2016 Capitol Reports & Press Releases (Archived)
January •  February  •  March  • April •  May  •  August  • September • December

CAPITOL REPORT - January 7, 2016.  The 2016 legislative session officially opened at high noon on Wednesday, January 6th.  My day began at the Annual Prayer Breakfast Service for Missouri Government Leaders at the Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City.  The charge to the 98th General Legislative Assembly was presented by Dr. Jason Allen, President of the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  His message centered around the three institutions ordained by Divine Providence:  Family, Church, and Government. 

  Prayers were lifted up for all three branches of state government for wisdom as we begin the 2016 legislative session. 

  Our first session was marked by a speech from House Speaker Todd Richardson in which he called upon members to work together to “find answers to the crucial challenges of our time and make tough decisions.”  Richardson reminded members that the Missouri House of Representatives “cannot be a place where inaction, infighting and indifference define us.  This must be a place where we tackle and solve real problems.” 

  Richardson called on his colleagues to work together to help find solutions to the problems facing Missouri families, and to develop ideas that will allow Missourians to pursue the American Dream rather than be trapped in poverty. 

  The Speaker also made it clear that the top legislative priority for the House in the first days of session will be substantive ethics reform.  He stated, “there is no rule or law that can make our imperfect process perfect, but we can, and we must, work to improve the culture here in the people’s Capitol.” 

LAWMAKERS TO CONSIDER TRANSPORTATION FUNDING ISSUE: 

  Another pressing issue lawmakers will try to tackle in 2016 deals with finding a much-needed funding solution for Missouri’s transportation system.  While increasing revenues have made the situation less dire than it was a year ago, the state’s transportation department still needs an additional $160 million in new revenues to adequately maintain and improve the existing highway system.  

  Some lawmakers support a small fuel tax increase – 1.5 cents for gasoline and 3.5 cents for diesel fuel – to generate additional dollars for the state’s roads. 

  However, many in the legislature are opposed to any sort of tax increase.  They note that voters rejected a proposed increase in 2014 that would have increased the state sales tax by ¾ cent to raise an additional $540 million.  House Speaker Todd Richardson pointed out that the proposed small fuel tax increase would generate only a portion of the new funding needed by the transportation department. The proposed increase would generate only $56 million of the $160 million needed for Missouri’s roads. 

  Since a federal five-year highway bill has recently been passed, we Missourians have our work cut out for us to take advantage of maintaining and improving our state’s infrastructure.

CAPITOL REPORT - January 14, 2016.  My first weekend of the 2016 legislative session was spent at the annual Missouri Cattlemen’s Convention (MCA), which I have attended almost every year since my first state convention in 1975.  During the event, our association adopts and sets grass roots policy. 

The MCA policy supports the current $1.00 per head beef checkoff program.  As well, the MCA is encouraging all Missouri cattle farmers and ranchers to register to vote for the upcoming state beef checkoff referendum.  Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce has approved a petition from the Missouri Beef Industry Council (MBIC) to conduct a referendum of Missouri cattle producers to establish a $1.00 per head increase to the state beef checkoff assessment.  If passed, the new $2.00 assessment will be distributed $.50 to National Beef Industry Council (NBIC) and $1.50 to MBIC.

This new revenue would allow Missouri beef producers to benefit from:

Promotion (35%):  Increase producer’s net return by $60 per calf through the state checkoff; enhance promotion activities in MO with the goal of growing beef consumption by 10% by 2020; and create awareness that beef is healthy, sustainable and ethical.

Education (35%):  Educate all MO youth and educators about beef production and dietary benefits; grow consumer trust and confidence in beef and beef production; and increase funding to education in the classroom activities.

Research (20%):  Conduct farm gate production research benefiting farm operations in forage management and feed efficiency; and protect and promote beef receptiveness with sound research.

Marketing (10%):  Identify new marketing outlets for beef in MO and reinstate statewide campaigns through radio, print and billboard promotions; and develop partnerships with MO meat processors and direct producer marketers to create awareness and develop co-branded MO beef and beef products.

IMPORTANT FACTS:  1) Funds will stay in MO and will not be required to be sent to the national level; 2) Checkoff investments will be 100% refundable upon request; 3) Funds are administered by a producer elected Board of Directors representing all sectors of the industry and all regions of the state; 4) All expenditures will be reviewed thoroughly by a third party auditor; and 5) State statute makes clear how funds can and cannot be spent.

I urge everyone to register today.  If you have questions, please call (573)751-5633 or send an email to voter.registration@mda.mo.gov.  Voter registration will end on March 4, 2016.

Session Activity This Week: 

The following bills were third read, discussed, and have now moved to the Senate: 

HB 1452 would require elected officials to file a personal financial disclosure twice each year.  Current law requires only a single disclosure each year. 

HB 1979 would require elected officials to have a one-year “cooling off” period after leaving office before they could become lobbyists. 

HB 1983 would make it clear that no statewide official or member of the General Assembly can serve as a paid political consultant while in office.

CAPITOL REPORT - January 21, 2016.  Two issues were first and foremost during my in-district stay last weekend.  First, my St. Clair County constituents are inquiring about the Osceola License Office.  I have good news to report:  announced yesterday afternoon by the Department of Revenue (DOR), the contract for the office has been awarded to Amy L. Johnson.  She stated the office will be in the same previous location.  Currently completing all required DOR documentation, Ms. Johnson plans to open the office as quickly as possible. 

Second, editors of the area newspapers, of which there are seven weekly newspapers that publish in the district, are concerned about HB2089.  This bill gives all non-charter counties the discretion to publish the annually required county financial statement on a dedicated county website in lieu of publishing it in a newspaper.  I believe this is not in the best interest for our district, because too many people in our rural area do not have internet access.  Most people who want to stay up-to-date on public notices and community events still subscribe to and depend on our newspapers for local news and information. 

HOUSE MOVES TO REJECT TAX INCREASE ON AGRICULTURAL LAND (HCR58):

As it has done several times over the years, the Missouri House of Representatives took action this week to reject a proposed tax increase on Missouri’s agricultural land values.  The House gave bipartisan support to HCR58, which would reject a recommendation made by the Missouri Tax Commission for a five percent tax increase on farm and ranch properties.  I spoke on the House Floor during debate to reject the proposal.  I pointed out that grain and livestock prices have decreased 30 – 40% in the past year mostly due to a stronger dollar and weak export demand.  Also, this past year, heavy rains in May and June prevented many crop acres from being planted.  Since the legislature allowed a five percent increase just two years ago, I did not believe it should be increased again this soon. 

With bipartisan House approval (133 yes/24 no), the measure now moves to the Senate where it is expected to move quickly through the process.

VOTER IDENTIFICATION

Most session debate during the week focused on voter identification issues and the need for changes.  Both HJR53 and HB1631 were approved and sent to the Senate this week for further discussion.  HJR53 would change the Missouri Constitution to allow a system of voter identification.  HB1631 would implement the system if HJR53 is approved by voters.  HB1631 would require voters to present a specified form of ID in order to vote in a public election.  Valid forms of ID would include photo IDs issued by the state, federal government or military.  The state would be required to pay for individuals to obtain a valid ID if they do not have one already. 

VISITORS TO THE CAPITOL THIS WEEK INCLUDE:

I had the honor of meeting with former Senator Delbert Scott; his wife, Donna; and their four grandchildren, Thursday, Jan. 20th.  Pictured here with Rep. Remole of District 6.

I visited with Luke Beaman, Golden Key Realty of Warsaw, and several other area realtors, when they attended Missouri Realtors Day at the Capitol Jan 20th.

CAPITOL REPORT - January 28, 2016.  A headline in the Benton County Enterprise last week was “Bitter Cold Wreaks Havoc on Cars and Drivers.”  Well, that affected me at the Capitol also.  For two cold mornings my vehicle battery failed, and I had to get jump starts.  So my Friday in-district day started at Fugate Motors in El Dorado Springs, where I had a new battery installed in my vehicle. 

I then delivered two American Degree FFA resolution plaques recognizing Dennis C. Floyd, III, and Makenzie Schwalm (for their achievements of this prestigious degree.  I also had the privilege of presenting Noelle Garrison, Osceola, her resolution (pictured right).  Additionally, other students that will be receiving a resolution plaque for their American FFA Degree include:  Ben Brodersen, Megan Chapman, Amanda Dorman, Ashley Fennewald, Krista Gideon, Kyla Minica, Heather Rife, Jennifer Varnell, Meghan Wheeler, and Devin Wilkerson, all who are students in District 125.

At noon last Friday, I attended the Osceola Chamber of Commerce luncheon where I was able to give a brief report about the Osceola License Office bid award.   According to the new office contractor, Amy Johnson, anticipated future plans include opening the office on or near March 21, 2016, in the Do-It-Best Hardware building in Osceola.  The office will be open Monday through Friday each week. 

