On Monday, as Kansas City prepared to celebrate the championship win of the Royals, I visited Marshall High School to celebrate their FFA championship. The local chapter won the Top Model of Excellence Award, the FFA national championship, recently and a full school rally celebrated their achievement. I was honored to be a part of the celebration and challenged them to keep up their good work in promoting agriculture. They have proven they are up to the task.
Also, on Wednesday evening I attended a meeting of the Pettis County Beekeepers Association. This new group has not yet formally organized, but they are well into the process. They have already expanded beyond the boundaries of Pettis County, so they are considering a name change. That is exceptional growth! The group will promote honey production and excellence in beekeeping. Bees are an important part of our natural balance, so I wish them well in their new endeavor.
House Speaker Proposes Policy Changes to Improve the Culture at the Capitol
House Speaker Todd Richardson recently made his policy recommendations designed to improve the culture at the State Capitol for interns, as well as all staff and House members. Some of the policy changes recommended by the Speaker include: requiring an outside investigation for harassment complaints that involve House members; establishing formal prohibitions on romantic fraternization between House members, staff, and interns; requiring annual sexual harassment policy training for House members and staff; and creating additional levels of oversight and accountability for the intern program.
The policy recommendations will now go to the House Administration and Accounts Committee where they will be reviewed and receive a public hearing. The chairman of the committee plans to have a vote on the final policy by Dec. 1.
Missouri to Stop Collecting and Storing Social Security Numbers of Students
A recent report issued by the Missouri State Auditor found the state education department was collecting and keeping the social security numbers of both current and former students. The audit found the Missouri Student Information System contains records for approximately 900,000 current students and an additional 520,000 former students. The audit also asserted that the current system puts the personal information of students at risk in the event of an attack by hackers or a data breach.
The auditor's office made several recommendations to improve the security of students' personal information. In response, the education department agreed to eliminate shared account access by September 25, and to have a breach response policy in place by December 3. More importantly, the department agreed to change its policy to collect only information that is absolutely necessary, and to destroy unneeded sensitive data from their system. They plan to have these changes enacted by June 30 of next year.
Honoring Our Heroes on Veterans Day
This year as we celebrate Veterans Day, I ask everyone to think about the many blessings and freedoms we have as citizens of the greatest nation on this planet, and also the price that has been paid to secure and defend these rights and liberties. It is a price that has been paid by the proud American citizens who made the selfless decision to serve as members of our Armed Forces. These heroes chose a life of service, and took a path of bravery and commitment that benefits us all.
While some have made the ultimate sacrifice and live on now only in our hearts and memories, many more have returned home to continue their service to this nation in one way or another. Although they no longer wear their uniforms, their love of country and their duty to this nation is in no way lessened. Never was that more apparent than a few weeks ago when one of our nation's heroes put aside concerns for his own safety and took action to save the lives of the innocent.
As chaos broke out at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, it was a 30-year-old former Army infantryman who displayed his heroism by trying to stop the shooter whose callous actions would take the lives of nine innocents. This hero, Chris Mintz, immediately ran into the school library to pull the fire alarm so that students would be warned to get out, and then ran back toward the building where the shooter was located to barricade a classroom door. He took seven shots for his trouble, but he survived as did many of his fellow classmates.
Thankfully this nation has heroes who are ready and willing to make the tough decision. When danger is near and most have the instinct to flee, they charge forward. When others are concerned with their own safety, they think only of the safety of those around them, and when chaos and confusion ensues, they take quick and decisive actions that save lives.
It's a rare thing to have heroes such as these, but our nation has been blessed with them in abundance. As we have seen, their service to our country does not end when they return home from overseas, but instead continues on in their acts and deeds here at home.
Next Wednesday, let's all make the promise that we will treat our veterans with the respect they have earned. This should be continued each and every day of the year. They gave of themselves for us, and we should do all we can to remain grateful and demonstrate our gratitude.