|2015 Capitol Reports & Press Releases (Archived)
|January • February • March • April • May • June • August • September • November
CAPITOL REPORT - January 29, 2015. My In-District day started at the 4th Friday Chamber of Commerce Coffee in El Dorado Springs. A ribbon cutting was held at the new business start-up of Cory Gayman, CPA, PC. I then met engineer Darin Hamelink with MoDOT. We discussed highway guard rails and some ideas on transportation and infrastructure funding.
It was a pleasure to attend a 90th birthday celebration for Chester Nelson at the McCarty Senior Center in Wheatland. At noon, I attended the Osceola Chamber luncheon. Katie Yendes, the St. Clair County Economic Developer gave a presentation on the current project she has in the works and opportunities for the communities to get involved in.
I also paid a visit to the St. Clair County Library and discussed funding cuts and money being withheld by the Governor. According to Director Angie Jones the library received hardly any of the funds that were appropriated in the FY 2015 budget. This appears to be the case with libraries all over the state. Not only is Governor Nixon withholding FY 2015 appropriated funding, his FY 2016 recommendation would decrease library funding nearly in half from $11.5 million down to $5.6 million state wide.
Friday evening, the St. Clair County Commissioners, local fire department and First Responders met in the courthouse to discuss concerns about reception on their 2-way radios. Currently, the radio signals are analog with narrow band frequency. The complaints were mostly poor reception and static. Everyone came to the consensus that a professional needs to examine all the communication equipment.
Finally my wife Marla and I attended our Homecoming basketball game at Osceola. The Osceola Indians beat the Adrian Blackhawks 92-49. The evening was topped off by our niece Tristen Reed being crowned Homecoming Queen. All in all, it was a very good Friday.
House Activity this week included HB 140, the “Dairy Bill” sponsored by Rep. Bill Reiboldt. This bill establishes the Missouri Dairy and Agriculture Education Act. I spoke on the House floor in support during the debate.
My HB 185 which specifies that ambulance district public funds deposited in certain banking institutions are secured was heard in the Local Government Committee this week.
I attended a meeting this week in Senator Parson’s office with Hickory County License Bureau manager, Melissa Anderson; Paul Harper from the Department of Revenue, Maurice Pitts and David Martin with Hickory County Farm Bureau; Rep. Wanda Brown, Rep. Dave Muntzel, and Senator Mike Parson. We discussed DOR policies for License Offices and requested that the DOR needs to offer better assistance in training along with more clear communication.
Visitors this week included Curtis Gist representing the Missouri Association of Veterans Organizations. Bob Leeper, an avid supporter of his hometown of El Dorado Springs dropped by.
CAPITOL REPORT - January 22, 2015. On my way to the Capitol this week I drove the back roads to Jefferson City. I started north of Warsaw on “The Old Butterfield Overland Stage Route.” Traveling through Cole Camp into the very south east corner of Pettis County. I then turned east and north through Morgan County and the small community of Florence; then north to Syracuse on U.S. Highway 50, then east to Tipton. Tipton, MO was the western terminus of the Pacific Railroad in 1858. Tipton is where the mail was actually taken from the train and placed on a stagecoach.
The Butterfield Overland Mail Co. operated from 1858 to 1861 under contract with the U.S. Postal Department, providing transportation of U.S. mail between St. Louis, Mo., and San Francisco, Calif. The route proposed by the Butterfield Mail Co. became known as the “Oxbow Route” because of its shape on a map, starting in St. Louis and then dipping southwesterly through Missouri, western Arkansas and the Indian Territory, turning west across Texas and southern New Mexico and Arizona, and then curving north again in California to finish at San Francisco.
My plan is to file a Joint House Resolution to encourage the U.S. Congress to approve the current “National Historic Trail Feasibility” study to make this famous trail a National Parkway. Naturally our goal is to increase awareness, travel, and tourism dollars to our district and our state.
House Activity this week centered around the already scheduled pay raises for Elected Officials outlined in HCR 4, sponsored by Rep. Jay Barnes. I voted with the majority vote to just say no to raised salaries, especially when the Foundation Formula for schools is not fully funded. This now will move to the Senate.
We heard our first bill in the Ag Policy Committee this week. HB 259, sponsored by Rep. Reiboldt, establishes the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2015. The bill was voted out of committee by a unanimous vote.
Also this week we heard Governor Nixon’s State of the State address and the State of the Judiciary by Mary R. Russell, Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court.
Visitors this week included Jeff Moore from Appleton City. He is the Community Services and Conservation Director with West Central Missouri Community Action Agency. We discussed the weatherization program on homes.
Keith Carmichael from Lowry City, the Missouri Director for the Convention of States. And Mike Wilson from Osceola came by my office with his tool belt working on televisions in the Capitol!
CAPITOL REPORT - January 15, 2015. The 98th General Legislative Assembly gathered in Jefferson City, Wednesday, January 7th. My day began at the Concord Baptist Church. The church hosted an annual breakfast and prayer service for Missouri government leaders.
The charge to the General Assembly was delivered by Dr. Anthony Allen, President of Hannibal-LaGrange University. His message was “Our Hope” for government leaders is to seek wisdom from Almighty God.
At high noon, the House convened and all re-elected Representatives, plus 32 new members took the oath of office. Our new Speaker of the House, John Diehl ascended to the post of Speaker of the House today with a speech largely pleading for a less partisan approach to the day-to-day politics of Missouri’s Capitol.
In a speech that touched on education, economic growth, fiscal discipline and events in Ferguson, Diehl decided to forgo laying out strict and certain specifics on legislation and instead sought to paint a broad picture of a chamber that largely agreed on small, good-government issues.
The evening event was the Legislative Ball. My wife Marla joined me for the Grand march down the Grand Staircase into the Rotunda. After a few dances we enjoyed hosting guests who came by my new office in the Capitol. Now that the glitz and glamour is over, it is time to get to work for the citizens of District 125 and the State of Missouri.
Several difficult challenges that I have been working on and trying to help with during the past few months are:
1) Funding cuts in our rural libraries.
2) The closure of the Sac-Osage Hospital
3) The lack of guard rails on the newly constructed overpass at the junction of 13 & 82 Highways in Osceola and the Turkey Creek Hill on Highway 7 in southeast Benton County.
4) How to help keep the license offices open and operating in our small rural counties.
Business in the House this week was passing the Rules on how we conduct the lawmaking process. I’m also pleased to announce my new committee assignments:
1) Committee on Agriculture Policy
2) Committee on Emerging Educational Issues
3) Committee on Telecommunications
4) Appropriations on General Administration
I look forward to working with our new House Speaker John J. Diehl, Jr. and our leadership team for the “Greater Good” of Missourians.
CAPITOL REPORT - February 5, 2015. My In-District Day began last Friday in Hermitage. I conferenced with Mel Gilbert about HCR 29, a Resolution I filed that encourages the United States Congress to make the Butterfield Overland Trail part of the National Historic Trails system. Mel has been involved with the feasibility study on this effort since 2009. He provided me copies of seven Resolutions from area communities and organization that have endorsed this endeavor.
I stopped by the McCarty Senior Center at Wheatland for a fine fish dinner. My purpose for eating and visiting with seniors is to listen and learn about their concerns. I finished the day up by delivering two flags to the Lakeland Schools.
Saturday was a very special day at El Dorado Springs. My wife Marla and I joined the Eldorado community as they gathered together to commemorate and celebrate the life of their “Native Son” Walter Jackson “Jack” Tough, Sr. who passed away in January. In his obituary he was described as an extraordinary promoter of his community. Jack helped create the Spring City Revitalization Group. He labored tirelessly in pursuit of brick and granite sidewalks, new lighting, and many other improvements to enhance downtown El Dorado Springs.
