This session's interim committees will be finishing their work during the next few weeks. Here is an update on two areas of investigation.
New Interim Committee to Review State Activities Association
A newly-created interim committee in the House will take a look at the progress made by the Missouri State High School Activities Association in implementing recommendations made by a separate interim committee in 2007.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) is the governing body for high school activities throughout the state of Missouri. Approximately 580 high schools are members of MSHSAA. In recent years, both members of the public and legislators have expressed concerns regarding how MSHSAA conducts its business.
The House Interim Committee on MSHSAA was created by House Speaker Todd Richardson to track and compare the progress of previously recommended MSHSAA reforms outlined in the report issued by the 2007 Interim Committee on MSHSAA Reform.
The current committee will focus on five key areas in its investigation:
1) MSHSAA's financial audits of receipts and expenditures.
2) MSHSAA's compliance with Sunshine Laws and transparency of activities.
3) MSHSAA's fairness and consistency in its application of their Constitution, Bylaws, and Board Rules and Regulations.
4) MSHSAA's compliance and role in insuring student safety.
5) Any other issues that may arise.
Committee Chairman Steve Cookson has said his primary goal is to ensure that the organization that oversees all high school activities in the state is acting in a transparent and accountable way that protects the best interests of Missouri's young people.
The committee will hold its first hearings at the State Capitol at the end of October.
Planned Parenthood Investigations Continue
As both the Missouri House and Senate continue to investigate the allegations against Planned Parenthood and the debate rages on in Washington, D.C. with talks of defunding the organization, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster concluded his own investigation. Koster released the findings of his investigation that indicate the Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis has not sold fetal tissue.
Koster's 50-page report asserts that the fetal tissues from more than 300 surgical abortions performed at the St. Louis facility were properly discarded. According to the report, the tissues can be tracked from the clinic to the pathology lab to the incinerator, and there is no evidence that tissues have ever been sold.
Missouri is one of several states that are investigating Planned Parenthood following videos that spurred questions of whether or not the organization broke federal law by selling tissues for profit. States such as Georgia, Indiana, and Massachusetts have already conducted investigations and cleared Planned Parenthood of breaking the law. While Koster's report appears to find no wrongdoing in Missouri, Representative Diane Franklin, chair of the House committee investigating Planned Parenthood has said she plans to continue the committee's efforts. She said the report still leaves several questions that need to be answered.
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. 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.