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February 12, 2016  22nd Edition
Back to Work!
Wow! It is February already! I do apologize for being a bit late getting this to you.

The election in November left quite a few people going… Huh? Well, the facts are the facts and Mr. Trump is the President. He was duly sworn in and he moved into the White House. In the short time since his inauguration, a number of executive orders have been made resulting in far more controversy than we have experienced in past transfers of power in this country.

Generally on any issue there are a number of people on both sides, and voices are raised in support or opposition. We as a nation support the right to express our opinions on the issues at hand. But this is different; it seems that nearly everyone is hurt, angry or embarrassed by the actions being taken.

People keep asking me, “What can I do?” What's happening affects women, immigrants, parents of school age children, people concerned about their jobs, and those wanting health insurance… everyone has reason for concern.

Here is what I am going to do.

First, continue to speak for you in our state legislature.

Second, I know we have a very diverse State Representative district and we all strive to work together either in spite of, or because of our differences. It seems like politics are spinning out of control and we are not happy about it. Therefore I am inviting every one of you and your guests to attend a meeting on:

Thursday, March 9th
at the
Graphic Artists Banquet and Conference Center
105 Progress Parkway
Maryland Heights, Mo. 63043

to discuss what can we do to make our voices heard.
Doors open at 7:00 and Program begins 7:30

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Green Party or whatever, you are welcome to attend. This event is sponsored by the Democratic Clubs in Creve Coeur and Maryland Heights Townships. Everyone is welcome. This is not a debate on what has happened or why, but a coming together of concerned voters who care about the direction of our country and of our state.

Stephen Webber (Executive Director of the Missouri Democratic Party) is our speaker for this event. I worked with him in the Missouri House for 4 years. He was termed out and ran a very close race for a seat in the Missouri Senate.
Look for my Legislative Survey
  It took more time than I wanted, but my Constituent Survey is finally in the mail.

You can either mail back the paper copy, or provide your feedback via the online version by clicking on this link.
December visits to various agencies and not for profits
  The holidays apparently aren't enough for one month. After the election many groups invite the elected legislators to visit, or have forums.

This past December we:
  • Enjoyed the play Driving Miss Daisy at the New Jewish Theater
  • Participated in the Pattonville Legislative Advocacy Forum
  • Attended the Alzheimer's Association Legislative Summit
  • Participated in the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA) Legislative Conversation (more on them in a bit)
  • Lunch with County Executive Steve Stenger
  • Attended a MoDOT Legislative meeting
  • Was part of Ritenour's Legislative Advocacy meeting

In case you weren't aware, the Ritenour School District is celebrating its 150th anniversary. You can view a 12 minute video about its history here.

I also attended an open house at CAASTLC (Community Action Agency of St. Louis County).

CAASTLC is an advocacy group that helps those without homes find a place to live, find sources of clothing and food as well as job training. It is hands-on help where those in need pick them selves up and get on the road to becoming independent, self-supporting residents of the community. If you seriously wish to help others in need, this is one of several places you can volunteer to make a difference in someone's life.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA) has its headquarters on Olive Blvd in our district. Their mission is to reduce — and actually prevent — the harms associated with alcohol and other drugs. They do this through education, intervention and advocacy. During this year's Super Bowl, they sponsored an ad in the St. Louis region that spotlighted the impact of opioid abuse. In case you missed it, you can watch it here.

Thanks to the St. Louis County Council, and sponsor Dr. Sam Page, our area has an opioid database that will shortly go online to track and prevent abuse by patients engaged in doctor shopping, the practice of obtaining multiple prescriptions for pain killers from different doctors. Missouri is the only state in the nation without a statewide database, despite the efforts of many to establish one. I hope that this might be the year that we finally manage to achieve that goal.
And so… back to the Missouri House
A New Office
  Finally, for the first time, I have an office with a window; in a room that's large enough for visitors to comfortably have a seat and visit. My Legislative Aide Kathy and I have moved to room 105B. Phone number, email and all else remains the same. We are near the west end of the hall, closest to the front steps on the first floor. If you visit the Capitol between now and mid-May, drop by and maybe we can take you to the Whisper Gallery.
A New House of Representatives
Sue and her husband Michael at the Inaugural Ball
  On Wednesday, January 4th all members of the House and half the members of the Senate were elected in November and those elected were sworn into office. The Missouri House now has 46 Democrats and 116 Republicans (1 Republican left the House after he accepted an appointment by the Governor shortly after his reelection).
A New Governor
  On Monday the 9th of January Eric Greitens was sworn in as our new Governor as were the other 4 new statewide office holders. It was a day of festivities. That evening at the Inaugural Ball, I was pleasantly surprised to find several visitors from our district dropping by to pay a visit. Among the visitors were 2 very nice gentleman supporters who as it turns out, are brothers of the new Governor. Yes, part of the Greitens family lives in our district.
 

One week later the Governor gave his first State of State Address. After it concluded, I had the pleasure of meeting the Governor's parents. They are delightful and remember when I visited their home while campaigning.


Left: Sue chatting with Robert and Rebecca Greitens
after the State of the State Address.
And then, the Real Work
  I have been appointed to my usual two committees, Children and Families (ranking member) and Conservation and Natural Resources. In addition I have been assigned to the Special Committee on Homeland Security. I am not sure just what that committee does, but most certainly will learn. My committees are just getting started so there is not much news there.

As I indicated above we are all in this together and really do want to work toward what is in the best interest of the state as well as the country. If only we could agree on what is in the best interests of us all.
Right to Work (for less)
  Much to my dismay the Right to Work Bill has passed both the House and Senate and was signed by the governor on Monday, February 6th. We were able to achieve some minor success as the bill has a grandfather clause which states that all existing contracts will remain valid until the stipulated end of the contract. Within hours of the Governor's action, organized labor struck back by filing a rarely used referendum petition seeking to freeze the law and put it before voters in 2018. They have until Aug. 28 — the day the right-to-work measure is scheduled to go into effect — to collect enough signatures to place the law on the ballot. If they succeed, right to work won't take effect until Missourians get the chance to have their say in 2018.

Only 8% of our workforce is represented by union workers. This is such a small percentage it seems odd to me this is such a big deal for the Republican party. There is lots of talk about freedom, liberty, free choice and getting away from BIG GOVERNMENT around the Capitol; and yet when it comes to labor and very private family issues, apparently big government rules. It is all so confounding.

To quote a friend of mine, don't blame, don't complain, just do!.
Gifts from Lobbyists
  On Tuesday, January 17th, the House voted 149-5 (I voted with the majority) to ban gifts to individual elected officials, with some exceptions. The bill prohibits all lobbyist gifts to elected officials except for flowers, honorary plaques and catering meals at some events. It now moves to the Senate.

Under current law, lobbyists are able to give unlimited gifts to elected officials.
Staying in Touch
  I am planning to supplement this newsletter with very short, brief, newsflashes every now and then. These will be one or two line emails.
  I look forward to seeing you on March 9th. Everyone will be welcome. It is all about getting people to take an active, positive role in our political climate.
As always

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

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