Hang in there! Only a few more days of political advertisements on the calendar, and then we will vote. Be certain to vote this year as we are making many important decisions.
Hab Center Changes
As you know, the Habilitation Center in Marshall has undergone extensive changes during the last year. It is now known as Northwest Community Services (NWCS) and has had a significant change in mission. The goal now is to integrate their consumers, as much as possible, into the larger community. Last week I visited the NWCS Marshall office to gain insight into these changes.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the staff gave me an update of the activities occurring in the 51st District. These activities are focused on bringing those with moderate challenges into the larger community and allowing them to contribute. Here are some of the highlights I learned during my visit:
-- Employment is considered the ultimate community integration. The NWCS Employment Services team is working to gather information in the discovery of finding gifts and motivators so future job matches can benefit both the employer and people served who live in Saline County.
-- The NWCS Community Integration team has networked with local businesses and agencies like Monsanto, the Marshall Public Schools, the City of Marshall including the Chamber of Commerce, The Living Center, Marshall Community Food Pantry, Marshall Senior Center, Marshall Public Library, Marshall Fire Department and Spring Water Nursery. This collaboration began with a community garden with the support of Monsanto, Powerhouse and the City of Marshall. Produce from this garden created an opportunity to give back to the community -- an excellent learning and empowerment tool. An Urban Garden was also supported with the assistance from Marshall Public Schools. Young adults from the school alongside people served at NWCS nurtured flowers and produce which again was donated back to the Marshall Food Pantry and retirement facilities.
-- Besides activities of community integration in horticulture, the Community Integration Activity team has assisted people who have chosen volunteering at the Marshall Animal Shelter, playing bingo at the Marshall Senior Center, enjoying morning coffee with other community members at McDonalds, volunteering at the Marshall Food Pantry, touring and talking with Marshall's civil servants like police officers, fire chief, mayor and National Guard members. The local radio KMMO was toured along with the Marshall Democrat News. Marshall historical icons were also visited including the Marshall Courthouse, Jim the Wonder Dog Museum, and Nicholas-Beasley Museum. For the future, membership in local clubs and organizations are the next opportunity.
-- All of these activities, discoveries, education and networks have just occurred in the last four months. NWCS CI/CE Department is excited about the future!
It seems to me that these activities are a great beginning for bringing more people into the community who have abilities to offer and wish to contribute in a positive manner. Thanks to the staff at NWCS for taking the time to give me an update. Keep up the good work!
The Electoral College
Election Day 2016 is less than two weeks away. Inevitably, as a presidential election approaches, the question of the Electoral College pops up in conversation. There are two questions usually associated with this discussion: how does the Electoral College actually work and does Missouri really matter? With this ongoing discussion, I decided to devote some space to this uniquely American institution.
To review a bit of history, the Electoral College came into existence after much negotiation at the Constitutional Convention. In fact, the presidency almost didn't happen, but after debate on many different scenarios, the delegates decided that the states, through the Electoral College, would select the chief executive. One of the reasons for having the states vote in this manner is that like the Senate, the Electoral College gave weight to the smaller states. This became a bedrock principle in the formulation of the Constitution because the smaller population states could easily be overwhelmed if all institutions were to be based on population. The bottom line of the Electoral College became that all states could maintain their influence within the executive selection process. (Remember, the U.S. came into being by the various colonies, which became states, pooling their resources to gain their independence from the overreach of the British Parliament, so states maintained a strong identity and jealously guarded their newfound freedom. States, the government closer to the people, were considered the guardians of liberty.) So, this brings us to the questions of how the college really works, and is it effective? Let's take a case study to illustrate the process.
There are 538 total electoral votes: 435 for the congressional districts, 100 for the senate seats, and three for the District of Columbia (23rd Amendment). California currently has 11% of the U.S. population, but 10% of the electoral votes. Therefore, California is weighted less than their actual population when it comes to the Electoral College. However, they still have more votes than states of lesser population.
Missouri is not a huge state by population, but it has more electoral votes than 29 states and the District of Columbia. Critics of the college claim it is unfair, but is it? California has a population of nearly 39 million, whereas Missouri has slightly more than 6 million. Obviously, Missouri would be overwhelmed in an election based on population (we're not even considering New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia or some other more populated states in this scenario), but the president is our president too, so shouldn't we have a say in the selection process? As Missouri cannot compete with California in population, it seems that the Electoral College is representing states just as the Founders intended it to work by making each and every vote worth casting!
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.