The First Regular Session of the 99th General Assembly and my first legislative session as a member of the Missouri Senate concluded Friday at 6 p.m. A lot has happened since the first week of January, and I am glad that my colleagues and I made major progress in many areas that will help people in the district and across the state. I just wanted to touch briefly on some of the legislative initiatives that were especially important in improving our business-friendly state, protecting employees and strengthening the workforce, and helping our local schools and communities.
Early in the legislative session, the Legislature passed and the governor signed into law Senate Bill 19, legislation that recognizes employees’ right to choose with whom they want to associate themselves. With this bill going into law, Missouri will now be part of the majority of states that recognizes freedom of association and, simply put, fairness: people should not be forced to join and support the political agendas of labor organizations as a condition of employment.
The governor also signed into law House Bill 130. With HB 130 in effect, companies like Uber and Lyft will be able to expand throughout Missouri, create thousands of jobs and provide transportation to Missourians across the state. With these companies, people will also be able to earn extra cash. House Bill 130 is one of the many bills that will help stimulate local economies and send in waves of employment opportunities.
Speaking of local economies and jobs, I am excited for the business that we have attracted to the district. Earlier this year, Dollar Tree announced it was building a 1.2-million square foot facility in the Warrensburg area and Tara Industries announced its plan to build on a site near Tina. These companies are expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the district in the upcoming years. With our skilled and talented workforce, I believe many more people will continue to expand their businesses into the district. I look forward to continue working with local governments and legislators here in the capital to strengthen our cities and make it easier for businesses to invest in us.
Fulfilling our constitutional duty, we passed a roughly $27.8 billion budget for the 2018 Fiscal Year. In doing so, the Legislature did something that is has never done: fully fund the education foundation formula. Fully funding the education foundation formula was one of my top priorities this session, and I said frequently during my time in the House that I would support doing so if given the opportunity. We also included $2 million for virtual education, which is especially important to our community. In a world that is producing more and more digital economies and instant communication between two people thousands of miles away, we must continue to find ways to expose our children, right in their local classrooms and homes, to the many educational opportunities this world has to offer and provide our schools with the resources and technology.
In addition, the Legislature passed two important bills that I sponsored. The Legislature passed Senate 376, recognizing Old Drum as Missouri’s Historical Dog and Jim the Wonder Dog as Missouri’s Wonder Dog. Passing legislation like Senate 376 has been important to me for many years. The bill is not simply a recognition of two friendly pals with household names. Senate Bill 376 symbolizes the importance of tradition to the people of rural and small communities. For example, every year, hundreds of residents gather and tourists come to Warrensburg to visit the Johnson County Courthouse to learn more about the City of Warrensburg and the great story of Old Drum. They also participate in the festivals like the Old Drum Festival that our residents annually host. Along with SB 376, Senate Bill 395 passed the Legislature and is a major advancement for the Certified Public Accountant profession. One of the purposes of the bill is to increase firm mobility, or the ability for CPA firms to provide their services more easily across state lines. As a CPA by trade, I am glad my colleagues in both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly supported this piece of legislation that will further protect the public by having sensible accounting regulations and rules.
One of the final things the Legislature did this session is pass necessary REAL ID legislation. With the governor’s signature of approval, House Bill 151 will bring Missouri into compliance with the REAL ID Act. With HB 151’s passage, we will be able to use our state driver’s licenses to visit the Whiteman Air Force Base and continue to board commercial aircraft after January 2018.
I am thankful for the work that was done this year and I was fortunate to be have an amazing staff during my first year. I enjoyed working with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to address the state’s financial needs and, more importantly, I enjoyed representing you in the Senate. Although senators and representatives are fun to be around, I am ready to return home and spend time with the people of the 21st Senatorial District.
I look forward to seeing you soon.
I urge you to contact my office with any questions or concerns you have about state government so I can better represent you as we go into the interim session.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at 573-751-4302. You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.