2017 Capitol Reports & Press Releases (Archived)
January •  February  •  March  • April •  May  •  June • August  • September

CAPITOL REPORT - January 5, 2017.  On my drive to the Capitol Tuesday afternoon, I observed that the grass is brown, trees are bare, and the farm fields lie fallow.  The skies are gray and a cold wind is blowing in from the west.   It is evident from the signs of nature that it is winter.  However, we all know and we look forward to a vision of springtime when the temperature begins to warm, the days of sunlight lengthen, the spring rains come, and the frogs begin croaking.  I say that to say this, “For many Missourians and citizens across the USA, politically speaking, we have been in the dead of winter for several years, and we are looking forward to that springtime green-up.” 

For the first time in Missouri’s history, Republicans swept all statewide offices creating a supermajority in the General Assembly, as well as a Republican Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, and Attorney General.  The results showed that the citizens of the State of Missouri wanted conservative candidates.  Now, here is where the rubber meets the road.  With this supermajority at the state and national level, we legislators have an even bigger responsibility to govern wisely and effectively.  Plans are being made by leadership to take bold action and tackle some very controversial issues like:  Right to Work, Tort Reform, Education Reform, and Regulatory Reform, Ethics Reform, Defending Missouri’s Core Values. 

Wednesday was opening day of the 99th General Assembly, 1st Regular Session.  I started the day by attending the Annual Prayer Breakfast for legislators at the Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City.  Not only were we provided physical food, we were also blessed with powerful spiritual nourishment from Ken Park, President of the Missouri Baptist Convention and Pastor of First Baptist Church in Kearney, Missouri.  It is very humbling to have prayers lifted up in our behalf so that we legislators will listen to the people, seek Godly wisdom, protect religious liberties, and govern with righteousness. 

I also had the privilege of meeting two very dear friends.  One was Brother Tom Willoughby who was pastor of my home church, First Baptist Church in Osceola, from 1995 to 2002.  The other was Debbie Poire who worked as my Capitol legislative assistant for my first three years as state representative.  Debbie is the accompanist at Concord Baptist Church and has played the piano there for 45 years. 

Brother Tom Willoughby, former Pastor of First Baptist Church of Osceola from 1995 to 2002.

Debbie Poire, former Legislative Assistant to Representative Love, and accompanist for 45 years at Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City. 

As we took our oath of office yesterday at noon, the House currently stands at 116 Republicans and 46 Democrats with one vacancy. Of the 162 members serving in the House, there are a total of 39 new members, which includes 20 Republicans and 19 Democrats.   Speaker of the House, Todd Richardson, reminded everyone, “we must respect the voices and viewpoints of every Missourian, as represented by each and every one of you.”  He emphasized the need for Missouri to embrace new ideas that will help Missouri’s economy keep pace with a rapidly-changing world.  As Richardson said, “A changing economy puts some of our old ways of doing things in doubt. Competing with other states and other countries for the jobs of today, requires a workforce, an education system, a legal framework, and labor policies that are capable of providing a strong, stable, and steady foundation for a growing economy.“  With that being said, next week I will provide a list of bills I have filed for this session hoping to promote an economic environment for growth and a stable foundation for the state. The legislature will definitely have a much more optimistic tone regarding its working relationship with the incoming governor, and I am looking forward to being a part of a responsible, deliberative legislative process this year.

Inaugural Day Festivities
Monday, January 9, 2017

9:00 a.m. Prayer Service
St. Peter's Church

10:00 a.m. Honor our Missouri Heroes
Capitol Rotunda

11:30 a.m. Swearing-In Ceremony
South Capitol Steps

1:00 p.m. Formation of the Troops
North Steps of the Capitol

1:30 p.m. Receiving Line with the Governor and First Lady
Governor's Mansion

3:00 p.m. Public Reception
Capitol Plaza Hotel

7:00 p.m. Salute to Service Inaugural Ball
Capitol Rotunda
(Black Tie Optional)

**All events are free and open to the public.**

CAPITOL REPORT - January 5, 2017.  Once again, for about the 40th time, Marla, my wife, and I attended the 49th Annual Missouri Cattlemen’s Association State Convention held last weekend on January 6th-8th.  I have been an MCA member and attended nearly every annual meeting since 1975 as a beef producer representing Love Ranch.  However, 4 years ago when I was elected as a State Representative, I now have the great opportunity to attend as a Legislator and a Cattleman. My reputation and voting record at the Capitol while serving on the Agriculture Policy Committee shows that I am a friend of the farmer and livestock operations that produce meat, milk, and eggs.  It was a complete surprise when the MCA awarded me the Legislator of the Year Award this past weekend.  I am very humbled and grateful to receive this award and will proudly display it in my office at the Capitol.

INAUGURATION 2017: 

Inaugural Day on Monday, January 9th, will go down in history as a big day of celebration for Republicans.  It started at the St. Peter’s Catholic Church, where our newly elected Governor Eric Greitens and state office holders, along with legislators, were given Godly advice and prayers that we might all work together to lead our great State of Missouri. 

The midday inaugural activities were outdoors on the south steps of the Capitol.  Our newly elected state office holders took their oath of office accompanied by a flyover by a B-2 Stealth Bomber and a 21-gun salute. 

The evening of glitz and glitter was topped off with a ball in the rotunda.  Each legislator was recognized and introduced walking down the Grand Staircase along with their family.  It was such an honor to have my family join me in this special occasion, with the exception of my youngest son, John, who elected to stay home and take care of the ranch.  I was also very thankful and blessed to see and visit with so many constituents who made the drive to the Capitol to enjoy the festivities.  I do believe a wonderful time was had by all. 

NOW THAT THE PARTY IS OVER: 

Tuesday, the lawmaking process began with committee hearings held on ethics and Right to Work.  These are priorities of the majority caucus and Governor Greitens.  Legislation on each of these topics is expected to become enacted into law quickly. 

I have been appointed to serve on the Regular Standing House Committees on ‘Agriculture Policy,’ ‘Conservation and Natural Resources,’ and ‘Consent and House Procedures.’ A new committee structure has been put in place insuring efficiency and a thorough vetting process.  With the announcement of the new committees, I have now requested hearings for all the legislation I have filed to date:  Missouri Heritage Protection Act, Outdoor Advertising, Ambulance District Funds, Prevailing Wage, Organ Donor Program Fund, Cemetery Funds, Butterfield Overland Trail, and the Marketplace Fairness Act. 

NEW SECURITY MEASURES AT THE CAPITOL: 

The Joint Committee on Capitol Security was established last year to review and update security measures at the Capitol.  New security policies that have been adopted require any visitors and guests must enter the Capitol through the south, main doors, also referred to as the Carriage Entrance.  Everyone is guided through a metal detector upon entering.  This new protocol was set in place for Inauguration Day, as well as the additional visibility of dozens of law enforcement officers from across the state to insure a safe day for the thousands of Missourians who attended.

CAPITOL REPORT - January 19, 2017.  All federal and state government offices observed Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 16th.  It was nice to have Monday as a holiday because it gave me the opportunity to do some work at the ranch and tend to the animals after several days of icing, rain, and cold temperatures.  I would like to give a big thank you to the Missouri Department of Transportation and all the county and city road crews who worked long hours keeping most of main roads open for travel during the ice storm.  Their hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated and helped keep Missouri citizens safe over the weekend.  As well, I am very grateful to all the electrical linemen who worked overtime to prevent long power outages.  There were a few power outages throughout the district, but they were short-lived thanks to these linemen and their quick response time. 

AGRICULTURE & FORESTRY CONTRIBUTIONS IN DISTRICT 125: 

On Tuesday, before I headed to Jefferson City, I had the opportunity to meet with the Benton County Commissioners and presented them with some information about becoming an Agri-Ready County administered by Missouri Farmers Care (MFC).  Agri-Ready County designation, a voluntary program with MFC, recognizes counties that actively support Missouri agriculture through establishing an environment and county policies conducive to agricultural business success.  A participating county adopts a policy that states they will not adopt any regulations or ordinances stricter than what the current Department of Natural Resources statutes require. Receiving this designation provides counties with extensive networking and resources to promote, encourage and equip existing and new business entities to expand, locate and do business in Agri-Ready designated counties. 

I want to share some very interesting statistics that were published in a newly released study by the Missouri Department of Agriculture on Economic Contributions of Agriculture and Forestry: 

Overall Agriculture & Forestry Contributions to Benton County:

Agricultural, forestry, and related industries support 1,087 jobs in Benton County. Additionally, these industries contribute $131.3 million in sales, which translates to $76.7 million in added value to the area after $54.6 million worth of inputs are purchased. Of this $76.7 million, $33.1 million is comprised of labor income. Tax revenues generated by the agricultural, forestry, and related industries in Benton County are $10.5 million. 

Overall Agriculture & Forestry Contributions to Cedar County:

Agricultural, forestry, and related industries support 1,183 jobs in Cedar County. Additionally, these industries contribute $104.5 million in sales, which translates to $40.5 million in added value to the area after $64.0 million worth of inputs are purchased. Of this $40.5 million, $22.1 million is comprised of labor income. Tax revenues generated by the agricultural, forestry, and related industries in Cedar County are $7.4 million. 

Overall Agriculture & Forestry Contributions to Hickory County:

Agricultural, forestry, and related industries support 528 jobs in Hickory County. Additionally, these industries contribute $49.2 million in sales, which translates to $25.4 million in added value to the area after $23.8 million worth of inputs are purchased. Of this $25.4 million, $13.2 million is comprised of labor income. Tax revenues generated by the agricultural, forestry, and related industries in Hickory County are $4.1 million. 

Overall Contributions to St. Clair County:

Agricultural, forestry, and related industries support 935 jobs in St. Clair County. Additionally, these industries contribute $76.3 million in sales, which translates to $43.0 million in added value to the area after $33.4 million worth of inputs are purchased. Of this $43.0 million, $20.9 million is comprised of labor income. Tax revenues generated by the agricultural, forestry, and related industries in St. Clair County are $6.2 million. 

GOVERNOR GREITENS’ FIRST ANNUAL STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS: 

Similar to the Opening Day Address given by the House Speaker, Governor Greitens’ speech focused on the need to make Missouri a Right-to-Work state in order to promote job creation and economic growth. Greitens also echoed the Speaker’s words as he called for a ban on lobbyist gifts to legislators; tort reform to make Missouri’s court system fair for all litigants; a reduction in the regulatory burden that too often stifles job creation and economic growth; and education reform that includes education savings accounts for children with special needs. 

VISITORS THIS WEEK: 

I was welcomed by a visit from Diana Hoemann, Executive Director of Care Connections for Aging Services, Sedalia office, on Wednesday.  It was great to have Ms. Hoemann spend time in the office advocating on behalf of senior citizens. 

I also received a visit by the West Central Association of Realtors on Wednesday afternoon.  It was Missouri Realtors Day at the Capitol which provides realtors the opportunity to advocate for their interested legislative priorities.

CAPITOL REPORT - January 26, 2017.  My in-district day on Friday, January 20th, started at the El Dorado Springs High School.  I shared the first two hours with Civics class students about the legislative process and the day-to-day work of a state representative.  I then attended a ribbon cutting for the grand opening of the new Citizens Memorial Hospital El Dorado Springs Medical Clinic. 

My very early morning drive to the Capitol on Monday was through a lot of thick fog.  I left home extra early to attend a tort reform forum given by the Federalist Society.  This was their first Missouri Capitol forum, and the conservative and libertarian legal organization used the small convention to discuss efforts by the Missouri Legislature to enact new laws regarding tort reform and other changes to the legal process. Governor Eric Greitens opened the meeting by presenting his agenda for making Missouri a better place for businesses to relocate to our state and preventing the threat of frivolous lawsuits.  

STATE OF THE JUDICIARY: 

House and Senate members convened for a joint session this week to receive the annual State of the Judiciary Address.  Delivered by Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge, the speech focused on the reforms and improvements made by the court system and the need to improve pretrial incarceration practices in Missouri.  She noted that the Missouri Constitution specifies individuals may be incarcerated before trial only when charged with a capital offense; when a danger to a crime victim, a witness, or the community; or when a flight risk.  Despite this, she said people are incarcerated because they are too poor to post bond. Breckenridge pointed out the likelihood that an individual will commit future crimes increases after only three days in jail. She also emphasized the success rate and promoted the utilization of drug courts.Drug court is a multi-phase program involving a comprehensive assessment to determine treatment needs and after care programming. Other services are based on the individual needs of the offender. 