MISSOURI LIFE - DISCOVER MORE ON ROUTE 54:

I had the pleasure of meeting with Joe Schmitter of Missouri Life Magazine this week to discuss “Discover More on Route 54,” how it got started, current plans, and the vision to promote tourism and activities along Missouri’s Scenic Roadway.  In the near future, he plans to contact area businesses along Route 54 for highlights in the magazine.  If any businesses are interested, I encourage you to contact Joe at joe@missourilife.com or 1-800-492-2593, extension 104. 

911 LEGISLATION FILED:

I serve on the Standing Committee for Telecommunications, and during our hearing this week, we heard testimony relating to HB1904 filed this year to change the laws regarding funding for emergency 911 services, administration of the funding, the 911 Service Board, 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 (land lines already have a monthly fee).  Added to this bill, a silver alert system would be created, similar to the amber alert system, providing for localized alerts to locate missing persons.  It would be implemented by the Department of Public Safety.  The proposal was passed through the House last session, but got stalled in the Senate.  This could be very beneficial for our district; because, currently, Cedar, Hickory and St. Clair Counties do not have enhanced 911 services.  Once again, I am a co-sponsor and will be helping forward this bill to the Governor’s desk this year.

CAPITOL REPORT - February 4, 2016. On my way to the Capitol Monday, I stopped by the Benton County Commissioners meeting.  We discussed the progress being made on repairing the Wisdom Bridge on Harper Road in northwest Benton County.  Two large culvert tubes had severe damage in May, 2015.  Somewhere between 10-12 inches of rain fell in a 12-hour period causing severe flooding and road damage.  Benton County was approved for FEMA assistance.  Currently, the emergency federal funds have been appropriated to repair the wash-out back to the original condition.  However, the funds have not yet been allocated.  After many letters, emails, and discussions with the U.S. Congress, it appears to be moving forward.  Hopefully, repairs will begin later this year.

CO-OP CONCERN
  On Tuesday, I visited with representatives from Sac Osage and Southwest Electric Cooperatives.  Both co-ops provide electricity to rural areas in District 125.  Their major concern is “net metering.”  

  Under the current net metering law, energy from the distributed generation (solar, wind, etc.) is given full retail credit by the co-op up to the member’s monthly usage.  If energy in excess of the member’s monthly usage is generated, they are credited for that excess at the wholesale rate which the co-ops pay their power supplier.  An initiative petition is trying to change the rate in which an account would be credited for any excess generation to the full retail rate.  If this change were implemented, the co-op believes this would cause an unfair subsidization from our members. 

  Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives have been investing in energy efficiency and smart load growth for decades by offering rebates on appliances and equipment such as ground-source heat pumps and dual-fuel heat pumps.  These investments realize an around-the-clock rate of return for all of our members as they reduce our peak demand.  When peak demand can be reduced, all members save on costs.  Ground-source heat pumps are renewable as they use the constant temperature of the earth to heat and cool, and when sized properly, they require no back up heat source which reduces peak demand.  Because of this, ground-source heat pumps help both the individual member who installs it by reducing their overall usage, as well as all members of the co-op by reducing peak demand costs.

  I believe it is my obligation as your representative to do all that is possible to stop unreasonable regulations by the EPA to help insure reliable, affordable electricity.

  The simple truth is generation output from a solar array or wind turbine does not typically coincide with when we need resources to meet our member peak load: early in the morning on a cold winter’s day or late in the afternoon on a hot summer day.  That is why having a diverse power supply that includes baseload resources like coal and gas is so important. 

BEEF CHECKOFF REFERENDUM

  I will be on KWTO Radio, 560 AM Springfield, on Friday, February 12th, at 9 a.m., to discuss the upcoming State Beef Checkoff Referendum.  I will be answering questions on where and when to register and vote.  Important facts about the proposed checkoff, as well as where the new revenue will be focused, will be covered during the show.  All beef producers are eligible to register.  Please tune in and join me for the discussion.

CAPITOL REPORT - February 11, 2016.  After one month into the 2016 legislative session, we finally have the wheels greased and they are moving quickly.  As House members heard about the importance of agriculture from FFA President Adam Kirby, they also took time to celebrate Thank a Farmer Week. The event runs from Feb. 7-13 and is designed to remind Missourians about the vital role the agriculture industry plays in the state. 

GOOD NEWS FROM WASHINGTON, D.C

In a major setback for President Obama’s climate change agenda, the Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily blocked the administration’s effort to combat global warming by regulating emissions from coal-fired power plants.  This is good news for Missourians because 80% of our electricity is from low cost coal.  The 5 to 4 vote, with the court’s four liberal members dissenting, was unprecedented – the Supreme Court had never before granted a request to halt a regulation before review by a federal appeals court. 

TRADE WITH CUBA – HCR60:

With a push toward stronger ties between the United States and Cuba, business leaders are increasingly interested in opportunities in Cuba with a population of 11 million residents. However, one major barrier still exists—the longstanding U.S. trade embargo with Cuba.  To encourage Congress to remove the sanctions, I have sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 60—legislation that, if passed, will send a message to our Missouri legislators in Washington, D.C., to encourage better trade relations with Cuba.

If sanctions are lifted, Cuba would provide a great market for Missouri’s agricultural commodities including rice, soybeans, corn, and pork. The country is also said to be interested in importing genetic assets from Missouri livestock to improve their own livestock.

Several people at Tuesday’s hearing for HCR60 noted that Missouri’s access to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and the state’s network river ports gives Missouri a logistical upper hand when it comes time to send agricultural goods south to the Cuban market.  Those testifying in favor of the bill included the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Soybean Association, and Missouri Corn Growers Association.

OUTDOOR ADVERTISING – HB 1564:

There are more rules and regulations on highway signs and billboards than you can shake a stick at.  My goal is to change current statutes so a private landowner who owns land on one or both sides of a highway can put up their own signs on either side of the highway advertising their own business without paying a permit or maintenance fee.  This bill was heard by the Transportation Committee on Tuesday, and I was honored to have District 125 witnesses, Brandon and Laura Yates who own Yates Rustic Range Trading six miles east of Preston on Highway 54, testifying in favor of the bill.

PREVAILING WAGE – HB1931:

Another bill that I presented this week includes HB1931 which would repeal Missouri’s current prevailing wage law, in lieu of the state mandating what labor rates would be on public works projects.  It would only require that public work projects would be awarded to the most competitive, qualified bidder.  This would allow tax payer dollars to be spent more wisely.  Currently, 18 other states do not require prevailing wage on public works.

Dear friends, Leroy and Ronda Strope, stopped by to visit on Tuesday afternoon. Leroy is the Northside Commissioner of St. Clair County.

Tanner Koenig, member of the Wheatland FFA Chapter, and Area 10 State Vice President, was honored for his service to FFA on Tuesday at the Capitol. 


Landon Mays, State Vice President of Advocacy for DECA and president of his senior class at El Dorado Springs High School, visited the Capitol on Wednesday.  Landon and Rep. Love are pictured with Landon’s mother, Shannon Mays, and another state DECA officer from District 106, Anthony Lupo.

For the second year in a row, the Hermitage/Wheatland Cross Country Team earned the Class 1 Championship Title! 

The team was honored for their commitment to excellence by the House during session on Wednesday.  Exemplary students and athletes, Rep. Love was proud to be a part of honoring them for their well-deserved distinction. Head Coach Mark Sabala, far right, and Assistant Coach Brenden Jones; team members include Easton Sabala, Bailey Jones, Dillon Meyer, Zac Sutt, Jeff Salmon, Mitch Bigham, Mathias Pederson, and alternates Austin Daniels, Ivan Long, Devin Shields, Dustin Kenig, Devin Daniels Jesse Strouse, Logan Eldred, and Garrett Ethington.

CAPITOL REPORT - February 18, 2016.  On Monday, the Regular Standing Committee on Appropriations – General Administration, of which I am a committee member, made some major recommendations to the 2017 budget proposal which included: 

Eliminating $12 million that goes toward the Edward Jones Dome’s debt payment and maintenance.  Missouri taxpayers have been left holding the bag on this annual liability, which continues through 2021 because the St. Louis Rams football team terminated their contract.  It seems to me that team owner, Stan Kroenke, should be responsible for this debt obligation.  According to the chairman of Appropriations – General Administration, Rep. Robert Ross, we will continue to focus on withholding these funds until there is more transparency provided about the entire situation;  and 

Restoring funding to public libraries and the REAL funding to the FY 2015 levels as listed in HB2012 of this year.   Missourians apply for jobs, connect with their communities, and find needed information for school and personal development at their local public library.   I hope all my colleagues agree upon the critical necessity for this funding as HB2012 progresses through the legislative budget process. 

