Capitol Report 10/22/15

House Budget, Stadium Financing, & Honoring Veterans
As the governor recently proposed a plan to increase funding for Missouri’s institutions of higher learning, House budget leaders immediately urged a more cautious approach as the state waits to see if it will have revenues to afford an increase. Both Budget Chairman Tom Flanigan and Budget Vice Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick said the Missouri House is committed to supporting higher education, but will take a “wait and see” approach to increased funding until it is clear that revenues will increase sufficiently.

Nixon’s proposal calls for a $55.7 million increase in funding for higher education in the Fiscal Year 2017 state budget that begins July 1, 2016. In exchange, colleges and universities would freeze tuition so that Missouri families do not pay more for their kids to go to school. If put into effect, the six percent increase would bring total funding for higher education to approximately $1 billion in general revenue funds.

House Budget leaders cautioned that the state’s revenue numbers have not increased at a healthy enough level to date to talk about significant funding increases. They stressed that the state must have enough money to continue to meet its funding obligations to health care and elementary and secondary education.

Also, the Speaker of the House recently joined the growing list of legislators who are strongly opposed to the governor’s plans to finance a new stadium for the St. Louis Rams. Just a few weeks ago, several legislators from both the House and Senate reacted with disappointment to the news that the Missouri Development Finance Board had approved $15 million in tax credits for the proposed stadium. They are opposed to any use of taxpayer funding for a new stadium that does not first include a vote from the legislature or the public, as am I.

Now, Speaker Richardson has joined the group of legislators who oppose a new stadium, which would cost nearly $1 billion, because it would incur significant debt that Missourians would be forced to pay. Richardson and his colleagues want the people of Missouri to have a say in how the plan moves forward in an effort to protect taxpayers from an excessive debt burden.

As Veterans Day draws closer, Missouri’s public officials want to honor veterans who give of their time and energy to volunteer for worthwhile organizations in their hometowns. Currently, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is seeking nominations for the 2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Veterans Service Award. The deadline to submit nominations is Oct. 31. Each nominee will receive a certificate of recognition, which will note the nominating person or agency. To be considered for the award, individuals must have served or currently be serving in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and volunteer a minimum of 25 hours per year.

Nominations can be found at http://www.ltgov.mo.gov and mailed to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office at 201 W. Capitol Ave., Room 224, Jefferson City, Mo., 65101, or emailed to ltgovinfo@ltgov.mo.gov. For questions about the award, call the Lieutenant Governor’s Office at 573-751-4727.

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.

House Budget
As the governor recently proposed a plan to increase funding for Missouri’s institutions of higher learning, House budget leaders immediately urged a more cautious approach as the state waits to see if it will have revenues to afford an increase. Both Budget Chairman Tom Flanigan and Budget Vice Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick said the Missouri House is committed to supporting higher education, but will take a “wait and see” approach to increased funding until it is clear that revenues will increase sufficiently.

Nixon’s proposal calls for a $55.7 million increase in funding for higher education in the Fiscal Year 2017 state budget that begins July 1, 2016. In exchange, colleges and universities would freeze tuition so that Missouri families do not pay more for their kids to go to school. If put into effect, the six percent increase would bring total funding for higher education to approximately $1 billion in general revenue funds.

House Budget leaders cautioned that the state’s revenue numbers have not increased at a healthy enough level to date to talk about significant funding increases. They stressed that the state must have enough money to continue to meet its funding obligations to health care and elementary and secondary education.

Human Trafficking
A group of Missouri state legislators and citizens working together to combat the rapidly-growing criminal industry of human trafficking will begin holding public hearings around the state. The Human Trafficking Task Force will take public testimony on the issue during a series of hearings in October in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield.

The task force was created by legislation sponsored by the General Assembly during the 2015 session. The group’s mission is to raise awareness of the human trafficking problem in Missouri and provide organizations and agencies that enforce human trafficking laws and assist victims with a central place to share information. The task force is charged with reporting a summary of its activities and making any recommendations for legislation to the General Assembly by January 1, 2017.

The human trafficking industry generates $150 billion in annual profits throughout the world. The criminal industry makes its profits on the backs of an estimated 21 million victims, including 5.5 million children. The task force is part of an effort by the state to take a more active role to help the dozens of nonprofit organizations that are already diligently working to shut down the human trafficking industry.

The chairman of the committee hopes to see a strong turnout at the hearings from people who have stories and suggestions to share that can help the task force make policy recommendations that will prevent trafficking crimes in the future.

The task force is set for a noon hearing at the following location:

October 28 at the Springfield Chamber, Bill Foster North Meeting Room

State Activities Interim Committee
A newly-created interim committee in the House will take a look at the progress made by the Missouri State High School Activities Association in implementing recommendations made by a separate interim committee in 2007.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) is the governing body for high school activities throughout the state of Missouri. Approximately 580 high schools are members of MSHSAA. In recent years, both members of the public and legislators have expressed concerns regarding how MSHSAA conducts its business.

