January 3, 2014    4th Edition
Welcome to 2014. I do hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday season.

On January 8th we began the 97th General Assembly, 2nd Regular Session and it is once again an election year for all members of the House of Representatives. Yes, I will likely appear at your door sometime after the municipal elections in April.

Over the interim I have been busy meeting with various groups to learn more about the business of state government as well as reading all the material I brought home in May.
In the meantime, there is work to be done. The Speaker of the House has stated that his goals for this session include the following. Please note, the comments to the right are all mine:
Right to Work -
Some will say that Missouri would have won the Boeing plant competition, had we been a so-called Right to Work state. That's wrong, pure and simple. Boeing chose to keep their production in Seattle, with its unionized workforce. In fact, the cooperation shown by the St. Louis unions were credited with boosting our chances. There will be more on the Boeing effort later in this newsletter.
Tax Cuts - My position is simple, we can talk about tax cuts once the Education Foundation Formula is fully funded and our public primary and secondary schools receive the resources and appropriate support for our children's educational needs.
Medical Malpractice - This is an area to watch, and a fair legislative fix will not be easy.
Student Choice -

The rhetoric surrounding our schools is all over the place, with the problem growing more and more critical. My goal is that children should not sit on a bus (the cost of which drains money from instructional resources) for an hour each way to school. That's just wrong.

For more information on this issue, look at the Education section below.
an All of the Above
Energy Policy -

Clean coal isn't always clean, the era of building large Calloway-type nuclear plants is coming to a close. Small Modular Reactors offer another more economical option. Also, we can do far more to encourage wind and solar.
Not mentioned at all!     
Medicaid Expansion -

That's right, Medicaid Expansion. A November 2012 study prepared by the University of Missouri School of Medicine noted that expansion of Medicaid in Missouri was "projected to generate an additional 24,008 jobs in Missouri in 2014." Furthermore from "2014 to 2020, the federal government will contribute $8.2 billion to Missouri's Medicaid expansion (96.1% of total expansion costs)." Through inaction by the General Assembly, Missouri received zero Federal dollars... zero. Just this week a bill (reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was introduced in the Missouri Senate "that would suspend insurance companies' state licenses if they accepted subsidies offered by the federal government to help pay health insurance premiums for low- and middle-income Missourians." How this would help the situation is beyond my understanding. It is more like evading the issue and throwing yet another roadblock in the path of healthcare reform.

Medicaid expansion makes sense. It's good economics and good social policy.
Health Care
CUAs a public service for Americans who need straightforward information about the new health care law, Consumer Reports has created an informative web site titled Health Care Helper.

With this site, they turn their unbiased evaluation abilities (the same ones that have been educating consumers about products for years) on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) I think that you'll find it to be very informative as it leads you through a number of qualifying questions to get to the best alternatives for your particular situation. If you or anyone you know has questions about the options available to you, I highly recommend that you start here.
West Lake Landfill
Informational meetings are still being held periodically to update interested parties on the status of the Westlake Landfill. This landfill contains radioactive waste materials and is located in the northwest area of the intersection of Hwy 70 and Hwy 270. This is a federal issue and the entities seem to still be in the pass the buck stages (and have been for many years). The difference is now there is a noxious odor, which the neighbors can smell. The neighbors have joined together and are working to get the attention of the federal entities and save their neighborhood. There is a good deal of, what I consider to be, reasonable health fears concerning this dump. Unlike the radioactive waste at Weldon Springs this site cannot simply be capped. It also happens to be in close proximity to the Missouri River.
it is also located adjacent to a dump used for household waste which is prone to underground fires. For more information check out any or all of the following sources:
During the last 2 months the focus was on the Boeing issue. This was a tough issue for be. Generally speaking I support unions and don't like particularly tax credits for big companies who appear to be able to afford to pay their own way. In many respects however, this was the type of opportunity that tax credits are supposed to be used for:777X
  • New jobs
  • Strong manufacturing jobs
  • Skilled jobs
  • Union jobs
If the jobs are not created, Missouri doesn't lose a dime.

We had a lot going for us with airport space, trained workers who need jobs and so on. We even added a kicker no one else thought of until our unions worked together to be able to offer to build the needed facilities in 1½ years instead of 3 therefore getting production started sooner on the planes already on order. Now we all know how that turned out.

