resolve an issue currently affecting thousands of students across our state. Due to a decision by the Missouri Supreme Court in the case Turner vs. School District of Clayton, students in Missouri now have the right to transfer from an unaccredited school district to another school in the same or a nearby county. This has resulted in thousands of students in St. Louis, and soon Kansas City, transferring out of their unaccredited school districts. This is a pressing issue, and one we have to address this session. Every child in Missouri deserves a quality education, and we’ll do everything in our power to protect that right.

I will continue these reports throughout the session. I’ve also posted a new video welcome on my Senate website. You can view it by visiting my Senate website www.senate.mo.gov/engler and clicking on the ‘View Video Welcome’ button below my picture on the left side of the page. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. I can be reached by email at kevin{dot}engler{at}senate{dot}mo{dot}gov or in my Capitol office by phone at (573) 751-3455.

Lichtenegger: 2012 Regular Session Underway

Given the recent passing of Weldon H. Macke, I want to say a few words in his honor before I begin to comment on this year’s General Assembly and the work ahead.

Weldon was not just a great man, father and husband to Bonnie, but he was a dear personal friend of 35+ years. I have such fond memories of the many hours we spent working on political campaigns; we were both charter members of the Cape Girardeau Pachyderm Club; and then there were the parades, Jackson Homecomers events and the SEMO Dist fair . . . actually there are just too many wonderful memories to list them all! He will be a forever cherished friend.

My guess is that my memories are multiplied a hundred-fold in the lives of many of you.

I have co-sponsored a few important bills this year. Two of which change the pensions for those of us serving in the House and Senate. One states no years and the other says after 16 years of service. For many years I have said publicly that I don't believe in pensions for politicians. I agree with Senator Jason Crowell that all elected State officials should forgo pensions. I serve at the will of the people, and I feel that the people should not have to pay my retirement. Once the fiscal note is published on these bills, we’ll know approximately how much money this will save Missouri taxpayers. I'm also working on a Bill for equal pay to Physical Therapist. This has to do with insurance payments. If interested in the details you may contact me. As always I would like your feedback; you can call me any time at 573-979-1084.

On a serious fiscal note: The state has many, very tough decisions to make in the near future since the Missouri Constitution requires a balanced budget, and since the estimated revenue shortfall is between five and seven hundred million dollars, everyone is going to have to sacrifice to make up the difference!

Don’t forget you can influence these or any other bills filed during this legislative session using the following steps:
  • Link here to the House of Representatives website.
  • Use the Bill Tracking / Search or Subject Index on the House page to find the House Bill that concerns you.
  • As you can see from the HB 1099 example there are several options to choose to get additional information.
  • You’ll want to link on the Actions tab wherein you can view not only all House actions on the bill any time during the session, but you will want to note whether the bill was assigned to a committee. If so link to the committee information page wherein you can note who is the committee chair and call her or his office and request that the chairman schedule a public hearing (if one is not scheduled).
  • If a bill has yet to be assigned to a committee you are welcome to call the Speaker of the House, Representative Steven Tilley, office and request that he assign the bill to a committee.
And don’t forget you are welcome to call, email, or fax my Capitol office and let me know which House bills you support or oppose. Call 573-751-6662; email donna{dot}lichtenegger{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov fax: 573-522-0557.

My office staff will record your comments whether or not you are a registered voter. I will always have access to any and all feedback and therefore have a general idea of what are the greatest legislative concerns of my constituents.

Constituent Corner


My Capitol office recently moved to Room 403B. Don’t forget if you visit the Capitol to drop in and say “hello”. If I’m in Chambers my assistant will contact me so I don’t miss meeting you!

Dugger: Two Pro-Agriculture Measures Proposed

In America, every day is a new beginning; every sunset is merely the latest milestone on a voyage that never ends. For this is the land that has never become, but is always in the act of becoming.- Ronald Reagan

The first full week of the second regular session of the 96th General Assembly is now recent history. Already, several important pieces of legislation have been filed and begun their journey through the legislative process: from a taxpayer protection act that would limit the size and scope of government; to a bill that would require counties and schools to submit information regarding their debts and holdings to the Office of Administration. It will not take long for lively debate to fill the halls of the Capitol as we work to make Missouri a better place to live and work.

As session quickly gains steam, I wanted to take the time to highlight a couple of bills that I feel are important for the district. Representative Tom Loehner will be filing a bill that protects Missouri’s farmers and thus provides stability to the agricultural industry of Missouri. This is especially important, since farming and its many byproducts are the driving force of Missouri’s economy. Loehner’s legislation, which I have co-sponsored, will secure the right of Missouri famers to raise livestock in a humane manner without the state imposing undue economic burdens on the livestock owners.

Another key piece of legislation was filed by Representative Casey Guernsey. Guernsey’s resolution, which I co-signed, states the House of Representatives’ opposition to the excessive land values assigned by the State Tax Commission to agricultural and horticultural land in Missouri for the years 2012-2013. In these economic hard times, we must ensure that all forms of industry from small businesses to the family farmer are given a fighting chance.

Even though session is a little more than a week old, much has already been done. However, much work still remains. I look forward to being your voice in the numerous discussions that are yet to be had in Jefferson City.

Korman: Joint Committee Discusses Prospect of Tolled I-70

Mother nature reminded us that we are in winter the last couple of days. However, the discussion in the committee hearing of the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight will definitely be hot enough to melt the snow next week with how to improve I-70 being discussed.

On Tuesday, January 17 at 1:00 p.m. the Committee will hold a forum to discuss I-70. There will be a time for public testimony. Any citizen may present public testimony either in person or in writing. Our office can send you a copy of the proper witness form for testimony or you may complete it upon entering the hearing. Depending on the amount of public testimony the hearing may be continued until Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. If you would like to express your opinion on improvements that should be made to I-70 then I encourage you to call the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight Co- Chairman, Representative Charlie Denison, at (573) 751-2210 so that he can include you on the schedule. You may also submit written testimony. Rep. Denison can provide further information about testifying at the hearing. Be sure to provide his office with your name and contact information in case of inclement weather or in the event that the second day of testimony is not required.

Several bills have been heard and passed in committee and will be headed for full debate on the House floor next week including House Bill (HB) 1135 which improves transparency by requiring the review of all administrative rules. Over time, department rules become outdated or obsolete. By requiring these rules to be reviewed periodically, we can ensure that all agency rules are current, efficient and effective.

Under current law, rules can stay on the books of a state agency indefinitely. HB 1135 also requires all administrative rules to sunset after 10 years. By including the sunset provision, all rules will have to venture through the public comment process periodically, giving citizens a say in how our executive departments run.