In regard to the misuse of ASARCO Settlement dollars (HB2187), the House approved legislation today that would force the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to sell land it had acquired in Oregon County for use as a new state park.  Many House members had taken issue with the decision of Gov. Nixon’s spending $10 million to purchase the four thousand acre Frederick Creek Ranch with funds that were meant to be used for clean-up of lead contaminated areas in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mine District counties.  The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. 

I enjoyed a visit with Aron Bennett on Tuesday.  He is a Field Services Representative with the Missouri School Boards’ Association, and is the former Superintendent of Osceola School District.  It is reassuring to have local representation for our district schools at the state level. 

Also, Daren Hamelink, Southwest District Area Engineer for MoDOT, met with me on Wednesday.  He shared an update on 2016 planned projects in District 125 including some overlays, resurfacing and ADA improvements in various locations. 

BEEF CHECKOFF REMINDER

I would like to remind everyone that in a few weeks, Missouri cattle farmers will have the opportunity to approve a new state beef checkoff.  If you have owned cattle during the past three years and have not registered to vote, there is a March 4th deadline. 

There are several ways to register: 1) Pick up a registration form at the County Farm Bureau or local Farm Service Agency office, complete it, and mail to the Missouri Department of Agriculture;  2) Print the registration form at agriculture.mo.gov;  3) Request a voter registration form by calling (573) 751-5633 or sending an email to voter.registration@mda.mo.gov;  or  4) Complete the form online at agriculture.mo.gov. 

All of the dollars raised by this new $1 per head checkoff will stay in Missouri, be controlled by Missouri cattle farmers for Missouri cattle farmers, and will be 100% refundable.  If you have any questions, please go to mofb.org or mocattle.org. 

Rep. Warren Love and Brent Aubuchon, the Missouri State President of Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America and a Senior at Hermitage High School, visited the Capitol on Thursday, 2-11, to observe the legislative process.  His proud parents, Ray and Shelly Aubuchon, also spent the day at the Capitol.   It is a privilege to have Brent serving as the state president of FCCLA! 

Rep. Love was honored to have visitors, Jim and Brennon Chambers, Warsaw, during session on Tuesday.  After being introduced, they were invited to join House Speaker Todd Richardson on the dais.  Troop #34 Eagle Scout, Brennon, is the son of Shannon and Nicole Chambers, and grandson of Jim and Pat Chambers.  Jim is a committee member and treasurer of Troop #34.  

Visitors on Wednesday for Missouri Retired Teachers Association Day at the Capitol included a very welcome group from St. Clair County, Teri Estes, Larry Lewis, Ruth Lewis, Susan Brockus, and Marrion Mangum.

CAPITOL REPORT - March 3, 2016.  On Friday, February 26th, I joined with the Osceola Chamber of Commerce at the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the new Sugarfoot Convenience Store.  This new business, owned and operated by the Bryant Family of Osceola, is a direct benefit of the new overpass that was constructed at the junction of Highways 13 and 82 just east of Osceola.

EMERGENCY 911 SERVICES

HB1904 changes the laws regarding funding for emergency 911 services, administration of the funding, the 911 Service Board, and contracting between emergency services providers.  As the sponsor said, “Right now we see 80 percent of 911 calls coming in from cell phones, but there is no funding whatsoever being generated from these devices that are now the primary form of communication for the majority of Missourians.   If we want to be serious about providing adequate 911 services to ensure the safety and well-being of Missouri citizens, we must provide a funding source that will allow our out-of-date 911 system to be updated.  With a new funding source, and by consolidating existing call centers, we can create an effective, streamlined system that will meet the needs of people in all parts of the state.”  

I am happy to report that this legislation was quickly moved through the committee process then presented to the members of the House on Monday and passed successfully.  It has now begun the same process through the Senate.  As a co-sponsor of this bill, I am closely watching its progress since Cedar, Hickory and St. Clair Counties do not have enhanced 911 services.  This could be a key piece of legislation that would greatly benefit District 125. 

WASTEWATER TREATMENT

HB1713 requires the Department of Natural Resources to provide municipal and community wastewater systems with a new option of upgrading or building new lagoon systems.  The new option must include available, advanced technologies of biological treatment methods.  This new method may possibly save hundreds of thousands of dollars on wastewater systems.  

Bill and Susan Arnold, of Preston, visited the Capitol on Tuesday, March 1st.  Mr. Arnold volunteers serving Hickory and St. Clair Counties as a Silver Haired Legislator on behalf of Care Connection for Aging Services.  

At the Capitol on Tuesday for a committee hearing:  Sanford (Sandy) and Deb Simaitis of Lincoln.

Mrs. Simaitis is Chairman of the Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Committee.  Rep. Love is working with Mrs. Simaitis to pass legislation (HB1673) that would remove the expiration date of the organ donor program fund tax checkoff listing on the Missouri individual and corporate income tax return forms. 

Representative Love had the pleasure of visiting with Benton County Assessor, Rodger Reedy, on Tuesday. Mr. Reedy is a member of the MO State Assessors Association and serves as Secretary for the Excutive Board of MSAA.

Patrick Davis, Livestock Specialist with the University of MO Extension Center, met with Rep. Love on Wednesday. Mr. Davis is from Cedar County.
 

Hickory and Polk Counties were well represented on Wednesday by several fine 4-H members and their 4-H Youth Development Specialist, Velynda Cameron. They participated in University Extension Legislative Day at the Capitol. 

CAPITOL REPORT - March 10, 2016.  On my drive to the Capitol Monday morning, the temperature was an unseasonable, pleasant 70 degrees.  I noticed yellow jonquils and forsythia bushes blooming early.  The farmers are doing fieldwork, and I counted 17 grain hauling trucks plus several Tyson Poultry hauling trucks in my 2-hour drive between Warsaw and Jefferson City.  The wheat fields and cattle pastures are greening up along with newborn calves everywhere.  My reason for mentioning all this…it’s obvious that agriculture is alive and well and is Missouri’s #1 industry! 

2017 FISCAL BUDGET

The House approved the 2017 Fiscal Year Budget of $27.3 Billion this week.  Some of the highlights as it moves to the Senate include: 

$70.3 million increase for the Foundation Formula, which funds K-12 public schools
$9.4 million increase in performance funding for Missouri colleges and universities
$5 million increase for K-12 transportation
$4 million increase for the Access Missouri need-based scholarship program.
$2.5 million increase for the A+ Scholarship program
$500,000 increase for the Bright Flight scholarship program
$1.3 million for 2015’s Dairy Revitalization Act
$2 million increase for river ports
$1.25 million increase for business startups through the Missouri Technology Corporation
$30 million to revive the state cost-share program to fund transportation projects
Increase Medicaid provider rates by three percent
$500,000 increase for the Alternatives to Abortion program
Two percent pay increase for state employees  

MUNICIPALITIES

There have been several pieces of legislation introduced this year that are designed to be a “Ferguson Fix.”  Some of these bills would have a negative effect on local municipalities, so monitoring this legislation is extremely important.  I am very thankful to Bruce Rogers, City Manager of El Dorado Springs, and Richard Sheets, Lobbyist for the Missouri Municipal League, who have been very instrumental in keeping me informed and updated on all legislation in this regard. 

NATIONAL APPOINTMENT

I am honored to have been appointed by the Missouri Speaker of the House Todd Richardson to serve on two committees for the Southern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments.  I will be serving on the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and the Energy and Environment Committee through December, 2017.  The Council of State Governments has been in existence for more than 80 years.  The SLC region comprises 15 southern states and joins together legislators, policy experts, and government officials to discuss similar issues and share valuable resources in order to better prepare issue-specific, state-tailored legislation.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

March 8, 2016 – For Immediate Release.  MoDOT Launches Enhanced Pothole Patrol

Report a Pothole By Phone, Online or Your Smart Phone/Tablet 

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Transportation is kicking off an enhanced pothole repair initiative throughout the state.  Through the month of March, maintenance crews are committed to repairing a pothole with asphalt as quickly as possible of it being reported. MoDOT will aggressively respond and patch potholes to keep highways smooth and safe for Missouri motorists.

“We want to get asphalt in the hole as quickly as possible. If you report it in the morning, our goal is to repair it before you drive the same road the next business day,” said MoDOT State Maintenance Engineer Becky Allmeroth. “We know our infrastructure is prone to potholes this time of year, and we are making efforts to keep our roads as safe and smooth as possible.”