HOUSE MEMBERS REJECT PROPOSED PAY INCREASE (HCR 4): 

House members came together in bipartisan fashion this week to overwhelmingly reject a proposed pay increase for elected officials and judges. The House approved a resolution that would prevent the pay increase recommendations made by the Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials from going into effect. The commission meets every two years according to the state constitution.  Once the commission makes its recommendation, it automatically goes into effect unless the legislature rejects the proposal before February 1. It takes a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to keep the increases from going into effect.  House members believe the difficult budget situation faced by the state this year makes it even more important to ensure taxpayer dollars are saved for priority items such as education and services for Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens. 

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

Constituents San and Deb Simaitis were visiting the Capitol on January 24th.  Deb is Chairperson of the Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Committee and testified at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.  I am sponsoring HB105 hoping to remove the sunset date of December 31, 2017, for the organ donor program fund checkoff on the state individual and corporate income tax returns.

Also visiting the Capitol on Tuesday, Chele Trammell with Katy Trail Community Health in Sedalia and Scott Crouch with Ozarks Community Health Center.

The Hermitage/Wheatland Cross Country Team was presented with a resolution on the House Floor on Wednesday, in honor of the team’s 3rd consecutive year as Class 1 State Champions!

CAPITOL REPORT - February 2, 2017.  I hurried home after session last Thursday, January 26th, just in time to do about an hour’s worth of choring the livestock.  I then drove over to Lowry City for an Open House Study on Highway Route 13 Intersection improvements.  There are 25 intersections between Clinton and Springfield with high crash rates.  MoDOT is focusing on safety improvements including J-turns, adding left and right turn lanes or other modifications.  There has been $5 million allocated for these improvements, and construction could start as early as the Spring of 2018. 

I attended the Missouri Health Care Association (MHCA) District 4 Legislative Salute Luncheon at the Maranatha Village Community Center in Springfield on Friday.  The MHCA serves as one voice for the long-term care profession across the state promoting issues and legislation to improve the long-term care setting.  

Sunday after church, my wife, Marla, and I attended the Open House and Ribbon Cutting for the Golden Valley Medical Clinic in Osceola celebrating their move into a new building on the square. This walk-in clinic with a cardiac rehabilitation unit and host of other greatly beneficial services also includes a drive-thru pharmacy operated by Evans Drug of El Dorado Springs.  We are very thankful to have this impressive facility in the area 

Before I headed back to the Capitol on Monday, I met with the Hickory County Commissioners to discuss county-wide concerns that included cemetery funds, animal trespass issues, lettered highways, prevailing wage, and becoming an Agri-Ready County through Missouri Farmers Care (MFC).  I also had the opportunity to stop by the Wheatland City Hall to visit about the “Discover More on Route 54” project.  

PREVAILING WAGE (HB104): 

I presented HB104 Tuesday morning in the Economic Development Committee hearing.  This bill that I have sponsored would repeal Missouri’s prevailing wage law.  Currently, contractors and subcontractors working on public works projects are required to pay employees the prevailing wage for the particular locality in which the project is being completed. This bill changes the law to require contractors and subcontractors to pay employees state or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher.  Contractors and subcontractors would be permitted to pay higher than the minimum wage if they chose, but that would not be a requirement.  Public works projects would go to the most qualified, competitive bid.  Missouri would join 21 other states that do not have prevailing wage law. 

RIGHT TO WORK SET TO BE SIGNED INTO LAW (SB19): 

The Missouri House gave final approval this week to Senate legislation that would make Missouri the nation’s 28th Right-to-Work state. The bill makes good on the promises of House Speaker Todd Richardson and Governor Eric Greitens, who both have pledged to make Missouri a Right-to-Work state in an effort to spur job creation and economic development. 

The bill approved by the General Assembly would simply ensure employees are able to decide whether to join a labor union instead of being forced to join as a condition of employment. The bill also includes a clause that will exempt existing union contracts.  Specifically, it exempts any current agreement between an employer and labor organization from the restrictions in the bill.  However, the provisions of the bill will apply to any current agreement that is later renewed, extended, amended, or modified. 

When it is signed into law by Governor Greitens, the provisions in the bill will take effect August 28 of this year. 

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

Constituents Dick and Carolyn Sanford of Warsaw (front and far right) and Curtis Gist of Wheatland (center back) were at the Capitol on Tuesday for the Missouri Association of Veterans Organizations Reception and Presentation.  Mrs. Sanford is Vice President and Membership Chairman of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Missouri.  We thank each of them for their service to our nation.

Hannah Wheeler of Osceola was my job shadow on Wednesday.  A junior at Osceola High, Hannah was at the Capitol as a member of Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).  She serves FCCLA as the   State Vice President of Alumni and Associates.

CAPITOL REPORT - February 9, 2017.  Friday, February 3rd, was my birthday as it has been every year since 1950.  My wife, Marla, and I took the day off and accomplished something on my bucket list.  We toured the Truman Library in Independence.  One of my favorite Missourians is Harry S. Truman. 

Then on Saturday, after getting the livestock chored up well, we went to a movie in Clinton.  The movie was titled “Hidden Figures.”  It is the incredible untold story of Mary Jackson, Katherine G. Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan.  They were the highly gifted, mathematical brains behind the scenes of the launch of the first man into space, Astronaut John Glenn.  If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I highly recommend watching it.  Since February is Black History month, I now have greater knowledge and a deeper appreciation for their contribution to our nation and state. 

On my way to the Capitol on Monday morning, I stopped by the Boring Drug Store “Coffee Caucus” in Warsaw.  I joined several gentlemen for conversation, and a lot of good information was shared and discussed.  My wife, Marla, treated us to some delicious, homemade sweet cinnamon rolls.  Boring Drug has been offering up its facilities for this daily coffee gathering for over 40 years.  My thanks to Dana Koll, current owner of Boring Drug, for continuing this great tradition!

Upon arriving at the Capitol at noon on Monday, I had a birthday celebration with my Jefferson City Capitol family.  We all enjoyed soup, chips and a variety of tasty dips and topped it off with gooseberry cobbler! 

I presented HB105, Organ Donor Program Fund Checkoff, at 1:00 in the Ways and Means Committee on Monday. Currently, the organ donor program fund tax checkoff on the individual and corporate income tax returns expires on December 31, 2017. This bill removes the expiration date. Constituents San and Deb Simaitis attended the hearing.  Chair of the Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Committee, Deb testified on behalf of the bill. 

Wednesday was very busy with three different hearings on bills I have sponsored:  HB56, Outdoor Advertising, exempts the current $250 outdoor advertising fee and biennial inspection fee when a sign is displayed by a landowner who also owns the business advertised on the sign and where the business has a physical location within 750 feet of the sign;  HB106, Cemetery Funds, authorizes county commissions to use a part of the principal of a cemetery trust fund for the support and maintenance of the cemetery when the net income of the trust fund is insufficient for those purposes; and HCR8, Butterfield Overland Trail, urges Congress to develop plans, ideas, and proposals to commemorate and celebrate the historic Butterfield Overland Trail by making it part of the National Historic Trails System. 

CEMETERY FUNDS: 

As I mentioned above, I presented HB106 in the Local Government Committee on Wednesday. This legislation addresses issues regarding funds for the upkeep of cemeteries.  The availability of funds for maintenance of cemeteries across the state has become very scarce in the last few years. 

Many cemeteries have endowed monies placed in CD’s in local banks accruing interest, and in many cases, the stewardship of these endowed monies has been legally appointed to county commissions.  Each year, the commissioners allocate just the income from interest accrued for the funding of maintenance costs. However, state statute does not allow distribution of any of the principal.  Because of extremely low interest rates, many county commissions are in a critical situation with no interest funds available to pay for maintenance. 

Two pieces of legislation have been introduced in the House.  Representative Allen Andrews’ HB51 would authorize county commissions that are trustees for a cemetery trust fund to utilize investment managers to invest, reinvest, and manage fund assets.  My HB106 is somewhat different by authorizing county commissions to use a part of the principal of a cemetery trust fund for the support and maintenance of the cemetery when the net income of the trust fund is insufficient for those purposes. 

After hearings, discussion, and debate on this issue, it has become apparent that local cemetery boards, local communities, and descendants of buried ancestors need to take action and contribute monetarily through donations or fundraisers to increase endowment funds until state statutes are revised or interest rates increase.  Keep in mind, no funding comes from state taxpayers’ resources. 

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

Jennifer Gundy, MSW, Executive Director, and Sara Nunez, Director of Programs, SIL/CDS, of On My Own, Inc., stopped by to visit on Tuesday.  The main office of On My Own is in Nevada with a satellite office in Collins. 

Sheridan Garman-Neeman, St. Clair County Economic Developer, and Elizabeth Van Winkle, Executive Director of Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission, in the House Chamber on Tuesday with Representatives Love and Pike.

Constituents Brandon and Laura Yates of Yates Rustic Range Trading in Preston on Highway 54 testified on behalf of HB56, Outdoor Advertising, on Wednesday.

Also at the Capitol on Wednesday, Hickory County Commissioners Robert Sawyer (Presiding) and Chase Crawford testified on behalf of HB106, Cemetery Funds.We appreciate their dedicated public service to Hickory County.

Mel Gibson of Buffalo testified Wednesday on HCR8 that urges Congress to make the Butterfield Overland Trail a part of the National Park Historic Trails system.  Mr. Gibson has been to all 408 national parks and has plans to attend his last state park (#89) in April!

Sharing insight on current legislation: State Fair Community College Board of Trustees, Randy Eaton, President; Ron Wineinger, Secretary; Dr. Joanna Anderson, President of SFCC; Jerry Greer, Treasurer; at the side gallery of the House Chamber on Wednesday.

Rep. Love visited with State Fair Community College officials in his office on Thursday morning.

Cedar County Presiding Commissioner Marlon Collins stopped by Thursday morning to discuss several issues impacting Cedar County.

CAPITOL REPORT - February 16, 2017.  Not only is National Black History Month celebrated during the month of February, it is also National FFA Week from February 18th through February 25th.  We are fortunate to have nine high schools in District 125 that have very active FFA Chapters.  In fact, I have presented 13 resolutions to graduates that have achieved the American FFA Degree.  This rigorous educational program gets the credit for much of our country’s success in agriculture today. 

Tuesday morning began at the Capitol with the weekly Capitol Commission study.  Capitol Commission of Missouri is a cross-denominational, non-partisan ministry that teaches in-depth Bible studies for all members and staff.  This is a wonderful ministry and support system.  During the first week of session in January, Dr. John Battaglia, who leads the weekly Bible study, presented each member with a new Bible on behalf of the Missouri Capitol Commission.

Missouri Military Appreciation Day was observed on Tuesday with members of the MO Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission highlighting the significant contributions and sacrifices of military service members and the importance of the economic impact that military installations have on the state of Missouri.   During the day, the governor launched a new program to help returning veterans find quality jobs.  Governor Greitens and Major General Kent Savre signed a Memorandum of Agreement outlining a workforce initiative for service members and their spouses.  Under the new agreement, the Missouri Division of Workforce Development (DWD) and the Army will cooperate to better connect military men and women entering the civilian workforce with Missouri businesses offering apprenticeships that could lead to full-time employment. 

St. Valentine’s Day was celebrated at the Capitol on Tuesday with most people wearing red.  After debating several issues on the House floor, I drove home late afternoon to spend the evening with my wife, Marla.   This dear lady not only surprised me by taking care of the livestock chores, but she also prepared a delicious beef pot roast and dessert of peaches and ice cream. 

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel and former U.S. Congressman Allen West was the keynote speaker at a meeting on Wednesday night sponsored by the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association.  He commented about tax reform, trade agreements, Quest workers, and solving inner city problems.  He was “spot on!”  Plus, he is a strong supporter for Article V of the Constitution for holding a Convention of the States.  This would allow the states to gather and propose amendments to our Constitution such as a balanced budget and term limit amendments.  One of his closing comments last night was, “Life is all about how you live your ‘Dash’.”  What a profound statement! 

REMOVING BURDENSOME REGULATIONS FOR HAIR BRAIDERS (HB230): 

The House took action this week to reduce regulations placed on hair braiders. Both Governor Greitens and House leadership have made it a priority to reduce the number of regulations that too often stifle economic development in the state.  The legislation simply specifies that hair braiders do not have to obtain a cosmetology license in order to earn a living. 

