November 2013 - 3rd Edition

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Happy November Everyone!

Since my last newsletter in September my duties as a legislator have kept me very busy. Let me share.
Top of the list – Meet with Ameren, your electric provider
Ameren would like to talk with and listen to people in the communities they serve. That means YOU! Ameren’s goal is to find out what you think about their plans for the future relative to maintaining the infrastructure and how you feel about energy sources and why they will or will not work for us. To that end I have planned the following meeting:

Monday, December 9, 2013 – 7:00 pm
Board Room at the Graphic Communications Conference
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
105 Progress Parkway
Maryland Heights, MO 63043
Mr. Rick Eastman of Ameren will be the presenter.

Everyone is welcome; we want to have enough seating, but space is limited, so please let me know if you will be coming to the meeting. You can let me know by via email or call me at 314-878-2088.

I certainly hope you can come and share your perspectives on this important issue. Your comments and thoughts will help inform me should there be a bill before the Legislature.
Legislative Survey
Between now and mid-December you should be receiving my Legislative Survey in the mail. Please complete the form and mail it back to me, or you can complete it online (there will be a web address on the survey). Your feedback is sincerely appreciated.
Missouri Public Schools: The Big Issue
I have met with Dr. Keith Marty of Parkway, Dr. Chris Kilbride of Ritenour. Dr. Michael A. Fulton of Pattonville and Dr. Don Senti of EducationPlus (formerly Cooperating School Districts) individually and in various group meetings seeking suggestions and ideas as to how we can work together to improve our schools. In addition I attended the forum at Normandy where Dr. Ty Nichols gave an overview of what is happening in Normandy and how the bussing of students affects the sending district.

It was also noted that a number of students that were included in the transfer program were originally attending private or parochial schools, or are new transfers from the St. Louis Public Schools. I find this disheartening because it increases the costs to Normandy. That strikes me as gaming the system.

St. Louis County, St Louis City, Jefferson County, St. Charles County, Franklin County and Lincoln County are home to 63 of the 524 districts in the state. 33% of Missouri students live and attend school in these 6 counties. Some of these students are students with high mobility which means they will attend at least 2 or 3 different high schools. The superintendents have worked together and have begun to work out a plan. The 10 key elements of the plan are as follows:
  1. Many school districts underperforming in Missouri are districts with dense poverty.
  2. Choice does not improve learning for all.
  3. Individual schools rather than school districts should be designated as unaccredited.
  4. Transportation issues need to be addressed.
  5. When a school is designated as underperforming, business as usual must change.
  6. Accredited schools could provide support to unaccredited schools.
  7. Additional resources should be provided for unaccredited or provisional schools.
  8. The school accreditation process must be modified.
  9. School finances should be addressed.
  10. Local control is essential!
I firmly believe that with this kind of directed, specific help, our educational system can be made better and no children will need to be bussed to another school. A big part of the founding goals of our country was to provide public education for all. We need to continue follow this mandate.

If we continue along this path of eliminating public schools we further threaten the middle class of our country; the very backbone of our economy. This is too important to keep on our present course. Berkeley was merged into Ferguson/Florissant, Wellston into Normandy. Who is next‌?
Interim Committee on Emerging Issues in Agriculture
It may seem odd that a suburban St. Louis Representative is assigned to an agricultural committee, but each committee is required to have the same party makeup as the overall House. As we do not have enough rural legislators in my party, those of us in the less rural areas serve on rural issues committees.

A recent focus of this committee has been on dairy farmers. I attended two meetings, one just south of Springfield and the other north of St. Joseph. Lots of miles, yes, I drove over 5 hours each way for each meeting.

