2019 Capitol Reports and Press Releases (Archived)

CAPITOL REPORT - January 10, 2019.  My first day back in Jefferson City on Wednesday, January 9th, began with the welcome tradition of attending the Concord Baptist Church Annual Legislative Breakfast and Prayer Service for all Missouri government leaders.  This was my 7th year to attend this event sponsored by the Christian Life Commission of the Missouri Baptist Convention and Concord Baptist Church.  The physical food is good, but the spiritual food is always great.  The keynote speaker challenged all of us to step out of our comfort zone, reach out and help others. 

Beginning at High Noon on Wednesday, the members of the historic 100th General Assembly gathered in the State Capitol for the opening of the 2019 legislative session. The Missouri House of Representatives welcomed 56 first-time members, who took the oath of office alongside 106 returning members. The House now has 115 Republicans and 47 Democrats with one seat currently vacant.  In comparison, the Missouri Senate now has a split of 24 Republicans and 10 Democrats. 

After House members were officially sworn into office, we elected Rep. Elijah Haahr to serve as the Speaker of the House for the 100th General Assembly. We also elected Rep. John Wiemann to serve as House Speaker Pro Tem.  Both Haahr and Wiemann then addressed all House members to share their goals for the 2019 session.  Speaker Haahr delivered an opening day address that outlined his policy priorities for the 2019 session, and talked about how the first General Assembly two centuries ago represented a state of 66,000 citizens, and the 100th General Assembly now represents a state of more than 6 million. He noted in his address that the state is at record low unemployment, the tourism industry is booming, and the state’s geographic location in the middle of the country gives it a natural advantage as it competes for commerce. 

2019 marks two milestone events in Missouri’s history. The First General Assembly of the future State of Missouri convened at the Missouri Hotel in St. Louis on September 19, 1820—nearly a year before the state was officially admitted into the Union.  The General Assembly organized, held the inauguration of the governor and lieutenant governor, and elected Missouri’s two United States senators. The first legislature also designated St. Charles as the temporary capital and appointed a commission to report on the site for the permanent capital. Just over 100 years later, on January 8, 1919, the 50th General Assembly convened in the current Capitol for the first full session of the legislature in the new building. 

Early Thursday morning, my wife, Marla, and I attended the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast.  The featured speaker for the service was Sheriff for the City of St. Louis, Vernon Betts.  This afternoon I look forward to attending the 48th Annual Governor’s Conference on Agriculture.  The conference will include a lot of panel discussion and strategic vision as well as Governor Parson’s workforce development and rural infrastructure plan and how it relates to agriculture including technology, transportation and broadband for the agriculture industry.  

COWBOYS AT THE CAPITOL:

I enjoyed attending the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association 51st Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in Columbia, Missouri, last weekend.    The new schedule for the “Cowboys at the Capitol” program that keeps agriculture issues in front of representatives and senators is now available (see below), and members of Region 6, which includes all of District 125, will be at the Capitol on February 20, April 3, and April 24.  Just like last year, I will be hosting coffee and donuts for cattlemen and cattlewomen as they gather at the Capitol each Wednesday during session. 

January 
23- MCA Executive Committee & CattleWomen’s Officers

February
6- Regions 1 & 2
13 Regions 3, 4, & 5
20- Region 6 & 7
27- Collegiate Cattlemen and MJCA

March 
6- Region 2 & 3
12- County Leadership Conference & MCLC
27- Regions 1, 4, & 5

April
3- Regions 6 & 7
10- CattleWomen
17- Regions 1, 2, & 3
24- Regions 4, 5, 6, & 7


CAPITOL REPORT - January 17, 2019.  Missouri's 100th General Assembly convened last week with mostly ceremonial and introductory activities including formally electing leadership, adopting rules, and establishing committees. Legislators in the Missouri General Assembly have filed over 900 bills so far. 

One of the bills I have filed is HB159.  This bill exempts the current $250 outdoor advertising fee and

biennial inspection fee for certain highway signs under Section 226.550, RSMo, 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.   I am also in the process of drafting legislation on allowing Missouri to join 23 other states in what is referred to as the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA).  The SSUTA is a compact of states joining together to give common definitions and rules for sales and use taxes across these participating states.  Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to allow sovereign states to collect sales tax for online and mail order sales, it is estimated this could generate more than $100 million to Missouri’s General Revenue.   Other legislation that I am working on would clarify animals versus livestock when trespassing occurs, urging Congress to make the historic Butterfield Overland Trail part of the National Trails System, and designating the fourth Saturday in July each year as the “National Day of the Cowboy” to promote tourism in Missouri.   