Back at the Capitol on Monday, my Committee on Emerging Issues in Education had a hearing on HB 42 sponsored by Rep. David Wood. This bill addresses the School Transfer issue on un-accredited schools. The legislative effort to fix this very controversial issue last year was vetoed by Governor Nixon. Our House Speaker John Diehl has stated, “The General Assembly will pass a bill, which provides immediate options to those trapped in failing district. We must further expand their educational opportunities by providing more choice in the form of additional charter schools and we must take advantage of the technologies of the 21st century by providing virtual schools that will give our young people another vital option to obtain a quality education.”
House Activity this week centered around two bills. The first was HB 140 the “Dairy Bill” sponsored by Rep. Bill Reiboldt. This bill establishes the Missouri Dairy and Agriculture Education Act. I supported and voted for the bill which now heads for the Senate. We also debated HB 150, sponsored by Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, would tie the number of weeks jobless Missourians can receive unemployment benefits to the unemployment rate. We 3rd read and passed HB 150 and sent it to the Senate.
My HB 185 which specifies that ambulance district public funds deposited in certain banking institutions are secured, progressed through the Local Government Committee on a 100% vote and then passed through the Rules Committee on a 100% vote.
I’m also pleased to announce that I have been selected by Majority Whip, Rep. Delus Johnson from St. Joseph, to serve on the Whip Team. As part of the team, I will be responsible for assisting the Majority Whip in rounding up votes on critical issues, communicating policy positions to other members, and overseeing that parliamentary rules of the House are followed.
Visitors this week included Chele Trammell, Marie Payne-Bowman, Theresa Gatton, M.D., and Chris Stewart from Katy Trail Community Health in Sedalia.
I also had the honor to introduce and present a House Resolution on the House floor to the Hermitage High School 2014 MSHSAA Class 1 Cross Country State Champions who visited the Capitol this week with their coaches, Mark Sabala and Julie Yowell.
CAPITOL REPORT - February 12, 2015. On Friday, February 6th, I spent some time in Appleton City at the Farm House Kitchen Coffee caucus and delivered two flags to the Appleton City School. I also discussed the progress being made on the demolition of old vacant properties and the sidewalk projects with Mayor Stephanie Donnohue.
On Monday, I had a phone conference with St. Clair County Commissioners about SB 384. This act requires each county office holder to receive a minimum five percent increase in salary at the beginning of each term of office starting in 2016 until the office has met the statutory maximum salary and unless the county commission votes to disapprove the increase. This act increases the salary schedule for county sheriffs and provides that, starting in 2016, the maximum allowable compensation of sheriff shall be no more than two times the salary listed in the schedule. We are watching this bill very closely as it could put a financial burden on 3rd class counties.
We also discussed HB 714 that would allow the citizens of a county to vote on assessing a fee on cell phones to help pay for enhanced 911 services.
My Tuesday always starts with our Capitol Commission Bible Study with about fifty other legislators. During session, we had the state officers of the Future Farmers of American give a presentation on behalf of the 26,000 Missouri FFA members and the future of agriculture, which is the number one industry in our state. It was a pleasure for me to present Claire Silvers, from El Dorado Springs, who currently serves as Treasurer of Missouri FFA Association’s Area 9, a House Resolution plaque.
I also met with Linda Alcorn and Don Kauble representing the Boonslick Library. We discussed the Governor’s funding cuts of the appropriated money in their budget. I shared with them a letter written to Governor Nixon urging him to release the withheld funding to our public libraries immediately. I joined in with about 25 other legislators in signing this letter.
Also during my budget hearing on Appropriations-General Administration, we suggested $4.5 million be appropriated to our libraries for the FY 2016, and suggested a $100,000 increase to our Regional Planning Commissions. The money would go toward matching Federal funds to help support the following:
- Senior centers and community centers
- Community Revitalization projects
- Recycling Centers
My HB 655 was heard in our Local Government committee this week. This bill sets up a formula for County Commissioners to distribute a Federal “PILT” (payment in lieu of taxes) payment for three municipalities in the Truman Lake Watershed.
During one reception this week, I discussed with the St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield Zoo Directors the preferred foods used for tigers, lions, and carnivores. They shared that they prefer the high lean, protein meat from equine. It is very expensive because it is currently imported from Canada. I have filed HB 196 which would allow Missouri to have equine meat processing facilities as long as they meet USDA standards. This would help the equine industry plus provide our zoos a more affordable food supply.
The “Big Bill” in the House this week was HCS HB 116 & 569. This is often referred to as “Right to Work.” It allows a choice of either joining a union and paying dues or not joining a union and not paying dues as a condition for employment. It passed on a 91 to 64 vote and now moves to the Senate.
This Saturday is Valentine’s Day. I plan to spend the special day with Marla, my sweetheart and wife of nearly 43 years.
CAPITOL REPORT - February 18, 2015. My In-District Day on Friday began at the Hermitage Coffee Shop caucus. The discussion of the area was the Hickory County license office, private property easements for utility companies, and the possibility of getting enhanced 911 services. Currently, there are seventeen counties in Missouri that do not have enhanced 911 services. Three of those counties are: Cedar, Hickory, and St. Clair in our House District 125.
I also met with Teresa Smith who designed and administrates our www.discover54.com website. She just received a shipment of laminated 12” x 24”, “Discover More on Route 54” signs. We divided them up and plan to distribute to each of our supporters along U.S. Route 54. All businesses along the route are encouraged to join by submitting $25.00 per year dues.
My plans to return to the Capitol on Monday were disrupted by a state wide snow storm. So, I spent my morning in Warsaw with plans to help the Lions Club posting the flags in honor of President’s Day. Even that got cancelled, so I joined the Warsaw Lions for a big breakfast then returned home for some much needed ranch work.
My first committee hearing on Tuesday was Ag Policy. HB 543, sponsored by Rep. Jay Houghton, was presented. This bill would change the current Department of Agriculture Director which is appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate. The new proposal would be an elected Secretary of Agriculture, elected by Missouri voters, and could serve up to 2 four year terms, the same as other state offices. There are a lot of pros and cons to this issue, but it at least opened up a dialogue that Missourians may want to consider.
On Wednesday I presented HCR 29 which urges the U.S. Congress to make the historic Butterfield Overland Trail part of the National Trails System. I was joined by Mel Gilbert from Buffalo, who has been a state leader in getting the trail designated a National Parkway.
In my Telecommunications Committee, HB 714 was presented. This bill changes the laws regarding funding for emergency 911 services, administration of 911 funding, and the cooperation and contracting between emergency services providers. The monies would be provided by adding a service fee on cell phones, which would have to be voted on by the citizens in each county.
The “Big Bill” of the week was HJR 1 and HB 30, both sponsored by Rep. Tony Dugger. Upon voter approval, this constitutional amendment specifies that a person seeking to vote in a public election may be required by general law to identify himself or herself and verify his or her qualifications as a U.S. citizen and a Missouri resident by providing election officials with a form of identification that may include requiring valid government-issued photo identification. Exceptions to the identification requirement may also be provided for by general law. After nearly three hours of floor debate, our Speaker John Diehl, Jr. made a “GRAND FINALE” speech that photo I.D. would help prevent voter fraud. The House voted 118-37, myself included, in favor of photo I.D. It now goes to the Senate.
