Greetings Fellow Missourians,
I am currently serving as the Legislator for Missouri State House of Representative in the newly formed 125th district—thanks to the supporters in the Primary elections of 2012, 2014 and 2016. This district includes the southern half of Benton, northern third of Cedar, and all of Hickory and St. Clair Counties. [see map]
CAPITOL REPORT - April 12, 2018. I spent Saturday evening with my wife, Marla, attending the 47th Annual Benefit Dinner for the Benton County Historical Society. I was honored to offer the invocation before dinner, which was followed by music with a live auction and pie auction. Thank you to the dedicated board members, sponsors, and participants for a wonderful meeting. This annual event raises over 50% of the funds that support the Benton County Museum located at 1660 Hilltop Drive. The museum is completely staffed by volunteers and is open Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. For more information, please go to www.bencomo.org.
On my way to the Capitol Monday morning, I drove the “Discover More on Route 54” highway to Jefferson City. My purpose was to visit with constituents Brandon and Laura Yates who own and operate Yates Rustic Range Trading on Highway 54 east of Preston. This is the 3rd year I have filed legislation that would change MoDOT regulations which would allow the Yates to install two business signs on their own private land directly across the highway from their store without any fees. The current law in MO requires the Yates to pay a permit fee of $200 as well as a biennial inspection fee of $100 per sign. This legislation has received support from its House committee hearing and House members in the chamber. It has been sponsored in the Senate this year for the first time by Senator Crawford. MoDOT officials are in support of changing the laws to remove the permit and inspection fees. The legislation must now get Senate approval.
LEGISLATION THIS WEEK:
The Missouri House has voted to take more steps toward fighting opioid addiction with a focus on shifting the response to addiction from law enforcement and incarceration to treatment availability in the form of HB2105.
The main provision of the bill would create the “Improved Access to Treatment for Opioid Addictions” Program (IATOA). It would use assistant physicians - a position created by legislation passed in 2014 - to work in a collaborative way with licensed doctors to provide addiction treatment throughout the state. The assistant physicians would be supported by the ECHO program (Extension for Community Healthcare Options) – a program that uses videoconferencing to connect experts with providers statewide to help providers offer specialized care. The sponsor said the program would be among the first of its kind in the nation, and other states are already taking note of it and considering how to create their own.
Another of the bill’s main provisions would limit the amount of an opioid drug that could be prescribed to someone for acute pain to a seven-day supply. The provision is meant to keep people from becoming addicted while not limiting such drugs to those who rely on them for long-term pain management. The sponsor said, “The idea is to prevent people like the high school athlete who has a knee injury and the doc gives him 150 Percocet or whatever – it’s to nip that in the bud; prevent new people from getting addicted, but while acknowledging that there are people in our state that have chronic pain and they’re getting along pretty well.”
The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.
PHOTO ABOVE: Dietetic Interns from CoxHealth and Mercy Health Systems visited the Capitol on Tuesday.
PHOTO ABOVE: We observed MO Donate Life Day on Tuesday at the Capitol. Deb Simaitis, Chair of the Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Committee, and her husband, San Simaitis, are instrumental in the success of this day that highlights special recognition of organ, eye, and tissue donors.
Cattlewomen were at the Capitol on Wednesday to advocate on behalf the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and hosted by Coby Wilson, Manager of Strategic Solutions for MCA (pictured on left).
PHOTO ABOVE: It was a pleasure to visit with the Hermitage High School American History students and their instructor, Ms. Carolyn Allison, on Wednesday during their visit and tour of the Capitol.
PHOTO ABOVE: Benton County Farm Bureau Youth visited the Capitol for their Leadership Day on Thursday. L-R: Warsaw High School FFA Advisor Stan Adler, Lerran Yoder, Kimberly Ransdell, Kaitlyn Hawley, and Alexis Hyde.
PHOTO ABOVE: Lakeland High School FFA Advisor Clint Johnson accompanied students representing the St. Clair County Farm Bureau Youth for Leadership Day on Thursday. L-R: MacKenna Neale, Gabby Dutcher, Justin Austin, Kendra Stewart, Tayton Dains, and Rebecca Siegismund.
TWO SELECTED FOR MISSOURI AGRIBUSINESS ACADEMY FROM DISTRICT 125:
Congratulations to Kaylee Lower of Collins and Justin Austin of Appleton City who have been selected to participate in the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Missouri Agribusiness Academy. Only 30 high school sophomores are selected to participate each year. They will spend the first week of June in the St. Louis region exploring various aspects of agriculture with a graduation ceremony to be held at the State Capitol in Jefferson City at the end of the week.