PROTECTING MISSOURI’S PEACE OFFICERS (HB57): 

House members approved legislation this week that would create enhanced penalties for individuals who assault officers of the law.  The legislation would increase by one degree the penalty for voluntary or involuntary manslaughter; first- or second-degree property damage; unlawful use of a weapon; rioting; or first-degree trespassing; when those crimes are committed against a law enforcement officer. As an example, voluntary manslaughter is a class B felony under current statute, but if HB 57 becomes law, voluntary manslaughter committed against a law enforcement officer would see the penalty increased to a class A felony.  Enhanced penalties are necessary because crimes against law enforcement officers have increased in recent years. 

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

Rep. Love enjoyed a visit with Aron Bennett on Tuesday.  Mr. Bennett, from Osceola, is a Field Representative for the MO School Boards’ Assn., and also serves as the temporary Superintendent for the Green Ridge R-VIII School District.

Kyle Adkins, Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare; Mike Calhoun, Citizens Memorial Healthcare; and Cindy Naylor of Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare met with Rep. Love on Tuesday.

Debbie Joy (front center), Administrator for Benton Co. Hospice, along with other hospice staff members from across the state, stopped by on Wednesday.

Rep. Love enjoyed meeting MRTA members, Richard and Kathleen Yonker, on Wednesday.  Mr. and Mrs. Yonker reside in the Warsaw area.

Missouri Retired Teachers Association members Carolyn Smith, Hickory Co.; Mary Newcomb, Cedar Co.; Kathy Miller, Cedar Co.; and Sharon Cooper, Hickory Co., met with Rep. Love regarding MRTA legislative issues on Wednesday.

MRTA members Don Kauble and Dave Cromwell stopped by the office to advocate for educational issues. Mr. Cromwell is a constituent from Warsaw.

CAPITOL REPORT - February 23, 2017.  My wife, Marla, and I took off last weekend to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary in Branson.  On the way, I attended the MoDOT Southwest District Winter Legislative Forum in Springfield.  This meeting had been rescheduled from a previous cancellation due to icy weather conditions.  We were briefed on current winter work being completed since we have not had a lot of snow this winter.  Most of MoDOT’s work has been focused on graveling and grading of drives, trimming brush, filling potholes on lettered roads, and pipe replacement.  The calendar year 2017 construction plans for District 125 are: 

Benton County- Missouri Route 7 bridge over the Osage River in Warsaw, with rehabilitation to be staged with 1 lane of traffic open (near the Old Route 7 Joe Dice Swinging Bridge).

Cedar County- Route 39 pavement and sealing between Route 32 in Stockton and Cedar/Dade County line; and Route 32 high friction resurfacing at Route CC south of Filley. 

Hickory County- Route 54 resurfacing between Route D in Preston and Hickory/Camden County line.

St. Clair County- Route D bridge painting over Gallinipper Creek near Lowry City; and Route H bridge painting over Clear Creek south of Taberville. 

Transportation funding was also discussed, however, not much related legislation is moving this year.  One point I found interesting was how much Missourians pay according to MoDOT:  “Missourians pay a relatively small amount per month to use the state system of roads and bridges.  The average Missouri driver pays about $30 per month in state and federal transportation taxes and fees.  That’s far less than what the average Missourian pays for cell phone service, cable television or internet service.” 

LEGISLATION THIS WEEK:

I spoke on the House Floor this week in support of Representative Don Rone’s HB662.  This bill authorizes the Department of Agriculture, if it determines that any individual has knowingly applied a crop protection product such as a herbicide to a crop for which it was not labeled for use, to assess a civil penalty of up to $1000 per applied acre.  If an individual is a chronic violator, the department has the authority to assess a civil penalty of up to $2000 per applied acre.  Representative Rone is from the Bootheel and brought this bill forward because in southeast Missouri in 2015 and 2016, a small group of farmers used an outdated herbicide, Dicamba, in an illegal manner in order to control weeds because it was more cost effective to risk the administrative fine than to use other approved methods of weed control.  Because the product was drifting onto fields not planted with seeds resistant to it, those crops were damaged.  At least 150 farmers were impacted by the illegal use of the product.  This bill would increase the penalties for misusing a herbicide so that it is no longer the most cost effective alternative. 

I also presented my HCR15 to the Agriculture Policy Committee.  This resolution urges the United States Congress to consider the removal of trade restrictions relating to Cuba and work to restore trade relations between the United States and Cuba.   The Missouri Farm Bureau, the Missouri Corn Growers Association, and Greg Yielding of the Missouri Rice Council all testified in favor of this legislation. 

VETERANS INVITED: 

Missouri Vietnam Veterans Day is Thursday, March 30th.  In recognition of those who served in this conflict, Vietnam Veterans are invited to the Capitol on this day for a special ceremony and presentation to be followed by a formal recognition at the start of session in the House Chamber.  If you are able to attend, please call our office at (573)751-4065 for special arrangements.  The House of Representatives and I would be honored by your presence. 

TOWN HALL MEETINGS SCHEDULED: 

The General Assembly will not be in session March 20-24.  I will be in the district that week and have scheduled several town hall meetings.  I welcome everyone to attend to share input and concerns regarding this year’s legislation. 

Monday, March 20, 9:00 a.m., St. Clair County Main Library, 115 Chestnut Street, Osceola

Monday, March 20, 1:00 p.m., El Dorado Springs City Hall

Wednesday, March 22, 9:00 a.m., Hickory County Library, 99 New Hermitage Drive, Hermitage

Wednesday, March 22, 1:00 p.m., Boonslick Regional Library, 102 E. Jackson Street, Warsaw 

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

Anna Cashell Campbell accompanied students on behalf of the UCM Communication Disorders Department on Tuesday for a legislative day at Capitol.  Anna is resides in Clinton.

At the Capitol on Tuesday discussing all things financial:  Steve Swearengen, Heritage State Bank-Carthage; with Reps. Love and Crawford; Todd Leonard, Heritage State Bank-El Dorado Springs; and Rep. Stephens.

Rep. Love had the pleasure of meeting the son of former United States Senator Barry Goldwater last Thursday during his visit at the Capitol.  Barry Goldwater, Jr., served as a U.S. Congressman at the same time his father was serving in the U.S. Senate.

CAPITOL REPORT - March 2, 2017.  My in-district day on Friday, February 24th, began by meeting with Dan Robinson of Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland.  We discussed statute laws on beverage companies and their policies on distribution and promotion.  I then travelled on to Weaubleau City Hall and discussed progress being made on the building of their new city hall.  I also attended the noon luncheon of the Osceola Chamber of Commerce.  While there, I discussed issues of concern with Osceola Schools Superintendent Danny DeWitt and St. Clair County Presiding Commissioner Robert Salmon. 

My day started on Monday by having breakfast at the Hermitage Coffee Shop.  This is a great place to listen and learn about local issues.  I then drove on to Jefferson City and attended a refresher course on Concealed Carry Weapon laws and the most recent changes to statutes at the Missouri Highway Patrol Headquarters. 

I will be joining the 8:00 a.m. broadcast tomorrow morning, March 3rd, on KWTO 560 AM.  Springfield Representatives Jeff Messenger and Lynn Morris host “Morning Coffee with Your Representatives.”  We will be examining prevailing wage and streamlined sales tax.  Please tune in and join us for some lively discussion. 

LEGISLATION THIS WEEK: 

HB70 that secures ambulance district public funds had a hearing this week in the Financial Institutions Committee.  HCR15 relating to promotion of trade with Cuba was unanimously passed through Agriculture Policy Committee on Tuesday.  I am hoping to see each of these bills referred on to their respective Rules Committee and then to the House Floor for approval.  

HB93 passed through the House today and would provide a boost to the state’s small businesses, including many in rural areas.  House members voted to expand the Missouri Works program so that more of the state’s small businesses would be eligible for workforce training benefits.  In many areas of the state there are small businesses that do not qualify to obtain the benefits provided through Missouri Works.  These businesses fall short of the program’s qualification criteria such as number of workers employed, or health insurance benefits provided. The bill approved this week would allow these businesses to pool together with businesses that do meet all of the program’s criteria in order to receive benefits. Specifically, the bill would allow a group of businesses to qualify as long as the majority of them meet the program’s criteria.  The program helps businesses access capital through withholdings or tax credits to embark on facility expansions and create jobs.  It works to assist companies with the training of employees in new jobs and the retraining or upgrading of the skills of full-time employees in retained jobs. 

VETERANS INVITED: 

Missouri Vietnam Veterans Day is Thursday, March 30th.  In recognition of those who served in this conflict, Vietnam Veterans are invited to the Capitol on this day for a special ceremony and presentation to be followed by a formal recognition at the start of session in the House Chamber.   All House members are encouraging veterans throughout the state to come forward to receive recognition for their service.  If you are able to attend, please call our office at (573)751-4065 for special arrangements.  The House of Representatives and I would be greatly honored by your presence. 

TOWN HALL MEETINGS SCHEDULED: 

The General Assembly will not be in session March 20-24.  I will be in the district that week and have scheduled several town hall meetings.  I welcome everyone to attend to share input and concerns regarding this year’s legislation. 

Monday, March 20, 9:00 a.m., St. Clair County Main Library, 115 Chestnut Street, Osceola
Monday, March 20, 1:00 p.m., El Dorado Springs City Hall
Wednesday, March 22, 9:00 a.m., Hickory County Library, 99 New Hermitage Drive, Hermitage
Wednesday, March 22, 1:00 p.m., Boonslick Regional Library, 102 E. Jackson Street, Warsaw
PHOTO BELOW: My newest artwork to display in my Capitol Office was presented to me yesterday by Rep. Alan Green, Chairman of the MO Legislative Black Caucus.  During February, this artwork, featuring the Tuskegee Airmen and the Buffalo Soldiers, has been presented to "Hidden Figures" from all around the State of Missouri to recognize their achievements during Black History Month.  I really appreciate the artwork and the history of the men and women who served our great country in the Military.  My "Hat's Off" to my Fine Friend & Fellow Legislator for presenting me with one.

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

Monday, I had the honor of presenting a resolution to Tanner Koenig, Wheatland, in recognition of his American FFA Degree.  District 125 had 13 recipients this past year.  Tanner is a fulltime student at College of the Ozarks.

Cedar and Polk County 4-H students visited the Capitol on Tuesday hosted by Velynda Cameron, Regional 4-H Youth Development Specialist, and David Black, Cedar County 4-H Assistant.

County Recorders from across the state were at the Capitol on Tuesday.  Pictured l-r:  Rep. Crawford (129); Stacy Satterfield, Dallas County Recorder of Deeds; Cheryl Spalding, Greene County Recorder of Deeds; Rep. Stephens (128); Carol Poindexter, Polk County Recorder of Deeds; Rep. Love (125); and Carole Wilkerson, Cedar County Recorder of Deeds.

Representing the Benton County Farm Bureau, Rodney Johnson discussed legislative issues and agricultural concerns on Tuesday.

A familiar, friendly face to the Capitol, Gary Noakes stopped by the office on Tuesday on behalf of the St. Clair County Farm Bureau.

Mr. and Mrs. Bill Arnold were advocating on Tuesday and stopped by to visit.  Bill is the Silver Haired Legislator for Hickory and St. Clair Counties.  Susan is an alternate representative.

Hard at work on issues affecting Cedar County, Presiding Commissioner Marlon Collins stopped by to say hello after attending an early morning hearing by the Economic Development Committee.

Cedar County Silver Haired Legislator Larry Pursley, Stockton, visited the Capitol on Tuesday.

West Central MO Community Action Agency staff, Fonda Cauthron, Debbie Bettencourt, and Lesta Vogler, shared concerns with Rep. Love on Wednesday.

At the Capitol for Bleeding Disorders Awareness Day, John and Pam Carleton, Warsaw, advocated on behalf of the Gateway Hemophilia Association on Wednesday.  Mr. Carleton is the Industry Advisor Chair for the association.  Everyone was encouraged to wear a red tie to promote awareness.

Chris Thompson and Katie Dixon of the West Central MO Community Action Agency visited with Rep. Love in the side gallery during House session on Wednesday.

CAPITOL REPORT - March 9, 2017.  My in-district day on Friday actually turned out to be an out-district day at the KWTO Radio Station in Springfield.  I joined Representatives Lynn Morris and Jeff Messenger who host “Morning Coffee with Your Representatives.” This radio program reaches out all over Southwest Missouri and is broadcast weekly on Friday mornings from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m.  We discussed two bills that I am sponsoring:  HB106 relating to cemetery funds and HB104 which repeals prevailing wage.  Another issue we tried to clarify was Real ID. This bill would bring Missouri into compliance with the federal Real ID law passed in 2005.  Real ID raises the proof-of-identity requirements for IDs and also requires states to retain the personal information they receive for 10 years.  Missouri IDs are currently not accepted at military bases and will not be accepted at airports starting in 2018.   There has been much lengthy discussion and debate in the House on this issue (HB151), and the House has given initial approval which would require the state revenue department to issue Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards to those who want them. 

