Whiteman Awards Banquet
Friday, Whiteman AFB held its annual awards banquet recognizing excellence in duty and service. Speaker Dan Clark, of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series, made for a very interesting program. I wish to extend my congratulations to all of the award winners as listed below:
-- Airman of the Year: Sr. Airman Bryan Nixon, 509 OSS
-- Non Commissioned Officer of the Year: TSgt Noah Leiter, 509 CES
-- Senior Non Commissioned Officer of the Year: MSgt Shaun Hardy, 509 AMXS
-- Company Grade Officer of the Year: Capt. Kyle Boomer, 509 CES
-- Field Grade Officer of the Year: Lt. Col. Michael Bogaard, 509 MDG
-- First Sergeant of the Year: MSgt Chasidy Sells, 509 AMXS
-- Honor Guard Member of the Year: Sr. Airman Marco Cardenas, 509 MDG
-- Volunteer of the Year: Mrs. Trisha Wilcox, 509 FSS
-- Civilian Associate of the Year: Mrs. Sonia Campbell, 509 OG
-- Civilian Specialist/Manager of the Year: Mrs. Jessica Cable, 509 MUNS
-- Civilian Supervisor of the Year: Mrs. Angela Anderson, 509 FSS
-- Innovator of the Year: Major Danny Elich, 509 OG
-- Supervisor of the Year: SSgt Daniel Jones, 509 FSS
Veterans Vision Project Comes to the Capitol
I am honored to host the "Veterans Vision Project" currently on display in the Capitol Rotunda until next Friday. The University of Central Missouri (UCM) held a Veterans Summit last October, and as a part of the summit, the UCM Military and Veteran Services Office and the UCM Gallery of Art & Design collaborated and brought Devin Mitchell of the Veteran Vision Project to campus to take photographs of the UCM military and veteran students as well as military service members and veterans from the community. The exhibit was very well received, and we now are lucky to have it on display here at the Capitol. On opening day, Jeff Huffman, Director of the Military and Veteran Services Office, and Christian Cutler, Director of the UCM Gallery of Art and Design visited the House Side Gallery and helped open the exhibit.
I had a hearing on HB 1637 this week which grew out of the situation that occurred on the MU Quadrangle at Columbia, and other events around the country that have brought the principle of free speech into question among the current college-age generation. KMIZ-TV had an excellent report which can be viewed online at http://www.abc17news.com/news/statelawmakers-consider-mandatory-first-amendment-... .
Also, the professor who sparked controversy at the Quad while shutting down a student photographer became news again this week. Melissa Click has been charged with Third Degree misdemeanor assault for the incident and has been suspended by the university.
Finally, some correspondence from former University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe came to light this week. Wolfe criticized his colleagues and lamented that the system's Board of Curators had yet to offer him a fair severance package. He said former Columbia campus chancellor R. Bowen Loftin had made a string of poor decisions and then curators had dragged their feet when Wolfe wanted Loftin removed. He also was critical of MU athletic department leaders; of Michael Middleton, the university's diversity official, and the curators' selection of him as interim president; and of a state senator who Wolfe said improperly pressured him.
Wolfe's email concluded by asking his friends to express their concerns about the state of the university to the curators and to ask them to resolve his contract. Representative Steve Cookson, Chair of the House Committee on Higher Education declined comment on the email.
More Ethics Reform Bills Headed to the Senate (HB 2166, HB 2203, HB 2226)
This week the House gave overwhelming approval to HB 2166 to restrict lobbyist activity by banning gifts and meals provided by to elected officials. HB 2203 would limit how long campaign funds can be invested and how they can be used. HB 2226 would prohibit task force and commission appointees from profiting from the recommendations they make. All three bills now head to the Missouri Senate for discussion.
The bills join four pieces of legislation already moved to the Senate. HB 1452 would require elected officials to file a personal financial disclosure twice each year. Current law requires only a single disclosure each year. HB 1575 would require elected officials to report lodging and travel expenses in a more timely fashion. The bill requires the expenses to be filed within 30 days of the reportable event. HB 1979 would require elected officials to have a one-year "cooling off" period after leaving office before they could become lobbyists. HB 1983 would make it clear that no statewide official or member of the General Assembly can serve as a paid political consultant while in office. All four bills have already received a public hearing in the Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions, and Ethics Committee.
Helping Small Businesses to Grow and Prosper (HB 1870)
This week the House approved and sent to the Senate more Big Government Get off my Back legislation. The act originally ran from 2009 to 2014 and was instrumental in prohibiting new rules and regulations on small businesses, as well as unnecessary fee increases. The act also gives a $10,000 tax deduction for any small business, with 50 employees or less, that hires additional employees and pays them at least the average county wage. In its final year in 2014, the act provided tax relief to 196 small businesses throughout Missouri. Sponsor Denny Hoskins, and me as a co-sponsor, hope to provide assistance to even more businesses by reviving the program.
House and Senate Budget Leaders to Move Forward Cautiously with Budget Process
The House Budget Committee Chairman this week filed the appropriations bills that will make up the Fiscal Year 2017 state operating budget. For the first time in several years, the House Appropriations Committees and the House Budget Committee will begin their budget work based on the governor's spending recommendations. Budget Chairman Tom Flanigan said the process will be a difficult one because the governor's proposed budget is inflated and based on unrealistic revenue projections.
"The governor has a budget based on numbers we think are unrealistic, which means we will have our work cut out for us as we do our best to transform his proposal into a fiscally responsible spending plan," said Flanigan.
Flanigan said the governor's refusal to abide by a true consensus revenue estimate will force the legislature to use an abundance of caution in crafting the nearly $27 billion state operating budget. Flanigan and Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer said the games played by the governor's office have made it nearly impossible to work toward a fiscally responsible budget based on realistic revenue projections.
Planned Parenthood Update
The Missouri House Committees on Children and Families, and Ways and Means released their report and legislative recommendations this week following the investigation into the actions of Planned Parenthood in Missouri. The investigation began following the mention of St. Louis' Planned Parenthood facility in a series of videos released last summer exposing the organization's practices. Committee chairs invited top Planned Parenthood officials from its St. Louis region to testify on the
organization's procedures to no avail. As a result, the committees were unable to confirm whether the practices occurred or did not occur in Missouri, and committee leaders said measures stemming from the investigation would be proactive to make certain practices seen in the videos do not occur in the state.
State Representatives Diane Franklin, Children and Families chair, and Andrew Koenig, Ways and Means chair, outlined the investigation's findings and steps forward to turn gray areas in the state's abortion laws and regulations black and white.
Franklin has filed four abortion bills stemming from the hearings with at least two more bills to come concerning family planning funding prioritization and legislative oversight. Koenig has introduced legislation regarding the abortion-to-disposal process for tracking and reporting purposes.
The bills filed by Franklin and Koenig include:
-- HB 2068 prohibiting a person from knowingly donating or making an anatomical gift of the fetal organs or tissue resulting from an abortion to any person or entity for medical, scientific, experimental, therapeutic, or any other use.
-- HB 2069 providing whistleblower protections for employees who work in facilities that handle aborted fetal remains.
-- HB 2070 changing the definition of "remains of a human fetus."
-- HB 2071 requiring all tissue removed at an abortion to be sent to a pathologist rather than just a representative sample of tissue.
-- HB 2371 would change the law regarding abortions.
"I look forward to moving these and other pieces of legislation to reform the abortion and disposition processes in Missouri," Franklin said. "The committee hearings were the preliminary steps to taking action to protect and dignify innocent life in Missouri."