2018 Capitol Reports & Press Releases (Archived)
January • February • March • April • May•

CAPITOL REPORT - January 4, 2018.  Well, it’s official!  The Second Regular 99th Missouri General Assembly gaveled back into session at high noon on Wednesday, January 3rd.   My morning activities of the first day of session have become a tradition; for the 6th year in a row, I attended the Concord Baptist Church Annual Legislative Breakfast and Prayer Service.  The physical food was delicious, however, the spiritual food and prayer was even greater.  Colonel Gary Gilmore, Chaplain of the National Guard, was the guest speaker at the event and commented, “The wise thing that leaders can do is align one self’s heart with God’s plan and purpose for our life.”

The opening day session was highlighted by a speech from House Speaker Todd Richardson who encouraged his colleagues to continue the work they have done to make the great state of Missouri even greater. As Richardson said in his speech, “That is why it is critical for those of us in our final session, and for those who will pick up the torch when we are gone, to make it our focus in everything we do to leave this state a better place than we found it.”

He also stressed the need to work quickly to pass several priority pieces of legislation. The House is set to take up three pieces of legislation that have received strong bipartisan approval in the past. While these bills made it through the House, they did not receive Senate approval before time ran out on the 2017 session. Lawmakers hope this year to move all three measures across the legislative finish line.

Human Trafficking (HB 1246) - House members will work again this year to address the growing problem of human trafficking. The state is currently ranked 20th in reported human trafficking cases according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. 

Ethics Reform (HB 1303) - House members will also work to once again pass legislation meant to diminish the influence of lobbyists. Similar to legislation the House has passed in each of the last two sessions, the bill would ban gifts from lobbyists to legislators and other statewide elected officials. 

Reducing Burdensome Regulations (HB 1500) - In the first weeks of session House members will also work to cut burdensome red tape and reduce government overregulation so that businesses can thrive in Missouri. 

Wednesday morning was the annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast.  The message was delivered by Reverend John Lindell who is the lead pastor of James River Assembly of God Church located in greater Springfield.   The message theme was ‘leading with faith and courage.’ 

On Thursday afternoon I was called into the House Ethics Committee for a preliminary hearing regarding the statement I made on August 30th about calling out the crime of vandalism with a crude colloquial statement. The vandalism occurred on a monument in the National Veterans’ Cemetery in Springfield. The conclusion of a confusing Ethics Committee process ended without my acceptance of a reprimand and failure of the committee to proceed with other options. So, to my knowledge at this point, this issue should be over.

When we reconvene next week, the Governor will deliver the State of the State message to the members of the entire General Assembly.  House Speaker Richardson will also be assigning House bills to committees and legislative work will begin.

CAPITOL REPORT - January 11, 2018. The 50th Annual Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) Convention was held the first weekend in January in Columbia.  As usual, for 40-plus years, I chored the livestock, and then my wife, Marla, and I headed to the convention to attend all three days.  Beef producers gathered from all around Missouri to set policy that starts as grassroots in our county organizations. This year’s convention theme and programs provided an opportunity to "Remember the Past and Look Toward the Future."   Cattlemen and cattlewomen learned what new techniques and technologies are changing the industry, new cattle management styles, as well as regulatory and legislative issues coming in 2018.  Together, we can move the beef industry forward. 

Legislative Affairs Chairman Jimmie Long of Cole Camp stated, "There is no policy established by staff or a few people in a closed door meeting. Our policies generally start at the county level and move up. This is a member-driven process that we take very seriously. Our members made clear that private property rights and integrity are of the utmost importance. The association will support measures that strengthen private property rights in Missouri and will vehemently oppose any invasion of those rights. We will work to protect the integrity of the product we produce and enhance the integrity in the ballot initiative process." 

If an animal owner is charged with animal abuse/neglect and they are found not guilty, the owner is still required to pay for all expenses associated with their case.  HB1945 ensures that owners who are found innocent are not liable for the costs associated with holding their animals and that their animals must be returned immediately.  MCA also supports legislation (SB797) that ensures officials are adequately trained to identify animal abuse and neglect using materials certified by the State Veterinarian.   

