Visitors from State Fair Community College visited the Capitol this week. (Contributed photo)
We begin Spring Break today, but before adjournment this week we have had a lot of activity on the floor.
Bills from My Committees
This week the House passed HB 1710 which creates the National Guard Foundation Fund and establishes a mechanism of support through a check off on the Missouri state tax refund. The Foundation Fund will support those returning from deployment to re-acclimate civilian life upon return.
HB 1390 is the performance funding bill for higher education. When House and Senate members decided how to allocate funding increases for our public universities and colleges for the current budget year, we based our decisions on a performance-based model that looked at statistics such as graduation and retention rates. It is a system that works well and one we want to keep going forward. With that in mind, we passed legislation this week that implements a performance-based model that will be used to allocate funding in years when we increase funding to higher education. The bill would not impact our decision on how much new money to appropriate, but instead help to guide us in how our appropriation should be distributed among our public institutions of higher education.
Several bills passed out of the House this week. The following is a partial list.
HB 1573 supports our 911 system which is a critical component keeping our citizens safe. However, many of our call centers are using antiquated equipment and simply do not have the resources necessary to provide the kind of service that people expect when they dial 911. The primary problem stems from the fact that the current system is funded by a surcharge on landline phones. As more families have moved to cell phone service in lieu of landline phones, the funding for 911 services has dissipated.
The bill we approved this week would allow a fee of up to $1.50 for any device capable of contacting 911. To put a surcharge into effect, a county or other governing body would have to submit the proposal to the voters for approval. This allows citizens to provide additional support for their 911 service.
HJR 56 protects the fundamental rights of parents to raise their children in the way they think is best. We approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would enshrine the rights of parents in our Missouri Constitution.
The amendment specifies that parents have a fundamental right to exercise exclusive control over the care, custody, and upbringing of their minor children, including all decisions involving the discipline, education, religious instruction, health, medical care, place of habitation, and general well-being of the minor children. Parents have the right to choose to educate their children in public schools, private schools, or in-home education to prepare them for future obligations in life. With this we can protect this fundamental right that currently is not enunciated in our constitution. By doing so we can ensure parents continue to be the decision makers in the lives of their children just as they should be.
The legislation now moves to the Senate. If approved there it would appear on the November ballot for voter approval.
Among the numerous visitors at the capital this week we had the State Fair Community College, Missouri County Treasurers Association, Dresden Elementary School, Missouri Humanities Council, Missouri Cattlemen's Association, and many more.
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City and Missouri. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.