My plan for the weekend is to celebrate with Marla our 43rd wedding anniversary. We may just start a road trip like we did 43 years ago. This time we’ll begin at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Park, driving southwest on the old Butterfield Overland Stagecoach route, passing through the Pea Ridge National Military Park, on our way to Fayetteville, Arkansas to visit our grandchildren. Luckily, we will be in the comfort of a warm vehicle, not a stagecoach.
CAPITOL REPORT - February 25, 2015. My plans to drive the back roads on the old Butterfield Overland Trail from Springfield through Southwest Missouri to Fayetteville, Arkansas did not work out. While loafing and looking around Springfield on Friday with my wife, the already snow covered roads got really icy by 6:00 p.m. So, Marla and I spent the night in Springfield at the very same town we stayed in 43 years ago when we were newlyweds.
When I returned to the Capitol on Monday, I presented HB 195, “Prevailing Wages,” in our Workforce Standards and Development Committee. I began by pointing out that changing the state law regarding prevailing wages on public works projects would do two things:
· Spend our tax money more wisely.
· Create opportunity for more work in our rural communities.
The bill would allow nine urban counties plus the city of St. Louis to continue using Prevailing Wage on public works projects. However, all other counties would use the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics that are published annually for Missouri. The wage rate for ten different building trades would be about $15.00 per hour less than the current prevailing wage rate of $40.00.” This would allow current project like the Appleton City Sidewalk Renovation, Cedar County Ambulance Barn in El Dorado Springs, Osceola Senior Center, and the Osceola Boat Ramp be constructed. A good example is; if the Cedar County Ambulance Barn was private property, the cost to repair the roof damaged by a September hail storm would be $22,000. However, because it is a public building funded by taxpayers, the prevailing wage cost of repair is $63,205.88.
“The Appleton City sidewalk example, according to Mayor Stephanie Donnohue; “The cost per square foot for a 4” concrete sidewalk, including aggregate base at the prevailing wage rate for the state of Missouri, St. Clair County, is between $4.50 and $5.00 a square foot. The same sidewalk completed at private rates would be $3.00 to $3.75 per square foot with no prevailing wage attached. The contract we will be signing on Monday will be with prevailing wages at $4.47 per square foot. Our first phase sidewalk project will cover 11,296 square feet of 4” sidewalk. With this example we could have realized a savings ranging from $0.72 to $1.47 per square foot or $8,133 to $16,605. Municipalities such as ours are faced with deteriorated infrastructures and increasing regulations while trying to address these issues with reduced revenue. House Bill 195 would allow the public dollars to go farther in improving the much needed public works projects in the cities such as ours.”
I spoke two times on the House Floor in favor of HB 141, sponsored by Rep. Bill Reiboldt. This bill would clear up a statute that would allow all beef producers in Missouri to vote for increasing the beef check off by 50 cents per head. The bill passed by a vote of 114-37. It now heads to the Senate.
The “Big Bill” this week was HB 42 sponsored by Rep. David Wood, the school transfer issue on unaccredited schools. We also discussed HCS HB 130, sponsored by Rep. Holly Rehder, which establishes the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Act.
Visitors this week included Dawn Vader, Administrator with the Hickory County Health Department and a group of others here representing the Missouri Foundation for Health.
Gary Noakes, St. Clair County Farm Bureau President also stopped by to visit. And, Patrick Davis, Livestock Specialist with the Cedar County University of Missouri Extension dropped by.
Velynda Cameron, Hickory County 4-H Specialist from Hickory County visited the Capitol with Eric Fillipi, and Kole Armstrong.
Visitors from Osceola representing Hospice Compassus are Amy Winburn, MSN, RN; Managing Clinical Director, and Kara Colby, Hospice Care Consultant.
Wednesday, Roy Norton, Consulate General of Canada addressed the legislature. He and I discussed the equine meat processing that is currently done in Canada and how that meat is shipped back to the animal zoos in the United States. I am sponsoring HB 196, which would help bring back this industry to Missouri.
Thursday, several Missouri Tourism groups hosted “Capitol Days for Tourism” in the Rotunda. I joined with Lt. Governor Peter Kinder and Rep. Ron Hicks cooking and flipping pancakes to help support and promote Missouri tourism.
CAPITOL REPORT - March 5, 2015. My In-District Day began at the monthly 4th Friday Coffee hosted by the Cedar County Memorial Hospital in El Dorado Springs. I got to visit briefly with Administrator Jana Witt. We discussed the controversial issue of Medicaid Expansion. My advice is that the term needs to be re-branded with a different name because most voting taxpayers do not want to expand social services/welfare. However, I’ve done some research with Missouri Hospital Association and Mo HealthNet Division, under the Department of Social Services, and this is what I found out. Currently where 100 people qualify for Medicaid there would be 33 additional people issued a Medicaid card that would only apply to health care benefits. It would not give them eligibility for other social service benefits. That would come under a separate application that they may or may not be qualified for.
Also, I had a phone conference with City Manager Bruce Rogers about two House bills that involve utility easement and elected municipality officials. I also was honored to present the El Dorado Springs FFA Chapter, four House Resolutions to recognize their 2014 American Farmer Degree Recipients.
Monday Morning was with the “Old Bus Station” breakfast regulars at Osceola. The big concern and discussion was about the revision of what is known as the “Macks Creek Law.” Sen. Delbert Scott sponsored legislation in 2005 that capped revenue at 45% of its total annual revenue from traffic fines. This session, Sen. Schmitt has filed SB 5 which would drop the revenue down to 10%. This would put city municipalities in a hardship for financing their law enforcement.
On Monday evening I joined a bus load of my fellow legislators that caravanned to Ft. Leonard Wood to show support for maintaining this very important military post in Missouri.
On Tuesday, I journeyed with fellow legislators to St. Louis and attended the memorial service for our State Auditor Tom Schweich, one of our state’s most dedicated public servants.
The “Big Bill” this week was HB118, sponsored by Eric Burlison. It is Tort Reform on Medical Malpractice law suits. This would place a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages. Numerous Medical and Health Care Associations plus the MO Chamber of Commerce are in favor. The MO Association of Trial Attorneys is against. We voted and it passed 101 to 50 and now goes to the Senate.
In our House Ag Policy committee we heard HB 882, sponsored by Rep. Joe Don McGaugh. This bill creates the “Agri-Ready County Designation Program” within the Department of Agriculture. The program would be a voluntary program by which a county may apply to become designated as an Agri-Ready county. To qualify as an Agri-Ready county, the county must meet certain requirements that show the county encourages agricultural operations to locate in the county. By March 31, 2016, the department must establish application requirements and review procedures for the program. This is a work in progress that could really enhance Agriculture, which is Missouri’s #1 industry.
CAPITOL REPORT - March 12, 2015. Well the time has come to discuss “Daylight Savings Time.” It reminds me of an old Indian saying; “Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”
Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Lamar, is sponsoring a constitutional amendment, HJR 38, that would ask voters whether Missouri should use daylight savings time all the time. Under the measure, Missouri residents would switch to daylight savings time in March 2017 and never turn their clocks back again. I’m old enough to remember when we didn’t change our clocks two times a year. When it first started back in the 1960s our family still did not change the clock. We lived on a diversified farm with milk cows, chickens, beef, and hogs. We got up when the rooster crowed, ate a big breakfast, worked until high noon and had dinner. Then worked until dark and had supper before going to bed. Life seemed simpler back in the good ole days. However, fast forward to modern times and most everything we do is adjusted to a time clock. I’m not sure where this effort by Rep. Kelley will go. I actually did a quick survey on Facebook and about 75% of the responses were to stay on regular time year round and do not change the clocks. But, as of now, we Missourians continue to “spring forward” and “fall back” twice per year.