Missouri’s future will be in the forefront in Jefferson City next week as the Governor presents his “State of the State” and the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court presents his “ State of the Judiciary” to Missouri lawmakers. I will update you on their reports next week.

Kraus: Legislation Grabs State Media's Attention

Legislation Questions


Shortly after arriving at the Capitol on Monday, my office started receiving calls from the media regarding Senate Bill 590, a bill I filed which deals with illegal immigration. Calls came from all over the state, including Columbia, St. Louis, and Kansas City. Over the next two days, I appeared on a talk radio show, gave a statement over the phone to a local Kansas City radio news station, appeared on camera for news shows in Columbia and Kansas City, and spoke with several print reporters.

Because we had so many inquiries, and because those opposing the bill held a tele-conference which I believe misrepresented the intent of the bill, we issued the following statement to the media:

“During the 2011 legislative session, I introduced a bill that would require the Missouri Attorney General to sue the federal government for its lack of enforcement of immigration laws. One of the objections we encountered was that there was no known cost to the state. Based on those comments, I asked my office to reach out to state agencies to find out who actually tracked the cost of illegal immigration on Missouri taxpayers. The results were underwhelming as we found most agencies have no idea of the true cost to taxpayers.

This year, I introduced SB 473, which again asks the Attorney General to sue the federal government, and also asks the Missouri Auditor’s office to determine the cost to Missouri taxpayers so we can seek restitution from the federal government to recoup those costs.

As a companion bill, I introduced SB 590, which does three things: Asks our public schools and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to specifically determine the cost of illegal immigration on our public schools; mirrors federal law in creating a state misdemeanor for any non-citizen who does not have their documentation; and allows police to ask for immigration status on all stops, not just arrests. Each of these provisions is designed to better determine the number and impact of illegal immigrants in Missouri. None of these proposed items have any significant punitive provision above what is already in current federal law.

Immigration is ultimately a federal issue and the solution will be a federal solution. But until a solution is reached, the impact of the federal government’s lack of enforcement is being felt at the state level. As fiscal stewards of our residents’ tax dollars, we have a responsibility to determine that impact.”


You can find some media stories and clips regarding SB 473 and SB 590 at the following links:

http://www.kansascity.com/2012/01/10/3363713/missouri-schools-would-be-required.html

http://www.kctv5.com/story/16491252/filed-immigration-bill-drawing-mixed-reactions

http://www.komu.com/news/missouri-senate-bill-targets-immigration/

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/2012/jan/09/bill-takes-aim-at-illegal-immigrants/

Grain Valley Town Hall


On Thursday, Jan. 19, Grain Valley Mayor Mike Todd and I will be hosting a town hall meeting in Grain Valley from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Grain Valley Community Center, 713 Main Street.

I will open with a short talk on the upcoming 2012 legislative session and then open the floor for questions and answers. Mayor Todd will also be there to discuss local issues and answer any questions you may have.

These town hall meetings are important to me because they give me the opportunity to interact on a personal level with the constituents of the 8th Senatorial District. It is a vital way to keep members of the local community up-to-date on activities within the Capitol and upcoming issues and events. I look forward to speaking with concerned citizens and addressing any questions they might have.

I hope to see you there

2012 District Days


We have set the dates for this year’s District Days! Each year, we set two days aside during session when district residents can come to the Capitol, attend a session, take tours and visit with their senator. For 2012, our District Days will be March 21 and March 27. If you are interested in attending, let us know by replying to this email. More information will be coming in the next few weeks.

District Office


Now that we are in session, the District Office will only be open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. We continue to urge you to call for an appointment at 573-751-1464, since it is possible other events may pull us away.

Denison: Pace Quickens in Second Week of Legislative Session

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick

Pace Quickens in Second Week of Legislative Session


While the action hasn't moved to the House floor yet, the second week of session has brought with it an increased level of activity at the committee level. The debate in the House Chamber tends to produce passionate debate and memorable sound bites but it's in committee where bills are deliberated and fine-tuned until they're ready for discussion by the entire body. That's the mode we're in right now as our committees work on many bills on a multitude of issues in preparation for the coming weeks of floor debate.

House Committee Approves Measure to Stabilize Government Spending (HJR 43)


With the intent of stabilizing spending and eliminating the boom and bust budget years we have seen, the House Budget Committee approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit future increases in state spending. The proposal would put in place a spending cap on state general revenue, which is the money over which the legislature has the most discretion. This appropriations growth limit would be based on the rate of inflation plus the growth in population. In essence, a budget would be capped at the previous year’s budget plus the appropriations growth limit. With this limit in place, we can ensure government doesn’t grow at a level that isn’t sustainable. We also know that studies have shown a government with a stable tax rate and stable expenditures will see more economic growth and more stable growth because of the confidence that stability gives employers. It’s an idea that makes up one of the pillars of the Speaker’s Blueprint for Missouri and something we will certainly see move through the House quickly this session. If it makes it through both chambers, the proposal would go before a vote of the people.

House Education Appropriations Committee Looks at Funding Formula Fix (HB 1043)


One of the most important issues we will deal with this year involves the way our state's many public schools are funded. Right now we're in the midst of a multi-year phase in of the school foundation formula that began in 2006 and will be complete next year. The formula was designed to eliminate the disparities that had existed in the previous funding mechanism that was based on the property tax base of each school district. That system led to some school districts being very wealthy with others being less fortunate. The new foundation formula implemented a funding system based on the needs of each student. When passed in 2005, the idea was to ensure each student in the state received the amount needed to receive a quality education. The idea also was to gradually increase that amount each and every year over a seven-year period.

The foundation formula wasn't an issue until recent years when our state's budget woes prevented us from providing the level of funding called for in the formula. As we found we could not meet the demands of the formula, it became necessary to explore how to fairly distribute the monies that were available. Specifically, the issue stems from the concept of “hold harmless” school districts, which are districts that were receiving more funding than was called for with the new formula but were promised they would not receive a funding cut. With slightly more than 150 of Missouri's more than 500 school districts “hold harmless” it has represented a significant challenge as the legislature has been unable to fund the formula fully. The bottom line is that right now we have all districts, both those that have seen increases in funding under the formula and those who have had their funding frozen, sharing in the pain of reduced funding. That’s why we’re considering legislation this year to make the reduced funding more equitable for all schools. It's a challenge I hope we can work together to solve so that we can “share the pain” in a way that's fair for every school district in the state.

House Committee Approves Legislation to Increase Government Transparency and Accountability (HB 1140)


The House Committee on Downsizing State Government met this week to discuss and approve legislation that would provide an additional level of transparency for the spending habits of county governments and public schools. It's something that has worked well at the state level where the Missouri Accountability Portal that provides updated information to the public on how their tax dollars are being utilized by state government. We want to carry that success through to the local level by requiring counties and schools to provide similar information that will be accessible through the accountability portal.

