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November 30, 2015  14th Edition
Hello everyone!
In the News
This is a terribly sad situation all around. It must be extremely difficult and disappointing to live in a country where you believe your life, and that of your family, is seriously in danger to the point where you feel you must leave your homeland. In addition most of your friends and people you would normally turn to for help are in the same situation. Where would you go? What would you do?

I have discussed the immigration issues with many of you as I was going door to door. This was before the Syrian situation but the basic issue is the same. The vast majority of immigrants to our country came here to escape poverty, religious persecution or, as a result of fleeing a war torn country.

In my opinion we as civilized, humane people must welcome those so similar to our own families who came here before us. It is a simple thank you to our ancestors who, by coming here, gave us the wonderful opportunities we enjoy. It is not a question of should we accept refugees or not. It is simply only a question of how soon can we help.

Some of my fellow legislators and only one of my constituents have expressed fear of Muslims due to their religion. But history does not support that level of fear. With the exception of the Twin Towers the worst mass murders in recent memory in the US were committed by US citizens (one was a legal US resident), all males.

1995 Oklahoma City Bombing 168 murdered 680+ injured  
2007 Virginia Tech 32 murdered   (S Korean. US legal resident)
2012 Sandy Hook School 27 murdered    
1999 Columbine 13 murdered 24 injured  
2009 Fort Hood 13 murdered    
2009 Binghamton New York 13 murdered    
2015 Charleston Church 9 murdered    
If Missouri were to accept its proportional share (based on population) of the 10,000 Syrian refugees that our government has offered to host, we would be offering refuge to 191 individuals. At this time, the south side of St. Louis is already home to over 40,000 Bosnian refugees (most of whom are Muslim) who fled their country in the 1990's; escaping similar hazards of war. They have stabilized and revitalized the areas that they now call home, and many are now proud American citizens.

Some are worried about the cost involved. Let's give them a fighting chance, and the returns will far outweigh the costs. Our nation was not built on fear; and my opinion is that to exploit a situation like this for political gain is shameful.

Planned Parenthood
The major function of all Planned Parenthood facilities is to provide women's health services and family planning, including information and access to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Women's health services are offered based upon a sliding scale of need. Services include various cancer screenings and counseling. Yes, Planned Parenthood in St. Louis does offer the abortion option.

This debate is based in religion. The law of the land holds that abortions are legal until the beginning of the third trimester of a pregnancy. This constitutional right is based on the Supreme Court Decision, in the case of Roe v. Wade.

One of the foundations of our Constitution is the separation of church and state as provided in the first Amendment. A wise person once told me that in the United States we have a dual nationalism, an allegiance to our country and allegiance to our religion. Most of the time we are comfortable with both; and cannot choose one over the other.

The trouble begins when one starts imposing their religious beliefs on others. We all should revisit the concept of "I will respect your beliefs and you, in turn, will respect mine."

Laws should apply equally to all. Religion is a matter of belief, faith and choices.

Missouri clinics receive approximately $1 million a year from state/federal direct Medicaid reimbursements for family planning services, none of it is used in funding abortion procedures.

I know that some of you disagree with me on this issue, however we need to work together to make abortion services safe, legal and most of all rare.

Coming to your mailbox

We have written a new survey for 2016, which House Publications should be mailing this month. They have a new system in place for use with the surveys, with an online option that should be more reliable than previous versions, however, if you have any difficulties with the web version, please use the paper form that came in the mail.

We do tabulate the results and I read all the comments. It is important to me to hear your opinions and ideas, which help me to make decisions on votes.

You should receive 3 mailings a year from my House office. We are given minimal expense funds to use for office supplies and mailings. These mailings must be non-partisan and are vetted by House staff. Each mailing costs between $2200 and $2500. My goal is to mail a survey to get your opinion late fall, followed by an End of Session Report in late May/early June and a Veto Session Report in September.

In addition my email updates are generally sent every other month. I use them to convey new legislative insights as well as my more personal opinions on the issues.

As 2016 is an election year you will likely be inundated with mailings from candidates. Some will contain good, useful information, others, not so much, just a name drop. Hopefully, mine will fall into the good, useful category,

At the Capitol — I have a new office location
My office has moved to a different space in the Capitol. My current office is in room 109-I. Yes, you must walk up a flight of stairs to get there, but the space is larger and there is room for my legislative aide Kathy's stand up desk. The office we had been in for the last 3 years does not have sufficient space for her desk. Kathy has her own personal desk, she prefers a desk where she can stand (or use a high stool) to work. From what I hear we all spend too much time sitting so her desk is probably a healthier choice.

Busy times

The Electoral College
In November I was invited to attend an informational meeting in San Francisco to learn about the National Popular Vote Project (http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/index.php) hosted by the Institute for Research on Presidential Elections. Right now, in Missouri when the statewide popular vote is tallied the candidate who receives the most votes gets all of the electoral votes for the state. For example: Candidate A gets 51% of the popular vote and Candidate B gets 49%, Candidate A gets 100% of the electoral vote. With this system it is possible for a candidate to have the higher percentage of popular votes nationally, lose in the Electoral College and therefore not become president.

1876 — Rutherford B. Hayes won the election (by a margin of one electoral vote), but he lost the popular vote by more than 250,000 ballots to Samuel J. Tilden.
1888 — Benjamin Harrison received 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland's 168, winning the presidency. But Harrison lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes.
2000 — George W. Bush was declared the winner of the general election and became the 43rd president, but he didn't win the popular vote either. Al Gore holds that distinction, garnering about 540,000 more votes than Bush. However, Bush won the electoral vote, 271 to 266.