While visiting grandchildren in Fayetteville, Arkansas over the weekend, I noticed the highways were in excellent shape and there was a lot of road and bridge construction work. It’s apparent the temporary ten year, ½ cent sales tax approved by their voters and put into effect July 1, 2013 is supporting a $1.8 billion highway program. Missouri voters in August defeated a proposed ¾ cent sales tax that would have raised at least $540 million annually for transportation for ten years. State lawmakers haven’t agreed on an alternative means of raising the money highway officials say is necessary to keep most of the state’s roads and bridges in decent condition.
On Tuesday morning I attended the MoDOT Commissioners monthly meeting and listened to comments like;
· Missouri has closed five bridges because of their poor condition, including one shut down last month in Macon County over the Thomas Hill Reservoir after a heavy vehicle cracked a hole in the deck.
· The number of Missouri bridges in poor condition is expected to rise dramatically over the next decade as state funding declines, the state’s top bridge engineer said Tuesday.
· Trying to take care of a 34,000 mile system with a 17-cent per gallon fuel tax just doesn’t work.
I received a letter this week from MoDOT Commission Chair, Stephen R. Miller. Included in his message of “Take The First Step Now” was the following:
There is no perfect solution to our transportation funding need that will satisfy everyone, but we know that a solution must be found. There will be no ideal time, but we know the time for action is now. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and the current session of the Missouri General Assembly is an opportunity to take that first step.
Too often, we suffer from paralysis at both the state and federal levels. We have become masters at finding reasons to avoid addressing our most serious problems. Missourians must do better. The problem is well known: our state has not increased its funding for transportation since the General Assembly acted in 1992 – some 23 years ago. Over that time the cost of everything has more than doubled. The purchasing power of the 17 cents from the last fuel tax increase is now worth eight cents in today’s dollars.
So this week I took the first step and plan to carry the flag by filing HJR 52 and HB 1360 that I will call the 2 + 2 Transportation/Infrastructure funding. One will place a 2/10 of 1 percent on our current sales tax with a ten year sunset. The other would place a 2% sales tax on the price of fuel at the pump.
BIG BILLS of the week were all about the budget. The House approved $26.1 billion, it goes to the Senate.
This week the Missouri Department of Economic Development announced that the El Dorado Youth Center has received the Youth Opportunity Program tax credit for the amount of $98,116.
Visitors this week included John & Pam Carleton from Warsaw representing the Midwest Hemophilia Assoc.
Cynthia Smith and Martha Foster attending the 27th annual MoFRW Legislative Day. Rhonda Shelby, St. Clair County Treasurer and Rick Renno, Benton County Treasurer were at the Capitol this week.
Other visitors were Jeff Maggard and John Maggard from Osceola with Right to Life and Larry Pursley representing the Silver Haired Legislature.
CAPITOL REPORT - March 19, 2015. My In-District activity began at the Cedar County Farm Bureau meeting Thursday evening. The program was on Missouri’s fencing law. Our state has two fencing laws. One is the general fence law and the other is the local option . Cedar County citizens will vote this April election to decide if they want to adopt a change from the current general fence law to the local option. Currently, there are eighteen Missouri counties, most of which have high numbers of livestock with the local option. The local option fence law states that when one landowner requires a boundary fence, both landowners are legally responsible for their portion of the fence. Bates, Newton, and St. Clair are the counties in southwest Missouri that have adopted the local option.
Friday evening Marla and I joined about 600 other supporters at the Lowry City Christian School fundraiser. Then, Saturday evening we attended a fundraiser to help assist Rusty Norval of El Dorado Springs with costs related to his health issues. It is pure joy to witness and see first-hand how people will get together and lend a helping hand in times of our neighbors’ needs.
Saturday was a very special day in Warsaw. My wife Marla and I joined the community as they gathered together to commemorate and celebrate the life of Dr. James E. Spring. He opened a dental practice in Warsaw and served the community, school, chamber, and various organizations for the past 38 years.
Another big traditional event on the Osage/Truman Lake was the opening of spoonbill snagging season on March 15th. It is obvious by the number of boats on the waters, that fishing is a most welcome source of revenue to our area businesses.
This week the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association held their annual county leadership conference. On Tuesday, there were cowboy hats all over the Capitol. Several of us legislators had lunch with them during our noon recess. I tip my hat to them for taking time out of their farm and ranch work to come discuss the lawmaking that affects the cattle business and all of agriculture, which is the #1 industry in our state.
During Wednesday’s noon recess, I was able to attend Farm Bureau’s Centennial Luncheon with about 400 members from across the state. Our Ag Policy Chairman, Rep. Bill Reiboldt from Neosho, presented them a resolution plaque from the House of Representatives commemorating their first 100 years. It was great looking back at the history of the organization founded in March of 1915 at Slater, MO. What began as thirteen Missouri counties is now an organization in all fifty states. Currently, Missouri has 118,276 members with a vision for the future of Missouri’s farmers and ranchers.
Before we take next week off for Spring Break, I would like to make an analogy of the first half of session compared to putting up hay. We spent the early weeks hashing out bills in committee listening to witnesses that were for and against; then voting on which bills are worthy of debate on the House floor. That could be compared to mowing and raking the hay.
Well, this week we finally got the bills on the floor and boy did we bale bay. Some of the bills sent to the Senate had to do with welfare reform and oversight, the use of paper or plastic bags, not having to pay gas tax on fuel used in boats, and insurance reform, to name just a few. I will give a more detailed report of priority bills next week.
Visitors this week included 4th graders from the Eldorado Springs Christian School and their teacher Jill Ash. I also visited with a group representing the Missouri Foundation for Health.
CAPITOL REPORT - March 30, 2015. We have passed the mid-way point in this year’s legislative session. The following is a list of priority bills with short summaries of each, that have been passed by the House to date:
Worker Freedom Legislation (HB 116 – Burlison) - For the first time in Missouri’s history a chamber of the General Assembly passed a Right-to-Work bill and sent it to the other side of the building. The bill simply gives workers the freedom to choose whether to join a union.
>Voter ID Legislation (HJR 1 and HB 30 – Dugger) - Two pieces of legislation - one a proposed constitutional amendment and the other a statutory change – that would put in place a requirement designed to protect the integrity of the elections process by requiring voters to show photo identification before casting their ballots.
Medical Malpractice Reform (HB 118 – Burlison) – Would help keep doctors in our state and keep health care costs under control by restoring reasonable limits ($350,000) on medical malpractice non-economic damages.
Fiscal Year 2016 State Operating Budget – $26.1 billion state operating budget that increases funding for K-12 education by $75 million to take total funding for public schools to the highest level in state history. Cuts governor’s travel budget. Also five percent cut to most of OA.
Welfare Reform (SB 24 – Franklin) - Adds new eligibility and work requirements for recipients of federal welfare benefits to help move them back to work so that they can become self-supporting and independent.
Unemployment Reform (HB 150 – Fitzpatrick) - Strikes a balance to ensure Missourians have access to unemployment benefits when they are out of work while also protecting Missouri’s job creators from excessive taxes and fees. Ties unemployment benefits to the unemployment rate and requires the unemployment fund to have more cash on hand.
Dairy Revitalization Act (HB 259 – Reiboldt) - Legislation designed to revitalize Missouri’s struggling dairy industry that has seen more than 2,500 dairy farms close their doors in the past decade. Includes a dairy producer margin insurance premium assistance program to provide financial protection to dairy farmers when times get tough, and a scholarship program to encourage young people to pursue careers in agriculture.