Also pertaining to private property rights, current statutes regarding the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) authority in regulating MO water do little to provide absolute clarity to DNR and to citizens on what is and isn't regulated by DNR.  MCA will push for clarity in state statute to ensure DNR has the ability to improve water quality without hampering private property rights.  

Long also stated that MCA will work with the Secretary of State's office to encourage legislation on accountability, transparency and integrity into the state's ballot initiative petition process. 

He also said MCA will lead efforts to make certain that plant-based proteins and imitation meat products created in a laboratory are labeled correctly and do not mislead consumers into thinking they are buying beef produced by Missouri farm and ranch families.

Holly Hubert represented the Protect the Harvest Booth at the convention.  We discussed the right to raise livestock without infringement from organizations like HSUS and PETA.  Plus, we also discussed the fact that county health boards in Missouri are adopting more stringent local ordinances on livestock operations than DNR requires.  This issue needs to be clarified by the General Assembly. Statute 192.300 currently reads that the county commissioners must also be in agreement.   However, many times this is not the case.   Several county commissions in Missouri are joining up with Missouri Farmers Care and are becoming Agri-Ready, which means that counties will not adopt ordinances/regulations that are more stringent than state requirements.  Currently, there are approximately 40 counties that have been designated and the number is increasing.  Benton and St. Clair Counties are designated Agri-Ready, and I encourage Cedar and Hickory Counties to participate. Currently, both county commissions and county health center boards may make and establish orders, ordinances, rules or regulations under certain circumstances, but cannot conflict with any rules or regulations of the Department of Health and Senior Services or the Department of Social Services.  I have sponsored legislation (HB1480) that requires the county commission and the county health center board to be in concurrence when establishing health orders, ordinances, rules or regulations, except in the case of an emergency.

Missouri Farmers Care, a statewide coalition of agriculture groups formed to promote modern agriculture, food production and farm life, presented historic awards at the MCA convention on Saturday, Jan. 6.  The Missouri Farmers Care Hall of Fame five inaugural recipients are: Congressman Jason Smith, Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, Sen. Brian Munzlinger, Rep. Bill Rieboldt, and Forrest Lucas, founder of Protect the Harvest.   Congratulations to all these deserving recipients.

CAPITOL REPORT - January 18, 2018.  With the General Assembly now in session, Friday is my in-district work day.  It actually started very early in the morning because of icy road conditions.  I took my wife, Marla, to her workplace in Warsaw.  While driving, it was obvious that the MoDOT road crews had been out salting the intersections and bridges.  So, in appreciation of their good work, I picked up some doughnuts and delivered them to the MoDOT barns in Warsaw and Preston. 

From there, I called on the city officials of Weaubleau and Wheatland along the “Discover More on Highway 54” route.  I spent lunchtime at the McCarty Senior Center in Wheatland.  I had plans to make a presentation at Hermitage High School afterward, but due to schools closing because of the weather, the recognition event was moved to the McCarty Senior Center.  It was an honor to present a resolution to Hermitage High School Senior Easton Sabala.   This fine, young man placed 1st out of 165 competitors in the Class 1 State Cross Country Championship in November.  He also helped lead the Hermitage/Wheatland H.S. Cross Country Team to a 2ndplace finish in the state championships following 3 consecutive years as the state champs.  We are very fortunate to have excelling students in our district who are blessed with wonderful guidance from their instructors and coaches! 

Friday I had the privilege of presenting a resolution to Hermitage Senior Easton Sabala along with his parents Mark and Anastasia.  His father is also coach of the Hermitage/Wheatland Cross Country Team. Easton placed 1st out of 165 competitors at the Class I State Cross Country Championship.  


I conferenced with Aaron Jeffries, Missouri Dept. of Conservation Deputy Director, this week.  He updated me on the results of testing deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) that was completed in our area during opening weekend of the Fall firearm season.  While 2 positive samples were confirmed in our district (one adult buck in Cedar and one adult buck in Polk counties), MDC suggested the low number of positive results illustrated the disease was recently introduced into these areas.  The Missouri Department of Conservation has reported CWD-positive results for 15 free-ranging deer out of nearly 18,400 test results this season.   This season’s testing was called for because of 2 infected deer harvested in the previous 2016 hunting season.  Because of this year’s results, a rather small 4-6 mile area near Collins has been targeted for eradication of the deer herd.  Hopefully, this will lessen the spreading of the fatal disease.  You can learn more about CWD online at https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/wildlife-diseases/chronic-wasting-disease-cwd. 