On my way to the Capitol Monday morning, I interviewed with Paula Spring of BCE TV in Warsaw about HB90 concerning prescription drug monitoring that would help stop drug trafficking of prescription drugs.  We also visited about Real ID and prevailing wage.  BCE TV, in its 4th year of operation, is an internet television news service that is broadcast from the Benton County Enterprise building in Warsaw.  To access BCE TV, go to:  www.bentoncountyenterprise.com  and click on the BCE TV link in the top right corner.   

LEGISLATION THIS WEEK: 

What turned out to be the “Big Bill” of the week was sort of an unexpected curve ball thrown to the legislation.  In response to a Missouri Supreme Court decision that invalidated part of Missouri’s minimum wage law, lawmakers are moving quickly to implement a fix that would provide a consistent wage in municipalities throughout the state in House Bills 1193 and 1194.  The House approved the legislation this week that would reaffirm that the state’s minimum wage is applied throughout Missouri, and keeps the decision to raise wages in the hands of the employer and employee. 

While the state currently has a minimum wage that increases based on the Consumer Price Index, and is currently higher than the federal minimum wage, some municipalities have considered their own increases. St. Louis passed an ordinance to raise its minimum wage to $10 an hour this year and $11 an hour by 2018. The legislation approved by the House would preempt and nullify the minimum wage enacted by St. Louis, and provide that other municipalities cannot enact a minimum wage that exceeds the one established by state law.  With nearly 4 hours of debate on Wednesday and 2 hours on Thursday, I felt compelled to speak on the issue of wage rates, whether it is minimum, living or prevailing.  I started by reading five themes from a book entitled “Wealth of Nations” written by Adam Smith.  Mr. Smith was a Scottish economist, philosopher, and author.  This book, written in the 1700’s, is considered to be the “Bible of Capitalism.”  The main theme is: commerce, labor, and production of goods and services perform best when government stays out of the way.  The reality is this issue may turn out to be a molehill compared to a mountain when we bring up debate on my HB104 which will do a full repeal of prevailing wage statewide and allow all public works to be bid to qualified/competitive bidders. 

VETERANS INVITED: 

Missouri Vietnam Veterans Day is Thursday, March 30th.  In recognition of those who served in this conflict, Vietnam Veterans are invited to the Capitol on this day for a special ceremony and presentation to be followed by a formal recognition at the start of session in the House Chamber.   All House members are encouraging veterans throughout the state to come forward to receive recognition for their service.  If you are able to attend, please call our office at (573)751-4065 for special arrangements.  The House of Representatives and I would be greatly honored by your presence. 

TOWN HALL MEETINGS SCHEDULED: 

The General Assembly will not be in session March 20-24.  I will be in the district that week and have scheduled several town hall meetings.  I welcome everyone to attend to share input and concerns regarding this year’s legislation. 

Monday, March 20, 9:00 a.m., St. Clair County Main Library, 115 Chestnut Street, Osceola
Monday, March 20, 1:00 p.m., El Dorado Springs City Hall
Wednesday, March 22, 9:00 a.m., Hickory County Library, 99 New Hermitage Drive, Hermitage
Wednesday, March 22, 1:00 p.m., Boonslick Regional Library, 102 E. Jackson Street, Warsaw 

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

Prosecuting Attorneys Michael Brown (Hickory County) and Ken Ashlock (Polk County) were at the Capitol on Tuesday visiting with regional district representatives.

At the Capitol on Wednesday to attend a committee hearing, constituents Dean Singleton, Harold Hoff, and Bud Eckart, Jr., discussed current motorcycle helmet legislation with Rep. Love.

The Benton County Youth Coalition visited early Wednesday morning.  The group was on their way to the annual Speak Hard Youth Conference, accompanied by Leader Amie Breshears.  The Speak Hard Youth Conference is held in the Spring each year in Jefferson City to give youth the opportunity to learn about underage drinking, substance use, and prevention.

CAPITOL REPORT - March 16, 2017.  This past weekend was the switch to Daylight Savings time.  So we set our clocks ready to spring forward.  The calendar and Mother Nature says Spring should be here, however, a cold Winter blast blew in, and it appears that it’s not quite time to hang our coats up yet. 

My first stop on my way to the Capitol Monday morning was the Boring Drug Store “Coffee Caucus.”  It is always a pleasure to visit with this great group of local citizens and gain insight from their wisdom and knowledge.  

I then visited the Benton County Courthouse and discussed County Employees Retirement Fund (CERF) legislation with Benton County Collector Donna Hart.  CERF was established in 1994 when half of Missouri counties did not have a county employee retirement fund available.  It was expected that 7,500 employees across the state would join CERF; that number today has grown to 14,000 active and vested members.  This rapid growth has outpaced revenue streams, and House Bills 979 and 1151 and Senate Bill 295 would help address this huge expansion of participants by increasing penalties and fines, which fund CERF, for individuals who do not pay their taxes on time and/or those who do not follow laws regarding information submission to the county.  This legislation also adds a slight increase for the cost of recording documents.  The predicted revenue would increase CERF’s revenue by $8.7 million annually. 

BIG BILL OF THE WEEK: 

The House members gave approval to legislation meant to provide young people in failing schools with additional educational opportunities.  The bill would allow charter schools to expand to areas where at least one school is performing poorly. 

The final version of HB634 is very different than the original version which simply involved charter school expansion to first class counties. The approved legislation would increase the accountability and academic requirements for not only new charter schools, but existing ones as well.  Key points of the final version include:  The foundation formula is to be fully funded before the bill goes into effect.  Also, charter schools will be limited to districts with an APR score 10% points below provisional accreditation.  Currently, a building will need an APR score of 60% or below before a district is eligible for a charter school.   The accountability standards on charter schools will be some of the toughest in the country.  If a charter is below the district average, they will be forced to close. The bill provides that charter schools will have a three year probationary period, and if a charter school performs poorly during two of the three years, that charter school will be ineligible for renewal and will be forced to close.    Also, charter school board members must be residents of Missouri.  The public school board will have the “right of first refusal” to sponsor a new charter school in the district. 

The bill would also limit the public dollars sent to charter schools to no more than 90 percent of the sending district’s tuition.  As mentioned above, the bill is contingent on the public school foundation formula being fully funded.  If the K-12 formula is not fully funded, then no charter school changes go into effect.  

Supporters of the change say expansion of charter schools will provide additional opportunities to better serve the needs of children in failing schools. They say charter schools will help underserved populations, and will give parents a choice to do what is best for their children. As the House Speaker told his colleagues on the House floor, "Is a charter school the answer to a failing district? No.  A charter school can be the answer for that child or that parent who has been trapped in a really, really terrible school district." 

During my 16 years of serving on the Osceola School Board, my philosophy was always to do what is best for the students.  My philosophy has not changed and based upon the amendments to the bill, I voted to support the children of Missouri that live in failing school districts.  I feel it is our obligation as Missourians to insure that every child has the opportunity to pursue a quality education.  The students in District 125 are very fortunate to be offered a quality education by quality teachers and administration in a safe environment.  It is highly unlikely this expansion will ever happen in our rural Missouri districts. 

VETERANS INVITED: 

Missouri Vietnam Veterans Day is Thursday, March 30th.  In recognition of those who served in this conflict, Vietnam Veterans have been invited to the Capitol on this day for a special ceremony and presentation to be followed by a formal recognition at the start of session in the House Chamber.  I am extremely privileged to have several veterans attending from District 125 so that the General Assembly may pay tribute to them for their service.   The ceremony will begin at 9:15 a.m., and I will post more in an upcoming Capitol Report on these brave men and women who served our country. 

TOWN HALL MEETINGS SCHEDULED: 

The General Assembly will not be in session next week, March 20-24.  I will be in the district and have scheduled several town hall meetings.  I welcome everyone to attend to share input and concerns regarding this year’s legislation. 

Monday, March 20, 9:00 a.m., St. Clair County Main Library, 115 Chestnut Street, Osceola
Monday, March 20, 1:00 p.m., El Dorado Springs City Hall
Wednesday, March 22, 9:00 a.m., Hickory County Library, 99 New Hermitage Drive, Hermitage
Wednesday, March 22, 1:00 p.m., Boonslick Regional Library, 102 E. Jackson Street, Warsaw

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association hosted a Leadership Conference on Monday and Tuesday, which included a legislative visit to Capitol.  Pictured:  Chase Crawford, John Love, Rep. Love, Robb Pitts, and Brandon Uchtman.

Rep. Love appreciated the opportunity to visit with Trish Boyles, El Dorado Springs R-2 School District; Megan Richner, Stockton R-1 School District; and Jeff Stacy, Southwest MSTA Field Representative and Stockton R-1 School District, on Tuesday.

The Missouri Federation of Republican Women-Benton County members with Ashland Yoder (center), a senior at Warsaw R-IX High School and distinguished Joanne Breckenridge Scholar, visited the Capitol on Tuesday.

Hermitage R-IV School District 8th Grade History Class students visited with their instructor, Carolyn Allison, on Wednesday.  They made time to observe session debate and take a tour of the Capitol.

Rep. Love enjoyed discussing current issues with fellow church member, Tim Corbin of Hermitage Nursing and Rehab in Hermitage on Wednesday.

CAPTIOL REPORT - March 23, 2017.  Four Town Hall Listening Post meetings in District 125 this week has been challenging and very beneficial.  About a month ago, a Hickory County constituent phoned about issues of concern to her.  Due to the length of time in addressing them over the phone, I suggested we should have a meeting, and she said that would be fine and offered to set up the place and time.  Since I was going to be attending a meeting in Hickory County, I thought we should offer meetings throughout the district during our Legislative Spring Break. 

It would take up an entire book to write about all the issues that we discussed, however, due to the length of this report, I will be brief and present an overview of issues and concerns that were voiced.  I will break them into 2 groups:  Issues with almost unanimous agreement, and those with about 50/50 agreement.  Please keep in mind these are bi-partisan issues; however, many that attended are very unhappy with State and National election results. 

Almost unanimous support was voiced regarding much needed broadband expansion in rural areas; the collection and distribution of sales tax for online purchases; Missouri also needs to allow citizens the option to obtain the Federal Real ID who want to comply; allow for the farming of industrial hemp to support rural economic development; and adopt a prescription drug monitoring program. 

Those issues that received 50/50 support:  charter school expansion that recently passed through the MO House of Representatives; net metering of electricity from home owners back to the utility companies; legalizing the use of medical marijuana; maintaining the current level of funding for in-home health care; keeping the state minimum wage uniform throughout the state; the repeal of prevailing wage; and the fact that Missouri is now a Right-To-Work state. 

We also discussed issues of local concern on rural cemetery funding and farmers market policies.  On the federal level, the topics of climate change, the EPA, refugees, and illegal immigrants were addressed. 

I thank the many constituents who made time to attend these town hall meetings.  The level of input and insight voiced by everyone is greatly valued.  I think everyone would agree it was time well spent. 

MO HOUSE REACHES SESSION MIDPOINT: 

The legislative session that began in January has now reached its midpoint, and the House of Representatives has been able to approve several of its priorities including bills that provide substantive ethics reform, labor reform, and regulatory reform.  One of the top priorities in the House, Right-to-Work, has already secured passage in both chambers and been signed into law by the Governor. 

The General Assembly has off this week for its annual Spring Break and will return March 27 to complete the legislative session that will conclude May 12.  When the legislature returns, members will focus their efforts on the state operating budget.   House leadership hopes to have the budget out of the House and on to the Senate by April 6. The legislature has a May 5 deadline to complete the budget and send it to the Governor. 

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

Students from Warsaw South Elementary were at the Capitol last Thursday to receive honors for their artwork chosen to be exhibited during the Youth Art Month Capitol Exhibit.  Students chosen were Kendall Bagley, Drake Murrell, Angela Konopasek, and Grace Drake.  They were accompanied by their instructor, Kimberly Pearcy (far right).  Drake Murrell was also the recipient of the Governor’s Mansion Award.  His artwork was selected by the Governor to be matted and framed and will hang in the Governor’s Mansion until March of next year.  We are very proud of these talented, young students!

