Capitol Report

Because of the pandemic, we were not able to hold session for several weeks, but we were able to go back to work full time at the end of April.  For the rest of the spring session, both the House and Senate concentrated on passing a balanced budget for the state.  Under our Missouri constitution the budget must be balanced for the coming year and completed by the House and Senate no later than 6 pm on the 1st Friday after the 1st Monday in May. We were able to finish on time.  The new budget year for the state begins July 1 and runs through June 30, 2021.  
Based on decreased revenue projections for the coming budget year, we had to cut 700 million dollars from the 2021 budget as compared to the current budget year.  Difficult across the board cuts were made to get to the balanced bottom line.  Hopefully, when we come back this summer or fall, we’ll have better economic news, and can (if finances allow) revisit at least a few of those tough choices.  I remain optimistic that the economy will continue to improve now that businesses are reopening their doors.
Although there is also hope by some folks that more federal funds will be approved to bail out state and local revenue reductions, borrowing money to meet today’s needs is a two edged sword.  It’s admirable that the federal government is willing to help state and local communities, but sooner or later, the piper must be paid.  Unlike Missouri, the federal government is not required to balance its budget.  At the federal level, we are leaving a sad legacy of debt (trillions of dollars) that our children and grandchildren must someday repay.  This is a big concern of mine, and I would appreciate hearing your thoughts as well.
Although we concentrated on the budget, the House and Senate did pass a number of bills this shortened spring session.  As a reminder, each bill that was passed is subject to final Governor approval or veto.  Before wrapping up this report, I’ll highlight a few of those finally agreed and truly passed bills, which include:
Senate Bill 569:  Currently, there is a very bad back log in Missouri labs in the processing of sexual assault forensic kits.  This act establishes a “Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights,” which victim rights include the right to a prompt analysis by the state of the forensic evidence.  It also tasks the Missouri Attorney General with establishing an electronic evidentiary tracking system for evidentiary collection kits and creates a statewide sexual assault task force to improve victim rights; 
House Bill 1655:  This bill allows electronic signatures to be certified by a notary with the electronic notarization process to be overseen by the Missouri Secretary of State.  This simplified notary process is an important and useful tool during the current pandemic but also a long overdue step forward in today’s electronic world; 
HB 1768:  This bill increases transparency of the Missouri Broadband Grant Program and extends the program to 2027.  It also requires that the grant be repaid by the recipient to the state if the recipient cannot document increased internet speeds of at least 25 megabits per-second;
SB 644:  This senate bill provides much needed clarification to the Missouri service dog statute by clarifying that a service dog is a dog that is individually trained to do work or to perform tasks for the benefit of a person having a mental or physical disability.  It also creates a new misdemeanor crime for knowingly misrepresenting that an animal is a service animal; and
House Bills 1511 & 1452:  This law allows military spouses in Missouri to qualify for licensing in Missouri in the same occupation or profession in which he or she has been licensed in another state (reciprocity of licensing for military spouses) making it much easier and quicker for military spouses to start working in Missouri in their trained occupation or profession.
In upcoming reports, we’ll be talking about the confusing and complicated technical legal language (legalese) being intentionally written into ballot initiatives.  I strongly believe that all writing (and especially good legal writing) must be clear and concise.  If it’s not, why not?   A new political term has even been coined to describe ballot language hidden behind great sounding sound bites and overly technical legal terms.  It’s called “ballot candy.”  Simply put, if a ballot initiative sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true, but we’ll talk more about that later. 
Again, please continue to check in on your elderly neighbors who are most vulnerable to illness as well as others that may need our help.  And let’s especially keep in our thoughts and prayers those kind and brave souls that are helping in our communities serving and protecting others.  We must always remember to thank each of them for their dedicated service.    
If you have concerns and suggestions, please let me know.  I look forward to going back to session later this summer representing the common sense, conservative values of the Ozarks.  If you would like to schedule a specific time to meet locally, please call Sarah in my office at 573-751-1455, or please contact my office by email at  
Best regards,
Missouri State Representative
District 154

Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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