The idea is to avoid a problem similar to the one seen in Cook County, Illinois where residents there were stunned to learn about the massive debt the county had incurred. In total, there was more than $108 billion in debt that amounted to more than $60,000 in debt per household. While we are confident there are no examples that extreme in Missouri, it's still a good idea to fully disclose the information so the public is not left out in the dark. To take a closer look at how it works on a state level I encourage you to visit the accountability portal at mapyourtaxes.mo.gov.

Visitors


On Monday, January 9th, Dr. Lynn Herndon stopped by my office. Dr. Herndon is with the Missouri Optometric Association, and later in the day the association held a reception where members and legislators were able to discuss legislative matters for the 2012 session.

On Wednesday, January 11th, Dr. John Lilly was in the Capitol to serve as Physician for the Day for the House of Representatives. Dr. Lilly stopped by my office along with Ken Hurley of Billings, Missouri. While at the Capitol, Dr. Lilly was also providing to all representatives a video on the foundation of the Locke and Smith Award and the process of determining the winners of the Locke and Smith Award for 2012.

Pictured left to right: Dr. John Lilly, Ken Hurley, Representative Denison


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.

Schaefer: Appropriation Committee's First Meeting Of Session

This week marked the first hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Testimony was heard from representatives of the Department of Social Services, the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Revenue.

We heard many moving comments, and I greatly appreciate the time, effort and dedication of those who attended and testified.

Starting Monday (1/9), I filed the following bills with the Senate:
  • Senate Bill 627 would allow the Director of the Office of Administration’s Division of Facilities Management, Design, and Construction to provide waste management services for any state agency except for those agencies designated in the constitution.
  • Senate Bill 628 would expand the number of detention facilities which qualify for the Inmate Security Fund. The money gained from this fund would be used to purchase information-sharing equipment that would allow inmates in short-term detention facilities to be identified and tracked within certain criminal justice systems.
  • Senate Bill 629 would affect tobacco product manufacturers that are not participating in the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement by requiring them to deposit money into an escrow fund. Money from these escrow funds would be appropriated to non-profit institutions to build research facilities and promote the research of tobacco-related illnesses.
  • Senate Bill 644 would ensure that our health care providers are reimbursed uniformly, regardless of the venue in which health services are provided.
  • Senate Bill 645 pertains to environmental permits and changes the timeframe of appeals made based on the decision of an environmental commission. This bill would remove the requirement that any actions filed in a court of law seeking judicial review by the Air Conservation Commission or Clean Water Commission must be made in the court of appeals rather than in the circuit court.
  • Senate Bill 651 relates to the licensing of home inspectors. If passed, this bill would require all home inspectors to apply for a license and complete a training program. This bill is important in order to ensure our homes are properly inspected by a certified and knowledgeable individual. This bill would take effect January 1, 2014.
On Wednesday (1/11), I spoke with representatives from various community colleges in the state of Missouri. My Senate colleagues and I discussed budget concerns with these dedicated individuals, while keeping in mind our mutual interest in sustaining quality education despite our limited state budget.

Beginning Jan. 18 at 8 a.m., the Appropriations Committee will hear public testimonies from the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, Department of Higher Education, Office of Administration, Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Conservation, Department of Economic Development, Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions, and Professional Registration, Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, Department of Public Safety, and Department of Corrections.

If you are interested in testifying on issues related to the above departments listed, please call the Appropriations staff at 866-475-6083 or email public{dot}testimony{at}senate{dot}mo{dot}gov. Positions to testify are limited, so contact as soon as possible. If you are scheduled to testify, please arrive before 8 a.m. in order to check in and find a seat.

If you have a specific question or need regarding issues other than the Legislature, my Community Service Directory will provide you with the information you need to contact the correct state department or individual to answer your question.

Thank you for your continued interest in the issues that affect the citizens of Boone and Randolph counties. If you have any questions or concerns throughout this session, please contact my office.

12 January 2012

Lampe: Legislation Concerning Gifted Programs

Op. note: The State of the Judiciary Address will be delivered by Richard Teitelman, who succeeded William Ray Price as Chief Justice in July 2011.
Governor Nixon will address the General Assembly, special guests, and the public at the annual State of the State address on Tuesday. During his speech, the Governor will outline his strategy for economic prosperity. This strategy, known as the Missouri Works plan, aims to create more jobs and career opportunities for Missourians. The Governor will also reveal his expectations for the state budget. As the Ranking Minority Member on the Budget Committee, I am ready to get to work on bringing people together to balance Missouri's budget.

The judicial branch will also have an opportunity to address the legislature next week. The State of the Judiciary address will be held on Wednesday morning in the House chamber. The Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, William Ray Price Jr., will give the address on behalf of his colleagues.

HJR 43


On Wednesday, the Budget Committee passed HJR 43, also known as the Taxpayer Protection Act. If HJR 43 is passed by both chambers, then it will be subject voter approval. If the measure receives enough votes from the public, then it will amend the Missouri Constitution and mandate state expenditures.

Specifically, this amendment would cap state spending at $8 billion. Any increase to this sum would be determined by inflation and population growth. HJR 43 also passed out of the Rules Committee today and will be heard on the House floor soon.

One Heart. One Mind. One Spirit


On Tuesday, I attended a celebration of unity and diversity in the Capitol Rotunda. The Black Legislative Caucus hosted this event, which included inspiring speeches from Representative Steve Webb (D-Florrisant) and performances by the Storling Dance Theater from Kansas City.

As Martin Luther King Jr. Day nears, I hope that the messages of freedom, equality and progress ring throughout Springfield and the entire state. I look forward to joining the Springfield chapter of the NAACP and other community members to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, 9am, at Mediacom Ice Park.

Gifted Legislation


I recently filed two pieces of legislation dealing with the educational concerns of those students who are in the gifted programs. Neither of these bills negatively impact school funding.

The first bill establishes the Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted and Talented Children. This Council will consist of seven members who are appointed by the commissioner of education. This council will provide advice for the commissioner of education regarding rules and polices dealing with the gifted and talented children.

The second bill I filed requests that the state board of education designate a staff person to be in charge of educational programs for gifted and talented children. This person will be responsible for a variety of things including, but not limited to serving as the main contact for any stakeholder and collecting annual growth in learning regarding the gifted programs.

Korman: Legislative Internship

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Rep. Bart Korman, R-High Hill, is pleased to announce that his office is accepting applications for legislative interns for the 2012 session. The internship is open to applicants that are enrolled in college and interested in state government.

