Cattle producers of the 51st District will have the opportunity to participate in a public discussion regarding a referendum to establish a $1 per head beef checkoff assessment. The public hearing on the issue will take place Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 10 a.m. at the Missouri Electric Cooperatives building at the Missouri State Fairgrounds, in Sedalia.
The Dec. 9 hearing will be pivotal in determining if a referendum should be held on the issue. If it is, cattle producers will be required to register in order to vote. If the referendum is held, registration of producers is scheduled to begin on Jan.4, 2016 and close on March 4, 2016. Registration will be available at county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices and online.
First Amendment Speech Update
As I reported last week, a recent Pew Research poll found that 40% of millennials (the current college generation) responded that they believe speech which is offensive to minorities should be restricted (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/20/40-of-millennials-ok-with-limiting-speech-offensive-to-minorities/). This is an upward trend in that most other generations tend to be around 25 percent with the senior community below 20 percent. Again as a reminder, this comes almost immediately after a Missouri professor attempted to physically stop the taking of pictures during protests on the Columbia campus. As this week began pre-filing of bills for the 2016 session, I decided to take this issue head on.
To combat the deterioration of a basic civil liberty, I filed HB 1637 that will require all Missouri graduates to take and pass a course in the Founders motivations for including freedom of speech in the First Amendment, how it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court over time, and U.S. and world history examples of the consequences of speech suppression. The course will also include how this principle has been incorporated into the Missouri Constitution.
I am firm in my conviction that free speech is the cornerstone of self government, and HB 1637 will pass on the knowledge that is required to keep this principle solidly within our governing system. As inheritors of liberty and freedom, it is our duty to pass on the same benefits to future generations.
The House Budget Committee recently held a joint hearing with the Senate Appropriations Committee to question state officials about the assistance programs available to refugees. This hearing came in response to the Paris terrorist attacks that heightened concerns about Syrian refugees being resettled in the U.S.
Missouri House and Senate members learned the state has approximately $4.3 million in federal funding for refugee programs. They also learned the state has little control over the federal dollars that are channeled primarily through the Department of Social Services, which provides refugees with housing, health care and cash assistance. Members also heard testimony regarding the vetting process utilized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Defense, as well as Homeland Security. Experts testified that the process includes a background verification process that takes from 18 to 24 months before refugees are allowed to come to the United States.
As the hearing concluded, lawmakers had a better understanding of not only how federal dollars are spent on refugees in Missouri, but also a clearer picture of how little control state officials have over how those dollars are utilized. However, some members left the hearing with unanswered questions. Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer still wanted answers regarding the additional costs the state would incur with a potential new influx of refugees. While there are no future hearings scheduled on the issue, lawmakers will continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks.
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.