Volunteers for the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg were invited to the annual banquet of recognition on Saturday, March 29. State Representative Dean Dohrman visits with volunteer coordinator Latisha Koetting. (Contributed photo)
This week brought several bills to the floor for perfection and passage. Several consent bills, non-controversial subject matter bills, were passed on Monday. I sponsored two of these, HBs 1547 and 1553. Among the other bills were:
The environment of higher education is moving very quickly into a new era. This week the General Assembly voted to deal with this reality and passed HB 1389, known as SARA. The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is a needed step in today's mobile society and will greatly benefit universities, colleges, and students.
Right now, there are a myriad of individual state regulations and complex fee structures that run in many thousands of dollars. Participating institutions will be authorized by their home state and all reciprocal states, thereby eliminating much of the red tape currently involved. Included among the numerous groups developing SARA has been the four regional higher education compacts.
What does all this mean to students? The bottom line will be more choice and cheaper cost. Fewer regulations result in more college course offerings, which results in competition and expanded opportunities. I have been a "victim" of the current system in which my online university sought approval in all 50 states for our programs and all of our instructors, about 350. Each approval had a fee associated with the process. SARA will greatly streamline this approval process, reduce costs, and prove that state can solve their own problems without federal regulation.
Also this week, the General Assembly passed two bills that directly impact Missouri agriculture. House bill 1214 supports our state's dairy industry and the other updates transportation laws for agriculture.
Missouri was once in the top 10 dairy states in the country, and is now ranked 26th. However, in 2013 Missouri lost 100 dairy farms accumulating to 2,500 lost during in the past decade. Fewer dairy farms results in fewer processing plants. The closing of processing plants means Missouri will become more dependent on outside milk which will increase dairy prices. One plant closure last year meant the loss of 75 jobs.
Dairy cows generate more than $20,000 in economic activity through veterinary bills, feed, etc., so every time a dairy leaves the state there is a decrease in economic activity. Additionally, Missouri dairy farms generate $265 million in milk sales annually. Overall, Missouri dairy industry directly contributes $2 billion to Missouri's economy.
This bill will provide loan support to dairy farmers, from their own support of the program, to help during lean times such as drought years. It is extremely important in today's world of cash demands that a little extra help is needed when extreme conditions occur.
Additionally, HBs 1235 and 1213 were perfected by the House. These bills slightly raise the trucking weight limit for agricultural products to be more in alignment with other states. This is a measure that supports our leading industry in the state.
Finally, the House passed HB 1302 which secures the right of Missourians to burn wood for heat in their homes. This is certainly important for rural Missouri, but is also important to our city cousins!
Among the visitors at the capital this week were representatives from the regional groupings of OATS (Older Adults Transportation System), and students of government and their teachers from the Pettis County high schools of La Monte and Northwest.
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.