“I believe that this is a wonderful opportunity for Missouri college students who are interested in the legislative process,” said Korman. “The internship is a great way to earn valuable experience in a number of areas. Not only do you become familiar with the roles and tasks associated with Missouri government, but it is a great way to serve constituents and be a part of the lawmaking process.”

Interested applicants should email their resume to bart{dot}korman{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov

Tim Jones: Taxpayer Protections, Mandatory Reporter Law,

At left: Participating in an extensive tour of the St. Louis Boeing facility and yes, taking over the cockpit of a real life F/A-18 Super Hornet!

As frost covered bluffs shimmer and glisten throughout the Heartland and a blast of Canadian air brought us a late week snowy reminder that Winter still lords over the Midwest, the legislators have returned for the first full week of the 2012 Legislative Session beneath the Capitol dome with committee hearings being the first sign that the Session is speedily gaining its full stride…

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” –Winston Churchill

Taxpayer Protection


Economically, times are difficult in our homes, our businesses and in balancing every budget. When a family’s income has decreased, the wisest option is to reduce spending to make ends meet. Our responsibility as elected Representatives is to instill the same common sense approach in crafting the state budget. Like you, government must tighten its belt to balance the budget, all the while by not raising job-killing taxes. The answer is making better use of the funds we have available.

While we are working hard to balance the current budget, it is also important to take steps in making budget shortfalls less likely for future legislatures. The Taxpayer Protection Act is a step toward accomplishing this goal. In the past when times were good and the budget was flush with money, legislatures have used the extra revenue to increase the size and scope of government. The Missouri Taxpayer Protection Act limits growth in the budget by using a formula which allows the budget to increase only as the state’s population grows plus the rate of inflation. Any money remaining after the adjustment is saved for times when the budget is short.

Protecting taxpayers is a top priority for the House. By balancing the budget without raising taxes and easing the strain of “boom and bust cycles” on future budgets, we can keep more money where it belongs, in the pockets of hard-working Missourians.

Missouri Values


Missouri is a great place to raise a family because of the values that are commonly shared throughout the state. Whether we are discussing protecting the life of a child or providing for the veterans who have served our great country and state with honor, we all hold “values” in high esteem, and they deserve to be protected.

Against the backdrop of the terrible Penn State University tragedy, here in Missouri, the House Committee on Children and Families is examining our own current Mandatory Reporter laws to ensure that they are adequate to address issues that have arisen across the country. If our laws are inadequate or need to be updated, we will expect our House Committee to present us with an appropriate recommendation.

Providing for our veterans is a top priority this Session. With the economy in the doldrums, and a shortfall in the state budget, many Veterans’ Homes are experiencing a funding crisis. If a dedicated funding source is not found, the Veterans’ Commission will have little option but to begin closing homes in July of 2013 and our veterans will unable to obtain the care they need. The House is exploring several funding options to assist Veterans’ Homes during these challenging times.

Response to the Governor’s State of the State Address: Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I am greatly honored and humbled to announce that Senator Kurt Schaeffer (R-Columbia) and I will be presenting the Majority Party’s response to the Governor’s State of the State address this coming Tuesday, January 17th. The Senator and I will be presenting our critique of the Governor’s presentation as well as presenting the positive, pro jobs, pro taxpayer, pro families agenda that the Missouri House and Senate will be pursuing throughout the 2012 Legislative Session. The Address and the Response will be broadcast on various radio and television stations throughout the State. In the St. Louis area you will be able to listen to the address on 90.7 KWMU (St. Louis Public Radio at www.news.stlpublicradio.org), and a live video stream can be found at http://www.mo.gov/

Up-Coming Workshops


The St. Louis Arc Family Workshops are designed to provide in-depth information on topics related to supporting family members with developmental disabilities. There are workshops for adults with developmental disabilities as well as summer volunteer and employment programs for teens. The workshops are free and take place at the St. Louis Arch Family Center at 1177 N. Warson Rd., St. Louis, MO 63123. For more information, please visit www.slarc.org or contact Ann Mangelsdorf at amangelsdorf{at}slarc{dot}org or 314-817-2275. You must be registered to attend.

I have had the honor and privilege to meet many constituents in my District who work hand in hand with the very hard-working people at St. Louis Arc and have been very impressed with the individual determination of these families who quietly and determinedly work through many substantial daily life challenges. These individuals, these families and the St. Louis Arc organization accomplish a great deal for those in our communities who truly cannot help themselves by themselves and they do it with very little funding and a great deal of love and compassion. I am proud to help and support these constituents in any way I can.

For a complete list of the workshops and support groups available through the St. Louis Arc, visit www.slarc.org.

Fine Arts Grant Available


The Missouri Arts Council Annual Grant Applications can now be accessed online at http://www.missouriartscouncil.org/ under the “Get Funding” tab. This is a one-year grant for dance, established institutions, fold arts, mid-sized arts organizations, minority arts, visual arts and theater. There are separate applications available for art education as well as community arts.

Visiting the Capitol


I always enjoy it when constituents visit the Capitol and want to thank all who make the journey. If you ever find yourself in or around Jefferson City at any time during the year, please feel free to visit us! Stop by the Majority Leader’s Office in Room 302 and we will be happy to meet and greet you!

Personal News & Notes


If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this Capitol Report, they can click the “Capitol Report Signup” button on my member home page at www.house.mo.gov and enter the appropriate information to receive the Capitol Report.

Kelley: Job Creation Remains Top Priority

Nationally, our job creators remain fearful of spending money and expanding their payrolls. Their fear is based upon several factors including their concerns about the unsustainable federal spending and debt, concern that their taxes at the federal level will go up and that the Obama Administration inclination to increase regulation on business will bankrupt them. The uncertainty created by Obama Care and the President’s war on domestic energy continues to impede job creation.

We, in Missouri, cannot undo what is happening in Washington, but we can make positive steps to encourage job creation in our state. Putting Missourians back to work will be a priority again this session. Last session, we took several steps to create jobs. We cut taxes on small businesses adding new employees, eliminated the franchise tax and adopted several measures to improve the business climate. Still, with the unemployment rate above 8%, there is much work to be done.

Nationally, there was good news regarding job creation in the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor last week. Unfortunately, that same report was not so good for Missouri. According to that report dated January 5th, the unemployment insurance claims increased in Missouri by 3,236 last week following layoffs. Missouri was reported as one of the 19 states across the country with more than 1,000 initial claims last week.