Realtors from across the state visited the Capitol on Wednesday.  I had the pleasure of meeting with Judy McKovich and Ed and Donna Peterson who are all realtors in the District 125 area.

Realtors from the Sedalia area stopped by to visit with me on Wednesday to advocate for legislation coming up during the 2018 session.

CAPITOL REPORT- January 25, 2018.  On my way to the Capitol on Monday I stopped by 2 coffee caucuses in Warsaw.  The first was at the Boring Rexall Drug Store, and the second was at McDonald’s.  It’s a great way to visit, listen to local concerns, and keep up on community events.  Two new construction projects underway are the new American Legion Hall building to replace the structure that had arson fire damage last Spring, and a new Casey’s store is going up just north of McDonald’s in Warsaw.

Big issues being discussed in committees this week were:  expanding broadband, repealing Prevailing Wage, utility rate adjustments, and industrial hemp. 

The State of the Judiciary address was delivered by Chief Justice Zel Fischer on Wednesday.  He focused on the opioid crisis and encouraged more funding for treatment. "Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids continuing to climb," Fischer reminded lawmakers. "Missouri lost 1,066 people in 2015 and 1,371 people in 2016 to drug overdose. This is a staggering increase in deaths." Fischer mentioned that some people charged with drug or alcohol related crimes, usually first-time offenders, are given the opportunity to work through their issues and addictions rather than just be sentenced to prison through successful treatment courts across the state.  Fischer said drug courts are more cost-effective than any other criminal justice strategy to address the growing problem.   He pledged to work with lawmakers to help make the treatment courts available in every jurisdiction in the state.

Another event that I attended this week was led by former Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell.  He, along with former Senator Wes Shoemyer, advocate for Family Farm Action, Organizations for Competitive Markets, and Human Society of the United States.  Maxwell and Shoemyer paint a picture with a wide brush of doom and gloom for Missouri farmers and rural communities.  They are anti Farm Bureau, MO Cattlemen’s, MO Pork, MO Corn, MO Soybean, MO Rice and other well-known farm organizations.  To hear them tell their story, we have no fair markets for livestock and grains.  They try to stir anger and fear in Missouri about foreign ownership of agricultural land.  My first year in the legislature, we passed a state statute that drew a line in the sand which capped the allowable acreage for foreign ownership at 1%.  Currently, foreign ownership is only .5% of the 1% allowed.  I certainly agree that this needs to be continuously tracked and transparent so that it does not exceed the 1% limit.  –Just a word of caution to Missourians:  Be wary of the so called “Farmers Bill of Rights for Missourians.”  It sounds good on the surface, but the devil is in the details.  I am always willing and available to attend meetings to explain this.  It’s interesting that the Family Farm Action group chose this name with the same acronym as Future Farmers of America.  Don’t be deceived.

I received a visit from Deb and San Simaitis on Tuesday.  They were at the Capitol to promote organ donation education in the classroom.  Deb serves as the Chair of the Governor’s Organ Donation Advisory Committee.  DONATE LIFE AWARENESS DAY will take place on April 10th at the Capitol honoring donors and recipients.


Missouri is one of the top states for farmers’ markets in the nation with nearly 300 farmers’ markets that provide venues for agricultural producers to sell their products directly to consumers. The Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced the Farmers’ Market Promotion Matching Grant Program to support the promotion and advertisement of Missouri’s farmers’ markets.  Applications for this grant must be received by February 15th, with the application available at http://agriculture.mo.gov/abd/financial/pdf/farmersmarketapp.pdf.

The Farmers’ Market Promotion Matching Grant Program, funded through MDA, awards grants of up to $1,000 for reimbursement of expenses associated with promoting farmers’ markets in local communities. Projects should promote the farmers’ market in the local community and improve understanding, perception, knowledge and location of the farmers’ market. This is a competitive grant program, and funds may be used to assist farmers’ markets in developing promotional and advertising materials. Funds may also be used to increase community awareness about market locations, times of operation and types of products sold.  Examples of eligible expenses include digital and print media, signage, billboards, advertisements, marketing and graphic design.