Motorists can report the location of potholes using the following tools:

·     Call our 24/7 Customer Service Center at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636)

·     Use  our Report a Road Concern form on the web at www.modot.org

·     Use your smart phone/tablet with a mobile friendly form at www.modot.org/roadconcern

·     By email to comments@modot.mo.gov

MoDOT spends approximately $15 million a year on pothole patching with the majority of that during the month of March. “On any given day in March, it would not be unusual to have 300 pothole patching crews on our state roadways,” said Allmeroth. “Please watch out for them and move over a lane to give them room to work.” 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CAPITOL REPORT - March 17, 2016.  On my drive to the Capitol Monday, I dropped by the Lodge of the Four Seasons in Lake of the Ozarks where the 68th Annual DECA Conference was being held.  This conference had 1,800 high school students from across the State of Missouri participating in Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) activities, workshops and competitive events.  DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.  I was extremely impressed to see so many young men and women ‘dressed for success,’ looking sharp and acting very professional. 

My DECA tour guides were Magdalene Myles and Landon Mays.  Both are state officer team members: Landon, a student at El Dorado Springs High, is Vice President of Advocacy; and Magdalene, Moberly High, serves as Vice President of Communications. 

AGRICULTURE WEEK:

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is currently celebrating Agriculture Week to promote awareness that agriculture ranks number one in Missouri.  With a $10.9 billion industry, the state is home to nearly 100,000 farms and 300,000 Missourians are employed in agriculture-related occupations.  Missouri also ranks in the top 10 states in a diverse array of agricultural goods and commodities, including corn, soybeans, cotton, rice, cattle, chickens, hogs and turkeys.  Over the past five years, Missouri agricultural exports, shipped to more than 150 countries, have increased by more than a billion dollars. 
Agriculture Week events included a "Missouri Farmers Care" breakfast this morning and a display of tractors on the front lawn of the Capitol. Pictured with Richard Fordyce, Director of MO Dept. of Agriculture

AMBULANCE DISTRICT FUNDS:

One of the bills that I have sponsored this year, HB1556, was discussed in session during third read and passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.  It passed unanimously with a vote of 139-0.  This house bill specifies that ambulance district public funds deposited in certain banking institutions are secured.  It adds ambulance districts to the list of political subdivisions whose public funds must be secured by the deposit of certain securities by the State Treasurer. It has already started the legislative process through the Senate as of yesterday. 

OUTDOOR ADVERTISING

I am happy to report that HB1564 Outdoor Advertising, heard by the Transportation Committee in February, was voted on and passed out of committee yesterday.  I anticipate it will be discussed and debated during session sometime in early April.

Welcomed visitors to the Capitol this week included members of the West Central Missouri Community Action Agency:  Brenda Rudell, Fonda Cauthron, and Kristina Klass.

We had many visitors this past week that included a large group of local area citizens advocating for OATS Transportation.  I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Della Allen representing OATS for Benton County.  Bill Arnold, Director and Hickory County Representative for Care Connection for Aging, stopped by to visit today before heading to a rally in the rotunda.  I also met with spokespersons from the Missouri Grocers Association, the Missouri Cattlemens Association, State Fair Commissioners, and the Missouri Restaurant Association, just to mention a few.  I always look forward to the opportunity to meet, visit and learn! 

Easter is a time of love and a time to enjoy our family. May the beauty, the joy, and the blessings of Easter fill your life with special happiness. May your spirit rejoice and your heart be glad as you celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord.
Have a glorious Easter! 

PLEASE NOTE:  The General Assembly will not be in session next week to observe a ‘Spring Break’ in order for members to go back to district and touch base with constituents.  I will not be sending out a Capitol Report next Thursday, but will be back with an update on March 31st.

CAPITOL REPORT - March 31, 2016.  Finally, after six months of being closed, the Osceola License Office has reopened!  The new agent is Amy Johnson.  Office hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., with a closing time each day for lunch at 12:30-1:30 p.m.  The location has remained the same as before in the “Do It Best” building.

Ribbon Cutting at the Osceola License Office on March 25th.
Also, during the General Assembly Spring Break, the Friends of St. Clair County Senior Center held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new “Rivers Crossing Life Center” on Friday, March 18th.  Operated by Care Connection for Aging Services, the facility is located at 5215 Business Highway 13 NE in Osceola, and is open weekdays from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.  Lunch is served from 11:30 – 1:00 daily.  For more information, please call the center at (417) 646-8292.   I hope everyone has an opportunity to stop by and/or utilize this wonderful new addition to the district.  

LIVESTOCK LIABILITY

The Senate perfected SB844 this week, sponsored by Senator Parson and relating to livestock trespass liability.  Right now, a cattle producer is always at fault if cattle get out of their confines without anyone having to prove negligence.  For example, if a drunk driver runs through a fence causing livestock to get out, why in the world should the cattle owner be liable?  This is a good, common sense bill that protects livestock owners from being responsible for liability when they are not at fault.  Identical legislation, HB1827, has been sponsored in the House and has passed through with a bipartisan majority.  This is strongly supported by the Missouri Cattlemens Association and the Missouri Farm Bureau. 
The Murrell family was welcomed to the Capitol on Thursday, March 24th. Daughter, Ellie, and son, Drake, both had beautiful pieces of artwork selected to be featured in an exhibit in the rotunda during the last several weeks for Youth Art Month.

Accompanying them for the day were their father, Sergeant Tim Murrell with the Missouri State Highway Patrol-Water Patrol Division; their mother, Cindy with Warsaw R-IX School District; and both sets of grandparents.

Missouri Cattlemens Association members, Mark Garges and Kathy DeVault, in a meeting with Rep. Love on Wednesday.

HONORING VETERANS AND SENIOR CITIZENS

Nominations are being accepted now through May 7th for the Veterans Service Award and the Senior Service Award.   These awards are administered through Lieutenant Governor Kinder’s office.  Winners are chosen based on how they impact other citizens, organizations, and their community.  Recipients from across the state are given special recognition and highlighted at an awards banquet at the Capitol.  For more information and nomination forms, please go to http://ltgov.mo.gov/. 

NATIONAL DONATE LIFE MONTH

Each year the month of April is designated as Donate Life Month to celebrate and honor those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.  For more information on local, regional, and national activities during April, please go to http://donatelife.net/ndlm/.  We are fortunate to have District 125 constituent, Deb Simaitis, serve as Chair of the Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Board. 

STORM PREPAREDNESS

For safety videos, facts, and myths, please go to http://stormaware.mo.gov/ provided by the MO Department of Public Safety.  You may also sign up for severe weather alerts by clicking the “Sign Up” box on the main page. Then on the next page, click on “Local Severe Weather Warning Systems in Missouri” for a list of counties and providers/notifications to choose from including KSPR, KTTS, and KY3.

CAPITOL REPORT - April 7, 2016.  Last Friday during my in-district day, I drove a 200-mile circle visiting city halls, libraries, schools and senior centers.  I began in Lowry City, then to Appleton City, El Dorado Springs, and finishing in Osceola.  My purpose was to deliver flags and brochures on “Consumer Protection-How to Prevent Identity Theft.” 

Monday was a very different day as I started my week at the Capitol.  I actually joined 16 legislators and staff on a shooting range near Columbia, MO., for four hours to complete my training for a concealed carry permit (CCW).  With a growing concern because of the turmoil and frustration with our government, I felt I should become properly trained and qualified as a gun owner.  The first part of my certification was completing educational coursework in a classroom at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Headquarters.  The final completion of the certification was obtained through Tactical Training Specialties in Hallsville.  Our Certified Police Generalist Instructor, Todd Burke, is a former fulltime police academy instructor at the University of Missouri, and has been providing range training for over 30 years to policemen, highway patrolmen and the public.  This has been an invaluable experience for me, one of honor and great respect. 

CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS

One of the bills discussed during session this week was HB2242.  I spoke on the House Floor against this bill which would prevent small rural municipalities from joining other small towns in class action law suits against large communication companies.  Other fellow representatives joined me in agreement that this is definitely not good legislation for rural communities.  The Missouri Municipal League is aiding in the rally against the passage of this bill. 

ETHANOL PRODUCER INCENTIVE FUND

I also spoke on the House Floor this week in favor of HB1413 in regard to the ethanol producer incentive fund.  This bill extends the sunset on the ethanol producer incentive fund from December 31, 2015, to December 31, 2020, and extends the time period in which ethanol producers of ethanol made from qualified biomass are eligible for subsidies from the fund.  It will benefit Missouri corn growers in case there is demand for another ethanol plant down the road.  It would give a group of farmers “a leg up” to get a new plant started. Currently, six corn ethanol plants operate in Missouri.  In 2014, over 280 million gallons of cleaner-burning, renewable fuel was refined and distributed nationwide.  These plants generate an estimated $718 million in ethanol and distillers grains receipts.  They were all started with incentive fund money. The Missouri Department of Agriculture administers the Missouri Qualified Fuel Ethanol Producer Incentive Fund, which was established in 1988 to encourage ethanol production in Missouri.  The funds have since been repaid and the plants currently in operation receive zero tax dollars.  Based on 2014 numbers, the ethanol plants employ close to 1,500 people in Missouri with over $84 million in annual labor income with $163 million in added annual value.  This is a vital economic impact for the state. 