Job creation will remain a top priority for us in the Missouri House this session. By helping entrepreneurs cut through bureaucratic “red tape” and improving the business climate, we can continue to get Missourians back to work. We need to ensure accountability for decisions made by the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

One idea designed to improve the business climate is by enacting a “loser pays” law this session. Attorneys’ fees racked up due to frivolous lawsuits can be burdensome or even bankrupt small businesses. “Loser pays” will lower the number of frivolous suits and cut litigation costs businesses have to pay. That money can then be used to hire new employees or expand the business. Likewise, we need to address issues relating to the Worker’s Compensation Laws. Recent events and court decisions have added uncertainty to a system that has been in place for decades.

One innovative idea to spur job creation is the Entrepreneur Virtual Resource Network. This new program would provide resources to the Department of Economic Development for a website that pools the information needed to start a small business in the state. Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of job creation, but they often need assistance in navigating the regulatory hoops necessary to create their business from scratch. This website will give them a one-stop shop on how to get their idea to the marketplace.

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.

Hoskins: Speaker's Priorities, Blunt's Visit,

The Second Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly is now officially underway. There is excitement all throughout the Capitol as the beginning of the second session offers renewed vigor to challenges from last session and provides an opportunity to promote new and innovative ideas to lead Missouri on the path to prosperity. I am again, honored, to be here at the State Capitol working hard to represent the great people of Johnson County and the 121st District.

Of the 163 members, 4 are new; having been elected during the special elections held in their respective districts on November 8th, 2011. Welcome Representative Chrissy Sommer of the 15th District out of St. Charles, Representative Judy Morgan of the 39th District out of Kansas City, Representative Brandon Ellington of the 41st District out of Kansas City, and Representative Tracy McCreery of the 83rd District out of St. Louis. As I begin my fourth year as Representative for the 121st District and watch as new Members join the ranks of the Missouri House of Representatives, I recall the humbling experience of walking onto the Floor of the Missouri House for the first time, of sitting at my desk for the first time, and of casting my first vote….. It is truly an honor to serve and I congratulate these new Members for achieving their goal to serve in the Missouri House of Representatives.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


During his final opening address, Speaker Steven Tilley, serving his last year as our Speaker, offered his vision of what the average citizen expects from their government and a plan, called the “Blueprint for Missouri,” to provide Missourians with the governance they expect and deserve. Under Speaker Tilley’s plan we will:
  1. Pass a balanced budget while not raiding the reserves of Institutions of Higher Learning
  2. Stay out of the taxpayer’s wallet (no raising taxes)
  3. Force state government to live within its means
  4. Place strict limits on the growth of government
  5. Fund Missouri Veterans Homes
  6. Pass legislation protecting our children from predators
  7. Provide an economic environment conducive to business expansion
  8. Protect Missouri employers from frivolous law suits
  9. Work tirelessly to provide the type of quality education every child deserves

Thursday, January 5, 2012


During this morning’s caucus meeting, we had the pleasure of being addressed by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt. Of the many issues Sen. Blunt spoke about, one of them sticks out in my mind as valuable insight into properly addressing the continued economic struggle we face in Missouri, in the United States, and indeed, across the globe. In evaluating the recent financial disasters in Europe and Greece, it becomes clear one of the underlying issues is their governments have grown too large. As Senator Blunt clearly stated, “Government cannot get bigger than what the economy can support.” This is important insight at all levels of government; from your local municipality, to the federal level. We do not want the financial problems associated with big government in the U.S., or in Missouri. “Fiscal Responsibility” and “Local Control” are two fundamentals of governance I strongly support and with the help of strong leadership at the state and federal levels, these core principles will help guide the U.S., Missouri, and Johnson County, toward a brighter and more prosperous future.

Week of January 9th – Prelude to State of State Address


On Tuesday January 17th, 2012, Governor Jay Nixon will deliver his annual State of the State address. Governor Nixon is supposed to introduce possible tax increases to keep income in line with spending. With the slow rebound, we need a straightforward budget from the Governor which does not include burdening the citizens of Missouri with any further tax increases.

Governor Nixon is also supposed to introduce business incentives to accelerate job growth in the State, the exact same, in fact, introduced and implemented last year. There is no doubt the State’s existing business incentives for job creation have been a failure. Governor Nixon and his economic development officials have failed to create the amount of jobs they said they were going to create this time last year. Out of the 23,145 jobs the Nixon Administration said were going to be created, only 5,873 have actually been fashioned.

I will continue to support incentives for job growth and small businesses such as HB 45, which I sponsored and passed last year, to provide tax incentives to our small businesses who hire additional workers. We must continue to work together and be innovative in maintaining jobs in our State and attracting new ones.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


During our budget committee meeting on Wednesday, we discussed a constitutional amendment prohibiting appropriations in any fiscal year from exceeding the total state general revenue appropriations from the previous year by more than the appropriations growth limit. This basically means any excess amount of State generated revenue not spent will be appropriated logically, instead of just being spent as overflow.

This method would work by the following:
  • General Revenue increases < 1.5% would be used for general appropriations.

  • General Revenue surplus between 1.5% and 2.5% will be used to pay down Missouri debt.

  • Any surpluses exceeding 2.5% of the general revenue mark will be split into two categories, Cash Operating Reserve (67%) and a Budget Reserve fund (33%). These two funds would help provide stability in budget years that have declining state revenue.

We feel like this is the right track for Missouri. It will produce a rainy day fund for the future, and will protect us from tumultuous economic times like we are facing now.

Legislation

This week the house has been busy with first and second readings of house bills, with committee meetings, and with a barrage of bills awaiting co-sponsorship. As we progress into third readings, I will present more detailed information about specific bills of interest.

Redistricting News

Many of you have voiced concern over the new district lines and which district you may end up in beginning with the 2012 elections. As you know, I will be running for office in the newly formed 54th District. The following link should provide you with a detailed and interactive map to determine your new district: http://oa.mo.gov/bp/redistricting/newlegislativedistricts/

Visiting the Capitol

I would like to extend a special thanks to Janet West for her visit to my office on January 4th, 2012. Anytime you find yourself near your Missouri State Capitol (201 West Capitol Avenue, Jefferson City, MO 65101) please feel free to visit. Our state boasts one of the most beautiful Capitol buildings in the nation and you are always welcome.

Ways to Keep in Contact


I consider communication with my constituents a high priority. My weekly Monday morning chat at 8:45 a.m. with Woody at KOKO Radio on AM 1450 is one of the best ways I’ve found for you to literally “hear” from me. During session or interim, tune in every Monday morning at 8:45 to hear the latest concerning District 121.

Please share this report with anyone you feel would be interested in this information. It is genuinely a privilege to serve as your state representative.