CAPITOL REPORT - March 30, 2017.  The Spring Legislative Break is over and we are back in the final half of session in Jefferson City.  As I mentioned in the last Capitol Report, I had the opportunity to hold four town hall listening post meetings last week.  I was also offered the opportunity to help deliver ‘Meals on Wheels’ with Director Leonard Burton of the El Dorado Springs Senior Center.  He updated me on how the center is operated by Care Connection for Aging Services, the senior center’s operational budget, revenue sources and expenditures.  (This senior center is one of 22 senior centers operated by Care Connection.)  The El Dorado Springs Senior Center serves 27 on-site meals daily and delivers 75 meals to homes each day as well with a total of 26,010 meals served each year.  The total operating budget per year is $216,891.  The revenue to operate the center is received in the form of 41% federal and state funding and 9% local county tax.  The regularly attending seniors pay the center an average of $4.50 per meal which figures to be 12% of the revenue. 17% of the revenue comes from volunteers who donate their time and effort which is considered an in-kind contribution.  The remainder of the budget (21%) relies on giving from churches, individuals who contribute, and fundraisers such as raffles and once-a-month Sunday dinners.  I learned that several people “Sponsor A Senior” by contributing $10 per month per individual.  This is almost half the cost of sponsoring the care of an animal for $19.95 per month.  The bottom line is more people need to help support their senior centers at the local level. 

BIG BILLS OF THE WEEK:

Members of the Missouri House approved legislation this week (HB104) meant to make public construction projects more affordable for taxpayers. The bill would repeal Missouri’s prevailing wage law to help reduce the cost of construction and maintenance projects for counties, municipalities and school districts.  If both chambers approve the bill and the governor signs it into law, Missouri will join states such as Kentucky, West Virginia, and Indiana, which have all repealed their prevailing wage laws in recent years.  Missouri is currently one of 29 states with a prevailing wage law in place. 

Legislation that would give Missourians the option to obtain photo identification that complies with the federal REAL ID Act (HB151) is now on its way to the Senate. The bill approved by the House this week would require the state revenue department to issue Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards to those who want them.  For Missourians who do not want to comply with the REAL ID requirements because of privacy concerns, the legislation would allow them to request the existing style of Missouri identification that is not compliant with the federal act.  For those who want or need the federally compliant driver’s license, the bill would establish safeguards so that any additional data gathered is used only for purposes of issuing the identification. 

HONORING MISSOURI’S VIETNAM VETERANS: 

House members took time away from their legislative work to honor some of the state’s greatest heroes for their service. In observance of the annual Vietnam Veterans Day on March 30, lawmakers welcomed veterans who served in the Vietnam War to the House Chamber to recognize them for their courage, sacrifice, and devotion to duty and country. 

More than 70 veterans started the day by gathering in the House Lounge to receive official House Resolutions presented in honor of their service.  House members and the heroes they honored listened to remarks from both the Lt. Governor and the House Speaker before taking time for pictures. During the event, lawmakers were able to offer their sincere thanks to the many veterans in attendance. The event continued on the House floor as the veterans in attendance were again recognized and honored by legislators.

Heroes of District 125, Vietnam Veterans who travelled to the Capitol on Thursday, March 30th, included Robert “Bobby T.” Lyons, J.T. Popplewell, Larry Anderson, Nolen Stepp, Bill Arnold and wife, Susan, and Mike Alexander.  It was a distinct honor and highlight of this year’s session to have these veterans in the House Chamber. 

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

Enthusiastic visitors to the Capitol on Tuesday included the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students of Hermitage R-IV Elementary School.

Aaron Ash of Sac Osage Electric Cooperative visited on Wednesday regarding district legislative issues.

CAPITOL REPORT - April 6, 2017.  The Spoonbill/Paddlefish snagging season is well under way on the Osage River Arm of Truman Lake.  I crossed what we call the Brown’s Ford Bridge between Iconium and Lowry City on my way for breakfast Saturday morning.  There were more boats up and down the river than you could shake a stick at!  

Finally, some much needed rain is starting a Spring green-up.  People are finding mushrooms and starting to catch crappie that makes for some delicious dining!  The wild turkeys are gobbling and strutting their feathers. 

The Youth Turkey Hunt is also upon us for April 8th and 9th.  The Youth hunters who are age 6-15 on April 8th may hunt.  It’s amazing that hunters and anglers in Missouri generate $274 million annually in state and local taxes.  Total expenditures exceed $1.7 billion with an economic impact of $3 billion.  Hunting and fishing support 38,185 jobs in Missouri. 

Missouri offers some of the best spring turkey hunting in the nation, and St. Clair, Cedar, Hickory, and Dade counties provide some of the best hunting.  For more information on this year’s spring turkey season visit:https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/downloads/2017springturkey.pdf.  

HOUSE APPROVES FISCAL YEAR 2018 SPENDING PLAN: 

House members discussed and debated the Fiscal Year 2018 state operating budget for several hours on both Tuesday and Thursday this week before giving final approval to the $27.7 billion spending plan and sending it to the Senate. The House version of the budget includes record levels of funding for public K-12 education; fully funding the school foundation formula for the first time. It also restores a proposed cut to school transportation funding, and adds additional dollars to higher education above what was recommended by the governor. The plan approved by the House also restores a cut proposed by the governor that would have impacted 20,000 seniors and disabled Missourians who currently qualify for state-funded in-home care and nursing home services.

Highlights include: 

An additional $48 million that will fully fund the School Foundation Formula for public K-12 education for the first time. The FY 2018 budget proposal appropriates more than $6 billion in total for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Lawmakers found an additional $25 million to restore a cut proposed by the governor to public school transportation.
The House version of the budget restores $600,000 in funding from a proposed cut to independent living centers, which help people with disabilities to increase their independence and their opportunity to participate in day-to-day life within their communities. 
An additional $1.3 million in funding for the state’s Area Agencies on Aging for use in the Meals on Wheels program that provides meal assistance to seniors.
An increase of $15.4 million in funding for the state employee pension system, which brings the plan to a record level of state support.
$250,000 to upgrade the state’s Amber Alert system to allow it to be integrated with the Silver Alert System and the Blue Alert System.
$500,000 added to pilot a program to promote STEM education in middle schools.
$62 million in new funding for road construction. 
The budget bills now move to the Senate for consideration. The budget must be completed by Friday, May 5, which gives the House and Senate one month to reach an agreement on the final spending plan. 

BIG BILL OF THE WEEK: 

The House gave final approval this week to Prescription Drug Monitoring Program legislation that would implement a prescription drug tracking system in an effort to prevent opioid abuse in Missouri. If approved by both chambers and signed into law, House Bill 90 and HB68 would make Missouri the 50th and final state to implement such a system to prevent the practice of doctor shopping to obtain multiple prescriptions for valuable and addictive medications. 

Now moving to the Senate, the bill would require the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to establish and maintain a program to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of all Schedule II through Schedule IV controlled substances. The bill would require information on these drugs being prescribed and dispensed to be reported within 24 hours. By the year 2020 the information would be updated in real time. 

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

St. Clair County OATS clients were visitors to the Capitol on Tuesday.  OATS, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation providing specialized transportation for thousands of Missourians, including the rural general public, senior citizens and people with disabilities in 87 MO counties.  OATS employs more than 700 people statewide, with 24% of them Veterans.

Cedar County OATS clients toured the Capitol on Tuesday promoting funding for the public transit system. OATS provides reliable transportation for qualified Missourians so they can live independently in their own communities.

Visiting the Capitol on Wednesday, Bill Creek of Collins was promoting the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association. 

Other visitors during the week included Dr. Kyle Johnson, Optometrist, of Clinton, Missouri, and Patty Kinkead, Nurse Practitioner, constituent from Warsaw, who was advocating for prescription legislation, nursing statute modifications, and access to healthcare for rural and underprivileged citizens.

CAPITOL REPORT - April 13, 2017.  I drove to the Capitol a little early on Monday for a very special presentation.  It was my privilege to present Mr. Mel Gilbert of Buffalo with a resolution in honor of completing the Passport Stamp Program with the Missouri State Park System on April 10th in conjunction with the Missouri State Park System’s 100th Anniversary Celebration. There are 88 state parks and historic sites in the passport program, and Mr. Gilbert has visited them all.  He has also completed every National Park Passport Stamp in the Passport to Your National Parks program that encompasses over 400 parks throughout the United States.

The 100th Anniversary Celebration was held in the Capitol Rotunda on Monday morning by the Department of Natural Resources in recognition of Missouri’s outstanding state park system and  Missouri’s parks offer more than 2,000 structures, 3,600 campsites, 194 cabins, almost 2,000 picnic sites, and more than 1,000 miles of trail.  About 18 million people visit Missouri state parks annually to hike, camp, fish, discover the past and explore nature. 

DONATE LIFE-BLUE & GREEN DAY AT THE CAPITOL: 

Lawmakers and staff wore blue and green on Tuesday in an effort to promote organ donation. The event is part of the annual National Donate Life Blue and Green Day to encourage Missourians to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors. 

During the event, more than 75 family members representing 28 donors were in attendance to promote organ donation.   On behalf of the Donate Life Missouri organization and the Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Committee, District 125 constituent, Deb Simaitis, was presented with a House Resolution in the House Chamber.  Members also paused for a moment of silence in honor of the lifesaving efforts made by organ donors. Deb, who is Chairperson of the Governor’s Advisory Committee, spearheaded the events at the Capitol on Tuesday which included educational booths, an organ donor registry drive in the 3rd Floor Rotunda, and a reception for organ donor families. 

House members also moved to support organ donation in Missouri by giving approval to HB105 that I sponsored, which would continue the organ donor program fund tax checkoff on state income tax returns. The checkoff is set to expire on December 31, 2017.  The bill approved by the House would remove the sunset entirely and allow the checkoff to continue indefinitely. Supporters say the checkoff has been very successful, along with the driver’s license donations, Employee Charitable Campaign, and direct donations in funding the Organ and Tissue Donor Program.

HOUSE APPROVES CHANGE TO MOTORCYCLE HELMET REQUIREMENTS: 

Current law requires that all motorcycle riders wear protective headgear while the vehicle is in motion. The bill, HB576, approved by the House this week would modify this requirement to apply only to individuals under 21 years of age. Individuals 21 and older would be able to ride a motorcycle without a helmet as long as they have completed a motorcycle safety education course or have possessed a motorcycle license for at least two years, and are covered by a health insurance policy.  The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. 

VISITORS THIS WEEK 

Rep. Love visited with members of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation during their 10th annual bicycle ride and exhibits on the Capitol lawn.

In Jefferson City for a Missouri Association of Counties Conference, Benton County Presiding Commissioner Michelle McLerran Kreisler (left), and Analyst for Benton County, Diana Marmino (right), made time on Monday afternoon to advocate for Missouri counties at the Capitol.

Tom Golder, Osage Valley Electric Cooperative, was one of 9 electric cooperative lineworkers that travelled to Bolivia to provide international efforts in bringing electricity to some impoverished areas.  Their hard work over 2 ½ weeks has provided hope to Bolivians for running water, sanitation, lights and power for refrigeration and cooking.   The deserving group received a resolution by the House members on Wednesday in recognition of their contributions.

Rep. Love discussing Missouri Cattlemen’s issues with Jace Uchtman, Rep. Hannah Kelly, and Brandon Uchtman on Wednesday.

Legislative members and staff joined together Wednesday evening to participate in the annual charity softball tournament.  Our bi-partisan softball team, the Rowdy Roosters, sponsored by the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, along with 9 other teams raised over $4,000 for the Good Samaritans Center.

CAPITOL REPORT - April 20, 2017.  Caution is in order as planting season is in full swing.  Farmers are moving from field to field on our rural roads and highways, even in heavily populated counties and suburbs.  Recently, legislation in the form of an amendment has been offered to allow machinery to be moved between the hours of sunset and sunrise as long as proper lighting and caution signs are displayed.  This will allow farmers to move machinery at times when traffic is not as heavy.  Since agriculture is the #1 industry in Missouri, the passage of the amendment would provide relief during times of planting and harvest, when farmers need to move equipment between fields and tracts of farmland at all times of day.  This bill would ensure that farmers can do that with the proper safety lighting. 

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt spoke to all House members yesterday.  He addressed important EPA regulation repeals relating to waters of the United States and utility plant regulations.  He mentioned three things we need to increase and build upon in Missouri:  manufacturing, growing of crops and livestock production, and medical research.  Last, but not least, he hopes to see a huge increase in infrastructure projects on highways, railroads, and river ports.  During his address, Senator Blunt stated, “If everything is a priority, then it seems nothing is a priority.”  This reminded me of something former Governor Nixon had once said, “It is difficult to get laws done, and it is difficult to then get laws undone; and this is really good for good reason!” 

