This year has seen some historic events in Missouri. In January, Eric Greitens of St. Louis became the state’s 56th governor. Also, during the 2017 session, the General Assembly passed some very significant legislation. Among these were some needed legal reforms, full funding for K-12 education, the passing of HB1 during Special Session 1 played a role in NUCOR’s choosing Pettis County for its new micro-steel mill, and the implementation of REAL ID, which will assure that Missourians can travel freely in the future. And of course, we had the state designations for our two canines: Old Drum and Jim the Wonder Dog. The new year brings more topics to the table including additional legal reforms and our transportation system. Later in this report, I will provide a preview of some of the legislation I intend to file this session. Now, on to other matters!
The State Board of Education is asking for citizen input concerning the appointment of a new Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner. The Board made their decision after the meeting on December 14. The Board is currently accepting applications for commissioner until January 8.
If you would like to respond to the survey, go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DESECommissioner
Missouri is Modernizing its Foster Care System
Last Friday, Missouri’s First Lady Sheena Greitens announced that Missouri is modernizing its foster care system by joining the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE). NEICE allows child welfare agencies to share Interstate Compact and the Placement of Children (ICPC) forms and information electronically.
“Red tape and bureaucracy shouldn’t keep kids in foster care from finding their “forever families.”
The first lady stated that, “If a family in Iowa or Illinois wants to adopt a child from Missouri foster care, or an aunt in Arkansas wants to become their guardian, the child shouldn’t have to wait in limbo for six months or a year until the paperwork gets done. But all too often, that’s exactly what happens. That’s why I’m delighted today to announce that Missouri is joining the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE). It’s designed to expedite the placement of children in safe, permanent families across state lines, and to reduce administrative paperwork and costs.”
NEICE takes a system that currently relies on photocopying and snail mail and puts that process online, cutting out unnecessary red tape and bureaucratic delays. A pilot study found that NEICE cut the time spent on paperwork for an interstate placement by 20% to 45%. As a result, children got to their forever families over a month faster.
Eventually, NEICE could also be used to facilitate inter-state cooperation on issues like child abuse investigations and combating human trafficking.
Treasurer Schmitt Asks Legislators to Allow Tax Relief in Upcoming Session
Last week, Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt sent a letter to all members of the Missouri General Assembly urging them to allow tax relief to take effect by not decoupling Missouri’s standard deduction from its federal counterpart.
The standard deduction, which makes a portion of a taxpayer’s income exempt from taxation, will nearly double under the federal tax reform bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Trump. Since Missouri’s standard deduction is linked to the federal figure those changes will automatically carry through to the state tax code, barring legislative action.
“I sincerely believe letting Missourians keep more of their hard-earned money is always the right thing to do,” wrote Schmitt. “Allowing Missouri’s standard deduction to be nearly doubled is one way to achieve that goal, and I encourage you to remain steadfast in your opposition to any measure that would reverse or prevent that automatic change.”
The full text of the letter is available at: https://treasurer.mo.gov/docs/default-source/default-document- library/schmitt_letter_dec21.pdf
My Bills For 2018
A few weeks ago, I shared with you two bills I had pre-filed regarding veteran small business loans and adding an American civics exam as a condition of college graduation for Missouri students. I also mentioned that future bills would soon follow.
Currently, I am preparing to file some additional bills:
Campus Protection Officers – This bill will allow any college or university in Missouri the ability to designate one or more full- time faculty or staff as a campus protection officer. These responsibilities will be voluntary and in addition to regular duties and responsibilities. The officer will be allowed to carry a concealed firearm or self-defense spray in any building or area of the college campus. This is similar to the protection officers recently allowed for in Missouri high schools.
Ghost Army from WWII – This bill urges Congress to award the Congressional Gold Metal to the Ghost Army from WWII. The Ghost Army, of which at least six Missourians were a part of, risked their lives by diverting attention from real operations to their fake ones, including phony convoys, phantom divisions, and fake headquarters.
School Board Training – This bill will provide that new board members and those that have been elected after a gap in service shall successfully complete orientation and training requirements within one year of election or appointment and ongoing training, subsequently.
State Board of Education Terms – Reduces terms of office for members of the state board of education from eight years to four years and sets term limits for the board. In other words, members whose terms have expired shall not be allowed to stay on the board indefinitely.
Again, I want to thank everyone for a great year. Please be careful as you celebrate the New Year, and I look forward to seeing you in 2018!
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.