I closed my comments on HB1413 on the House Floor with this old Proverb:  

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

NATIONAL DONATE LIFE MONTH

Each year the month of April is designated as Donate Life Month to celebrate and honor those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.  For more information on local, regional, and national activities during April, please go to http://donatelife.net/ndlm/.  We are fortunate to have District 125 constituent, Deb Simaitis, serve as Chair of the Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Board. 

STORM PREPAREDNESS

For safety videos, facts, and myths, please go to http://stormaware.mo.gov/ provided by the MO Department of Public Safety.  You may also sign up for severe weather alerts by clicking the “Sign Up” box on the main page. Then on the next page, click on “Local Severe Weather Warning Systems in Missouri” for a list of counties and providers/notifications to choose from including KSPR, KTTS, and KY3.

El Dorado Springs Christian School 4th grade students visited on Tuesday to take a tour of the Capitol, Whispering Gallery, and Dome.

Missouri Cattlemens Association members visited the Capitol on Wednesday to discuss current legislation.  Members from St. Clair County visited with Rep. Love: Mike Nance, Josh Salmon, and John Love.  Rep. Love is proud to call John his youngest son.

A tour of the Capitol and preview of the legislative process were part of Ms. Carolyn Allison’s 8th grade American History Class field trip on Wednesday. These fine, young adults represented Hermitage R-IV School.

CAPITOL REPORT - April 14, 2016.  A very welcome Spring shower has the grass growing and mushrooms popping up.  The trees are leafing out along with Redbuds and our beloved state tree, the Missouri Dogwood, in full bloom.  The turkeys are beginning their Spring strutting, and a very successful youth hunt is underway.  The boat ramp parking lots are full indicating a good number of fishermen are out on the lake fishing for crappie and snagging spoonbill.  Recreation and tourism, Missouri’s number two industry is thriving! 

In spite of all the things one can do outside, we Missouri lawmakers have five more weeks of spending time inside this beautiful Capitol building working on legislation.  

HB1636 – MISSOURI STATE FAIR/SCHOOL FUNDING

This week I presented my HB1636 in the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.  The amendment to school law would read:  “No school district shall receive state aid under section 163.031 or any other state funding if such district holds classes for students during the Missouri State Fair.”  The state fair is held annually in Sedalia and always starts the second Thursday of August and continues for 11 days.  I received numerous complaints this past year that school students from across the state have had to choose between showing their exhibits at the fair or attending school with their fellow classmates and participating in sports activities.  

In my presentation, I pointed out that agriculture is Missouri’s number one industry generating substantial amounts of money for the state’s General Revenue Fund, and it is extremely important to remember and recognize that the Missouri State Fair is THE showcase of our number one industry.  Not addressed in my bill, but also vitally important to note, is that tourism is our number two industry in the state also providing substantially to the General Revenue Fund. 

The Department of Education always wants more money from the General Revenue Fund for our schools; there is surely a compromise that will allow our top two state industries to be recognized and/or allowed to flourish through the month of August.  I compared the agriculture and tourism industries as our state’s “top two milk cows.”  If you want more milk from a cow, you need to feed and care for her better.  It doesn’t take much common sense to figure out that opening schools early in August takes feed and care away from our top best cows: agriculture and tourism. 

During the hearing for HB1636, Kyna Iman, lobbyist, testified on behalf of the Missouri Canoe and Floaters Association that “this issue has become severe for the outfitters across the state.  The average statewide loss of business for the MCFA outfitters from the time school starts to Labor Day is 73%.  Each year the schools are starting earlier, creating an even greater loss to our industry.  The majority of an outfitter’s business is during the months of June, July, and August (a 15 week ‘season’).  The unpredictability of river conditions and weather in May makes it nearly impossible for an outfitter to make up their August losses, as some legislators have suggested.  For many tourism industries, their “season” cannot be changed, but the school calendars can change very easily.  There needs to be a limit set on how early schools can start and your bill addresses that.” 

Also testifying in favor of the bill, Jim Moody, lobbyist for the Tri-County Lodging Association that covers Lake of the Ozarks, stated, “Lodging tax collected for all rooms rented is used to promote tourism.  A longer tourism season would greatly benefit promotion of Missouri tourism.”  Mark Wolfe, Director of the Missouri State Fair, also testified on the economic impact and fair attendance statistics.


Visitors to the District 125 office this week included State Fair Community College Trustees Nick La Strada, Ron Wineinger, Judy Parkhurst, Randy Eaton, and President Joanna Anderson.

Rep. Love was honored to visit with Sara Nunez of On My Own in Nevada on Tuesday. Pictured with Representatives Bondon and Pike and other guests.

More visitors on Tuesday included board members of the Katy Trail Community Health Center.  Pictured in photo are Angela Saran, Marie Payne-Bowman, Abby McMullin, Scott Crouch, and Chris Stewart, CEO, Chele Tramel, Marketing Coordinator.

Of the many schools touring the Capitol this week, Rep. Love was proud to welcome the Appleton City 4th Graders

Last night was the annual Legislative Charity Softball Tournament.

Rep. Love served as captain of the Rowdy Roosters Team, sponsored by the Missouri Cattlemens Assn.

Members included House representatives, staff, and employees from the Missouri Cattlemens Assn. and the Missouri Corn Growers Assn.

Today was Missouri Farm Bureau Youth Leadership Day at the Capitol.  Rep. Love was honored to introduce youth members from St. Clair County:  Hannah Wheeler, Michaela Carroll, Emily Meeker, David Zink, Nathan Wade, and Andrew Schlueter. 

Additional visitors to the Capitol this week included former State Representative and Senator Delbert Scott who also serves as a board member of the Missouri Public Charter Schools Commission as well as middle school students from the Warsaw R-IX School District. 

If your group is interested in visiting the Capitol during session, please give us a call for additional information and assistance.  We thoroughly enjoy having District 125 constituents here! 

CAPITOL REPORT - April 21, 2016.  Finally the Spring showers of warm rain have arrived.  I could actually sight rows of newly planted corn as I drove to the Capitol on Monday.  Plus there were lots of trucks parked alongside the roads which I’ll bet were turkey hunters out calling the gobblers on opening day of season. 

I am thankful for the much needed rain, but also thankful that we are not getting the floods like the Houston, Texas, area.  We still haven’t recovered from the torrential rains and flooding we experienced last Spring in Benton and Hickory Counties. 

U.S. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler reported to us that funds have been released by FEMA to the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to be distributed to Benton County for repairs.  The Benton County Commissioners have provided a progress report stating they will soon be sending out a Request for Qualification (RFQ) to engineering firms to help assist with the Harper Pipe System.  Because of the previously set fiscal budget for 2016, the county is looking to rely on funding in the upcoming 2017 budget while working with SEMA.  They are pleased to report that 40% of the other large projects are completed in Road District #1. 

HB1969 CONFISCATION OF ANIMALS

In the event someone has been “charged” with animal abuse or neglect and has had their animals confiscated, HB 1969 specifies that all animals confiscated must receive proper care as determined by state law and regulations.  It would also prevent the animals from being sterilized, euthanized or disposed of until the court makes a final ruling on the case.

This bill would require a person acting under the authority of a warrant to appear at a disposition hearing before the court through which the warrant was issued within 10 days of the confiscation, instead of being given a disposition hearing within 30 days.

In addition, this bill would also ENSURE owners who are found innocent are not liable for the costs associated with holding their animals and states that their animals must be immediately returned.  (With current law in Missouri when animals are taken, animal owners are assumed guilty and must pay for the first thirty days of care in order to have their animals returned if found innocent. The fees continue throughout the life of the court case should the owner decide to continue. Since no one can afford the inflated and exorbitant charges, the animals are relinquished early on and the taking party wins regardless.) This legislation reinforces a citizen's right to due process. 

I spoke on the House Floor back and forth with Representative Bill Reiboldt during debate of this bill.  We discussed the not-so-pretty side of caring for cows when they are down with calving paralysis.  We pointed out that a cow may be down for two days or two weeks, but as long as they eat and drink, they may be helped by turning, rotating, and lifting them for short periods of time.  It is sometimes disturbing to view by people who do not understand the ins and outs of caring for animals, thus they want to report such things as animal neglect or abuse, causing animals to be confiscated. 

Another example is older horses that become very thin because of age, even though the animals are well fed and cared for.  I realize the concern about care for animals in many people’s eyes are just focused on small animals such as pets.  However, the same laws apply to large animals referred to as livestock. 