Safety Standards for Clinics that Provide Abortions (HB 190 - Swan) – Legislation designed to improve the safety at Missouri’s only clinic that provides abortions – the Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis.
We are re-convening this week and it will be a very full and busy schedule as we quickly approach the end of session in mid-May.
CAPITOL REPORT - April 2, 2015. During the week of Spring Break most of my work centered around ranch work and some much needed house repairs. However, I got to conference with Jennifer Eaton, Director of the Nevada Chamber about our Discover More on Route 54 project. I also dropped off some Missouri highway maps to the El Dorado Springs Chamber office.
I also had the privilege of presenting Bethany Roweton of Weaubleau a House Resolution in honor of her achieving the prestigious American Farmer FFA Degree.
I finished the day by presenting some Missouri history and the “Showing You The Show-Me State” booklet about how our state government works to the 4th grade class at Weaubleau School.
On my drive back to Jeff City to start the 2nd half of the 2015 Legislative Session, my first observation was about two dozen wild turkeys in a lush wheat field greening up. Arriving at the stately Capitol grounds, the Magnolia and Dogwood trees were in full bloom. It’s obvious that Spring has sprung.
I paid a quick visit with the Boring Drug Coffee caucus in Warsaw and found out that none of my four NCAA basketball teams made it to the Final Four. Then I conferenced with Warsaw City Administrator/Planner, Randy Pogue, about my 2+2 bills that would help fund Missouri highways, bridges, and infrastructure.
On Tuesday I presented HCR 29 Resolution to urge the United States Congress to designate the historic Butterfield Overland Trail that runs from Tipton, Missouri to California, a part of the National Historic Trails Systems. It passed with 144 Yes to 1 No vote. I thank my colleagues and Mel Gilbert from Buffalo, Mo for their support.
Wednesday morning I sat in on the monthly MoDOT Commission meeting. It appears that SB 540 is the choice funding bill for transportation. It is known as “2+2+2+ Indexing.” It would raise the fuel tax 6 cents per gallon over a three year period and then be adjusted annually for inflation.
During the week, Aaron Ash, Jim Davis, and Don Levi representing the Sac-Osage Electric Co-op discussed concerns they have about current legislation. Some of those issues have to do with EPA coal rules, net metering, rural broadband, land easements, and pole attachments. One thing I know for certain is we need to keep electricity available and affordable.
My HB 195 on Prevailing Wages for public works projects was voted out of select committee 7 to 0 in favor. The objective of this bill is to allow rural counties to bid public work project to the “lowest and best bidder.” This would mean we get more for our citizen’s tax payer dollars. It would also create more jobs because more of our small towns and schools could afford rebuilding our water and sewer systems, sidewalks, and public buildings.
For all of you who celebrate Easter this weekend, may the risen Christ bring happiness to you and your family. Have a blessed Easter.
Visitors this week were Terry & Debbie Robb from Pittsburg representing the Sierra Club.
CAPITOL REPORT - April 9, 2015. After spending the Easter weekend at home with my family, it was back to work at the State Capitol on Tuesday. Some good news received, was Governor Nixon decided to release state funds to our public libraries that had been withheld.
The SB 5 “Mack’s Creek Bill” as it is known, was presented in the House Committee. This Missouri law that limits how much revenue cities can make from traffic tickets and fines was created in 1991 when the little town of Mack’s Creek was known as a notorious speed trap and existed on the money from ticketed drivers. The original law said any traffic violation revenue beyond 45% of a municipality’s total revenue had to go to the state to be disbursed to schools. That was lowered to 35% in 2009, then to 30% in 2013. It is becoming apparent that the St. Louis legislators want to overhaul this law which currently allows small municipalities to use up to 30% of their revenue to be raised by fines assessed on traffic violations. It is becoming known as the “Ferguson Fix Bill.” The Senate wants to lower that revenue cap further – the Senate put it at 10% – and made other changes such as eliminating failure-to-appear charges for minor traffic offenses and holding municipal judges to the same standards as state judges. I want to once again compliment attorney Mel Gilbert from Buffalo, who represents several small towns in Southwest Missouri, for coming to witness in favor of keeping the current rate of 30%. I am prepared to put an amendment on this bill to allow municipalities with 2000 or less in population to keep the 30% rate.
HB 882, sponsored by Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, passed through the House this week with a 115 to 42 vote. This bill creates the “Agri-Ready County Designation Program” within the Department of Agriculture. The program is a voluntary program by which a county may apply to become designated as an Agri-Ready county. To qualify as an Angri-Ready county, the county must meet certain requirements that show the county encourages agricultural operations to locate in the county. The counties could not have health or zoning standards that could discourage agricultural operations or have standards for agricultural operations more stringent than current state DNR regulations. I co-sponsored and spoke in support of this bill in Ag Policy Committee and on the House floor.
My HB 655 has passed through committee and is ready to be presented on the House floor. This bill applies to the Federal payments in lieu of taxes for government owned land that is within the city limits of three towns in the Truman Lake Water Shed. It has a simple mathematic formula that would give the county commissions a guideline to distribute a small portion of the funds to the towns of Deepwater, Osceola, and Roscoe. If there are other municipalities in the state that have government lands within their city limits, I hope to add them in the form of amendments.
Visitors this week included Paula Rodabaugh with FFA students from St. Clair county here for Youth Leadership Day, and Cedar County Clerk Peggy Kenney with FFA students, also here for Youth Leadership Day.
My extra-curricular activity this week at the Capitol is organizing the “Rowdy Roosters” bi-partisan softball team. Our team sponsor this year is the Missouri Cattlemen Association. We will be promoting “Eat MO Beef.” We play in a charity tournament next Wednesday evening. Proceeds raised will go to the Samaritan Center.
CAPITOL REPORT - April 16, 2015. My In-District Day started at Osceola City Hall where I presented Heidi Johnson a House Resolution recognizing her 27 years of service to the city. I then called on the City Halls at Collins and Weaubleau and gave them each a “Discover More on Route 54” sign along with Missouri Highway maps.
I then had a fine fish dinner at the McCarty Senior Center in Wheatland. I joined Senator Mike Parson and had an update on current and up-coming legislation and answered questions about constituents concerns.
On Saturday, I had the privilege of joining the groundbreaking ceremony of the new St. Clair County Senior Center. The new 5,096 square foot facility offers an opportunity to serve the senior community with in-house programs such as meals and activities and in-home programs such as home delivered meals.
Upon arriving at the Capitol Monday quickly before going to my committee on Emerging Issues in Education, I welcomed the “Truman Lake Bikes” group from Warsaw. Each year bicyclists from around the state have a “Ride with Legislators” bike ride. Bicycling & trails are a multi-billion dollar industry in Missouri. Bicycling, walking, and trails are an important component of the state’s travel, recreation, health, and transportation sectors. Outdoor recreation is one of the largest economic sectors in the U.S. and in Missouri. Bicycling and walking/hiking/trail use represent over 25% of the sector, representing:
- $2.8 billion in annual consumer direct spend in Missouri
- 28,043 jobs and $847 million in wages and benefits in Missouri
- $219 million in local and state tax revenue in Missouri
“Ag Bill” HCS HB 258, sponsored by Rep. Bill Reiboldt deals with Agriculture Property. This bill specifies that the owner of any livestock that trespasses on the premises of another must not be held strictly liable for any damages sustained. The bill removes the specified maximum fines that may be charged for the offenses of animal or livestock trespass. The bill repeals a provision specifying that reasonable costs incurred for the care and maintenance of trespassing animals may not be waived. For example: Livestock that are fenced-in next to land with timber, and a tall Red Oak tree falls on fence which the livestock discover and escape. It is not always the stockman’s fault that animals escape from their own fenced-in enclosure. Other examples are: An auto vehicle runs through fence or a hunter cuts fence, or someone unknown leaves a gate open. An amendment was offered that specifies that a person commits the offense of tampering with farm equipment if he or she knowingly and without authorization defaces, marks, disturbs, or vandalizes any farm equipment owned by another. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor unless the offense causes pecuniary loss of more than $1,000 in which case it is a class D felony if committed before January 1, 2017. The amendment passed the House 116 to 32 and now goes to the Senate.
