The Legislative Session Comes to a Close
The first session of the 98th General Assembly is now complete. I want to thank everyone who entrusted me with this tremendous responsibility. It is an honor and a privilege to be your voice in conducting the state’s business.
I tried my best to start this journey with no expectations, to take things as they come, and work as hard as I could to learn as fast as possible, so that I could actively participate in a manner worthy of those whom I represent. I was told by a wise man that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. I did my best to remember that wisdom and not let my emotions get the best of me. I was told that your first session was like drinking from a fire hose and that is absolutely correct. There is an enormous amount of work that has to happen to get a bill passed. What we learn in school and hear in the news barely scratches the surface.
The House passed many important pieces of legislation this year. I am extremely pleased that one of my bills (HB179) and language from another (SB159) are on their way to the Governor’s desk. I look forward to officially naming the bridge over the Meramec River on Highway 19 between Cuba and Steelville the Betty Vickers Memorial Bridge. I already have many ideas in mind for new legislation next session and would love to hear any suggestions.
As you know, the last few days have been difficult. Former Speaker Diehl made a terrible mistake and is working to make amends. We all make mistakes and must suffer the consequences for those mistakes. Those consequences become much greater when you are a trusted leader. He was my chosen leader until that trust was broken. I believe the choice he made, to step down in order for our state to move forward, was the best decision for that could be made. He has stated that repairing the integrity of his family is now his highest priority. In the end, your integrity is all that you have.
My heart goes out to his wife and children as they suffer a terrible burden from this ordeal. Mr. Diehl has apologized to us with what I believe is his utmost sincerity. However, one apology has gone unsaid. I believe an apology is owed to the spouses, dependents, and other family members of all those who serve in the Legislature. Their unwavering sacrifice is what makes it possible for us to be here. Under no circumstances should the actions that have transpired bring disrespect to them in any form. I am not so naïve to think that others here are always on their best behavior, but in no way, shape, or form should that reflect on their loved ones. I hope that in our coming reunion, the bonds that keep our families together will strengthen and the trust we have in each other will continue to grow.
You may read more about what is happening at your Capitol below.
As always, I will work diligently and tirelessly for you as your State Representative.
Productive Session Comes to a Close
House members crossed the legislative finish line Friday evening with a long list of accomplishments meant to move Missouri toward a brighter tomorrow. However, the immensely productive session came to a grinding halt during what is normally a frantic final week as the Senate became bogged down in a filibuster. The shutdown of the legislative process left many bills in limbo but didn’t diminish from the fact the House and Senate had already sent most of their legislative priorities to the governor’s desk.
Also, as the Speaker of the House stepped down from his position this week, House members took a moment to regroup, refocus, and to elect Floor Leader Todd Richardson as the new Speaker. As the gavel dropped for the final time at 6 p.m. the House and Senate had a significant list of legislative accomplishments to be proud of, including: Fiscal Year 2016 State Operating Budget (HBs 1-13) – The legislature approved a $26.1 billion state operating budget that increases funding for K-12 education by $84 million to take total funding for public schools to the highest level in state history. The spending plan also increases higher education funding by $12 million and reins in the unsustainable growth of the state’s public assistance programs, including expanding use of managed care in the state Medicaid system. The budget bills have already been signed by the governor. Medical Malpractice Reform (SB 239) – Legislation to help keep doctors in Missouri and keep health care costs under control by restoring reasonable limits on medical malpractice non-economic damages. The legislation caps most noneconomic awards at $400,000. For catastrophic injuries such as paralysis or even death, the bill would cap noneconomic damages at $700,000. The medical malpractice legislation has already been signed into law by the governor. Welfare Reform (SB 24) – Legislation that will add new eligibility and work requirements for recipients of federal welfare benefits to help move them back to work so that they can become self-supporting and independent. The Heartland Institute had previously rated Missouri last in the nation in regard to its welfare program moving people back into the work force. The legislation was vetoed by the governor and then put into effect as law when both the House and Senate overrode the veto. Unemployment Reform (HB 150) – Legislation to strike a balance to ensure Missourians have access to unemployment benefits when they are out of work while also protecting Missouri’s job creators from excessive taxes and fees. The bill ties unemployment benefits to the unemployment rate and requires the unemployment fund to have more cash on hand.The bill was vetoed by the governor and the House overrode the veto. The Senate has yet to take action on the override motion. Data Center Incentives (SB 149) – Legislation designed to attract the booming industry of data storage to our state. The new law creates a powerful tool to help bring data center sites and the jobs they create to Missouri. The bill has already been signed into law by the governor. Dairy Revitalization Act (HB 259) – Legislation designed to revitalize Missouri’s struggling dairy industry that has seen more than 2,500 dairy farms close their doors in the past decade. The bill includes a dairy producer margin insurance premium assistance program to provide financial protection to dairy farmers when times get tough, and a scholarship program to encourage young people to pursue careers in agriculture. The bill has already been signed into law by the governor. Municipal Court Reform (SB 5) – Legislation that will crack down on the predatory practices some municipalities have used to raise revenue through excessive traffic tickets. Limits the amount of revenue municipalities can generate from traffic tickets to 20 percent, which is down from the current limit of 30 percent. The bill further limits municipalities in St. Louis County to a 12.5 percent cap. The bill currently awaits the governor’s signature. Education Reform (HB 42) – Legislation designed to address the school transfer issue to give the 62,000 children in failing schools the opportunity to receive a world class education. It would allow students in failing schools to move to better performing schools in their current district, or possibly attend a charter school or take advantage of a virtual school option. The bill currently awaits the governor’s signature. Worker Freedom Legislation (HB 116) – For the first time in Missouri’s history the General Assembly passed a Right-to-Work bill to give workers the freedom to choose whether to join a union. The bill is meant to make Missouri a more attractive location for new and existing job creators. The bill has been sent to the governor for his consideration.
Kid’s Free Fishing Day—Saturday, May 16th, Maramec Spring Park. This annual event, in cooperation with the James Foundation and other local organizations, is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation. A heavily stocked “Kid’s Only” fishing zone will be designated for the daylong event. Fishing begins at 6:30 a.m. and will conclude at 8:30 p.m. Many hands-on activities and contests relating to fishing will be will be held throughout the day near the Kid’s Only zone. For more information call Maramec Spring at 573-265-7387 or the MDC Hatchery Office at 573-265-7801. Come early and stay late for this exciting, fun filled event at Maramec Spring Park.
Electronic Waste and Tire Collection—May 30th 8 AM to NOON at the Rolla Campus. By working with the City of Rolla, the Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Meramec Regional Planning Commission, and the Phelps County Commission, Brewer Science provides area residents with community collections that have enabled Phelps County to properly dispose of almost 811,000 pounds of waste over the past 11 years. This partnership has contracted disposal companies and provided volunteers who collected appliances, electronics, and tires from area residents, which would have otherwise been disposed of in a landfill. Brewer Science continues to support these efforts and will host an annual Electronic Waste and Tire Collection on May 30, 2015, from 8 am to noon at the Rolla Campus.
Facts & Figures
Each week you can find an interesting fact or figure here on how Missouri measures up to other states and the U.S. government:
State Gasoline Tax Rates Per Gallon range from 50.50 cents in PA to 11.30 cents in Alaska. Missouri is near the lowest at 17.30 cents.
I am committed to serve the constituents of the 120th District, so please feel free to contact my office anytime at 573-751-1688. Your District 120 Capitol office is 201 W Capitol Ave, Rm 115H, Jefferson City, MO 65101. If you wish to unsubscribe from this report, please email Dylan Bryant at email@example.com