As we approach the holiday season, I would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. From my family to yours, I hope you have a joyous holiday surrounded by friends and loved ones. If you are on the road this holiday season, I wish you safe travels. Please keep those less fortunate or alone in mind and let’s all share the holiday spirit.
As a member of the Missouri Senate, I know that the holiday season also signals the legislative session is right around the corner. Lawmakers return to the Capitol on Jan. 8 for the start of the Second Regular Session of the 100th General Assembly. For the next few months, Jefferson City will be my home away from home. You may not see me much in the district while the Legislature is in session, but know that I am working for you in the Missouri Senate.
Pre-filing of bills for the upcoming session began on Dec. 2. Already, hundreds of bills and resolutions have been submitted to the secretary of the Senate and posted on the Senate website. I have sponsored a number of measures that I hope to see cross the finish line in 2020.
Two of the bills I have proposed relate to gaming in Missouri. I’m sure it will not surprise anyone, but gambling already happens in our state. Thousands of people bet on sporting events. There are illegal video gaming devices in place in countless truck stops and at fraternal lodge halls. None of this activity is taxed or supervised by state regulators. It’s time to bring the various forms of gaming into the sunshine so that the money currently wagered in Missouri benefits our schools and communities. My Senate Bill 566 establishes the Missouri Video Lottery Control Act and allows the State Lottery Commission to license video gaming terminals in Missouri. Senate Bill 567 legalizes sports wagering at excursion gambling boats and electronically by persons physically located within the state.
Another piece of legislation I have proposed will benefit Missouri’s farmers by increasing demand for commodities produced in this state. Senate Bill 568 requires diesel fuel sold in Missouri to contain a minimum percentage of biodiesel fuel oil. Increasing our use of plant-based diesel fuel is good for the environment, good for farmers and benefits Missourians.
One bill I’m bringing back from last year modifies Missouri’s laws relating to service animals. Senate Bill 644 expands the definition of a service dog to include those trained to assist with a psychiatric disability, medical condition or developmental disability. It also creates penalties for those who misrepresent a dog as a service animal for purposes of falsely receiving accommodations provided by various federal laws.
Senate Bill 645 provides greater flexibility for small school districts to address the needs of gifted students. This bill requires school districts to provide special education programs when 3 percent or more of the students enrolled in the district are determined to be gifted. But unlike current law, this bill gives small districts flexibility by allowing teachers trained in gifted education — but not necessarily certified — to administer these programs.
These are just a few of the proposals that legislators will consider in 2020. I’ll be sure to keep you informed and updated on activities at the Capitol as the session progresses. In the meantime, have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year’s holiday.
As always, I 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 email@example.com.