IMPROVING 911 SERVICES (HB334): 

The House gave final approval this week to legislation designed to consolidate and provide adequate funding for the state’s 911 call centers. The bill is meant to ensure Missourians have access to 911 emergency services in ALL parts of the state.  It would update the current funding model for 911 services that was put in place more than 3 decades ago and is based on a surcharge on traditional landline phone lines.  More and more residents have done away with landlines and switched to cell phones, which has caused funding for 911 services to diminish. The legislation would allow local municipalities to submit for voter approval a fee of up to $1.50 for any device capable of contacting 911.  The legislation approved by the House would also allow and encourage municipalities to work together to consolidate 911 services.  It also would implement a 3 percent surcharge on each retail purchase of a prepaid cell phone to provide additional funding for 911 services.  An amendment added to the bill on the floor would put the state on track to implement a next generation 911 system that would allow for the use of electronic messages including text, images, video, and data.  It now moves to the Senate. 

UPCOMING EVENTS IN DISTRICT 125: 

The City of Stockton will be hosting “The Wall That Heals” at the Stockton High Football Field,May 11-14, Thursday through Sunday. This extremely moving and educational mobile exhibit will be open 24 hours a day and is free of charge.  There will be a special memorial ceremony at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 13th, and the public is invited. ‘The Vietnam Veterans Memorial stands as a symbol of America’s honor and recognition of the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War.  It is dedicated to honor the “courage, sacrifice and devotion to duty and country” of all who answered the call to serve during the most divisive war in U.S. history.’ –Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund 

Congratulations to Appleton City on being appointed as a “Purple Heart City.”  To celebrate this award, Appleton City will be hosting festivities on June 9th, Friday, with the annual city parade at 7:00 p.m.  City officials invite and encourage all Purple Heart recipients and all veterans to join the parade by lining up on Poplar Street at 6:30 p.m.  There will be a Purple Heart Ceremony following the parade in Forest Park at 7:45 p.m.   This celebration is in conjunction with their annual fair.  Please contact Appleton City Mayor Karol Stephan at (660) 679-1326 orkdstephan@gmail.com if you or a loved one is a Purple Heart recipient.  

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

Appleton City 4th Graders learned about the legislative process and the rich history of the Capitol and Missouri on Tuesday.  They were accompanied by their instructor, Mrs. Bock.

Members of the West Central Association of Realtors visited with Rep. Love on current legislative issues on Wednesday. 

CAPITOL REPORT - April 27, 2017.  Rural broadband is a subject that comes up for discussion quite often in our District 125.  On my way to the Capitol Monday morning, I discussed broadband accessibility and expansion with a rural electric director.  The question is, “How do you justify installing fiber optic cable and electronics at the cost of more than $30,000 per mile?”  Rural areas only average 7 potential hook-ups per mile, and of those 7, it is uncertain how many would subscribe.  Another possibility is wireless, however, this option is line-of-sight sensitive; geographical obstacles such as trees and hills can affect transmission.  Data usage is generally limited to a certain amount with wireless service, too.   Some rural communities have found it helpful to develop a strategic plan for broadband placement that includes creating a comprehensive business proposal to broadband providers to overcome the low population density and high network expenses.   Such a plan could demonstrate to broadband providers that this placement is a sound business decision that would benefit both the providers and the community.  Potential benefits, a community’s needs, partnerships among local institutions (schools, healthcare facilities, local government offices, financial institutions, local businesses, and individuals), and possible anchor tenants must all be included when trying to promote and encourage infrastructure investment. 

Upon arrival at the Capitol, I had the privilege of presenting Robert “Bob” Coleman of El Dorado Springs with a resolution recognizing his remarkable contributions to his community.  Mr. Coleman was one of 60 recipients chosen out of 153 nominations for Lieutenant Governor Parson’s Senior Service Award.  This award is intended to promote and highlight the positive accomplishments of Missouri’s senior citizens who volunteer in their local communities a minimum of 25 hours per year.  I think it is safe to say that Mr. Coleman often volunteers at least 25 hours a week.  He has played an instrumental role at the Wayside Inn Museum, the Children’s Lighthouse Theatre, the local women’s shelter, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and Chamber of Commerce.  We are very fortunate to have citizens across the state like Mr. Coleman whose generous efforts keep our communities thriving.  

Rep. Love with Robert “Bob” Coleman and Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson on Monday.

FUNDING FOR CEMETERY MAINTENANCE (HB51): 

Legislation is now headed to the governor’s desk that will help the many cemeteries across the state that are falling into disrepair because of a lack of funding for maintenance. The legislation will address the problem by allowing for more investment options with the goal of making more funds available for upkeep.  Currently, county-controlled cemetery trust funds are only allowed to keep funds in low interest certificates of deposit or bonds. According to state mandates, the principal on these funds cannot be touched.  Only the interest on the funds can be used to fund maintenance costs.  Because of extremely low interest rates, many county commissions are in a critical situation with minimal funds available to pay for maintenance.  The bill that is now set to become law will allow local control of the cemetery trust funds and give the county commissions the choice to continue to keep the funds in low interest CDs, or to invest a portion of the funds into higher yielding investment vehicles using the expertise of investment managers.  HB 51 will provide county commissions with more investment options, and while this will help in the long run, it will not alleviate the shortage of funds needed right now for this year’s maintenance.  As I stated in an earlier Capitol Report, local cemetery boards, local communities, and descendants of buried ancestors need to take action this year and contribute monetarily through donations or fundraisers to increase endowment funds until state statutes are revised or interest rates increase.  Keep in mind, no funding comes from state taxpayers’ resources.

UPCOMING EVENTS IN DISTRICT 125: 

The City of Stockton will be hosting “The Wall That Heals” at the Stockton High Football Field, May 11-14, Thursday through Sunday. This extremely moving and educational mobile exhibit will be open 24 hours a day and is free of charge.  There will be a special memorial ceremony at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 13th, and the public is invited. ‘The Vietnam Veterans Memorial stands as a symbol of America’s honor and recognition of the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War.  It is dedicated to honor the “courage, sacrifice and devotion to duty and country” of all who answered the call to serve during the most divisive war in U.S. history.’ –Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

Congratulations to Appleton City on being appointed as a “Purple Heart City.”  To celebrate this award, Appleton City will be hosting festivities on June 9th, Friday, with the annual city parade at 7:00 p.m.  City officials invite and encourage all Purple Heart recipients and all veterans to join the parade by lining up on Poplar Street at 6:30 p.m.  There will be a Purple Heart Ceremony following the parade in Forest Park at 7:45 p.m.   This celebration is in conjunction with their annual fair.  Please contact Appleton City Mayor Karol Stephan at 660-679-1326 orkdstephan@gmail.com if you or a loved one is a Purple Heart recipient. 

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

History students and chaperones of the El Dorado Springs Christian School toured the Capitol, State Museum and Governor’s Mansion on Tuesday.

Warsaw High School juniors and seniors visited on Wednesday for the 2017 Missouri Youth Diversity Day at the Capitol.  The Office of Equal Opportunity with the State of Missouri Office of Administration offered activities to learn about state government and state career paths.

My wife, Marla, and I were invited to a reception hosted by the Governor and his wife on Tuesday evening.  It was a pleasure to visit one-on-one with Governor Greitens about legislative priorities.

CAPITOL REPORT - May 4, 2017.  Sunday afternoon, Marla and I attended the 175th Anniversary Open House of the Warsaw Christian Church.  I presented a resolution recognizing the heritage of their history:  In 1842, while Elder L. Elgin was busy organizing the “Bethel Christian Church” on Little Tebo Creek, the courthouse was being finished at a cost not to exceed $2,500.  Warsaw was incorporated as a city in 1843, and in 1860, the lot on which the present structure stands was purchased from Benjamin F. Bibb for a price of $100.  The brick building was erected under the leadership of the first minister, Elder L. Elgin. 

It was a thriving time for the City of Warsaw; steamboat traffic on the Osage supplied a large section of the country with goods.  Business flourished.  The Butterfield Overland Stagecoach passed to and from regularly carrying the U.S. mail and passengers from Missouri to California.  

The Warsaw Christian Church was getting its start, but was destined for an interruption that would not only throw the church into chaos, but the entire country.  In 1861, war was declared, and our nation was in a turmoil for the next four years.  Two companies were organized in Warsaw, and since most of the prominent politicians of the county were southern men, the southern cause was embraced.  Federal soldiers took possession of the church building, and after destroying the seats and other furnishings, converted it into a hospital.  When a smallpox epidemic broke out in the hospital, many of the soldiers died and were buried in the yard in back of the building.  During the epidemic, the windows, doors and flooring were removed, and it was converted into a stable. 

The return of peace revived the energies of the people, and in 1868, the Disciples reclaimed their church and began rebuilding their church and congregation.  Through the years, Warsaw Christian Church has continued to grow and improve its facilities.  From a handful of people meeting at the home of Elder Elgin, it has grown to an active congregation of over 100 members.  We are proud of their rich heritage.  –history excerpts from the Dosquicentennial Program of Warsaw Christian Church 

Resolution presented to Pastor Richard Bowman of Warsaw Christian Church in honor of the church’s 175th anniversary. 

2017 SESSION REACHES FINAL WEEK WITH SEVERAL UNRESOLVED PRIORITIES:

As the Missouri House comes down to the final days of the 2017 legislative session, legislators have seen several of their top issues cross the finish line, but continue to wait for several other bills to receive approval from both chambers. To date the House has sent several of the legislative priorities of the House to the governor to become law, including bills that will:

·         Make Missouri a Right-to-Work state to encourage more job creators to relocate to the state;

·         End Project Labor Agreements to ensure public construction projects are more affordable for taxpayers;

·         Establish a regulatory framework to allow rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to expand throughout Missouri and create thousands of jobs;

·         Implement substantive tort reform, including new expert witness standards that will make Missouri’s court system fairer for all; and

·         Create penalties that will protect crops and farmland from the misuse of illegal pesticides. 

The House has passed several bills this year that will make Missouri a better place to live, work, and enjoy life.  If we compared these bills to baling hay, the House has already baled more hay than the Senate will ever get picked up out of the field and put in the barn.  My fear is that some of the really good hay is going to get rained on and rot in the field.  They are: 

·         Prevailing Wage – Legislation that would repeal Missouri’s prevailing wage law to help reduce the cost of construction and maintenance projects for municipalities and school districts.

·         REAL ID – Legislation that would give Missourians the option to obtain photo identification that complies with the federal REAL ID Act. 

·         Prescription Drug Monitoring Program – Legislation that would implement a prescription drug tracking system in an effort to prevent opioid abuse in Missouri. 

At least one very important subject we finished before the Constitution-required May 5thdeadline was the $27.7 billion state budget.  

VISITORS THIS WEEK: 

Thursday, April 27th, was Farm Bureau Youth Leadership Day at the Capitol.  St. Clair County Farm Bureau was represented by six bright, young FFA students who came to observe session and explore the Capitol. Rep. Love; Lindsay Haines, Lakeland;  Emily Meeker, Lakeland; Sydney Bock, Appleton City; Paula Rodabaugh, St. Clair County Farm Bureau Customer Service Representative. James Fischer, Appleton City; Kyle Elliott and Gerrit Brouwer, both of Osceola. 

It’s always great to have family visit!  Daughter, Anna, and granddaughter, Sophia, were at the Capitol on Thursday touring with the 3rd Grade Class from Paris Elementary School.

CAPITOL REPORT - May 11, 2017. This past Saturday I sat in with Austin Shelby at Carney’s Five Star Supermarket in Osceola.  The month of May is National Beef Month.  Both of us are members of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association; and representing St. Clair County, we were ‘riding for the brand’ and promoting beef.

On Sunday, Marla and I attending the 125th Anniversary Celebration at Tiffin Baptist Church of El Dorado Springs.  The church had its original beginning in 1883 as a non-sectarian meeting house to serve the worship needs of 5 different denominations by taking turns using the building.   In 1892, the Baptists decided to build their own building at the current location, and the land for the new building was sold to the church members for a sum of $1 by B.F. and Martha Burch.  It was recorded and deeded to David Zener, Albert Chambers, and E.C. McLain, trustees of Tiffin Baptist Church.  The original 11 charter members were:  Robert and Minerva Evans, E.C. McLain and wife, J.P. and Mamie Skillman, Griffin Thomas and wife, Thomas Evans, Jemima Chambers, and Zerielda Zener.

Session opened at 3:00 p.m. on Monday and turned into a marathon 7 hours of debate on SB43 (see below).  While the House worked through the bill, my family members, who made a special trip to Jefferson City to attend the Governor’s Annual BBQ, joined several other family members from around the state and attended the BBQ without us House members.  They reported that the food was delicious and outdoor musical entertainment was enjoyable.  At 9:00 p.m., the House members were fortunate to have some the BBQ delivered to us while we continued to work in the House Chamber.

