The final group of District 51 students to visit the Capitol this session were from Northwest Elementary. (Contributed photo)
The 2014 Regular Session came to an end at 6 PM on Friday, May 16. Considering that Saturday, May 17 was Armed Forces Day and Monday, May 26 is Memorial Day, I thought it appropriate to begin this year's legislative review with a look at bills concerning veterans and the military.
I sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 13 which is the General Assembly's statement to Congress to retain the mission of the A-10 (Warthog) at Whiteman Air Force Base.
The Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing HCR 13, which I sponsored, to support the continued operation of the A-10 and Apache Longbow forces at WAFB and their broader missions in national defense.
The 442nd Fighter Wing is located at Whiteman Air Force Base. The wing's mission is to keep the A-10, Thunderbolt II at its highest level of combat readiness. The plane has been targeted for mothballing by the Air Force because of cuts to the national defense budget. This bill states that the mission of the A-10 is unique and important to our military. We are asking Congress to carefully consider the reconfiguration of our Air Force and consider defense matters that include not only dollars and cents, but primarily promote the readiness of our defense forces.
The A-10 was developed during the Vietnam era and has been a workhorse of the Air Force. It provides close air support, observation, and other vital functions for ground troops. The plane has proven to be extremely effective in Middle Eastern conflicts including, Operation Desert Storm (Iraq, 1991), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
I was joined in sponsoring this bill by 50 other representatives including those from Johnson County: Representatives Denny Hoskins (R-54), Stanley Cox (R-52), and Glen Kolkmeyer (R-53). Senator David Pearce (R-21) handled the bill in the Senate. Representative Hoskins added the amendment in support of the Apache Longbows at Whiteman AFB.
At the federal level, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-4) recently attached a budget amendment in support of the 442nd Fighter Wing. The pilots and the support crews of the 442nd Fighter Wing account for 1,100 jobs and about $40 million worth of payroll at Whiteman AFB. This is very important for the 51st District.
Encourages the Missouri Veterans Commission to work with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to address the needs of women veterans and formally honors the heroic service of women veterans.
Designates the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, to be built on the College of the Ozark's campus at Point Lookout, Missouri, as the official Vietnam War Memorial of the State of Missouri.
Allows a person with a physical disability, or a member of the armed forces on active duty, to file a declaration of candidacy by certified mail allowing a designated representative to participate in the ballot order random drawing on the first day of filing.
Allows the Adjutant General to provide financial assistance or services from the Missouri Military Family Relief Fund to families or members of the US Armed Forces or the Missouri National Guard.
SB 600 - Removes additional fee for issuance of Gold Star license plates. Also expands World War II, Korean, and Vietnam medallion programs to Missouri National Guard members. Creates medallion programs for Operation Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, Desert Shield, and Desert Storm.
Issues Still Pending
By an overwhelming majority, the House passed HB 1468 to exempt veteran's organizations from worker's compensation. This passed out of the House as a non-controversial consent bill. I was quite honored that they supported this bill in a bipartisan vote. This shows we can work together for the greater good, at least in this area. This bill would help reduce costs to veteran organizations, but unfortunately, became bogged down in the process.
SB 631 would have allowed extended voting registration time for military personnel returning from deployment.
SB 963 would have redefined veteran status among other provisions.
Freshmen and Veterans
The May 1st Capitol report included a picture of the Missouri House Freshmen Republicans presenting a check to the Missouri Veterans History Project. The Freshmen Republicans raised over $1,000 for this worthy cause, and I thank my fellow classmates.
The MVHP is planning to use the money to begin a Capitol Chapter. MVHP video records interviews of veterans to preserve their stories as a part of our history. In this new chapter, representatives and staff will work with veterans to capture their stories for future generations.
MVHP is a non-profit, volunteer organization begun in 2011 for the express mission of preserving our veterans' history. The organization goals are to:
-- Train volunteers for the interviewing and recording process.
-- Organize various community groups to promote the program.
-- Make the recordings available to the State Historical Society of Missouri, the Library of Congress, and the veterans being interviewed.
If you are a veteran and would like to tell your story, you may contact MVHP at 573/522-4220 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.mvhp.net for more information.
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 email@example.com. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.