HOUSE INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE REPORT:
During the last several weeks, the Special Investigative Committee has conducted a fair, thorough, and timely investigation of the facts surrounding the alleged misconduct by Governor Greitens and released its findings on Wednesday. Following the release of the report, House Speaker Todd Richardson met with media and noted that the committee will continue its work to gather additional information that comes to light. The committee will also expand its mission to provide House members a recommendation of any and all appropriate discipline of the Governor. As the Speaker told the press, “The power given to the MO General Assembly to take disciplinary action or remove elected officials from office is one of the most serious and consequential powers the Constitution grants the legislature. We will not take that responsibility lightly, nor will we act rashly, however, we will not shrink from it.” His goal is for the General Assembly to remain focused on the tasks that Missourians sent legislators to Jefferson City to complete. To that end, he said he and members of House and Senate leadership have begun the process of calling a special session for full consideration of any recommendations by the committee.
It is my honor to serve the constituents of District 125. If you ever have questions, concerns, or input, please feel free to contact me any time at (573) 751-4065. YOUR District 125 Capitol office is 413B, and YOU are always welcome!
If you would like to be added to the e-mail list to receive our Capitol Reports, you may e-mail me at email@example.com or call the Capitol office at (573) 751-4065 and speak with Kelley Rogers, my Legislative Assistant.
“Ride’n for the Brand”
Representing the good people
of the 125th District
CAPITOL REPORT - April 5, 2018. It seems Easter came early this year; Easter weekend is usually spent with my family and church activities. However, due to the rainy, icy weather and below normal temperatures, I spent more time than usual just braving the elements and taking care of the livestock. My sincere hope is that sunshine and green grass are both on the horizon!
I would like to share some good news about legislation that I have been working on for some time. After much promotion and urging, with the wonderful support from hundreds of Veterans and other concerned citizens across the state, House Leadership referred HB2189 to the General Laws Committee, and it received its hearing on Tuesday, March 27th. The hearing room was full of supporters for the Missouri Veterans’ Heritage Protection Act. We were extremely honored to have Mr. Ralph Barrale testify in favor of the bill; Mr. Barrale, from the St. Louis area, is a 94 year old World War II Veteran, who served under General George Patton. His testimony received a standing ovation from everyone in the hearing room. I have had many interesting experiences during my years as a representative, but this was certainly one of my most inspiring moments.
PHOTO ABOVE: Pictured with House members, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Barrale, who have been married for 71 years, along with their son, Ralph, Jr., were recognized in the House Chamber on Tuesday, March 27th.
PHOTO ABOVE: Members of Missouri Cattlemen’s Association discussed current issues with me during the weekly “Cowboys at the Capitol” event on Wednesday.
PHOTO ABOVE: Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Regions 6 & 7 members, were at the Capitol on Wednesday advocating on behalf of agriculture policy.
LEGISLATION THIS WEEK:
Many hours were spent in the House chamber this week debating, perfecting and third reading bills. Several have been sent to the Senate for consideration including:
HB 1368 would modify the Missouri Returning Heroes Education Act to require any institution of higher education that receives state funds to limit the amount of tuition it charges to combat veterans enrolled in a program leading to a graduate degree to no more than 30% of the cost of tuition and fees. Supporters say the bill would allow servicemen and women who fought for their country to stretch their benefits a little further and to receive a graduate education at a reduced cost.
HB 1257 would allow private businesses to give hiring preference for veterans. Supporters note that the federal and state government can give preferential treatment to veterans. The bill simply makes it clear that private businesses can do the same. Supporters say some businesses want to give a hiring preference to veterans, but are worried about violating employment laws. This bill does not require private businesses to do anything. The legislation simply clarifies that they can legally give a preference to veterans should they want to.
UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH DAY:
Each year the University of MO System hosts an Undergraduate Research Day in the Capitol Rotunda. It illustrates student accomplishments on innovations taking place at MU-Columbia, UMKC-Kansas City, MS&T-Rolla, and UMSL-St. Louis. Out of thousands of students who attend these schools, only 51 were chosen to have their projects displayed in the Rotunda on Thursday. I am very proud to report that Lauren (Olivia) Shafer of Appleton City had her research highlighted on “The Impact of Social and Communication Skills Instruction on Bullying Involvement.” This is a prestigious honor! Congratulations to Olivia!
CAPITOL REPORT - March 29, 2018. Spring break flew by, however, with spending a week back in district, I was able to get some construction and remodeling work done on our home. I also attended several community events and fundraisers. One event that Marla and I attended was the annual meeting of the St. Clair County Soil and Water Conservation District. The program was presented by two volunteers from the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield. They brought two eagles: one was a golden and the other was a bald eagle named “Phoenix.” They presented the history of eagles in the United States. It was a very interesting program.
Majestic “Phoenix” from the Dickerson Park Zoo was on display at the St. Clair County Soil and Water Conversation District annual meeting.