Sater: Constitutional Amendment Advances That Would Prohibit Excessive Spending

Winter has finally arrived in Missouri and Jefferson City where I am writing this. I have enjoyed the last few weeks of mild weather, especially because of lower heating bills. Just like political harmony does not last, neither does the mild weather. Speaking of politics, we are now in our second week of session and some movement of bills are starting to proceed. I am in my last year and the last year that I will be Chairman of Health Care Policy. A lobbyist told me yesterday that it seemed I had been around the capitol longer than dirt. In some ways it does seem that way and in other ways, it has flown by. Anyway, I will have the same committee members as last year and we will probably start hearing bills in the next few weeks.

I continue to serve on the Budget Committee where we were presented HJR 43 this week. HJR stands for House Joint Resolution. It is processed as a normal bill and has to be passed by the House and Senate and signed by the Governor, but instead of going into law, it will go on the ballot for the citizens of Missouri to vote on because it deals with the state constitution.

The economy and state revenue goes up and down. In 2008 we had a 9.8 percent increase in revenue. In 2010, we had a minus 3-4% in revenue. It seems that in the good times, Republicans and Democrats cannot keep from passing legislation that costs the state money. When we have the bad times, such as the last few years, we run out of money because we did not put enough in reserve. This bill would make us do that in the good times. After figuring in the inflation rate or CPI, if revenues increase more than 1.5% over the CPI, then the next 1% or up to 2.5%, is used for debt reduction. For revenues beyond 2.5%, these funds would be placed in a kind of savings account to be used only when revenues are down to keep essential programs properly funded. As I mentioned, both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of over spending during good times. In the 1990s, during a few good years, the sales tax of groceries was suspended. This was a permanent fix for a short term budget issue. HJR 43 passed out of committee and now will go the House floor next week.

A couple of Senate bills are being heard. One is a statewide mandatory rabies vaccination for all pets. Even though this may sound good, there were only 29 confirmed rabies cases last year - most were from bats and skunks, not pets. It is ok for cities and counties to enact such regulations, but this is overkill and I still lean toward local control, not state mandates.

In the early 1990s, our state budget totaled around $5.9 billion dollars. It now totals over $23 billion dollars. Of that $5.9 billion, $4.5 billion was state revenue and $1.4 was federal. Now, 60% of our funding is federal. Because of this, the federal government holds the purse strings over the states and whether you call it blackmail or not, it forces us to do some things we might not want to do. A Senate bill being heard is proposed because of federal highway funds being withheld if we do not pass the legislation. The bill requires that truck drivers pass a medical test before they are allowed a commercial driver’s license. That is the way things are. Currently, the federal government is diverting $20 million dollars in transportation funds from road construction to highway safety because our statutes on convicted DWIs are not as stringent as they would like. Unless we pass another bill on DWI federal standards, then the $20 million dollars will not be available for road repairs and construction.

If you have any questions about the issues talked about or need more information, please contact me anytime. Thanks for letting me serve. My Capitol Office is open now Monday through Friday and can be reached at (573) 751-1480. You can also call me at my home in Cassville (417/847-4661).

11 January 2012

Mayer: Senate Committee Hears Legislation to Curb Excessive Rules and Regulations

Measure Would Help Tear Down Economic Barriers for All Businesses

JEFFERSON CITY – Thanks to legislation sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, Missouri business owners are one step closer to greater freedom from excessive and overly burdensome state rules and regulations. The measure, Senate Bill 469, was heard today by the Senate Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee and is one of several Senate bills aimed at putting Missourians back to work.

“An important part of the jobs solution is making sure Missourians can exercise their freedom to earn a living,” said Dixon. “Burdensome regulations can be barriers that stifle job growth and make Missouri less competitive. This is one way we can go back to basics and make government work for Missourians.”

Chairman of the committee, Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, said the bill was a priority for his committee.

“Missouri must be ready to compete when it comes to businesses expanding or relocating here,” Schmitt said. “Few things can bring private sector growth to a halt more quickly than overly contrived red tape. That is why we must bring better oversight and accountability to rein in extreme rules and regulations.”

In an October 2011 Gallup poll, small-business owners ranked compliance with government regulations as the most important problem facing them today.

Senate Bill 469 would require state agencies to review and reconsider regulations on a regular basis. The bill would give each regulation a limited shelf life of 10 years, increase agency accountability, and improve legislative oversight.

Each regulation would have an automatic expiration date. Renewal would require agencies to review the rule to determine whether it is outdated, duplicative, conflicts with other rules, is burdensome or narrowly tailored and then make necessary changes while still providing adequate protection of the public.

“We sunset statutes and programs, and term limit legislators,” said Dixon, “but ineffective or burdensome regulations don’t have an expiration date. This bill would put a process in place to review these rules regularly.”

The bill is a priority that was outlined in Senate Leader Robert N. Mayer’s opening day address to the Senate. Mayer said the measure is part of a comprehensive package of bills that are aimed to help spur job creation.

“We must tear down the walls that are economic barriers to all Missouri businesses,” Mayer, R-Dexter, said. “Our plan in the Senate starts by curbing excessive and overly burdensome regulations that affect all business – big and small.”

A supporting vote by the committee would recommend the bill for debate by the full Senate. To learn more about this bill or to track its progress, visit www.senate.mo.gov.

Rupp: Committee Focuses on Job Creation in Missouri

Committee work was in full swing this week as a wide range of 2012 Senate bills were considered. One very important piece of legislation heard in the Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee, of which I am chair, would restore protections for co-employees from personal lawsuits for their role in honest accidents at work and return Workers’ Compensation as the exclusive remedy for workplace accidents.

The measure (SB 572) is designed to allow employers to use their funds to hire more employees, instead of paying for frivolous lawsuits. Currently, more than 250,000 Missourians are out of work, and that is certainly not acceptable. We need to focus our time on getting people back to work — not on ridiculous lawsuits. In the Legislature, job creation is our top priority. I will do everything in my ability to endorse common-sense measures, such as this, which would allow businesses to stop spending money on insurance policies and lawsuit abuses that the Workers’ Compensation System was meant to cover, and instead, invest those dollars in creating new jobs for Missourians.

Another priority for the Legislature is passing a balanced budget, without raising taxes on Missourians. Next week, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, the governor is scheduled to give his State of the State Address. My colleagues and I are hoping he will present his budget plan for Fiscal Year 2013. I know that we will, yet again, be required to make difficult decisions regarding our state budget. However, I’m optimistic that the Legislature can work together to make Missouri and even better place to live, work, and raise a family. (Please click here to listen to my interview regarding my priorities for the 2012 legislative session.)

Thank you for reading this legislative column. As always, please feel free to call or visit my Capitol office if I can assist you in any way. Thank you and God Bless.

Rupp: Ready, Set, VOTE for TouchPoint!

