Capitol Report: September 19, 2018

Hello!

If we were having coffee, I’m sure we would be discussing the weather. I hope you are able to stay comfortable in this heat!

This will be my last newsletter until December, when I begin pre-filing bills.

In this issue:

  • Veto Session
  • Special Session
  • Capitol Construction
  • Events

Veto Session

The General Assembly held veto session last week to discuss overriding Governor Parson’s vetoes. There were three bills he vetoed: relating to STEM, treatment courts, and a statue in the US Capitol Hall of Statues. There were 21 budget line-item vetoes to consider.

We did not discuss the bills vetoed (although 2 of those subjects were brought up in special session, see below). We did discuss 5 of the line-item vetoes; 4 were overridden in the House but the Senate did not uphold the House’s overrides, so all of the vetoes stood.

The vetoed items we discussed included:
  • $45,000 in general revenue to the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) to hire a staff person to monitor grants to organizations helping the deaf-blind population. I advocated and voted for this override, which passed in the House, but the Senate chose not to bring it up.
  • $100,000 to the Office of the Child Advocate. I voted for this override, which passed in the House, but the Senate chose not to bring it up.
  • $50,000 in general revenue for grants to local law enforcement agencies for the purchase of emergency rescue tourniquets. I voted for this override, but the override failed in the House.
  • $153,546 in general revenue for the Time Critical Diagnosis Unit. I voted for this override, which passed in the House, but the Senate voted not to override.
  • $487,000 in general revenue for the Public Defender to establish juvenile advocacy units in the Kansas City and St. Louis regions. I voted for this override, which passed in the House, but the Senate chose not to bring it up.

Special Session

The General Assembly held an Extraordinary Session last week to discuss two issues: a bill to encourage computer science education, and a bill to modify treatment courts.

GOP Honors Sen. Claire McCaskill’s contributions to Drug Courts

Twenty-five years ago, Claire McCaskill, who was, at the time, the prosecuting attorney in Jackson County, started the first drug court in Missouri. Drug Courts and treatment courts in Missouri have been a resounding success, setting people on the path to rehabilitation and recovery. The bill to modify treatment courts brings treatment courts under a single statutory authority and provides additional supports for the treatment courts. I supported this bill and voted yes on it; the bill passed in the House 141-1 before heading to the Senate for passage. The bill is headed to the Governor’s desk to become law.

Legislature votes to allow lower math and science graduation requirements

The bill to encourage computer science education was more controversial for several reasons. First, it allows the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to delegate a non-profit agency to select a vendor for an on-line computer science program for middle-school children. I believe this makes the process for selecting bids less transparent and, in a time when there are already questions surrounding the bidding process, does not sufficiently protect taxpayer dollars.

Second, the computer science education bill allows high school students to substitute one computer science course for a math course, which I find problematic for a number of reasons. First, the legislature does not set high school graduation standards. Whether it should is a question for another realm, but when the Legislature doesn’t set the standards, it also should not require substitution. Second, there are no standards for the computer science course right now. DESE is required to set standards, but it is not appropriate to substitute a subject with unknown standards for a subject generally recognized as an important skill for students to learn. Finally, although substituting a computer science course for a math course might help some students in school districts with rigorous standards like Affton, Lindbergh and Webster Groves, it allows students to take fewer math courses and does not prepare them well for college. In 2017, 17% of Missouri college students had to take remedial math. Reducing the number of math credits required will increase this number. I voted no on the bill for all of these reasons, but it passed the House and the Senate, and is headed to the Governor’s desk.

Capitol Construction

Capitol construction is well underway. I don’t believe any entrances have been closed due to construction, but they are more difficult to access. If you are visiting the Capitol, be aware of signs directing you where to enter the building.

The Missouri Capitol will be under construction for the next two years. The streets around the Capitol are closed, with signs directing an alternate route. The Capitol Dome is also closed. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2020.

Events

I will be having an event on September 27 for small business owners in District 91 to present the advantages of hiring people with disabilities. Attendees will learn the benefits of hiring employees with disabilities, and presenters will address some of the fears associated with hiring employees with disabilities.

Hiring People with Disabilities: It’s Easier than you Think!

Thursday, September 27, 2018
11:00 – 1:00
Deaf, Inc., 25 E. Frisco Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119
Register

I enjoy opportunities to meet with people in the community and participate in local events. It’s one of the best parts of my job!

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

 


 

Committees

The committees I am on are:

Announcements

Unclaimed Property

I got an e-mail from the state treasurer this week that “A review of my Unclaimed Property database indicates I am currently holding $8,477,703.64 belonging to approximately 43,570 account owners in your district.” There are only about 36,000 people in my district! You can recover any unclaimed property in your name by going to http://showmemoney.com.

Children are looking for Forever Families

One of the priorities of the legislature this year has been legislation to help foster children. We have a crisis number of foster children in Missouri, and it has been rising due to the Opioid epidemic. If you would like to open your home to a child, you can find information about becoming an adoptive parent online at https://dss.mo.gov/cd/adoption/.

Legal Help

The Missouri Bar has launched a new website, https://missouri.freelegalanswers.org/. This website will provide some legal answers for low-income people from trained lawyers, and also has resources for other legal assistance for people who need it. It is a resource for people who need legal help but cannot afford it.

Events

I will share events here that I am asked to share with my constituents.