I spoke in favor of reforming the laws for confiscation of animals and reminded House members that the Missouri Veterinary Association is in support.  My closing statement to my fellow representatives was, “When it comes to the common sense or horse sense of caring for livestock, not everyone understands.  If common sense was lard, some people would not have enough to grease a skillet on this issue!” 

Representative Love and Brown had the honor and pleasure of visiting with former State Representative and Senator Delbert Scott last week. He was meeting with legislators on behalf of the Missouri Public Charter Schools Commission.

State Fair Community College President Joanne Anderson and SFCC Trustee Judy Parkhurst visited with Reps. Love and Muntzel last week.

At the Capitol on Monday, Lakeland R-III Junior High Social Studies students spent time with Rep. Love, toured the historic building, museum, Whispering Gallery and Dome.  They were accompanied by Superintendent Mr. Mitch Towne and teacher, Ms. Leslie Miller.

CAPITOL REPORT - April 28, 2016.  April 24-30, 2016, is Administrative Professionals Week, and I want to start my report by acknowledging my legislative assistant, Kelley Rogers, who serves our District 125 from my Capitol office. With a background in public relations, she has been working at the Capitol since 2013. Prior to serving District 125, she served as secretary to the Children and Families Committee, the Interim House Review Committee on the 2011 Water Patrol Merger, and the Interim Committee on Healthcare Workforce. A lifelong resident of Camdenton, she carpools every day on Route 54. Her activities have included raising her family with her husband, serving in church activities, school district foundation, Eastern Star, and her youngest son’s school robotics team activities. Kelley is honored to work for District 125 and proud to live in lake country.

HB1636 – MISSOURI STATE FAIR/SCHOOL FUNDING:
     On my way to the Capitol Monday I stopped by the State Fairgrounds in Sedalia. I dropped off a local newspaper that had an article about school starting dates and how they overlap with the State Fair schedule. In the article, an area school superintendent had suggested the fair should move their starting date up and commented that the State Fair used to be the first week of August, and it is now held during the second week. This information is incorrect, and Mark Wolfe, Director of the Missouri State Fair, stated that historically, the fair always ended on the Sunday one week before Labor Day and the earliest fair dates were August 13-23. In 1997, the Missouri State Fair Commission, in an effort to avoid earlier school start dates, moved the dates of the fair up one week. The fair now ends on the Sunday two weeks prior to Labor Day. Based on calendar shifts, the earliest fair is August 7-17 and the latest is August 13-23. This year the State Fair dates are August 11-21, 2016.
     He also stated it is nearly impossible to move the State Fair dates another week earlier, because it would conflict with over half of the 114 county regional fairs and the Ozark Empire Fair held each year in late July and early August. The winners of those fairs move on to exhibit at the State Fair. Pushing back school start dates closer to Labor Day would encourage 4-H and FFA youth participation and increase attendance and revenue for the promotion and awareness of Missouri’s #1 industry, agriculture. For this to happen, the citizens and businesses in each local
school district need to get involved and encourage school boards to set school start dates later in August.
     Also, Tuesday morning after the Capitol Commission Bible Study, I had a complimentary breakfast sponsored by the six national parks in Missouri. I asked them how park visitor attendance was before school started compared to after school started. They commented, “It drops like a rock.” While visiting about the parks and how important they are for our tourism industry, I also encouraged them to continue the development of the Butterfield Overland
National Parkway from Tipton, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. This historic trail passes through eight states and covers over 2,800 miles. It travels a southerly course through Missouri from St. Louis to Tipton through the southwestern tip of the state.

LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS:
HB 1468 would allow Missourians to carry a concealed weapon without the need for a permit. Commonly referred to as constitutional carry, the bill would allow any person to carry a concealed firearm anywhere that isn’t expressly prohibited by law. This piece of legislation advanced through the House this week and now moves to the Senate for approval.
HB 1679 was introduced this year to allow women to obtain their birth control prescriptions from a pharmacist instead of a physician. The sponsor pointed out reducing unplanned pregnancies by 10% to 20% could result in cost savings for state taxpayers of $47 to $95 million annually. Approved by the House this week, the bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
HB1556 that I have sponsored has been heard in its Senate committee and now waits to be third read and passed in the Senate. This language secures ambulance district funds deposited in financial institutions I am also working to insure the passage of HB1564 which changes the laws regarding MoDOT signage permits and requirements to benefit small business owners/landowners. We have two weeks of session left and amendment strategies are in place.

CAPITOL REPORT - May 5, 2016.  My in-district day started at 9:00 a.m. on Friday presenting “Show Me the Show Me State-Do You Know MO” booklets to the Osceola 4th grade class.  At 11:00 a.m. I discussed Missouri history and government with the Appleton City 4th graders.  I thoroughly enjoy reporting about our duties as a legislator and how the lawmaking process works.

House and Senate Give Final Approval to Voter ID Measure (HB 1631): 

The General Assembly reached a final agreement this week on legislation designed to require a valid form of photo identification in order to vote. The legislation, which would put a system of voter identification into state law, is a companion piece to a proposed constitutional amendment that would first allow voters to determine if Missouri should require photo identification to vote. The constitutional amendment requires a final vote in the Senate and one more vote in the House before going on the November ballot.  This bill will protect the integrity of the elections process. Providing a valid photo ID is the best way to ensure voters are who they say they are when they cast their vote. The bill also would require the state to pay for individuals to obtain a valid ID if they do not have one, or to obtain the documents necessary for a government-issued photo ID. 

House Overrides Governor’s Veto of “Paycheck Protection” (HB 1891):

Legislation commonly referred to as “paycheck protection” is now just a vote away in the Senate from becoming law.  The House approved a motion this week to override the governor’s veto of HB 1891 by a vote of 109-47.  With the successful override vote in the House, the Senate will now need to complete the override with at least 23 votes, which the bill received when it was originally passed by the Senate. 

The bill is meant to give public employee union members the right to opt-in annually if they choose to participate in their union.  The current system requires a public employee to opt-out; and if they fail to do so, their dues are automatically deducted.  In effect, the bill would require annual written consent from a public employee before any amount could be withheld from the earnings of the employee for the payment of any portion of dues, agency shop fees, or other fees paid to a public labor organization.  It would also require public employee unions to obtain annual written consent in order to spend a portion of the fees on political activities. 

  *       *       *       *

Next week is the finale for the 2016 session with many bills left to discuss and debate.  I am hopeful and anticipate that legislation on outdoor advertising/billboards, securing of ambulance district funds, and the organ donor program fund check-off sunset date that I have sponsored will all be passed before we adjourn Friday, May 13th, at 6 p.m., according to the Missouri Constitution.

CAPITOL REPORT - May 13, 2016.  Friday the 13th has ended our last day of the 2016 legislative session. The closing bell will ring at 6:00 p.m., and now we can look back and review what we have accomplished. 

Voter ID: 

The House and Senate reached final agreement on two measures designed to require a valid form of photo identification in order to vote.  One is a proposed constitutional amendment that will go on the November ballot for voter approval.  The other is a statutory change that is now on the governor’s desk for his consideration.  HJR 53 will allow voters to decide if the Missouri Constitution should be changed to allow a system of voter identification. The bill would require voters to present a specified form of identification in order to vote in a public election.  Valid forms of identification would include photo IDs issued by the state, the federal government or the military.  The bill also would require the state to pay for individuals to obtain a valid ID if they do not have one, or to obtain documents necessary for an ID.  Additionally, the final version of the HB 1631 contains a provision that would allow a voter without a valid photo ID to vote with a regular ballot by showing another form of identification. 

Helping Missouri’s Farmers: 

The members of the House and Senate also gave final approval to several pieces of legislation to support Missouri’s livestock owners and agricultural producers.  As it has done several times over the years, the Missouri General Assembly took action to reject a proposed tax increase on Missouri’s agricultural land.  Bipartisan support was given to HCR 58, which rejected a recommendation made by the Missouri Tax Commission for a five percent tax increase on farm and ranch properties. 

Legislators also approved SB 844 to clarify that an animal owner is liable for damages done by the animal to another’s property only if the owner has been negligent.  Currently, if horses, cattle, or other livestock break through a fence and cause damages to another’s property, the owner is strictly liable.  Even in cases when the fence is torn down or broken by someone else, the owner of the animals is still liable under current law.  The change approved by the General Assembly will relieve the animal owner from liability for damages when the animals were released because of the actions or fault of another. 

Constitutional Carry: 

Legislation was also passed to strengthen the gun rights of law-abiding Missourians. The bill will allow Missourians to carry a concealed weapon where currently they have the right to open- carry.  Commonly referred to as constitutional carry, the bill would allow any person to carry a concealed firearm anywhere that isn’t expressly prohibited by law.  The legislation also contains a provision commonly referred to as “Stand Your Ground” law.  The measure removes the requirement that a person, who is in any place they are legally allowed to be, can use force without retreating first.  For instance, if I catch someone stealing a battery out of my tractor and I apprehend them and they come at my with a crescent wrench, then I have the right to protect myself with deadly force if I feel my life is in danger.   It also expands the state’s castle doctrine law:  current statute allows individuals to use deadly force to defend themselves and their property against intruders, and this law extends the same protection right to any of my family members who may be staying in my home while I am away. 

