Last Thursday, Governor Greitens, Senator Hoskins, and I met with veterans, staff, family, and community members at the Warrensburg Veterans Home to discuss efforts to protect Missouri veterans and ensure they get the quality care they deserve. The Governor presented a proclamation to the Warrensburg Veterans Home commending them for the excellent care they provided. In the recent investigations ordered by the Governor into Missouri’s Veterans Homes, there were several recommendations for improving care in the system. However, Warrensburg stood out as a positive example: 95 percent of the comments collected by investigators in interviews with staff and veterans were positive. As a result, the Governor announced that Eric Endsley, the administrator of the Warrensburg Home, is now serving as the interim Homes Director — overseeing all of the Veterans Homes in the state. While at the Veterans Home, we also celebrated the retirement of Debbie Woirhaye. Debbie was the Director of Nursing Services at the Warrensburg Veterans Home and actually started prior to its opening, even before any veterans moved into the Home. Happy Retirement, Debbie.
Also, some good news for the 51st District and surrounding areas came last week with notice that Whiteman Airforce Base will likely house the new B-21 Raider, an upgrade of the current B-2. A statement released by the U.S. Air Force asserted, “If the force structure we have proposed is supported by the Congress, bases that have bombers now will have bombers in the future.” The economic impact of the B-2 and the base has been significant with contributions estimated at $327 million annually into the local and regional economy. Plans are to begin rolling out the first B-21s in the mid 2020's and they should remain in service until about 2050. More on the B-21: http://krcgtv.com/news/local/air-force-says-whiteman-will-house-the-new-b-21-bomber
Back at the Capitol, we had yet another busy legislative week. We sent several bills on to the Senate. More on these bills below.
House Approves Legislation to Help First-Time Home Buyers (HB 1796)
House members gave approval this week to legislation that would make it easier for Missourians to save money to buy their first home. The bill would establish the First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account Act and authorize a tax deduction for contributions to a savings account dedicated to buying a first home. The bill would authorize an individual income tax deduction for 50 percent of the contributions to the account. It would have an annual contribution deduction limit of $1,600 per taxpayer. The bill specifics the maximum contribution limit for all tax years would be $20,000 and the maximum total amount in the savings account would be $30,000. The bill would define a first-time home buyer as an individual who has never owned a single-family, owner-occupied primary residence including a condominium or manufactured home, or a divorced individual who has not been listed on a property title for at least three years. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. If passed into law, the act would go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.
Lawmakers Pass Bill to Legalize Industrial Hemp (HB 2034)
The Missouri House has approved a bill that would legalize the growing of industrial hemp in Missouri. Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant with a low concentration of THC, which is the psychoactive component found in marijuana. It can be used in a wide range of products, including fibers, textiles, paper, construction and insulation materials, cosmetic products, animal feed, food, and beverages. It is used in more than 25,000 products spanning nine markets: agriculture, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food/nutrition/beverages, paper, construction materials and personal care. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 34 states have passed legislation related to industrial hemp.
The bill approved this week would exempt industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana and the list of controlled substances. It would also allow an individual who has received an industrial hemp license to grow, harvest, cultivate, and process industrial hemp. The bill would establish a pilot program under the Department of Agriculture to implement the licensing standards and requirements. In addition, the bill would require every grower or handler to be subject to an industrial hemp monitoring system to ensure compliance with state law and department rules. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Raising the Marriage Age (HB 1630)
This week the General Assembly approved legislation that would prohibit marriages for children under the age of 15, and raise the minimum age for marriage with parental consent to 17.
Missouri currently has a minimum age of 18 to obtain a marriage license without parental consent. Young people age 15 to 17 can receive a license with parental consent. Individuals of any age also have the option to get married without consent if they successfully petition the court to obtain a license.
