Welcome to December; this year has really flown by. I traveled to Jefferson City earlier this week for a quarterly meeting of the Missouri Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission. At the meeting, we received an update from the Military Advocate, reviewed a report on Congressional and Pentagon issues affecting Missouri’s military sector and defense interests, and considered a Military Appreciation Day in February or March of next year, among other topics. While I was in Jefferson City, I also visited the Capitol to pre-file two important pieces of legislation: HB 1503 and HB 1528, discussed in detail below.
Legislative Pre-filing Begins
Dec. 1 marked the first day legislators in both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly could pre-file bills for the upcoming session. The pre-filing period is already moving at a frenetic pace as House members have filed nearly 300 bills in the first five days. In comparison, House members pre-filed a total of 373 bills throughout the entire pre-filing period for the 2017 session and 366 pieces of legislation for the 2015 regular session.
My first bill, HB 1503, establishes a program for providing state-guaranteed small business loans to veterans. The program will require the completion of an approved boots-to-business program and is modeled off of a similar program passed by the Illinois legislature and recently implemented in our neighboring state. The program will have proper checks and balances (much of this learned from the experience in Illinois), certifications, and requirements that the applicant must meet to qualify. I know that extra budget requests in these times of tight revenues will be difficult, but I believe that this is certainly a program that requires very little investment (modest amounts of loan guarantees from the state) that promise a large return in the future.
(View the bill text here: http://house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills181/hlrbillspdf/4511H.01I.pdf)
The second bill, HB 1528, requires students at public and private institutions of higher education to pass an examination on the provisions and principals of American civics as a condition of graduation. This test will only need to be taken once during a student’s academic career, even if a student decides to pursue another degree at a later date. This is very similar to the civics examination now being required for high school graduation in Missouri. As you know, I take civics education very seriously and have filed this bill to enhance future voter knowledge and participation.
(View the bill text here: http://house.mo.gov/bill.aspx?bill=HB1528&year=2018&code=R)
I intend to file a few more bills before session starts. I will keep you update of my activity.
2017 Complete College America Annual Convening
Last week, I attended the Complete College America (CCA) Annual Convening: Access to the American Dream. This conference in New Orleans was held to provide insight into the current higher education environment and potential solutions to the problems affecting college students in America. Specifically, the conference focused on how to implement strategies around the country to close achievement gaps, boost graduation rates, and ensure students have the best opportunities to succeed in their educational endeavors.
Missouri has been a part of this group for a few years, and has already implemented many of the strategies for enrolling, retaining, and successfully graduating first generation students from college. Some of the focus has been shifting from a four- year degree to two-year degrees and certifications for job qualifications. With the mix of colleges and universities within the District 51 service area, it is gratifying to me to learn that the whole gamut of higher education success is a concern of CCA.
This proved to be a very informative trip for me. Overall, the group has some very good strategies, and many of these are already in place in Missouri. I came away with an increased sense that our state is serious about supporting students who wish to enhance their futures with studies and skills beyond those obtained in high school. I will certainly continue to support these types of success-oriented programs in the future!
Missouri Attorney General Challenges California Egg Law
Missouri’s Attorney General is renewing efforts to challenge a California law that forces Missouri egg producers to comply with California’s farming regulations in order to sell eggs in California. Attorney General Josh Hawley is leading the challenge that is joined by 12 other states. The 13 states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block the California law that requires eggs sold in the state to come from hens that have a specified amount of space in their cages.
Hawley said the regulations are “unconstitutional and a clear attempt by big-government proponents to impose job-killing regulations on Missouri.” The legal challenge made by the states provides an economic analysis showing the impact of California’s burdensome regulations. The lawsuit alleges the California law has cost consumers across the nation up to $350 million each year because of higher egg prices. A study done by an economist at the University of Missouri found that the price of a dozen eggs has increased between 1.8 percent and 5.1 percent over the last two years because of the California law.
The suit brought by Missouri and 12 other states claims that California’s regulations violate both a federal law prohibiting states from imposing their own standards on eggs produced in other states, and the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress exclusive authority to regulate commerce among and between states. A similar lawsuit was previously rejected by a federal appeals court. The current legal challenge asks the Supreme Court to take up the case directly, and provides the economic analysis to show the California law impacts more than just individual farmers.
“Dec. 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy...”
Dec. 7 is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
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 email@example.com. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.