Legislation that did not make it to the finish line: 

Unfortunately, several bills that would benefit District 125 did not pass, but I anticipate discussion on these proposals again next year:  HB1904 would enhance 911 emergency services;  and HB1891 the proposal that would have required public employees to give written permission annually for union dues to be collected from their pay failed by one vote in an veto override attempt.  Also not passing, HB1780 and 1420 which would haverepealed the July 1, 2014, termination date of a provision allowing members of the Public School Retirement System of Missouri who have 31 or more years of creditable service to have their retirement allowance calculated using a multiplier of 2.55%.

CAPITOL REPORT - May 19, 2016.  My interim started bright and early Monday morning at a directors’ meeting of our “Discover More on Route 54” project.  “Discover More on Route 54” is reminding the public of the 2nd Annual 100-mile Yard Sale that will be coming up on Labor Day weekend, September 3rd-5th.  This will cover communities along U.S. Hwy 54 from Nevada to Camdenton.  We need sellers and bargain hunters to make this event a huge success.  Sellers will be responsible for their own yard sale signs to attract motorists.  With the increased holiday traffic, we also encourage other non-profits (fire departments, churches, etc.)  to hold rummage sales and fundraisers at the same time.   Start making plans now! Please direct questions or suggestions to the Facebook page, facebook.com/MOHwy54YardSale.  For sponsors, additional promotional signs have been ordered and will be distributed. 

MAY IS BEEF MONTH:

I enjoyed lunch with members of the Cedar County Farm Bureau and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association on Monday.  They hosted "Lunch on the Lawn" at the Cedar County Courthouse to celebrate May as “Beef Month.”  A ceremony was also hosted on Tuesday, May 17th, at the Missouri Department of Agriculture.  The Missouri Beef Month celebration recognized the farmers and farm families behind the 1.9 million beef cattle raised in the state.  Missouri’s beef industry is third in the nation in number of beef cows and sixth in total cattle, and is a leader in beef quality, safety and nutrition research and development.

FLAG RAISING: 

On Wednesday morning, I had the honor of attending the flag raising ceremony at the new Rivers Crossing Life Center in Osceola.   The new flag pole has been dedicated in memory of a beloved community member, Richard “Dick” Kiefer, who was also a World War II Veteran. 

BICYCLER AND PEDESTRIAN FRIENDLY: 

The City of Warsaw has recently adopted a Complete Streets policy.  Warsaw's policy is the 29th Complete Streets Policy in Missouri.  The purpose of this policy is to set forth guiding principles and practices for use in all transportation projects, where practicable, economically feasible, and otherwise in accordance with applicable law, so as to encourage walking, bicycling, and other non-motorized forms of transit.  Warsaw joins an elite group of Missouri cities who are setting the standard for livability, connectivity, and community health by adopting Complete Streets policies.  Warsaw has worked to integrate bicycling, walking, trails, parks, and healthy lifestyles into its city and region-wide economic development plan, including the development of a mountain bike park, a system of trails and bicycle routes in and around the city, an improved, walkable downtown area, a system of parks connected by trails, a beautiful riverfront harbor and park connected to downtown, and much more.  The Complete Streets Policy is part of the city's plan to make the entire city and region walkable and bikeable, because the Complete Streets elements allow every neighborhood, school, and commercial area of the city to make the "last mile" connection to the city's trails and bikeways system.  

FRIDAY, JUNE 17TH: 

The MO Department of Natural Resources invites the public to attend an informational meeting at Pomme de Terre State Park on Friday, June 17th.  The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Hermitage Area Campground Amphitheater.  Park staff will be presenting an overview of the park and its resources as well as answer any questions.  Visitors will be invited to share comments on the park and its facilities.  The meeting is part of an ongoing effort by the Missouri State Parks to ensure that the public has input on services and facilities offered in state parks and historic sites.  For questions, please call Dave Herigon, Park Superintendent, at Pomme de Terre State Park, at (417) 852-4291. 

CAPITOL REPORT - May 26, 2016.  Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.  Major General John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30.  It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.  The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies.  After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

It is imperative to pay tribute this upcoming Memorial “Decoration” Day for all of our fallen countrymen that paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our homeland and uphold the Constitution and our freedom.  Take time to pause and reflect on the following statistics provided from USA Today listing the casualties from each U.S. war:

Civil War: Approximately 620,000 Americans died. The Union lost almost 365,000 troops and the Confederacy about 260,000.

World War I: 116,516 Americans died.

World War II: 405,399 Americans died.

Korean War: 36,574 Americans died.

Vietnam Conflict: 58,220 Americans died.

Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm: 148 U.S. battle deaths and 145 non-battle deaths.

Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,422 U.S. service members died.

Operation New Dawn: 66 U.S. service members died.

Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,318 U.S. service members have died as of May 12, 2014. 

"We live in the land of the Free, because of the Brave."  It sounds cliché, but it is so true.  Now, and always, let us honor our guardians of liberty for their diligence and sacrifice.

 We commemorate this day to remember all those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation.  As one of our greatest Missourians, President Harry Truman, once said, “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid.  They have earned our undying gratitude.  America will never forget their sacrifices.” 

I will be delivering a Memorial Day message at the Liberty Baptist Church in Iconium on Sunday at 11:00 a.m.  On Monday, I will be participating in the annual Cross Timbers Memorial Day Service on the square.  If you do not have plans already, I invite you to join us.  I hope you have a safe Memorial Day, 2016, and join with me in thanking God for our great nation and the men and women who have served to protect it.

PRESS RELEASE - August 30, 2016. – 100-MILE YARD SALE THIS WEEKEND! 

Discover More on Rt. 54 is hosting the 2nd annual 100-mile yard sale that will be coming up on Labor Day weekend, September 3rd-5th.  This will cover communities along U.S. Hwy 54 from Nevada to Camdenton. The host locations are for sellers living away from Hwy 54 that wish to participate over Labor Day weekend.   Due to great interest in the event, there is a newly created website, https://100mileyardsale.wordpress.com/, and will contain any new updates. 

RULES FOR HOST SITES:

First come first set up basis each day, dumpsters located on the property are not for public use, remove everything you didn’t sell, and be respectful of their property.  The sellers will be responsible for their own sale signs to draw in motorists.  

APPROVED HOST LOCATIONS:  Free use unless indicated by [$] [$ =daily use fee charged]

EL DORADO SPRINGS, at Chamber of Commerce (old Wood’s) parking lot, located at the SE corner of Hwys 54 & 32. (417)876-4154.

NEAR COLLINS, at Brenda’s Quilt Stop & More, located west of Collins along Hwy 54 (417)876-9997.

WHEATLAND, front office lot at Darby Motors/A+ Glass office, located next to Hwy 54 & Main St. (417)799-9399.

HERMITAGE, [$] at Beyond Bargains Flea Market, located next to Hwy 54 & Pitts Ln. (417)399-1474.

NEAR PRESTON, [$] at Yates Rustic Range Trading, located 6 miles East of Preston on south side of Hwy 54 (417)733-7193.

NEAR MACKS CREEK, at public road side park at the junction of Hwys 54 & 73.

MACKS CREEK, at Bank of Urbana by permission only call Sherry Nations prior to setting up (573)363-1000.

CAMDENTON, at Farmers Insurance (west of the square) parking lot, courtesy of Shane Hulett. 

All updates will be posted on the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MOHwy54YardSale/ and the new website, https://100mileyardsale.wordpress.com/.

CAPITOL REPORT - September 15, 2016.  Veto Session began at “High Noon” yesterday on September 14th.  We spent nine hours combing through legislation that Governor Nixon had vetoed this summer.  In the end, out of 20 vetoed bills, we voted to override 13 pieces of legislation. This total includes seven House Bills and six Senate Bills. 

HIGHLIGHTS ON 5 KEY BILLS: 

I am happy to report that all three pieces of legislation deemed priority by the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association were successfully overridden.  These bills will benefit farmers throughout Missouri.  SB641 addresses a tax deduction for farmers who receive federal disaster or emergency aid payments.  Under this bill, the deduction will be available for all tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2014.  Up to this point, no other disaster program is taxed as income by the federal and state government.  Farmers shouldn’t be taxed either!  This law will correct that wrong. 

SB844 was approved to clarify that an animal owner is liable for damages done by the animal to another’s property only if the owner has been negligent. Currently, if horses, cattle, or other livestock break through a fence and cause damages to another’s property, the owner is strictly liable. Even in cases when the fence is torn down or broken by someone else, the owner of the animals is still liable under current law. The change will relieve the animal owner from liability for damages when the animals were released because of the actions or fault of another. 