LEGAL REFORM: 

SB43 would require a former employee to prove that his or her age, race, gender, disability or ethnicity was the main reason he or she was fired rather than one among other reasons.  Republicans said the bill is needed because the courts have allowed too many cases of alleged workplace discrimination to proceed.  It is a long awaited response to a series of Supreme Court decisions culminating in a 2007 decision that lowered the bar in employment discrimination cases and opened the door to frivolous lawsuits against our businesses.  The court-constructed standard has made Missouri one of the easiest places in the country to sue a company and win.  Trial lawyers know this, and they have spent the last decade profiting and exploiting this situation.  The House debated the bill for more than five hours Monday, rejecting five amendments, before voting to pass the bill the Senate had proposed.  It’s now up to Governor Greitens whether it will become law. 

REAL ID COMPLIANT LICENSES: 

HB151 requires that the Department of Revenue give applicants the option of either a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card or a license or identification card that is not in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act. The department will be required to inform applicants of the differences between the compliant and noncompliant forms of license, specifically that the REAL ID-compliant driver's license or identification card can be used for federal purposes such as commercial domestic air travel and gaining access to military bases and most federal government facilities, while the non-compliant license or card cannot.  The bill passed through the Senate on Thursday and was Truly Agreed to and Finally Passed. 

VISITORS THIS WEEK:

The Hickory County R-I Skyline Lady Tigers were celebrated at the Capitol last Thursday for their Class 2-A State Championship Basketball Team.  The team and coaches received a resolution recognizing their great accomplishments.

The Weaubleau R-II 8th Graders visited the Capitol on Thursday to observe the House and Senate in Session, tour the historic building, and visit the Whispering Gallery and Dome.

Lakeland R-III 7th-9th Classes spent the day at the Capitol on Monday studying all things historic and legislative.

Jared Wareham stopped by on Tuesday.  Jared is a St. Clair County cattle producer specializing in genetic breeding and also writes for the Drover’s Cattle Network Magazine. 

Benton County Assessor Rodger Reedy visited while in Jefferson City to attend the Missouri Association of Counties (MAC) regular meeting.  MAC is an alliance that represents local government elected officials, all of whom work to improve services for Missouri taxpayers and citizens.  There are 114 counties in the state of MO (only three states have more). The association membership has more than 1,400 county elected officials representing all counties in MO.

CAPITOL REPORT - May 16, 2017.  After arriving home late Friday night from the last week of the 2017 Session, I started Saturday morning bright and early with a Pancake and Sausage Breakfast fundraiser event at the Wayside Inn Museum in El Dorado Springs.  Sponsored by the “Preserve Our Past Society,” this museum, housed in an 1882 building, is a very interesting place to spend the day with numerous artifacts on display.  

Following breakfast, I headed to Stockton for the Vietnam Veterans "Wall That Heals" Memorial Ceremony at 10:00 a.m.   The ceremony was a very moving tribute to three local Cedar County young men who laid down their lives for our freedom.  There was not a dry eye in a crowd of 300 people.  The Cedar County officials, and especially Cedar County Clerk Peggy Kenney, are to be highly commended for making this travelling display possible and free to the public.  I hope everyone in the district had an opportunity to visit this emotional display while it was in Stockton over the weekend. 

Saturday afternoon, Marla and I attended the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Warsaw.  Founded in 1867, the church has been blessed with an active congregation that offers several different wonderful ministries in the community and beyond.  The church members celebrated this special occasion with a cake and ice cream social.

— 2017 HIGHLIGHTS OF TRULY AGREED TO AND FINALLY PASSED LEGISLATION — 

Legislature Approves Senior Services Protection Fund (HCB 3):

With just seconds to spare in the 2017 legislative session, House members approved a bill that will create the Senior Services Protection Fund to preserve several services for the elderly and disabled. The move represents an effort by the House to preserve nursing home and in-home care services for some of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens.  This piece of legislation is necessary because the budget approved by the General Assembly this year relies on the Senior Services Protection Fund to restore a cut proposed by the governor to in-home care and nursing home services. The governor had recommended increasing the eligibility requirements (21 points to 27 points)  for these services, which would have resulted in approximately 20,000 seniors and disabled Missourians no longer qualifying for the state-funded care. The House then moved to fully restore them to their original levels so that no one would be cut off from care. The final version of the budget represents a compromise that increases requirements slightly (24 points), but also includes a provision that would completely restore the governor’s proposed cut if the Senior Services Protection Fund bill becomes law.

The bill would also restore funding for brain injury services provided by the Department of Health that have been withheld in previous budget cycles; restore a portion of a cut proposed by the governor to reimbursement rates for Medicaid providers; and provide additional funding for the state’s Area Agencies on Aging for use in the Meals on Wheels program that provides meal assistance to seniors.

Ensuring Consistency with the State’s Minimum Wage (HB 1194):

In response to a Missouri Supreme Court decision that invalidated part of Missouri’s minimum wage law, lawmakers moved to implement a fix that will provide a consistent wage in municipalities throughout the state.  The approved legislation will reaffirm that the state’s minimum wage is applied throughout Missouri, and keep the decision to raise wages in the hands of the employer and employee.

While the state currently has a minimum wage that increases based on the Consumer Price Index, and is currently higher than the federal minimum wage, some municipalities have considered their own increases.  St. Louis passed an ordinance to raise its minimum wage to $10 an hour this year and $11 an hour by 2018.  The legislation approved by the House will preempt and nullify the minimum wage enacted by St. Louis, and provide that other municipalities cannot enact a minimum wage that exceeds the one established by state law.

Organ Donor Program Fund (SB 248):

In the final moments of the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers moved to support organ donation in Missouri by giving approval to a bill that would continue the organ donor program fund tax checkoff on state income tax returns. The checkoff is set to expire on December 31, 2017.  The bill, which is identical to my sponsored HB105, approved by the General Assembly would remove the sunset entirely and allow the checkoff to continue indefinitely.  Supporters say the checkoff has been very successful, along with the driver’s license donations, Employee Charitable Campaign, and direct donations in funding the Organ and Tissue Donor Program.

Protecting Police Officers (SB 34):

In an effort to ensure law enforcement officials quickly receive the information they need to apprehend individuals who injure or kill peace officers, the House and Senate approved legislation to create a Blue Alert System.  The bill is one of the priorities of Governor Eric Greitens, who called for the creation of the Blue Alert System when the legislative session began.  Similar to the Amber and Silver Alert systems, the Blue Alert system would send out identifying information such as a physical description of the suspect and the suspect’s vehicle. Twenty-seven states already have a similar system in place. 

The Missouri General Assembly also took action to deter crimes against law enforcement officials.  SB54 will create enhanced penalties for individuals who assault officers of the law.  The legislation will increase by one degree the penalty for first and second degree involuntary manslaughter; first and second degree property damage; first and second degree stalking; and first-degree trespassing; when those crimes are committed against a law enforcement officer, or a family member of the officer. As an example, first degree involuntary manslaughter is a class C felony under current statute, but will increase to a class B felony if SB 34 becomes law.  Enhanced penalties are necessary because crimes against law enforcement officers have increased in recent years. 

Legislation Approved to Establish Adult High Schools (HB 93): 

The Missouri House hopes to give the approximately 500,000 Missourians without a high school diploma a second chance to obtain an education that will allow them to secure good-paying, family-supporting jobs. To accomplish this goal, legislation approved during the final week of session will establish four adult high schools in Missouri.  Modeled after a program in Indiana, the bill would establish four adult high schools located in Southeast Missouri, St. Louis City, Mid-Missouri, and Southwest Missouri for individuals age 21 and up who do not have a high school diploma.  It would give priority to Missourians who are currently on government assistance.  The schools would help these individuals complete their high school education and obtain a diploma.  They would also offer skills certifications based on regional demand through partnerships with community colleges and other programs.  Additionally, they would offer a child care center to remove a significant barrier for many adults who would like to participate.

CAPITOL REPORT - May 24, 2017.  “O’er the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” (lyrics from our National Anthem) comes to my mind as we approach Memorial Day.  Another song that comes to mind is by Billy Ray Cyrus.  The lyrics are:  “All gave some.  Some gave all.  Some stood through the red, white, and blue; and some had to fall.”  Memorial Day is observed with the understanding that some gave all.  They were brave and laid their lives in harm’s way so that we might be free.  We spend this day remembering the human cost of war.   Originally called Decoration Day, it started after the American Civil War to honor both Union and Confederate soldiers who had died while serving.   Women from both sides began decorating the graves of fallen soldiers.  By the end of World War II, the decoration of the graves of all soldiers who had died in the armed forces was taking place.  Memorial Day was signed into law in 1971, with the holiday being set as the last Monday in May. 

I also want to remind everyone to check your local newspapers for dates and times of your cemetery’s annual workdays and board meetings.  I encourage everyone to get involved and help out with volunteer work, fundraising events, or donating financially to help with the upkeep and mowing. 

DISCOVER MORE ON ROUTE 54: 

The “Discover More on Route 54” board members met recently to discuss the 3rd Annual 100 Mile Yard Sale.   The event has been set for September 1-3, Friday through Sunday.  Yates Rustic Trading in Preston, Beyond Bargains in Hermitage and the Highway 54 RV Park in Wheatland have both been confirmed as host sites for the event this year.  As new sites are confirmed, please go to discover54.com for updates.  The 100 Mile Yard Sale will take place during daytime hours and include the cities of Camdenton, Macks Creek, Preston, Hermitage, Wheatland, Weaubleau, Collins, El Dorado Springs, and Nevada, Missouri, all along U.S. Route 54. 

SPECIAL SESSION:

The General Assembly has returned to the Capitol this week for a special legislative session.  Governor Eric Greitens called legislators back to address an economic development issue that could mean hundreds of jobs for Southeast Missouri.  During regular session, the House approved legislation that could allow one company to proceed with plans to reopen the Noranda aluminum smelter at Marston; and another company to build a new steel mill at New Madrid, both in Southeast Missouri.  However, despite overwhelming, bipartisan approval in the House, the measure failed to secure passage in the Senate before time ran out on the session. 

In Special Session today, the House has approved legislation that would allow the Public Service Commission to consider lowering utility rates. The lower rates are a vital component to luring the companies to Missouri as it will allow the facilities under consideration to be more profitable. 

The sponsor of the legislation said people in his area are in desperate need of jobs, especially after Noranda closed last year, eliminating nearly 900 jobs. He said the two projects under consideration could create more than 500 new jobs.  The bill’s sponsor also noted that the entities behind the two facilities are expected to decide soon whether to give up on progressing with their plans for the 2 sites in Missouri.  If the legislature can quickly pass this bill, he is confident those companies will postpone their decisions until they can meet with the PSC. 

Because special sessions can be costly, the House is trying to be as efficient as possible with its work schedule. The House held technical session on Monday and Tuesday, which does not require the full membership to be present.  House members were in full session on Wednesday only. This schedule will help minimize the cost to taxpayers.  The bill now goes to the Senate for debate and vote.

CAPITOL REPORT - JUNE 1, 2017.  This past Saturday I had the experience of a lifetime attending and speaking at the 100th Anniversary of the re-dedication of the refurbished Missouri Monument at the Vicksburg National Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  This monument commemorates the Missourians that served on both sides of the Civil War.  It is hard to describe the feeling of being in the exact location where there were 19,000 casualties. These soldiers were called by their States to serve in a cause even though they may not have believed in the cause.    Since these servicemen were loyal to their States and their Nation, I believe it is our obligation to preserve & protect their reputation and honor their patriotism. 

In 1917, 54 years after they fought each other during the Siege of Vicksburg, Union and Confederate soldiers from Missouri gathered at the Vicksburg National Military Park to dedicate a monument to that battle where, literally, brother fought against brother.  A total of 27 Union and 15 Confederate regiments from Missouri - 15,000 men were engaged at the Siege of Vicksburg. (In total, 150,000 men from Missouri fought in the Civil War on either the Union or Confederate side.)  The Missouri Monument in Vicksburg is one of the few that honors soldiers from the same state who fought on both sides of this terrible conflict.

It was truly an honor to join US Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler and MO State Senator Wayne Wallingford along with several of my fellow Missouri compatriots to re-dedicate the Missouri Monument at the Vicksburg National Park in Vicksburg, MS.