On my way to the Capitol on Monday, I was given a tour of the Lost Valley Fish Hatchery in Warsaw by Aaron Jeffries, Deputy Director of the MO Conservation Department. Each year, MDC staff members collect walleye below Truman Dam in mid to late March. The fish are then kept in tanks at the hatchery where staff collect the eggs and semen. It takes an entire week to work up several hundred fish to collect enough eggs for the year, and staff is on call 24/7 as the fish ultimately determine when they are ready to release the eggs. Once fertilized the eggs are kept in containers until they hatch, which usually takes about a week. The fingerling walleye are then moved to production pools where the fish feed on phytoplankton for the next 60 to 90 days. The fingerling walleye are then stocked into MO lakes and streams when they reach about 2 inches in length. For more information, visit the MDC Walleye Fishing page athttps://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/walleye.
I enjoyed observing a walleye harvesting of eggs demonstration at the Lost Valley Hatchery in Warsaw. The hatchery is the largest, state-owned, warm-water hatchery in MO and one of the largest in the nation.
Fiscally Responsible Spending Plan Heads to the Senate (HBs 2001 – 2013):
House members worked late into the night Tuesday to give initial approval to a fiscally responsible spending plan that makes a record investment in K-12 education. The House then gave final approval on Thursday to the 13 appropriations bills that make up the $28.1 billion state operating budget for Fiscal Year 2019.
The House Budget Committee Chairman has said the conservative spending plan is based on a sensible consensus revenue estimate that will avoid shortfalls that could force the governor to withhold funds. This year’s budget plan enforces fiscal discipline by holding welfare spending in check. It also includes a budget reserve of $100 million to allow for emergency spending needs. Additionally, the House version of the budget rejects a plan endorsed by the governor to borrow $250 million to expedite tax refunds.
The House version of the budget makes a record investment in K-12 education by fully funding the school foundation formula, which included new funding for early childhood education. In total, the House plan increases funding for the foundation formula by $98.9 million. Included in that figure is $48 million in new funding for pre-K education for low-income children. With this plan, the legislature would fully fund the foundation formula in back-to-back years for the first time in a generation.
Honoring Missouri’s Vietnam Veterans:
The members of the Missouri House of Representatives welcomed some of the state’s greatest heroes to the State Capitol this week to be honored for their service to this country. Vietnam veterans traveled to Jefferson City to be honored by lawmakers during the annual observance of Vietnam Veterans Day. We were honored to have several veterans from District 125 take part: Gerald Marcus, Carl Marks, and Ronald Privett, all of Hermitage; Gregory Thacker of Pittsburg; and Truman Edmunds, John Ramer, David Smith, Robert Topping, and James West, all of Warsaw.
It was an honor to pay tribute to over 130 Vietnam Veterans who gathered from across the state on Thursday.
Jared and Jill Wareham visited the Capitol on Wednesday. Jared is a director with FCS Financial, and Jill is a 3rd Grade Teacher in the Clinton School District. They were both also advocating as regional members for the MO Cattlemen’s “Cowboys/Cowgirls at the Capitol” weekly event.
Other visitors this week included constituents, Bill and Susan Arnold, who are active community members from District 125. Bill is the Silver Haired Representative with Care Connection for Aging Services. Also, Bill and Susan, along with Mike Alexander, all from Hickory County, attended the MO Vietnam Veterans Recognition Ceremony on Thursday. Bill and Mike, who are both Vietnam Veterans, took part in last year’s ceremony. It was wonderful to have their presence and participation again this year.
CAPITOL REPORT - March 22, 2018. It has been an enjoyable week attending several different community functions throughout the district. Everyone is busy celebrating the arrival of Spring with activities and fundraisers. I attended a media event in Lowry City on Tuesday hosted by the Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission. With the diligent work of KBRPC, the ‘Lowe’s Gives’ Foundation presented Lowry City with a grant of $47,817.00 to be used for the Lowry City Civic Center Improvement Project. This grant will be a wonderful boost for needed repairs to Lowry City’s facility that is used throughout the year for many community events. I also had the pleasure of attending the Baked Potato Bar sponsored by the Friends of the St. Clair County Senior Center today. Held at the Optimist Club building in Osceola, It was a great afternoon event full of conversation and plenty of food!
This week, March 18-24, is celebrated as National Agriculture Week in the State of Missouri. Agriculture is the backbone of our nation and our economy, and I am honored to commend farmers, ranchers, and their families for their faithful, tireless efforts to put food on the tables of Americans. Actually, agriculture provides most everything Americans eat, use, and wear each day. I am proud of the important role that District 125 contributes to the agricultural industry in Missouri and the nation.