Friends:

Normally, I reserve my capital reports to discuss policy issues, however today I feel compelled to ask for a favor. An organization that is near and dear to my heart is competing for a grant from a great corporate community citizen, Monsanto. That organization has changed the lives of thousands of people with autism. Having personally seen the amazing success they have with helping children on the autism spectrum, I sincerely ask you to take the time to vote for TouchPoint in the below link. With your vote and this grant hundred's more families could experience the life changing miracles they perform daily.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Sen. Scott T. Rupp

From: TouchPoint Autism Services
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 5:04 PM
To:
Subject: Ready, Set, VOTE for TouchPoint!


PLEASE VOTE FOR TOUCHPOINT
EACH DAY THROUGH JANUARY 29


Dear Friends:

Please take a moment to vote for TouchPoint Autism Services in Monsanto's Grow St. Louis Grant Contest!

If TouchPoint wins one of the grants, the funds will be used to GROW AUTISM UNDERSTANDING AND AWARENESS. This work is critical in our community, and we are determined to get Aaron Likens, our Community Education Specialist and Ambassador for Autism, out to spread his insightful message of hope and understanding!

Please vote daily through January 29, and please encourage your friends, family and Facebook contacts to do the same!

VOTE NOW at this link:

http://www.monsanto.com/stlouis/Pages/grow-STL-contest-voting-form.aspx

Thank you in advance for joining us in this effort!

Sincerely,
Your Friends at TouchPoint Autism Services

10 January 2012

Nance: Three Bills Filed

Roy Blunt will re-schedule the “Town Hall” gathering that was planned for Thursday.

I have filed three bills this week.

HB 1237 which requires the Lottery Commission to promulgate rules establishing criteria to allow licensees who have been convicted of a Class C or Class D felony to sell lottery tickets.

HB 1238 specifies that certain individuals must be eligible for food stamp program benefits.

HB 1239 would freeze property taxes for seniors 70 and older if they have resided in their home for ten years.

Allen: Session Begins!, Blueprint For Missouri, Current Legislation

Session Begins!


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 fiancĂ©e the best on their new journey!

Tim Jones: Majority Minute: Discussions Begin On Blueprint Bills, Budget Gap

The General Assembly and the Missouri House have begun our first full week of the 2012 legislative session with our main focus being on the four pillars of the “Blueprint for Missouri”. The Blueprint is our plan to move Missouri forward, concentrating on legislation that protects taxpayers, provides for an environment and the necessary tools that assists our businesses in creating jobs, advancing much needed reforms to our taxpayer funded public education system and protecting our values and principles.

Many bills have been introduced in the House and the referral process to various committees has begun. Committees will begin holding hearings, where proponents and opponents all have an opportunity to address legislation and make public comment. The Committees may then consider bills for a vote, offer amendments or substitute bills and the legislation will advance through the legislative process. To follow all of the legislation that proceeds through the House, an excellent resource is our House website which you can visit at: http://www.senate.mo.gov/media/12info/mayer/Multimedia.html.

Neth: Accepting Nominations for Outstanding Missourian Award

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - State Rep. Myron Neth is looking to honor an exceptional constituent from his district with the Outstanding Missourian Award. The Award is given to one person a year from each district who has contributed greatly to their community over their lifetime, served above and beyond the call of duty in the military or has achieved in other ways.

"There are so many great people in our area, but this is a way to honor one citizen who has done something really extraordinary," said Neth. "I look forward to seeing all the different accomplishments individuals have done to better our community. It is going to be a difficult task picking just one recipient."

The nominee selected for the award will be given a special Missouri House of Representatives Resolution and the recipient and their family or guests will be invited to the state Capitol to receive their award in the House Chamber. There will also be a reception honoring them both at the Capitol and in the district.

Nominations will be taken until February 10, and the recipient will be announced no later than February 15. To nominate someone, you can do so by requesting and filling out a nomination form. Please send an email to the office of Rep. Myron Neth, Myron{dot}neth{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov, or contact his office, (573)751-1218, to have nomination form sent to you.

Rupp: Audio On Session's Start

Jefferson City — State Sen. Scott T. Rupp, R-Wentzville, recently added a new audio link to his multimedia page, which is located on his Missouri Senate website. This page features audio and video links (both streaming and broadcast quality — when available) for visitors to listen to and watch Sen. Rupp address issues that are important to him and the citizens of the 2nd Senatorial District.

The new audio link, which is also available through podcast, includes Sen. Rupp discussing the start of the Second Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly.

Senator Rupp will continue to add audio and video clips throughout the year. You can download his podcast and listen to it by going to Sen. Rupp’s multimedia page: http://www.senate.mo.gov/media/12info/rupp/Multimedia.html.

Schaefer: Preview Of State Budget Battle

Greetings! The Second Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly is now under way. I am off to a busy start and I am excited to continue my work at the Capitol for the citizens of the 19th District.

This session, I will continue to serve as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, chairman of the Joint Committee on Capitol Improvements and Leases Oversight, and as a member on both the Education Committee and the Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy, and Environment Committee.

One of the toughest challenges this year will be to balance the state budget. As Chairman as Appropriations Committee, budget concerns are of the utmost priority. I recently expressed my opinions concerning the upcoming budget. You may listen to the following media clips by clicking the links below.
My reaction to the State budget:[Click here]Upcoming State of the State Speech and Budget Concerns:[Click here]
Click on the images for a larger version:
Opening day press conference, from left to right, myself, Senate Minority Floor Leader Victor Callahan, Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, and Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey.Here, I expound on the challenges and concerns of the Appropriations Committee.

I have filed two filed bills so far this session, Senate Bill 532 and Senate Bill 599.

If passed, SB 532 would extend the tax credit donations to food pantries until August 2022.

This bill would assist food pantries by providing an added incentive for individuals to donate to local food pantries.

The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri experienced a 19 percent increase in people served in just the past two years.

Peggy Kirkpatrick of the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri supports SB 532, stating, “The reauthorization of the Food Pantry Tax Credit is vitally important to hunger relief organizations that are struggling with increased demand for food assistance. The tax credits allow donors to contribute more and provide vital financial assistance when it is so critically needed.”

The bill was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Financial Oversight Committee.

Senate Bill 599 requires school districts to include in their annual school accountability report whether the school district currently has a state-approved gifted education program and to report the number of students in their gifted program. This ensures that schools will remain accountable for the education of their gifted students.

Thank you for your continued interest in the issues that affect the citizens of Boone and Randolph counties. If you have any questions or concerns please contact my office.

09 January 2012

Nance: Visits from Statewide Officials,

In the District


Governor Nixon came to Excelsior Springs today to tour Magna Seating and announce the “Missouri Works” project.