It just so happened I was the only urban/suburban person there, I was also the only Democrat. As I am not a country girl the farmers were very interested in educating me on their issues. The biggest issue is the margin of profit a dairy farmer can make. Margins are the difference between what it costs to produce and get the milk to the processer; but only the cost of feeding the cow is counted, equipment and other investment costs are not part of that margin. The number of dairy farmers in our state has been dwindling and we have lost over 100 dairy farms in the last year alone and the opportunity for growth is very limited. Running a dairy farm is labor intensive and it takes an investment of approximately $500,000 to start a dairy. Some Missouri farms have as few as 40 cows and they are not all giant corporations. 50% of milk used in Missouri must be imported from other states. If you notice the price of milk climbing it could be the transportation cost playing a part.
Ameren
A group of legislators toured various infrastructure sites being updated or in need of updating such as underground wiring and older transformer locations. See above and come and learn more about how maintaining our electric infrastructure could affect us.

We were also extended an opportunity to tour the Callaway Energy Center to learn more about the nuclear infrastructure and the possible benefits to small modular reactors.
Charter TV
Charter has once again offered Legislators the opportunity to send a public service message to our constituents. This year I chose to address texting and driving. Watch for it if you use Charter TV.
Jewish Community Center
Recently I had the privilege to visit both the Adult Day Care and Pre-school centers at the JCC (Jewish Community Center) located just north and west of the intersection of Lindbergh and Schuetz/Bauer.

The Adult Day Care center is one of the nicest ones I have seen. If you know of anyone who is looking for such a facility be sure and tell them about the JCC. There are indoor and outdoor activity areas which make it feel more like home as they can go to the enclosed outdoor area for a short walk. The center is open to people of all faiths.

The children’s pre-school is also well planned and a fun place to play and learn.
Kornblom Food Pantry
This is one busy place. If you wish to donate food or personal items (such as shampoo, soap, etc.), they welcome donations. If you know of someone struggling to feed their family you might suggest they give the Pantry a call at 314-812-9309 to see if they can help.

To volunteer, call 314-812-9386 or email the Volunteer Coordinator at kmueller@jfcs-stl.org.
Alzheimer’s Association
While attending the Alzheimer’s Association Care & Conquer Conference, the region’s premier education event for people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, I was honored for supporting Missouri Alzheimer’s Service Grants. Alzheimer’s Service grants allow the Alzheimer’s Association to provide help to Missouri residents who provide care in their home to a loved one with Alzheimer’s (or a related disorder). I was instrumental in getting the budget for these grants increased from $150,000 to $450,000.

The Alzheimer’s Association Respite Assistance Program can provide reimbursement, up to $500, to help with the cost of respite care or the cost of products (incontinent products, nutritional supplements, safety products, etc.).

For information on how to apply for the Respite Assistance Program or additional resources available in our community, call 800-272-3900.

In the photo with Rep. Meredith
is Martha Daly, an Alzheimer's
Association volunteer.
Center for Head Injury Services
Located in Westport Plaza, the Center for Head Injury Services is a day care/rehabilitation facility for those suffering from brain injuries. The majority of clients are individuals who need help getting their lives back after suffering serious head injuries. Sometimes it is a very different life than the one they had originally planned and hoped to lead. The majority of those individuals with this type of injury are young men between the ages of 17-30. There is physical and occupational therapy as well as help finding and applying for jobs.

One of the opportunities offered is learning commercial baking. They have a wonderful bakery, Destination Desserts. If you are hosting a party, give them a call (314-227-7070) and check out their desserts or go on line at Destinationdesserts.org.
Other visits
  • Maryland Heights Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting
  • League of Women Voters meetings, one on Gun Control and another on the Affordable Health Care in Missouri
  • Visited the U.S. Fish and Wildlife open house in Chesterfield to learn more about their plans to establish more wetlands along the Missouri River.
  • Attended the Education Concert at Powell Hall for students and met with the education director and orchestra conductor to learn more about arts in St. Louis.
Back to Jefferson City in January
The next Legislative Session will begin January 8th at noon. If you want to reach me between Monday and Thursday you will find me in Jefferson City. Or come on over and visit. My office is in room 103 on the first floor.
And Finally
I would love to chat with you and a few (or many) of your neighbors. If you would like to host a Meet Your Rep Get-together in your home (a friendly visit among neighbors) let me know. We can talk about anything you'd like. Just give me a call at 314-878-2088 or email me at my campaign email.

You can also keep track of me through the following: Thank you again for allowing me to represent you in Jefferson City.
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