The House Interim Committee on MSHSAA Issues was created by House Speaker Todd Richardson to track and compare the progress of previously recommended MSHSAA reforms outlined in the report issued by the 2007 Interim Committee on MSHSAA Reform.

The current committee will focus on five key areas in its investigation:

  1. MSHSAA’s financial audits of receipts and expenditures.
  2. MSHSAA’s compliance with Sunshine Laws and transparency of activities.
  3. MSHSAA’s fairness and consistency in its application of their Constitution, Bylaws, and Board Rules and Regulations.
  4. MSHSAA’s compliance and role in insuring student safety.
  5. Any other issues that may arise.

The chairman of the committee has said his primary goal is to ensure the organization that oversees all high school activities in the state is acting in a transparent and accountable way that protects the best interests of Missouri young people. The committee will hold its first hearings at the State Capitol at the end of this month.

Planned Parenthood
The continued investigative efforts of committees in the Missouri House and Senate have prompted the University of Missouri to strip privileges from a Planned Parenthood doctor in Columbia. Committees from both chambers have spent the last several weeks taking a closer look at the abortion provider because of videos that appeared to show the organization breaks federal law by selling fetal tissues for profit.

As lawmakers scrutinized Planned Parenthood’s activities, they found the doctor who provides abortion services at the Columbia clinic has hospital privileges at the University of Missouri. Both representatives and senators immediately questioned why the publicly funded university was associated with Planned Parenthood. Following pressure from both sides, the executive committee of the medical staff of University of Missouri Health Care removed the doctor’s “refer and follow privileges”.

While the move is a victory for pro-life Missourians, both the House and Senate committees plan to continue their investigations until they can ensure no other wrongdoing is occurring at Planned Parenthood. The joint investigation conducted by two House committees continued Wednesday, October 14 as the two groups of lawmakers heard testimony from a former employee of Planned Parenthood whose experience with the organization led her to become an anti-abortion activist. The two committees also invited the CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region to attend, as well as a doctor who provides abortion services at the St. Louis facility, to provide testimony, but both declined to testify at the hearing.

Stadium Financing
The Speaker of the House recently joined the growing list of legislators who are strongly opposed to the governor’s plans to finance a new stadium for the St. Louis Rams. Just a few weeks ago, several legislators from both the House and Senate reacted with disappointment to the news that the Missouri Development Finance Board had approved $15 million in tax credits for the proposed stadium. They are opposed to any use of taxpayer funding for a new stadium that does not first include a vote from the legislature or the public, as am I.

Now, Speaker Richardson has joined the group of legislators who oppose a new stadium, which would cost nearly $1 billion, because it would incur significant debt that Missourians would be forced to pay. Richardson and his colleagues want the people of Missouri to have a say in how the plan moves forward in an effort to protect taxpayers from an excessive debt burden.

As Richardson wrote in a letter sent to the governor, “We will oppose any proposal that undermines the authority of the Missouri General Assembly and the will of the people. We will not stand idly by as the people of this state are committed to millions of dollars in debt without proper legislative approval or a public vote.”

The current financing plan calls for the state to issue $135 million in bonds and for another $187 million in tax credits and other state and local incentives. Payments for the bond debt would then need to be authorized by the legislature through the appropriations process. Richardson and other lawmakers have said they refuse to allow the governor to force the state to take on new debt without first gaining taxpayer approval.

Juvenile Standards
The members of the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect recently met to discuss new standards proposed for Missouri’s juvenile justice system. Presented by members of the Juvenile Officer’s Association, the new standards are meant to create a uniform system for child care services and juvenile justice proceedings throughout the state. Currently, standards vary from county to county, and many believe the inconsistency could lead to a federal challenge regarding the way the state handles juvenile cases.

Some of the recommendations in the proposal include a code of ethics for juvenile officers, as well as general practice standards, and a process to audit officers. The proposal also addresses many of the finer details of the process including recommendations for jurisdictional transfers, detention alternatives, and school intervention procedures. The goal the association has with its proposal is to address issues that currently exist throughout the system, but also to improve the overall level of service and responsiveness to children and families throughout the state.

The proposal now goes before a court-appointed committee within the Missouri Supreme Court for approval.

Honoring Missouri’s Heroes
As Veterans Day draws closer, Missouri’s public officials want to honor veterans who give of their time and energy to volunteer for worthwhile organizations in their hometowns. Currently, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is seeking nominations for the 2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Veterans Service Award.

In the words of Lt. Gov. Kinder, “Many of our state’s veterans, who selflessly served their nation, continue to serve their communities through volunteerism. This award provides an opportunity to recognize those efforts and honor our Missouri veterans.”