I had the honor of presenting a resolution on behalf of MO State Senator Jill Schupp of the St. Louis area, who had prepared the resolution in recognition of the re-dedication of the Missouri Monument.

I was privileged to speak to the Sons of Confederate and Sons of Union Veterans while attending the re-dedication.

Also while at the event, I had the opportunity to meet Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs, Jr. (center), Mississippi State Representative Oscar Denton, and MS State Senator W. Briggs Hopson, III (right).  They shared that the Vicksburg National Park generates $35,000,000 a year into the Vicksburg area.

SB182 SIGNED INTO LAW:

Governor Eric Greitens signed into law SB182, a bill that bans the practice of requiring that non-union contractors pay union wages to workers involved in public construction projects. The so-called project labor agreements (PLAs) prohibited are for things like jails, courthouses, schools and fire stations. The measure will also cut state funding to Missouri cities and counties that force non-union contractors to pay workers union wages for such jobs.   SB182, or the “Fairness in Public Construction Act,” is a labor reform bill focused on PLAs which was passed by both the House and the Senate in late April.  

The new law bans state agencies and municipalities from requiring bidders from entering into those agreements with labor unions.  But, if a party still desires to make an agreement with a labor organization, they are still free to do so.  This law was needed because current PLA standards could allow a non-union contractor to bid on a PLA project, but then essentially require that contractor to become a union shop for that project.  SB182 will give all contractors a chance to bid on projects funded by the public’s tax dollars.  “Union-Only Project Labor Agreements represent unfair public policy and bad governance by eliminating competition,” said Senator Bob Onder, bill sponsor. “Implementation of SB182 will allow non-union workers to compete fairly for public projects and protect taxpayer dollars by making sure they get the best product for the best cost,” Onder said. “PLAs discriminate against the 87% of Missouri workers who work for merit shop contractors.  On average, PLAs raise the cost of construction 18%, which means that instead of building 5 schools, a district can only afford 4.  SB182 ends this waste and unjustified discrimination while using the free market to save taxpayer dollars.”

CAPITOL REPORT - June 12, 2017. To God be the Glory for a wonderful day of worship and celebration for the 165th Anniversary of Elkton Baptist Church this past Sunday.  Marla and I joined Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson and his wife, Teresa, in presenting resolutions to Pastor Kent Parson in recognition of this significant milestone for the church.   Kent has been the Pastor of Elkton Baptist for nearly 30 years.  (Pastor Kent is also Lt. Governor Parson’s eldest brother.)  My "Hat's Off" to him and the congregation for a well-planned event.  The special music by pianist, Brother Eddie Crook, from Nashville, Tennessee, was a blessing in itself; however, it was followed by an inspiring spiritual awakening by evangelist, Brother Johnny Carver, also from Nashville.  To top off a blessed morning, a wonderful smorgasbord of food was prepared by the ladies of the church and enjoyed by all.

A resolution is presented to Pastor Kent Parson honoring the 165th anniversary of the Elkton Baptist Church. 

HOME AT LAST: 

On Dec. 7, 1941, Hickory County resident, Charles Thompson, was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Thompson. No single vessel at Pearl Harbor, with the exception of the USS Arizona, suffered as many fatalities. The remains of unidentified personnel, including Navy Fireman 1st Class Charles W. Thompson, were interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. 

More than 70 years later, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis.  Recently, through DNA testing, Thompson’s family was able to identify and bring his remains back home for a proper burial. 

There will be a special funeral service held at the Hathaway-Peterman Funeral Home in Wheatland this Saturday, June 17, at 9:00 a.m., with interment at the Fairview Butcher Cemetery following the service.  The cemetery is located on the north side of Highway T one mile west of the Highway 83 and T Highway junction.  Please join me in honoring this Hickory County hero. 

MO Voter ID Requirements Now In Effect:

November, 2016, Missouri voters overwhelmingly supported a system of photo Voter ID meant to protect the integrity of the elections process. The legislation officially went into effect June 1. Now, the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office is traveling the state to educate voters so they are prepared for the new law and its impact. 

As part of the ShowIt2Vote educational campaign, the Secretary of State’s Office is holding a series of informational meetings around the state to ensure that all eligible voters know the various ways they will be legally allowed to cast a ballot. Secretary Ashcroft has said the meetings are also meant to reassure Missourians that “if you’re registered to vote, you can vote.” 

Under the new law, if a voter does not have a government-issued photo ID, such as a Missouri driver license, non-driver license, U.S. Passport, or U.S. Military ID, the voter can provide other documents, such as a Voter Registration Card, and sign a statement that affirms his or her identity. If the voter has no documents available, he or she may cast a provisional ballot.  That ballot counts if the voter brings an acceptable photo ID back to the polling place that day, or if the signature matches the signature on file with local election officials. 

The new photo voter ID law also requires the state to assist voters who do not have a photo ID with obtaining a free Missouri non-driver ID for the purpose of voting.  Individuals who need a photo ID to vote and don't have one, can complete an online form to get started. The form is located at https://s1.sos.mo.gov/voteridhelp.  The Secretary of State's office will receive your information and help in obtaining any necessary documents.

For more information about the new Voter ID law, interested parties can access ShowIt2Vote.com or call the ShowIt2Vote hotline at 866-868-3245.

CAPITOL REPORT - June 22, 2017.  What a great privilege it was to attend the memorial service for Charles William Thompson this past Saturday.  Navy Fireman 1st Class Thompson served in the Navy and lost his life in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  With full military honors, he was buried next to his mother in the Fairview Butcher Cemetery in Quincy, MO.   His remains had recently been identified this year through DNA and were returned last Friday to Hickory County with Patriot Guard escorts.

HOUSE STRENGTHENS PRO-LIFE LEGISLATION (SB5):

My colleagues and I were called back for Special Session on Tuesday, June 20, to work together on a piece of legislation sent over from the Senate that is intended to better ensure the health and safety of women by putting common sense safety requirements in place for abortion clinics. House members strengthened the version of the bill that was sent over from the Senate by adding several provisions that were originally called for by Governor Greitens but stripped out by the Senate during floor debate. 

Some of the main provisions of the bill would: 

Allow the Department of Health and Senior Services to adopt rules governing complication plans to ensure patients undergoing abortions induced by drugs or chemicals have access to safe and reliable care.
Require an abortion facility to provide affirmative evidence that each person authorized to perform abortions is a physician currently licensed to practice in Missouri.
Allow the health department to adopt separate rules to apply to ambulatory surgical centers and to apply to abortion facilities, and ensure any abortion facility requirement is equal to any physical requirement of an ambulatory surgical center.
Permit the health department to make an unannounced on-site inspection of any abortion facility at least annually.
Require that all tissue removed at the time of abortion be sent to a pathologist within seventy-two hours for examination.
 
The legislation now moves back to the Senate where the other chamber will have the opportunity to pass the bill and send it to the governor’s desk. If the Senate refuses to take the House changes, the two bodies will likely send the bill to a conference committee where selected negotiators from both sides will come together to work toward a compromise. 

FINDING OWNERS OF UNCLAIMED PROPERTY: 

As an elected official, it is my responsibility to let you know when there are some benefits available you may not be aware of.  Later this month, MO State Treasurer Eric Schmitt will be publishing names of District 125 constituents who have unclaimed property.  Currently, there are over 15,000 account listings holding $1,540,393.69 in unclaimed property in District 125. 

Treasurer Schmitt, as required by state statute, will be publishing names of unclaimed property owners in local newspapers.  Constituents may also see information regarding Unclaimed Property on Facebook and Twitter at @MoTreasurer. 

Statewide, there is close to $1 billion in unclaimed property with more than 5 million accounts.

Unclaimed property is held in perpetuity until the owner or their proper heirs are located.  Account owners may file a claim online by visiting www.ShowMeMoney.com, or send a letter requesting a form to:  Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division, P.O. Box 1004, Jefferson City, MO  65102-1004.

SB248 repeals the sunset date for tax refund contributions to the Organ Donor Program Fund allowing the fund to continue to accept donations in support of a program that has helped so many Missourians.  Sponsored by Senator Kraus and House version HB105 sponsored by Rep. Love, this bill was signed into law by Governor Greitens on Tuesday, June 20th.  PHOTO: (L-R)  Rep. Steve Cookson; Rep. Love; Peter Nicastro, former Chair of the Advisory Committee; and District 125 Constituents, Deb Simaitis, current Chair of the Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Committee, and San Simaitis.

CAPITOL REPORT - June 29, 2017.  It's finally official, Old Drum is Missouri's Historic Dog.  Legislation (SB376) sponsored by Senator Denny Hoskins of Warrensburg was signed into law last Friday by Governor Greitens.   I have co-sponsored and supported this effort for the last 5 years and Senator Hoskins has worked trying to get it across the finish line for 9 years.  “When talking to my colleagues in the House and Senate, I said this bill is not only about preserving Missouri’s history, but it’s also about economic development and tourism,” Hoskins said, later adding, “It will do wonders for marketing, for tourism.”  (Tourism is the state’s #2 industry behind agriculture.)

Following the Civil War, the shooting and subsequent case of Old Drum inspired lawyer, George Graham Vest, to deliver one of the finest speeches ever about the loyalty of a hunting dog, and in doing so created the phrase "man's best friend."  Old Drum was an exceptional dog, but one night in 1869 when he wandered onto the neighboring property of a sheep farmer who had lost many sheep to predators, Old drum was fatally shot. Old Drum's owner, Charles Burden, decided to sue his neighbor, and the case eventually found its way into the Supreme Court. The very emotional trial would rest on the closing argument of Mr. Vest, who was representing Old Drum's master.  The future U.S. Senator, Mr. Vest, won the case and Mr. Burden was awarded $50.  A statue of Old Drum was erected and still stands on the current Johnson County Courthouse lawn.  (The old courthouse where Vest delivered his famous speech stands about 1/2 mile west, and features its own dog statue and historical marker.) 

HELPING SENIORS AFFORD PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS: 

Due to a $500 million revenue shortfall and tough but necessary decisions made by the General Assembly to balance the budget, some Missouri seniors will see their state-provided prescription drug benefits come to an end on July 1. While the state will continue to provide assistance through the MORx Prescription Drug program to more than 140,000 seniors, those who do not meet the tightened eligibility requirements will now need to look at other programs that offer similar benefits. 

Members worked diligently to preserve vital services and programs, but ultimately had to make tough decisions and painful cuts in order to find an additional $500 million to balance the budget. The result is the MORx program saw a funding cut of approximately $12 million that will end benefits for approximately 59,000 seniors who make between 85 percent and 185 percent of the federal poverty level. 

Although the legislature was forced to cut some of the funding for the program, lawmakers did reauthorize MORx so that it will continue into the future. The program had been set to expire completely on August 28.  Legislators also were able to save $11.7 million in funding for the program so that 142,000 seniors receiving MO HealthNet benefits will continue to receive prescription drug assistance. Because the program has been renewed, seniors who will lose their benefits this year will see them restored if and when state revenues are sufficient to once again fund the program fully. 

For those who will lose their benefits, lawmakers are promoting programs such as the Rx Outreach program, which is a nonprofit, mail-order pharmacy that provides free and low-cost generic medications. The Missouri-based company serves seniors in all 50 states and provides access to more than 800 generic medications. Missourians can qualify for the program with annual income of $36,180 or less for a single person, $48,720 or less for family of two, $61,260 or less for a family of three, $73,800 or less for family of four. 

Contact Rx Outreach for more information.  Enrollment may be done through the company’s website at www.RxOutreach.org or call 1-877-684-1955.  Once enrolled, people can easily have their prescriptions transferred to Rx Outreach to fill and mail directly to people’s homes. Prices for medications are listed online and are available by phone. There are no hidden charges – no enrollment fees or mailing charges. 

Seniors may also call MORx at 1-800-375-1406 with any questions. The MO Department of Social Services has also suggested other resources that may be helpful to those impacted by the change in law: 

To determine Medicaid eligibility, please call the Family Support Division at 1-855-373-4636.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance - 1-888-477-2669 or online at pparx.org.
Community Leaders Assisting the Insured of Missouri (CLAIM) - 1-800-390-3330.
Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) - 1-800-677-1116. 
 

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

As everyone makes plans to celebrate our nation’s freedom with family, friends, food, and fireworks, let us not forget the precious gift America’s forefathers gave to the people when they approved the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago.  With their bold actions they put the American people on a path toward greatness and created the nation that Americans are blessed today to call home; a nation that has become a shining beacon of hope for the rest of the world.   Devoted to the cause of freedom, America was created with perfect intentions that were grounded in the desire to give every person the opportunity to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  We are truly blessed and should never take it for granted.