For the 2019-2020 sessions, I will be serving on the House Standing Committees of Agriculture Policy; Consent and House Procedure; and Conservation and Natural Resources and listening to proposed policy and statute revisions in each of these specific areas as each bill begins its legislative process.  There are 43 standing, special and subcommittees in the House that specialize in specific areas of legislation. 

GOVERNOR PARSON DELIVERS ANNUAL STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS: 

Members of the House and Senate gathered in the House Chamber on Wednesday afternoon to hear Governor Parson share his vision for the state. Parson delivered his annual State of the State address where he unveiled the budget items and policy initiatives he wants to put in place with the help of the legislature.  He outlined priorities that include key investments in workforce development, new investments to support and improve the state’s infrastructure, improving access to health and mental health care, and downsizing government by consolidating two correctional centers. He told lawmakers, “I stand before you today to share a vision - a vision that will chart Missouri’s future into the next decade. Missouri is dear to my heart, and by working together, we can protect and build a Missouri that is successful for the next generation.” 

Some of Parson’s proposals include:

A new scholarship program called Fast Track that will help adults over 25 get the certification or training they need to fill a skill gap.
An investment in Missouri One Start, which is a consolidated, streamlined version of the Missouri Works Program, that will help new and expanding businesses by providing and covering the costs of training for employees.
Investment in the Missouri Excels Workforce Initiative to develop and expand employer-driven education, training programs, and initiatives to substantially increase educational attainment.
A bonding initiative to address the 250 bridges statewide that are in need of critical repair or replacement.
A cost-share program that will allow the state to partner with local communities to help address the most serious infrastructure needs in their areas.
Increasing access to broadband Internet in rural areas.
Funding for improvement projects for Missouri’s ports so that they can continue to move billions of dollars in cargo each year.
Improving opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery across the state for high-risk and vulnerable populations.
Curbing costs in the state’s Medicaid program while also improving the quality of care for Medicaid recipients. 
In response to the governor’s address and proposals, Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr, Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann, and Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo issued the following joint statement: 

“The Governor did a great job of presenting his vision of building a better Missouri. Whether it’s increasing broadband access, making government more efficient, criminal justice reform, or educating Missouri employees to meet 21st century workplace demands, we share many of the ideas he has for Missouri. 

We know our members have a strong desire to move the state forward with bold solutions to the challenges that face us.  As a co-equal branch of government, we look forward to reviewing the details of his proposals and budget recommendations in the weeks to come.  We appreciate the great working relationship we have with Governor Parson and are optimistic that together we can further our shared priorities for our state.”

CAPITOL REPORT - January 24, 2019.  My in-district day last Friday began at the El Dorado Springs High School.  Each year, Mr. Robert Jansen invites me to speak to students in the Civics classes.  One of my favorite things to do as a state representative is share with students about how our state government operates and representatives’ duties throughout each district and statewide.  While I was at the high school I also delivered a resolution to Ms. Jill Chapman, FFA Advisor, for Maggi Medley in recognition of her achievement last Fall earning her American FFA Degree.  Resolutions have also been prepared for R.D. Stephens and Nathan Wade, Appleton City FFA Chapter; Corey Duskin and Blake Murray, Osceola FFA Chapter; Katelyn Elder and Dylan Harer, Skyline FFA Chapter; and Breanna Daggett and Jalainee Dampier of the Weaubleau FFA Chapter.  I congratulate all of these young adults for this prestigious achievement.

MO Cattlemen’s Association “Cowboys at the Capitol” kicked off on Wednesday, 1/23.  Rep. Jeff Knight (District 129) and I will be hosting gathering time and refreshments for them each week.

Joan Kelley, who is a nurse practitioner with the Truman Lake Clinic in Warsaw, visited with me on Wednesday advocating on behalf of nurse practitioners statewide.

I enjoyed meeting students and faculty of the Cornerstone Academy from Warsaw on Thursday while they attended a celebration for School Choice Week at the Capitol. 

The State Capitol has been the site of construction since March, 2018, with a $28 million restoration project well underway, which was approved during the budget process in 2014.  Renovating, repairing and resetting the exterior stone on the 100-year old building, replacing pavers, repairing retaining walls and fountains, and waterproofing.  Focus is being given on the entire exterior from the top of the dome all the way to the ground.  In order for the workers to work year round, scaffolding and wrapping has slowly taken place to allow for a more controlled environment.  The construction is anticipated to be completed sometime in 2020; while it is an inconvenience for employees and visitors to the Capitol, this renovation will keep the historic building beautiful for the next 100 years.