Senator Roy Blunt will be at the Richmond Courthouse Thursday at 1:45 for a “Town Hall” type meeting. This event is open to the public.

This Friday I will tour the Kansas City Port Authority with the Kansas City Caucus. The Caucus is a bipartisan group of legislators working together for the betterment of the Kansas City area. T.J. Berry who represents the Kearney area is the chairman of the caucus.


Our Speaker of the House, Steve Tilley opened the second session of the 96th General Assembly by highlighting the proposed agenda for the coming five months.

Education


As legislators, we are expected to insure that tax dollars are being spent properly and that everyone in the public school system is accountable and held to the high standards. St. Louis school districts are unaccredited and Kansas City schools are now the same status. The “Turner Fix” from 2011 would have allowed students in a failing district to transfer to a charter school, virtual school, or an accredited school district, at the cost of the unaccredited district that the student is leaving. Kansas City’s neighboring districts say that this could cause issues due to the fact that their schools “could be” or “might be” at capacity. The mayor of Kansas City has offered a plan, but some suggest dividing the district into separate districts. We must look at what is best for the students as we discuss the different options before us.

Government Transparency


Currently, counties do not have to disclose all of the debt that they owe – even though taxpayers may be held liable for these debts as counties raise taxes to pay them off. The Missouri Accountability Portal has been a wide-ranging success – providing citizens with quick and easy access to what their tax dollars are being spent on in Jefferson City. As an extension of the accountability portal, we want to require county governments to start providing information as well, so that local tax payers can see what their tax dollars are being spent on.

Criminal Justice Reform


The cost of our Correction Facilities and Prisons are out of hand. The General Assembly needs to provide cost saving measures recommended by the Missouri Working Group on Sentencing and Corrections & The House Interim Committee on Criminal Justice.

Jobs


Businesses, small and large have been confronted with rising costs from unemployment taxes, workers compensation insurance, co-employee liability, occupational disease. Missouri must reform these to make a more friendly business climate and also for business retention. Businesses must know we want them here for the long term.

Stouffer: How to Contact Your Elected Officials in 2012

A new year means new activities for elected officials at every level. For your convenience, I have provided a list of contacts for those representing our area in state and federal government. You may want to keep these numbers handy throughout the year.

In the meantime, we expect another intense legislative session in Jefferson City. The Second Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly started on Jan. 4, 2012. We are looking at approximately a $500 million budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2013, so it will be another year of having to make some tough decisions in order to balance the budget. Rest assured, I will fight for rural Missouri, as I have every year that I have served in the Missouri Legislature.United State House of Representatives:
Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, whose district includes Macon County.
3809 South Providence Road, Suite A
Columbia, MO 65203
Phone: (573) 443-1041
Fax: (573) 443-1050

Congressman Sam Graves, whose district includes Carroll, Chariton, Clay, Cooper and Howard counties.
113 Blue Jay Drive, Suite 100
Liberty, MO 64068
Phone: (816) 792-3976
Fax: (816) 792-0694

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, whose district includes Lafayette, Ray and Saline counties.
1909 North Commercial Street
Harrisonville, MO 64701
Phone: (816) 884-3411
Fax: (816) 884-3163

United States Senate:
Senator Roy Blunt
911 Main Street, Suite 2224
Kansas City, MO 64105
Phone: (816) 471-7141
Fax: (816) 471-7338

Senator Claire McCaskill
4141 Pennsylvania, Suite 101
Kansas City, MO 64111
Phone: (816) 421-1639
Fax: (816) 421-2562

Missouri House of Representatives:
\Representative Mike Lair (Carroll County)
MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 400
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-2917

Representative Randy Asbury (Chariton County)
MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 201CA
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-6566

Representative Caleb Jones (Cooper County)
MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 201B
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-2134

Representative Bob Nance (Ray County, Excelsior Springs and Lawson)
MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 200A
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-1468

Representative TJ Berry (Kearney)
MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 400CB
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-2238

Representative Joe Aull (Saline County, Concordia, Alma and Lexington)
MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 101A
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-2204

Representative Stanley Cox (Sweet Springs)
MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 408A
Jefferson City MO 65101
(573) 751-9774

Representative Paul Quinn (Howard County)
MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 101J
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-4028

Representative Mike McGhee (Lafayette County)
MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 414
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-1462

And, to contact Sen. Stouffer:
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 320
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Phone: (573) 751-1507 / Toll-Free: (866) 768-3987
Fax: (573) 751-9764
bstouffer{at}senate{dot}mo{dot}gov

Contact any Missouri state employee:
Statewide phone directory, (573) 751-2000
Thank you, and have a blessed 2012.

Mayer: The 2012 Legislative Session Begins

Wednesday, January 4th we returned to the capitol for the beginning of the second regular session of the 96th General Assembly. As Senate Leader, I gave the opening day address that outlined the priorities we plan to pass this year to improve your daily lives. (Audio and video of the address are available on my multimedia page by clicking here.)

We want to swiftly pass a balanced budget without a tax increase for the people of Missouri and to help put Missourians back to work in this stagnant and weak economy. Missouri’s taxpayers and workforce deserve nothing less.

One of our toughest challenges this year will again be crafting a state budget that spends no more than the state takes in through revenue collections. As we weather the biggest economic recession since the Great Depression, Missouri is one of a few states in good financial condition. That said, slow revenue growth, increased mandatory expenses in programs like Medicaid, and the end of more than $400 million in one-time federal stabilization dollars means we could be forced to make further reductions in the upcoming budget that begins July 1st.

We are prepared to make tough decisions. But, we first need a governor that will present an honest budget forecast – no matter how unpopular – and then recommend a budget that is balanced. That includes not basing his balanced budget on special legislation that must pass. At the end of the day, we must all be committed to reducing the size and scope of state government so taxpayers can afford to sustain it without a tax increase.

Education will continue to be a priority for us in funding and resources. Every student deserves an equal opportunity for a world-class education and the Senate will work to make sure that happens for every Missouri student, especially those currently trapped in failing school districts.

We will also continue our efforts to help put Missourians back to work in good paying jobs with benefits. While the number of unemployed Missourians has decreased, it is still too high. That is why we must tear down the walls that are economic barriers to all Missouri businesses –big and small – so they can invest in hiring new employees. Our plan in the Senate starts by curbing excessive regulations, restoring balance to employment law and returning the Workers’ Compensation System as the exclusive remedy for workplace accidents.

We have much to do this year and will work together to do what is in the best interest of all Missourians.

Please feel free to contact me throughout the year with any comments, questions, or issues at the contact information listed below and on my website at www.senate.mo.gov/mayer.