The National Popular Vote project would create a compact among states. States would join the compact by agreeing to grant all of that states electoral votes to the candidate with the highest popular vote nationwide.
In the proposed plan everything would remain the same with the exception of how the electoral votes are determined. Everyone would vote in each state. When all the votes of all the states are tallied those states which have chosen to be part of the compact would cast all of their electoral votes for the candidate with the highest popular vote nationwide.
There are a lot of advantages to this compact.
  • Every vote counts. Now if your vote is for the losing candidate in your state your vote is basically thrown out and all the state's electoral votes go to the winner in your state.
  • It would be difficult to call the election before all the polls close in a close race therefore more people in the western states would be inclined to vote since their vote now matters more.
  • Candidates would have a need to address all of the people, not just those in the states where the election appeared close. Currently candidates focus on 12 states and did not even visit the other 38 in the 2012 election.
  • A constitutional amendment would not be required, the Electoral College would still exist. The only change would be in the method by which the states award their electoral votes.
  • This compact would become effective only when enough states join the compact to have a total of at least 270 electoral votes, which is enough to elect the president.

Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC)

The NORC which is in the middle of our district, held a Dance at the JCC in September. It was quite wonderful to see a full house, somewhere around 200 people over age 65. There was a 15 piece band providing ballroom music and most people were actually dancing.

I had the pleasure of meeting a very nice physician who was there with his wife and mother-in-law. He danced with both and I noticed how he danced with a great deal of care when dancing with is mother-in-law. He told me that was because she loved to dance and he was not going to let her fall and be injured as she is 96 years old. How fantastic to be that active at 96!

One Friday evening I met with 3 gentlemen from the Midwest Peace Process podcast, one Democrat, one Republican and one self-described Anarchist. It was fun. We discussed the past legislative session and you can hear it here.

Ritenour Hall of Fame
The Ritenour School District Hall of Fame is located in the Fine Arts Center at the High School. This year 5 alumni were inducted to the Hall of Fame honoring their success after graduating from Ritenour.

The 2015 Hall of Fame inductees included:
Steve Cash Class of 2007 Two-time Paralympic gold medalist for the United States Sled Hockey Team
Matthew Flener Class of 2000 Emmy Award winning anchor/reporter for KMBC/KCWE-TV in Kansas City, Mo.
Mark Griffard Class of 1976 Emmy Award winning television sports cameraman
Dr. Matthew D. Shank Class of 1979 President of Marymount University in Arlington, Va.
RHS athletic director and coach John L. Moore was posthumously named the fifth recipient of the Hall of Fame's Lifetime Achievement Award. Moore led the Huskies wrestling teams to 14 consecutive state titles from 1948-1961.
For more information on these honorees click here.

Whiteman Air Force Base
A significant contributor to Missouri's economy is the Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster. I toured the base with a group of legislators, getting to chat with the airmen that service and fly the A-10 Warthog and the B2 Stealth Bomber. I was amazed at what the A-10 Warthog can do. We were able to get up close, peer into the cramped cockpit and even touch parts of the Warthog.

The B2 was a different story. The hanger doors were open and we could look all we wanted, but never cross the yellow line painted on the floor. Don't even think about touching it. Apparently even fingerprints will interfere with its stealth capabilities. Lots of guards and security were with us on this tour. It was quite a privilege and I am happy to share photos in my office.

Our bipartisan group of legislators with the A-10 Warthog Michael and me in front of the B2 Stealth bomber

McKelvey School
McKelvey School is honored to be named a Blue Ribbon School. The ceremony with all the students in attendance was fun. Students, teachers and administrators from the central office attended. The students and teachers were congratulated and all are visibly proud of their school. We are fortunate to have so many fine schools in our area.

Human Trafficking
The National Council of Jewish Women sponsored an all-day conference to provide information on human trafficking. No, it is not just bringing in young women from other countries to service clients. Girls as young as 10 or 11 are abducted and forced into what is basically slavery.

There were group and small sessions on how the system works, where it happens, why and what to notice when we are out and how to protect young girls and women. It is a dark and evil world where the victim is put into a position of fear with no choices and no way to escape.

The really bad news, besides the fact that this exists, is that St. Louis is a hub for this traffic as a number of major highways cross through our area.

Mereview Subdivision
The residents of Mereview subdivision held a neighborhood bar-b-que in mid-October. Several children wore their halloween costumes, the Creve Coeur Fire District brought a hook and ladder fire truck and quite a few neighbors attended. It was a good chance to meet with constituents and listen to their ideas. Mereview is a small subdivision off Craig Road.
I especially liked hearing how the residents maintain the 3 traffic circles in the subdivision. Someone volunteers to be responsible for one of the circles and receives some funding from the residents to cover the costs of materials (not tools). This is one person per circle for each of the three circles. The cost is divided equally among the residents. The circles are each unique and a justifiable source of pride for the subdivision.

Schools Again
In December I will be teaching a Civics class to 6th graders at Pattonville Heights, in Pattonville and to 4th graders at Ross, in Parkway. That should be a fun challenge.

On a sad note, our community and state recently lost a very special friend who was a lifelong advocate for better society. I was honored to call her my friend. Fritzi Lainoff passed away Monday, November 22nd. She was a one of a kind lady.
Michael and I took some time off in November and went on vacation. No phone, no email, no texts, no mail. Now we are back and it is time to catch up.
The 2016 Session will begin again January 6th.
As always

Thank you for your support, and for giving me the opportunity to represent you in Jefferson City. Keep in touch and give me your thoughts on potential town hall topics.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season!

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Paid for by Friends of Sue Meredith, Pam Crowley — Treasurer