Scaffolding and protective wrap now covers most of the Missouri State Capitol as renovations take place.

This is the view from our district office as workers carefully inspect, repair, and/or reset each stone piece of the Capitol exterior.

 

CAPITOL REPORT - January 31, 2019.  One day it’s mud, the next day everything is frozen up.  The weather has been the headline this week. I sympathize with workers who work outside in the elements. The days of the week when I am home choring the livestock, I also am out in the elements; and the days that I am at the Capitol in a warm building, I am thinking about all of you who are working outside in the elements. I am sure we might not agree on all the issues, but one thing I am pretty sure of is we will agree that we are looking forward to warm spring weather! Below are some highlights of our legislative work at the Capitol this week: 

Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Delivers Annual State of the Judiciary Address: 

Members of the House and Senate gathered in the House Chamber this week to get an update on the state of Missouri’s judicial branch.  Lawmakers listened to the annual State of the Judiciary Address that was delivered by Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Zel Fischer. 

In his address, Fischer told legislators, “We know our partners in the legislative and executive branches are committed to doing the best job possible to make Missouri better. We are no different. The state of the judiciary is good.” He used his speech to address a variety of topics ranging from the importance of treatment courts to a new rule to benefit military spouses to a rule change that will make pretrial release conditions fairer for low-income defendants. 

As he talked about the benefits of treatment courts, Fischer explained to the House and Senate members that it’s not enough for the courts to simply resolve cases. Instead, courts must help change lives by breaking the cycle of crime among nonviolent offenders and make them more productive. Fischer also praised Gov. Parson for his commitment to not build another prison while he is in office. 

Protecting Victims of Sex Trafficking (HB 397): 

House members gave overwhelming approval this week to legislation meant to protect underage victims of sex trafficking from prosecution. Lawmakers endorsed the change to ensure young people who are forced into prostitution aren’t further traumatized by facing criminal charges.  Current law in Missouri makes it an affirmative defense for a minor charged with prostitution to have been acting under coercion at the time of the crime.  House Bill 397 would remove the coercion requirement and make it an affirmative defense that the defendant was under the age of 18.  

“This is a common sense provision in the first part of the bill that says if you can’t consent to a tattoo or to have your ears pierced, that you cannot consent to prostitution,” said state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, who sponsors the bill. She also pointed out that the average age a girl is forced into prostitution is 14, and her life expectancy after entering into prostitution is seven years.  The legislation would also allow a person guilty of prostitution while a minor to apply to the courts to have records of that crime expunged.  In addition, it would add some offenses related to child abuse and sex trafficking to the state law’s definition of “pattern of criminal gang activity.”  Advocates say the provision is necessary because the frequency of trafficking operations being conducted by gangs has increased in recent years.  This bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. 

Upcoming MU Extension Events: 

Thursday, February 21, from 6:30 p. m. to 8:30 p. m., MU Extension program to discuss Missouri’s complicated fence law.  The meeting is being hosted by the Cedar County MU Extension Center and Council and will be at the El Dorado Springs High School Agriculture Classroom at 921 Park Street, El Dorado Springs.  Fee for the workshop is $15 per person which covers the program and materials.  Pre-registration and payment is required by February 19thto the Cedar County MU Extension Center (113 South Street, Stockton, Mo. 65785).   No refunds if cancelation is after February 19th.   If you have any questions, would like to register, or need more information, please contact the Cedar County MU Extension Center at 417–276–3313.

Monday, February 25, beginning at 6:00 p. m., MU Extension will have a beef cattle producers meeting at the Valley Center Church at 930 NE 1126 Rd, Deepwater.  Patrick Davis and Andy McCorkill, Regional Livestock Field Specialists with MU Extension, will provide the evening’s education.  They will discuss proper replacement heifer and bull development.  Cost of the event is $10 per person.  Registration and fee payment and is due by February 22nd to the St. Clair County MU Extension Center at PO Box 523, Osceola, Mo. 64776.  No refunds after registration deadline.  If you need more information, contact the St. Clair County MU Extension Center at 417-646-2419 or Patrick Davis at davismp@missouri.edu. 

Thank A Farmer Week is February 3-9:

Missouri Farm Bureau-Thank a Farmer Week is an appropriate time to ‘thank a farmer’!  These folks, along with their families, have chosen to spend their livelihood providing food and fiber for our nation and abroad. 

Did you know that for every retail dollar spent for food, 81 cents goes for marketing expenses? This amount includes processing, packaging, wholesaling, distributing, transporting, and retailing food products.  The farmer’s share (19 cents) is used to purchase farm equipment, fertilizer, fuel, seed, feed and other input costs.