From the beginning however, I felt it was a case of Boeing trying to leverage the Seattle unions to accept a contract they didn't like, by making lots of noise about moving someplace else. And I'll say it again, no new jobs for Missouri… means that no tax dollars go to Boeing!

There was one disturbing aspect to the entire exercise however. In an attempt to placate some members of the State Senate who threatened to hold up the deal, the Governor held funding for a number of things such as the funds to work with HUD in building low income senior housing, pending the outcome of the Boeing decision. There is something wrong with that picture, you shouldn't have to balance corporate benefits by holding back on housing for seniors.
Children and Families
4HAs a member of the Missouri Children's Services Commission I attended our bi-monthly meeting in early December and learned we have a program in the state prison system whereby children of incarcerated parents get to have a limited relationship with their parents. This program is through the 4-H clubs and is very well choreographed with age appropriate activities.

The incarcerated parent must meet specific criteria prior to being able to participate in the program and the family or whoever is the caretaker of the children must agree to make it possible for the child to participate. When the parent is eventually no longer incarcerated they are not a stranger coming home but a part of the family. Children of incarcerated parents have serious issues they need to work through and this program helps them fit their situation into life in an acceptable way. This is a fairly new program and is not available at all facilities yet.
Social Services
TANFThe Office of the Missouri State Auditor released a report in December concerning the ways in which TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits are spent. It made for an excellent exercise in headlining and spin. On one hand $722,000 in benefits were spent out of state. This lead some people to point to possible fraudulent practices. But on the other hand, those wrongly spent dollars represent less than 8 tenths of a percent of $117,180,000 in benefits... less than one percent!

Zero fraud would be great, but wouldn't it be nice to have a comparable set of data on... oh, let's say... corporate tax credits?
Misperceptions are everywhere. After hearing all last session in my Appropriations Committee for Health, Mental Health and Social Services about how much fraud there was in the system it was really good to hear that the actual percentage was less than 1%. If one just listened to the committee members at the hearings one would believe many people needing assistance were thieves.

No, the vast majority of them do not get assistance fraudulently, they get the assistance because they need it. I even had one person tell me that "people are poor by choice." Oh, the things people choose to believe.
RitenourMy last adventure before heading back to Jeff City has to do with the issue of public education. As a member of the Ritenour Legislative Advocacy Committee I attended our regular meeting and learned that we all still agree that busing students is not the answer. It is interesting that I also am part of the Parkway Government Relations Committee; and meet with a similar group in Pattonville. All three groups share the same feelings.
Two basic thoughts are: Pattonville
  • A district with a failing school building is not a failing district.
  • Children need to attend school in their own neighborhoods.
  • We should address the problem with assistance, not just
    move students from school to school, district to district.
There are a number of plans being talked about and we will most certainly pass something this year. We have a number of good resources in our state's educational system and there is an answer, we just have to figure it out.
Our Spiritual Heritage
Prayer Breakfast
At the Governor's Prayer Breakfast
Hanukkah came early this year. Did you know a menorah is lit at the Governor's Mansion each year? I didn't either until I received an invitation to attend the ceremony and light one of the candles. The celebration is somewhat quiet and a variety of people from all over the state attended. This was an indoor ceremony and not a public display. On January 9, I also participated in the Governor's Prayer Breakfast, reading a passage from the Psalms before a multi-faith gathering of over 700 attendees.

Learning about others beliefs and ceremonies is nice. It was good to see the sharing of religious traditions here in our state. Forcing them on others is not acceptable though. The fact of the matter is, I truly believe in a strong separation of church and state. This is a foundation element of our country and I will endeavor to maintain that separation.
And now, YOUR part!
Some requests I have of you (not to worry these are easy):
  • Please return my survey if you have not yet done so. You can do it online by clicking here.
  • Send me an email telling me what ideas you might have for schools (remember we all want to live in communities with well-educated residents)
  • Share this email with a friend. I would like to build a bigger list so we can all share more ideas
  • If you would like for me to come and visit a small group of you and some friends/neighbors give me a call. I would love to meet with you and discuss issues
  • Remember my door is always open and I want to hear from you.
One more thing… Glenda Blattel is my Legislative Assistant and my one and only staff member. Please feel free to talk to her if I am not available, she is a great resource and shares all messages with me.

Stay warm, stay safe and happy Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day and Valentine's Day.

Take care, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to represent you in Jefferson City.


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