The third bill, HB1414, protects the privacy of Missouri farmers who voluntarily disclose information for certain government programs from facing sunshine inquiries for this information unless it is needed to protect consumer and animal health.  It encourages partnership between private citizens and government programs in order to help gather more research and further improve our understanding of animal disease traceability. Missouri Cattlemen's Association (MCA) President Keith Stevens stated, "Missouri cattle farmers and ranchers certainly want to be transparent, but should not fear their private information being public knowledge because of participation in a government program.  The threat of agro-terrorism is real and this legislation helps reduce this threat for Missouri farm and ranch families."  This legislation proactively addresses a problem that will only intensify with time in the generation of “Big Data.”

The General Assembly also overrode the veto of HB1631 that would require Missourians to show a photo ID in order to vote.  The bill would implement a system of voter identification in the state if Missouri voters approve a constitutional change that is on the November ballot.  This change is vital to protect the integrity of the election process and prevent voter fraud. 

If the constitutional change is approved by voters, Missouri will then implement a system of voter identification and require voters to present a specified form of ID in order to vote in a public election. Valid forms of identification would include photo IDs issued by the state, the federal government or the military.  The bill also would require the state to pay for individuals to obtain a valid ID if they do not have one, or to obtain documents necessary for an ID. 

Finally, SB656, which I received many, many emails and phone calls in support of the override, did indeed pass, strengthening the gun rights of law-abiding citizens.  It is important to remember that Missouri’s law already allows anyone of age to carry a weapon openly with no permit or training.  SB656’s Constitutional Carry portion allows a law-abiding citizen the freedom to carry a firearm in their purse or concealed under their clothing.  It DOES NOT allow criminals or mentally ill to carry, nor does it change the current concealed carry permit laws. 

SB656 also expands the castle doctrine by allowing persons who have been authorized by a property owner to be on or in the property to use deadly force as necessary in order to protect themselves and others.  As well, the requirement that a person must attempt to retreat before using force is repealed in SB656 which allows a person to better protect themselves.

CAPITOL REPORT - December 1, 2016.  Now that 2016 elections are finally over, the voters have spoken by casting their ballots in our Republic with the critics readily evaluating the results.  It’s becoming apparent that about half the people are happy and the other half are heartbroken.  The opportunity to change the direction of the State of Missouri and our great Nation has never been greater.  However, with that opportunity comes an even greater responsibility for the Republican super majority to make wise decisions in governing our state and nation.  Out of 163 state representatives, 117 are Republican.  There are 39 newly elected freshmen with 20 Republicans and 19 Democrats. 

Our Speaker of the House, Todd Richardson, has outlined our caucus priorities focusing on building a Missouri that respects and protects individual freedom while cultivating a stronger, more vibrant, dynamic economy than exists today.  We will work for a Missouri that has a strong education system for every Missourian no matter where they were born or where they live. 

Speaker Richardson said his chamber’s top priorities will be issues that his party believes will improve Missouri’s economy. “That means a universe of labor reform, tort reform, and education reform,” said Richardson, “I think if we’ll focus on those issues as well as removing some of the government barriers to innovation and economic development, we’ll have the workings of a pretty good agenda to start with.” 

Richardson said his legislative agenda will include passage of legislation that supporters call “right to work,” which aims to prevent employees from being required to join a union as a condition of employment. The Speaker noted that ethics reform will also be a priority early in the 2016 session, as legislators again attempt to pass a ban on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers.

CAPITOL REPORT - December 7, 2016.  We received notification today that the Department of Economic Development has awarded Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credits to the Friends of the St. Clair County Senior Center in Osceola and The Friends of the Hickory County Health Department in Hermitage.  This is wonderful news for all the constituents of District 125 knowing these funds will be used to enhance the lives of many and help meet the growing and constant needs of our citizens. 

As bill pre-filing began Thursday for the 2017 legislative session, I introduced several pieces of legislation ranging in topic from a repeal of Missouri’s prevailing wage law to a reduction in fees for rural business owners who want to advertise by posting advertising signs on their own land.  One of my top goals this year is to help invigorate Missouri’s economy. 

HB104 is identical to HB 1931, which I sponsored during the 2016 legislative session to repeal Missouri’s current prevailing wage law. The current law requires contractors and subcontractors working on public works projects to pay employees the prevailing wage for that area.  In many rural counties the prevailing wage can be significantly higher than the wages typically paid to workers on private sector construction projects.  Eliminating the prevailing wage could reduce the cost of public construction projects and lead to wiser spending of Missouri taxpayers’ dollars and result in increased investment in our state’s infrastructure. 

Prevailing wage forces an artificially high wage that escalates the cost to taxpayers for projects that are desperately needed in many areas of the state.  By removing prevailing wage we can allow contractors to still pay their employees competitive wages, but also give them the ability to make qualified contractors’ competitive bids that will give taxpayers a better return on investment of their tax dollars spent on public works projects that need to be done. Only qualified contractors who are licensed, bonded and insured will be allowed to make competitive bids. 

I have also filed HB56, which is identical to HB 1564 from 2016. The bill would waive the permit fee and biennial inspection fee for a sign as long as the landowners own the business displayed on the sign, and as long as the business being displayed on the sign is within 750 feet of the sign location regardless of intervening land use.  It must also be at least 750 feet away from the next nearest sign.  This bill’s intent is simply meant to waive the fees for rural business owners, because no one should have to pay a fee to advertise on their own business on their own land on either side of a highway. 

Another bill that I am sponsoring (HB105) would remove the sunset date for the Organ Donor Program Fund Checkoff on the Missouri Individual Income Tax Return. Identical to HB 1673 that was filed during the 2016 session, this bill would help continue funding for the donor program that has saved lives throughout Missouri.  Mrs. Debra Simaitis chairs the Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Committee and is also a constituent of District 125.  The Organ Donor Program is supported by voluntary contributions at the Missouri driver’s license offices, the Missouri State Employee Charitable Campaign, and through direct contributions.  Funds are used to expand education, maintain an in-depth donor registry system, increase awareness programs, and provide online training to emergency personnel. 

Finally, I am again filing legislation (HB53) to establish the Missouri Heritage Protection Act. The bill would prohibit any agency, political subdivision, or entity with the power of eminent domain from relocating, renaming, rededicating, erecting, modifying, or removing any state historic military monument, memorial, or marker, any designated veterans' grave marker, or any statutorily designated monument or memorial located on any site under its control or located on state land listed on the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's registry without first holding a public hearing and receiving the Historic Preservation council's approval. 

The goal of the bill is to preserve all of the history of the state and to ensure a reasoned discussion occurs before historical monuments or memorials are removed, renamed or relocated.

As someone who is an avid history buff, I am concerned by recent attempts to erase parts of our history simply because they are controversial. We all know we have painful chapters in the history of our state and our nation, but they are still part of our history and what has made us the nation and the people we are today. I think it’s extremely important that we preserve all of our history so that we can learn from it and appreciate where we’ve come from and what we’ve been through as Missourians and Americans. 

Bill pre-filing began in the Missouri House Thursday, Dec. 1. The General Assembly will convene for the 2017 legislative session Wednesday, Jan. 4, with all representatives taking oath at 12:00 noon.

CAPITOL REPORT - December 20, 2016.

We wish everyone a blessed holiday season, and a very Merry Christmas!    ~ The Love Family 

This is that joyous time of the year when we come together with family and friends to celebrate Christmas and to reflect on the many blessings we have been given. It’s a time to delight in the wonderment of our children and grandchildren as they open their presents, and it’s a time to slow down from our normally hectic pace and enjoy the company of those who mean the most to us.

No, Christmas is not all about the presents we give and receive. It is also about taking the time to express our love and appreciation for all those who enrich our lives on a daily basis. It’s also a time to give thanks for the many men and women in our Armed Forces who are serving our nation far away from the comforts of home during the holiday season. Because of their sacrifices, we continue to celebrate the holidays in the greatest nation on this planet.

At the same time we give thanks for all we have, I also ask us to remember there are many Missourians who are not as fortunate. They won’t have the luxury of the companionship of family and friends, a warm fire with stockings hung on the mantle, or even a simple meal. I ask you to keep them in your thoughts and prayers during this holiday season.

For those of us who are Christians, Christmas is a time to appreciate God’s great love for us, and to celebrate the birth of Christ. On this most holy of holidays, let us not forget that God sent his only son to us to offer a message of peace, love, and hope. And let us also remember that Jesus died for our sins so that we might have salvation. Christmas is a time to remember that we are all God’s children and that we will find joy and peace when we look to God for our answers.

From my family to yours, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season. May God bless you all!