Visitors this week included Benton County Presiding Commissioner Michelle McLerran Morgan, and Benton County Assessor Roger Reedy.
Visitors also included the 8th grade class from Lakeland with teacher Tabitha Jones and Brian Verslues and students from Warsaw High School.
For a change of pace, the “Rowdy Roosters” bi-partisan softball team, which I helped organize and sponsored by Missouri Cattlemen Association, played in the annual Legislators Softball Tournament. We promoted “Eat MO Beef.” Proceeds raised will go to the Samaritan Center.
CAPITOL REPORT - April 23, 2015. This past Friday on my In-District day, I was invited to Skyline School by Elementary counselor Tammy Smith. I was given a tour and saw first-hand the Elementary students taking the new state mandated testing. The testing I observed was the new online grade level assessment for Missouri students. It is the new version of the MAP assessment. In years past Missouri students completed a similar assessment in a paper pencil format. The results of the old format took several weeks to be processed and returned to the school districts. With the new online version, schools will receive student results ten days after the testing is complete. All students grades 3-8 who attend public school in the state of Missouri are required to take this assessment. The Missouri Assessment Program is used to assess student’s progress toward the mastery of the Show-Me Standards which are the educational standards for the students in our state. This assessment is a yearly standards-based test which measures specific skills defined for students in each grade level by the state of Missouri.
I stopped by Hermitage City Hall and left their “Discover More on Route 54” sign and some highway maps. I then presented a Missouri and U.S. flag to the City of Weaubleau.
I also visited with the librarian at the St. Clair County Library. She was very pleased that some of the money that was being with-held by the Governor for funding libraries has been released.
The “Emergency Services” bill, HCS HB 714, sponsored by Rep. Lauer was debated again this week on the House floor. This bill has way too many provisions and policy procedures to write about in this article, but some are:
- Mapping and addressing;
- Consolidation cooperation;
- Contracting state boards agreements
This state wide effort is a work in progress that will help the counties of Cedar, Hickory, and St. Clair to have an enhanced 911 Service. This bill passed on a 123-32 bi-partisan vote and now heads to the Senate.
A big curve ball thrown at us this week was HB 830, sponsored by Rep. Curtman. It did not come through the Agriculture Committee. Instead, it was moved through the Economic Development Committee. The bill specifies that industrial hemp production, possession, and commerce in industrial hemp commodities and products must be permitted in the state and must be an agricultural product that is subject to regulation by the Department of Agriculture. My position is to allow the route to industrial hemp production in the state of Missouri. Under Sec. 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill, Federal law authorizes “an institution of higher education…or a State department of agriculture” to conduct pilot programs if used for research purposes. I cast a “No” vote, however it passed on a vote of 104-41.
I cast two of the hardest votes of my career this week. One was SB 5, commonly referred to as the “Mack’s Creek Law.” It lowers the percent of monies collected from fines at the current 30% to 20% which helps fund municipal police departments. The other was HB 11 which planned to move Missouri’s Medicaid population to a system of managed care, but the transition will occur slowly and only after the plan has been reviewed. I voted “No” on both measures. However, due to compromise between the House and Senate, neither issue was as bad as the original Senate version, which would have lowered the revenue from fines to 10%. Also, the cuts from Medicaid do not take effect until June of 2016 instead of July of 2015.
Visitors this week included the Hermitage 8th and 9th grade classes with teacher Carolyn Allison.
CAPITOL REPORT - May 1, 2015. On my In-District Day Friday, I had the pleasure of presenting the “Show Me Booklets” and a short history about our great State of Missouri, and how our government functions. This is the highlight of being a State Representative. I also want to say “Hat’s Off” to all of Missouri’s teachers during “National Teacher Appreciation Week,” May 4-8th. Please join me in giving recognition to the crucial role teacher’s play in making sure every student receives a quality education.
During the past two months, I have received several phone calls, e-mails, and letters about the recent increase in Natural Gas prices from residents in Warsaw. While at the capitol, I did some investigating and this is what I found out from the supplier, Summit Natural Gas: “On October 29, 2014, the Missouri Public Service Commission authorized a general rate increase for natural gas service provided by Summit Natural Gas of Missouri, Inc. The rate changes will be reflected on customer bill statements beginning December 14, 2014. The base rate increase impacts the Company’s distribution non-gas costs, or the cost of operating and maintaining its distribution system. The base rate increase is based on the cost to provide service and varies by customer class and service area location. Base rates were last increased in 2008 for the territory formerly served under the Missouri Gas Utility, Inc. name, and in 2011, for the former Southern Missouri Natural Gas Company, L.P., service territory. During this time, Summit Natural Gas of Missouri, Inc. constructed significant new gas facilities to serve customers. The cost to produce and deliver gas in remote areas is rising and the base rate changes are tied to the increased costs of providing services to customers, including increased operating expenses and property taxes associated with building new facilities. The new base rates are important to maintaining a safe and reliable system, and to providing natural gas to customers in rural locations.
HB 476, sponsored by Rep. Fitzwater deals with “Hold Harmless” school districts. Currently, hold harmless school districts with an average daily attendance of 350 or less receive state aid under a different calculation than hold harmless school districts with an average daily attendance of greater than 350. This bill provides that any school district that increases from 350 students or less to over 350 students or any school district that decreases from over 350 students to 350 or less must maintain the increase or decrease past the 350 student benchmark for two consecutive school years before a change in the formula calculation will occur. This will give our smaller rural schools more assurance that they won’t lose state funding.
CAPITOL REPORT - May 7, 2015. I spent most of my Friday In-District Day looking at bridges in my district with MoDOT Engineer Darin Hamelink. There are 10,400 total bridges on the state system and there are 591 bridges in critical condition; 109 are on primary routes and 482 are on supplementary routes.
Many bridges are 50-70 years old and due to prolonged water and salt seeping through cracks in the concrete floors, it has allowed rusting of the steel re-inforcement rods. These bridges need to be completely stripped of their decks and rebuilt; usually at a cost of $200,000 to $600,000 per bridge. The number one question is; “Where is the money coming from to fund these projects?” Here are some of the answers I have received:
- Tax tobacco
- Legalize weed and tax it
- Collect extra tax from immigrant workers
- Tax diesel and heavy trucks
- Toll roads for out-of-state travelers
- Take money from casino revenue
- 10 cent per container tax on soda and beer
The one common thread to all of these ideas are; “Tax the other person, not me.” Folks, we Missourians have got to look in the mirror and come up with a real solution to this problem. I believe everyone in our state benefits from infrastructure and we are all going to have to pay a little more. How we do that is still yet to be figured out.
House Activity This Week included:
General Assembly Overrides Governor’s Veto of Welfare Reform Bill (SB 24)
The members of the Missouri House and Senate worked together this week to override the governor’s veto of legislation meant to reform Missouri’s system of welfare so that it does a better job of moving folks out of poverty and toward self-sufficiency. The override motion cleared the House by a vote of 113-42 and the Senate by a vote of 25-9.