The legislation approved by the House would raise the age requirement to 17. Young people under the age of 17 who want to be married would need to obtain a court order that verifies the marriage is advisable and there is no evidence of coercion or abuse of either party entering the marriage. The bill also would strictly prohibit any marriage where either party is under the age of 15, and would ensure no marriage license is issued to any person 21 years of age or older if the other party to the marriage is less than 17 years of age. The bill now heads to the Senate for debate.
Other Bills Moving to the Senate
HB 1940 would establish the "Cronkite New Voices Act," which provides that in both public high schools and public institutions of higher education a student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media.
HB 1710 would change the law relating to recognizing licenses to practice occupations or professions issued by other states.
HB 1598 concerns the validity of pre-need contracts or other arrangements made in advance to provide for the disposition of a body after death.
HB 1650 would specify how a health savings account may be created. There are 34 other states that already provide this sort of protection.
HB 1329 would specify that employees of a soil and water conservation district shall be eligible for membership in the Missouri local government employees' retirement system.
HB 1371 would require any district with a state-approved gifted education program to have a process that allows parents or guardians to appeal a determination that their child does not qualify for gifted services.
HB 1421 would require each school district to establish a policy on acceleration and districts with gifted education programs to establish appeal procedures.
HB 1455 would require high schools and public institutions of higher education to provide information related to careers and salaries to students.
HB 1606 would provide a high school equivalency certificate applicant with the opportunity of voluntarily submitting his or her contact information for the purposes of evaluating college and career placement rates of certificate applicants.
HB 1291 would change the classification from second to first of certain counties exempt from the requirement that not less than 25 percent of a county's special road and bridge tax collected in a municipality within the county must be expended within the municipality for the repair and improvement of existing roads, streets, and bridges.
HB 1858 would require the Department of Revenue to feature a map of all special taxing districts on its website.
HB 1608 would specify that legislative research will compare the actual fiscal note of all bills Truly Agreed and Finally Passed by the General Assembly with the final fiscal note provided prior to passage.
HB 1247 would designate the month of November as "Diabetes Awareness Month" in Missouri.
HB 1349 would designate July 7 as "Missouri Slice Bread Day."
HB 1355 would allow retired police officers to return to work when a disaster or emergency has been proclaimed by the governor or there is a national disaster.
HB 1375 would designate June 27 of each year as "Post Traumatic Stress Awareness Day" in Missouri.
HB 1481 would repeal a provision relating to certain exemptions for insurance holding companies.
HB 1552 would require spouses of members of the active duty component of the Armed Forces to be given first priority in the processing of all professional licensure applications.
HB 1351would specify that a responsive pleading must be filed in any motion to modify a child support, spousal maintenance, or child custody judgment.
HB 1597 would authorize the next-of-kin of a deceased person to delegate control of the final disposition of the remains.
HB 1663 would allow school districts to establish comprehensive school counseling programs for students attending school in the district.
HB 1676 would require school bus drivers who are seventy years of age or older to complete the CDL Skills Test and the Driving Test on an annual basis.
HB 1905 would establish a procedure for the removal and disposal of abandoned aircraft on airport property.
HB 2044 would allow a metropolitan planning organization to be considered a political subdivision for purposes of the Missouri Local Government Employees' Retirement System.
HB 1300 would require boat title and registration fees collected annually in excess of one million dollars to be deposited in the Water Patrol Division Fund. Currently, the General Revenue Fund must supplement the fund if not enough funds are available. The fund is projected to have a deficit in Fiscal Years 2018, 2019 and 2020.
HB 1572 would modify provisions relating to driver's licenses for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
HB 1887 would prohibit a property owners' association from preventing a property owner from placing political signs on his or her property.
HB 1366 would authorize school boards to contract with municipalities to transport high school children. The contract would require the presence of an adult supervisor approved by the school board on any municipal vehicle transporting school children. While transporting school children, municipal vehicles would include seating designated solely for school children.
HB 1998 would create guidelines for reviewing the comprehensive state energy plan.
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.