The deadline to submit nominations is Oct. 31. Each nominee will receive a certificate of recognition, which will note the nominating person or agency.

To be considered for the award, individuals must have served or currently be serving in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and volunteer a minimum of 25 hours per year. A Veterans Service Award Nomination form can be found on the Lieutenant Governor’s website, http://www.ltgov.mo.gov, under the “Veterans” banner and after clicking on “Veterans Service Award Winners.” Nomination forms also are available at veteran services agencies, libraries, courthouses, senior centers and other agencies in communities throughout the state.

Winners, selected from across the state, will be announced on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. They will be presented with an official Declaration from Lieutenant Governor Kinder at a ceremony in the Capitol when the General Assembly is in session to give lawmakers the opportunity to also honor these veterans.

Completed nominations can be mailed to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office at 201 W. Capitol Ave., Rm 224, Jefferson City, Mo., 65101, or emailed to ltgovinfo@ltgov.mo.gov. For questions about the award, call the Lieutenant Governor’s Office at 573-751-4727.

Hall of Famous Missourians Inductee
The Missouri House of Representatives recently recognized the achievements and contributions of one of Missouri’s most successful businessmen and most dedicated conservation activists. House Speaker Todd Richardson recently inducted Edward “Ted” Jones into the Hall of Famous Missourians during a ceremony at the State Capitol.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Jones was a visionary who recognized an opportunity in the financial services industry to serve individual investors throughout Missouri and across the United States. He created a branch office business model that set Edward Jones on the path to become a Fortune 500 firm with more than 12,000 branch offices serving 7 million clients across North America.

Jones also was an activist who recognized the potential to turn a 225-mile stretch of abandoned railroad into a magnificent state park. He was a generous donor and force behind the creation of the Katy Trail, which is now a segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the American Discovery Trail, and was inducted into the national Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. Because of his efforts, the trail now attracts 400,000 hikers, cyclists and joggers each year.

“Ted’s incredible success in the business world and his passion for preserving and sharing the natural beauty of our state makes him a truly great Missourian worthy of this honor,” said Richardson. “I am thrilled to be able to add him to the list of our famous Missourians who have helped shine a spotlight on the remarkable achievements of the people of the Show-Me State. Like the current members of the Hall, Ted Jones has made a lasting, positive impact on our state and our world.”

Jones is the 45th inductee into the Hall of Famous Missourians. The Hall, which is located in the third floor rotunda of the Missouri State Capitol, includes bronze busts of all inductees, including famous Missourians such as Mark Twain, Walt Disney, and Susan Elizabeth Blow.

Reverse Transfer Program
The Missouri Reverse Transfer Program allows students who have earned credit at a two-year college and a four-year college to transfer the credit from the four-year institution back to the two-year institution to earn an associate degree. Missourians who receive an associate degree while finishing work on their baccalaureate degrees improve their chances for better job opportunities and higher earnings.

MDHE, in partnership with 13 public and independent colleges and universities, conducted a pilot project for the Reverse Transfer Program in 2013.

The initiative was launched statewide a year ago at 40 higher education institutions, which have been contacting current students about the program. So far, more than 250 associate degrees have been awarded to Missouri students through the Reverse Transfer Program. The program is now being expanded to reach out to Missouri residents who have earned college credit but currently are not enrolled in higher education.

As a result of these efforts, Missouri has been recognized around the country as a leader in reverse transfer. Our state was one of three chosen to participate in the National Student Clearing House Reverse Transfer Project to assist with a national reverse transfer project.

You can learn more about the program at dhe.mo.gov/MOReverseTransfer.php. For additional information about the program, contact Assistant Commissioner Rusty Monhollon at rusty.monhollon@dhe.mo.gov or 573-751-5221.

District Visits
During the interim season between legislative sessions, I have been attending several meetings with local organizations and businesses and making constituent visits. Recently, I have toured LMI Aerospace in Cuba, the Walmart Distribution Center in St. James, the Crawford County Electric Co-op in Bourbon, and the Crawford County Jail in Steelville.12132452_1166199156727803_2126448919697009737_o

Also, I was fortunate to hear an outstanding lecture called the “Majesty of the Osage” at the Cuba Library. Thanks to Dennis Roedemeier, Dr. Sean Siebert, and the Missouri Humanities Council. I was also honored to be present at the ribbon cutting for the expansion of National Medical Billing Services in Cuba—30 new jobs and growing!

Facts & Figures
Each week you can find an interesting fact or figure here about Missouri!

In 1889, Aunt Jemima pancake flour, invented in St. Joseph, MO, was the first self-rising flour for pancakes and the first ready-mix food ever to be introduced commercially.

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 dylan.bryant@house.mo.gov

 

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