Legislature Takes Action to Address School Transfer Crisis (HB 42)
Legislation meant to give kids in struggling schools more options to obtain a quality education is now on its way to the governor. The House and Senate this week approved a compromise version of what has commonly been referred to as the school transfer bill.
Missouri House Gives Final Approval to Municipal Court Reform Bill (SB 5)
Another bill on its way to the governor’s desk would protect Missourians from some municipalities that have exhibited predatory practices to raise revenue through excessive traffic tickets. The bill approved by the House and Senate is designed to shut down “speed traps” by limiting the amount of revenue municipalities can generate from traffic violations. The bill would limit the amount of revenue municipalities can generate from traffic tickets to 20 percent. The bill further limits municipalities in St. Louis County so that only 12.5 percent of their total revenue can be derived from traffic tickets. This statute commonly referred to as the “Mack’s Creek” law is being transformed into the “Ferguson Fix” law.
Visitors this week was the 8th grade class from Weaubleau R-III with their teacher Patti Hutton.
As I finish writing this week’s report, I realize that of the hundreds of bills that have been filed only a few make it across the finish line. It reminds me of shelling corn and dumping it in an old wagon with a wooden floor full of cracks. The corn runs out about as fast as it goes in. The reality of this story is; That’s probably a good thing, except for some of the bills like I mentioned in this report. Occasionally, we have to take a corn cobb and stop the cracks up and keep the good corn.
CAPITOL REPORT - May 15, 2015. My In-District Day on Friday May 8th started at the Osceola Elementary School. I got to talk to 3rd graders about my experience attending a one-room school for my elementary grades. Also, presented a brief report about the Kansas/Missouri Border War that led up to the atrocities of the War Between the States.
State Rep. Patricia Pike and I joined together and gave a presentation of our “Discover More on Route 54” Project to the Nevada Chamber luncheon. Friday evening I presented House Resolutions to Andy Lysinger and Holley Nichols at Lakeland School in honor of their American FFA Degree achievement. Also, presented a House Resolution to Joni Cook for being named as Missouri’s Outstanding Rural Secondary Teacher for 2014-2015 by the Missouri Association of Rural Education.
I drove through light rain Saturday morning on my drive across northern St. Clair county to the Appleton City Men’s Prayer Breakfast. There were lots of turkey hunters and fishermen out and about. Plus the newly planted corn was shining down the rows. The wheat is tall, dark green and heading out. The cattle are grazing grass stirrup high to a tall horse. It’s apparent our #1 industry is agriculture and #2 is tourism/recreation.
Saturday afternoon, Marla went with me to present David Derks a Resolution for earning his rank of Eagle Scout. David is a member of Troop 34 in Warsaw.
While celebrating Mother’s Day with family at Osceola, I saw an accident at the new highway overpass at the 13 and 82 junctions. I got a photo of a car that drove off the exit ramp and went down the steep embankment. It’s obvious that more guard rails are needed. My vision for infrastructure funding is guard rails on the 13/82 overpass and on the Turkey Creek Hill on 7 Highway in SE Benton County. I would also like to see enough transportation funding to double lane 65 Highway from Warsaw to Buffalo and straighten the S-curves on Highway 82 North of El Dorado Springs.
On my drive to the Capitol Monday, I had a quick meeting with our “Discover More on Route 54” group. Plans for the future are:
- Sell more $25.00 sponsorships to raise money for more signs
- Promote a 100 mile yard sale from Nevada to Camdenton on Labor Day Weekend
- Have a motorcycle rally ride from Jefferson City to the Kansas line and back to the Lucas Oil Speedway.
Our final week of the 2015 session made history when the Senate passed commonly referred to “Right to Work” Legislation on a 21 to 13 vote. It was filibustered for eight hours and then an unprecedented “Previous Question” was called for. They added an amendment so it came back to the House. On Wednesday, with three hours of debate, the House passed it 92 to 66. The Labor Reform Bill now goes to the Governor where he has declared he will veto it.
The highlight of the final week in my office was a retirement celebration for my L.A. Debbie Poire. Joining me in that celebration were the former legislators she has assisted in her almost 26 year career at the Capitol; Senator Larry Rohrbach, Senator Delbert Scott, Senator/Representative Glen Klippenstein.
Upon completion of session this week, I will be sending out an End-of-Session report in the next week or two.
CAPITOL REPORT - May 28, 2015. Our 2015 Legislative Session ended on Friday, May, 15, 2015. Since that time I have made several In-District contacts. I visited with and want to thank Scott Crouch of Ozarks Community Health Center in Hermitage for a tour of their facility. On Memorial Day I had the opportunity to speak at the 3rd Annual Memorial Day Commemorative Service at Cross Timbers. On Thursday several other legislators and I attended a Missouri Beef Luncheon at the Department of Agriculture in Jefferson City. State Ag Director Richard Fordyce presented the Missouri Beef Industry Council and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association a Resolution declaring May as Beef Month in Missouri.
I then went to my office at the Capitol and wrote this report. My plan for the interim is to stay in contact with the County Commissions and City Councils. I have two community volunteer projects that are ongoing. One is continuing to promote and erect “Discover More on Route 54” signs. The other project is the placement of a large Missouri red granite monument commemorating the Shiloh Skirmish at Shiloh in Southwest Benton County. This skirmish happened on April 11th, 1862, during the Civil War.
I will be sending out an End of Session Report to you in August to provide an update on legislation that was passed this year and when it will be going into effect.
My number one priority is to be available and to serve my constituents of the 125th District. I am pleased to introduce my new Legislative Assistant, Kelley Rogers. Kelley will be in my Capitol office Monday through Thursday during business hours. You can e-mail me at email@example.com or call the Capitol office at (573) 751-4065 and talk to Kelley Rogers, Legislative Assistant.
IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 18, 2015. OSCEOLA, Mo. – State Rep. Warren Love wants his constituents and all Missourians to make plans to attend the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Missouri State Capitol Cornerstone on July 3 in Jefferson City. Love said the event will give visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of the state and the Capitol, and to participate in the dedication of a new capsule that will remain sealed for the next century.
“When the first time capsule was sealed 100 years ago more than 10,000 Missourians were on hand for the event. I hope we can see a similar turnout for this event so that thousands of Missourians can be part of Missouri history in the making,” said Love, R-Osceola.
Love also noted the role the Masonic Lodge played with the original capsule, “It was on June 24, 1915, when nearly 2,000 Masons formed a two-mile processional to the new Capitol building. As a Mason myself, I am incredibly proud of the role they played in preserving our state’s history.”
Love and other state officials will join Gov. Nixon to unveil the original time capsule and announce the contents of the new time capsule at a ceremony on Friday, July 3 commemorating the 100th anniversary of the laying of the Missouri State Capitol’s cornerstone. The event will be held on the south side of the Capitol steps at 1 p.m.
PRESS RELEASE - August 18, 2015. There will be a 100 mile yard sale on Labor Day weekend. The ‘Discover More on Route 54’ committee is inviting many area communities to participate this year—on Friday, September 4th and Saturday, September 5th. Free to the public, the event will take place on U.S. Highway 54 stretching from Camdenton to Nevada. Just coordinate a location to set up your yard sale area, if you’re not residing along the U.S. Highway 54 corridor. For more information contact your city hall, chamber of commerce, or facebook.com/MOHwy54YardSale. Please make sure you follow any local city requirements. (For example, El Dorado Springs requires sellers to pay a fee of $1 per day within city limits. Permits may be obtained at the El Dorado Springs City Hall, 135 West Spring Street.)