When we return to the Capitol next Monday, March 26, the budget will be our top legislative priority. The House will work to approve the appropriations bills that make up the spending plan and send them to the Senate so that both chambers are on track to complete the budget by the May 11 deadline, which is one week before session adjourns on Friday, May 18.
The legislature is also expected to discuss comprehensive tax reform legislation that would cut the state’s personal and corporate income tax rates and transform Missouri’s tax system to the most competitive in the nation. The legislation would also make sizeable reforms that would generate nearly $2 billion over the next 10 years for the state road fund to repair and improve the state’s transportation infrastructure.
As everyone makes plans for Easter traditions, special church programs, family gatherings, or travel to be with loved ones; my wife, Marla, and I hope you have a blessed Easter. It is a time of renewal and restoration, reminding us of the incredible opportunities God has bestowed upon us.
CAPITOL REPORT - March 15, 2018. Upon arriving home last Thursday, I attended the "Destination Osceola" meeting hosted by the St. Clair County Economic Development Council and West Central MO Community Action Agency. My "Hat's Off" for the efforts to promote and attract people to visit the Osceola area. Some great ideas discussed included building upon the reputation of the Annual Labor Day Rodeo Daze, spoonbill snagging, the H. Roe Bartle Boy Scout Reservation, and the promotion of local history as well as local Amish crafts.
On Friday, I was joined by Lt. Governor Mike Parson, and Senator Sandy Crawford at the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies for Hermitage Lumber, Inc. The Pitts Family has constructed this new facility just south of Hermitage on Hwy. 254 and are open for business. The economic development that Maurice Pitts and his family have contributed to the district over the years is greatly appreciated.
Friday evening, Marla and I attended and supported the Lowry City Christian School fundraiser soup and chili supper. This annual event was well attended. It's very impressive to see the students serving the crowd, and even more impressive to see all the donated items sold at auction. It is their major fundraiser each year.
Saturday provided good weather and allowed me to get some more fertilizer spread before attending the Osceola Optimist Paddy Pig Supper in Vista. The Optimists do a great job and work hard in raising money to support the area youth.
On my way back to the Capitol on Monday, I made time to attend the funeral service in Clinton for fallen Police Officer Christopher Ryan Morton. He was killed in the line of duty, the second police office in Clinton to give their "all" in less than a year. It was a very somber service, but it was also very moving to see his fellow law enforcement members come from all over Missouri to honor and pay tribute to him.
LEGISLATION THIS WEEK:
Repealing Prevailing Wage Law (HBs 1729, 1621 & 1436) - The House approved a bill meant to make public construction projects more affordable for taxpayers. The bill would repeal Missouri's prevailing wage law to help reduce the cost of construction and maintenance projects for municipalities and school districts, such as the construction or repair of bridges, school buildings, and fire stations; Prevailing Wage has caused communities and school districts to pay too much for needed construction or maintenance, or to forego the projects entirely. The repeal would allow public works projects to be awarded to the most qualified, competitive bidder. It would allow the state, counties, municipalities, schools, and other government agencies to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars. It was second read in the Senate today and has been referred to the Senate General Laws Committee.
Helping First-Time Home Buyers (HB 1796) - House members gave approval to a bill that would make it easier for Missourians to save money to buy their first home. The bill would establish the First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account Act and authorize a tax deduction for contributions to a savings account dedicated to buying a first home. It would authorize an individual income tax deduction for 50 percent of the contributions to the account and have an annual contribution deduction limit of $1,600 per taxpayer. The bill specifies the maximum contribution limit for all tax years would be $20,000 and the maximum total amount in the savings account would be $30,000.
Third read and passed through the House today, (HB 1503) would establish a fund for providing state-guaranteed small business loans to veterans. After World War II, 49 percent of returning veterans started their own businesses because a federal loan guarantee was available. Currently, only 6 percent of returning veterans start their own business. The bill would provide veterans with an opportunity to start their own business and contribute to the state's economy.
Parental Notification Bill (HB 1383) - House members also voted to require the notification of both parents when a minor in Missouri seeks to have an abortion. The legislation would require that a parent or guardian giving consent for a minor to have an abortion notify any other custodial parent or guardian in writing before the minor gives her consent. Missouri law now requires that a minor seeking an abortion and only one parent or guardian of that minor give written consent before the procedure can be performed. It has been second read in the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Seniors, Families and Children.
Approved by the House and now moving through the Senate, (HB 1614) would prohibit political subdivisions from adopting or enforcing ordinances or regulations relating to seeds or fertilizers. This bill would ensure that all residents of Missouri have the same ability to use fertilizers on their crops and fields. Political subdivisions are already prohibited from adopting ordinances, rules, or regulations relating to pesticides. This legislation would also do the same for fertilizers.
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