There is potential for more growth for this event, possibly crossing the entire state connected by Highway 54. We want this to be an annual “can’t miss event!” Make plans to sell, attend, and “Discover More on Route 54!”
Missouri's section of U.S. Highway 54 is now known as the "Discover More on Route 54" Highway. The name change was made official July 7, 2014, following Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's signing of House Bill 1866. The "Discover More on Route 54" portion, sponsored by Representative Warren Love, is at the end of the omnibus bill.
The “Discover More on Route 54” Committee is a volunteer, non-profit organization founded in 2012 to promote tourism and activities along U.S. Highway 54 through Camden, Hickory, St. Clair, Cedar, and Vernon Counties.
IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 26, 2015: UPDATE ON THE 100 MILE YARD SALE The 100 mile yard sale on Labor Day weekend is quickly approaching. The event will take place on U.S. Highway 54 stretching from Camdenton to Nevada. The “Discover More on Route 54” committee has invited area communities along U.S. Highway 54 to participate on Friday and Saturday, September 4-5. If you’re not residing along the U.S. Highway 54 corridor, just coordinate a location to set up your yard sale area. For more information contact your city hall, chamber of commerce, or connect with us on Facebook: Facebook.com/MOHwy54YardSale.
Shane Hulett Farmer’s Insurance has agreed to offer their parking lot as the kickoff site on the Camdenton side. Located at 309 West US 54 just west of the Camdenton square, sellers will be allowed to set up on a first come basis.
We want this to be an annual “can’t miss event!” Make plans to sell, attend, and “Discover More on Route 54!”
CAPITOL REPORT - September 17, 2015. Several bills were enacted into law during Veto Session. The annual Veto Session began Wednesday, September 16, at noon, and by the time it was finished 12 hours later the House and Senate had combined to override the governor’s vetoes on 10 pieces of legislation. Heading into the day, the legislature had successfully completed 94 veto overrides in the history of the state. Seventy-two of the overrides had occurred under the watch of the current governor. With Wednesday’s total added to the tally, the legislature has now successfully approved 104 overrides and Governor Nixon has seen 82 of his vetoes overridden.
The annual Veto Session is required by Article III, Section 32, of the Missouri Constitution, which calls for the General Assembly to convene each September to consider vetoed bills. Overrides have typically been rare in the state’s history because a successful motion requires two-thirds majorities in both legislative chambers – 23 votes in the Senate and 109 in the House of Representatives.
The House entered the day with 10 vetoed bills and one vetoed budget line-item to consider. The Senate began deliberations with six vetoed Senate bills to consider, as well as one override motion on HB 150 that had already been approved by the House during the regular session. When their work was done shortly after midnight Thursday morning, the two chambers had combined to override vetoes on six House bills and four Senate bills.
House Fails to Override Veto of Right to Work Bill (HB 116)
During the 2015 regular session the House and Senate had worked together to send Right to Work legislation to the governor’s desk for the first time in the history of the state. The governor then vetoed the bill, which set up a much-discussed and much-anticipated vote to enact the bill into law despite the governor’s objections.
Wednesday afternoon the House spent nearly two hours debating the bill before finally attempting the override motion. In front of packed galleries filled with both supporters and opponents of the bill, the House failed to approve the override motion by a vote of 96-63. The 96 votes fell 13 short of the number needed to override, but represented a gain of four votes from the 92 that originally approved the bill in the House during the regular session.
In effect, the bill would have given workers in Missouri the right to decide whether to join a union. Specifically, it would have prohibited an employer from requiring a person to become a member of a labor organization as a condition or continuation of employment.
Supporters of the idea say it is meant to make Missouri a more attractive location for new and existing job creators. They say it preserves the rights and freedoms of the individual to choose whether to join a union. Opponents say it is an attack on organized labor and a move that would lead to lower wages for workers.
House & Senate Override Bill to Prevent Undocumented Immigrants from Receiving A+ Scholarships (SB 224)
Another bill now set to become law is meant to ensure scholarship benefits through the state’s A+ Schools Program are received only by young people who are legal residents of the United States. Specifically, the bill requires a student to be a United States citizen or a permanent resident in order to receive benefits.
The push for the legislation was a decision by the Missouri Department of Higher Education to allow students who are lawfully present, but not legal residents, to receive A+ scholarships. The decision applies directly to students who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that allows children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents to stay and legally live, work and study.
Supporters of SB 224 say the bill ensures the limited amount of scholarship money in the A+ program will be reserved for legal Missouri residents. They say it is unfair to Missouri families to see diminished scholarship amounts for their children because the dollars are instead going to young people who are not legal residents.
The A+ Scholarship program allows Missouri high school students who have met certain requirements to receive state-funded assistance to attend participating public community college or vocational/technical school, or certain private two-year vocational/technical schools. The program allows thousands of Missouri students to pursue a college degree each year.
General Assembly Acts to Ensure Uniform Minimum Wage (HB 722)
The House and Senate also collaborated Wednesday to overturn the governor’s veto of legislation meant to keep minimum wages in municipalities throughout Missouri at a rate that does not exceed the state standard.
Supporters of the bill have said a uniform minimum wage is important to provide a level playing field for employers and employees around the state. They say the bill is simply a clarification of existing law, which prohibits cities from raising the minimum wage. Opponents say the bill is an attack on local control and an infringement on the rights of municipalities. They also say higher wages for Missourians can only have a positive impact on the economy.
In addition, the bill that will now become law ensures Missourians will continue to have the choice of paper or plastic bags at the grocery store. The bill specifies that all merchants doing business in this state must have the option to provide customers with a paper or plastic bag for any item or good purchased. The bill also makes it clear that a political subdivision cannot impose any ban, fee, or tax upon the use of paper or plastic bags.
Looking ahead, we will begin pre-filing legislation on Tuesday, December 1st, for the 2nd Session of the 98th General Assembly scheduled to begin on Wednesday, January 6, 2016. In the coming weeks, I will do my best to review potential legislation that will be beneficial to the citizens of our district.
CAPITOL REPORT - November 5, 2015. Honoring Our Heroes on Veterans Day This year as we celebrate Veterans Day, I ask everyone to think about the many blessings and freedoms we have as citizens of the greatest nation on this planet, and also the price that has been paid to secure and defend these rights, liberties, and our great heritage. It is a price that has been paid by the proud American citizens who made the selfless decision to serve as members of our Armed Forces. These heroes chose a life of service, and took a path that few have the bravery or the commitment to undertake.
While some have made the ultimate sacrifice and live on now only in our hearts and memories, many more have returned home to continue their service to this nation in one way or another. Even though they no longer wear their uniforms, their love of country and their duty to this nation is in no way lessened. And even though they no longer serve in the line of fire, their patriotism and their heroism is in no way diminished.
Thankfully this nation has heroes who are ready and willing to serve. When danger is near and most have the instinct to flee, they charge forward. When others are concerned with their own safety, they think only of the safety of those around them. And when chaos and confusion ensues, they take quick and decisive actions that save lives.
It’s a rare thing to have heroes such as these, but our nation has been blessed with them in abundance. And as we have seen, their service to our country does not end when they return home from overseas, but instead continues on in their acts and deeds here at home.
Today, I remind you all that we should endeavor to serve our veterans, present and past, as well as they have served their nation, and honor our great heritage that they fought so bravely to secure. Let’s all make the promise that we will treat our veterans with the respect they have earned. And let us vow to do that on today and on each and every day of the year. Their extraordinary accomplishments have created an extraordinary debt that we must consistently work to repay. And for those accomplishments and for their dedication, we must always be grateful.