Members on the House Budget Committee worked diligently this week to complete the markup of the state budget. Once the legislature returns from spring break, members will focus efforts on the state operating budget, as well as tax relief legislation. The legislature has a deadline of May 11 to complete the state budget.
Also, this week we cleared the calendar, so to speak, ahead of the legislative spring break by sending several more bills to the Senate for consideration. In fact, in the first two-and-a-half months of session, the House has been able to send more than 160 bills to the Senate. I will discuss some these bills in greater detail in next week’s report.
Last Friday, I traveled to Kansas City for a tour of Kansas City Public Schools, charter and traditional. We visited four schools in all, elementary and high school, and I was quite impressed with them. We left with a short conference asking the administrators to visit Jefferson City and further explore their successes and challenges with the legislature.
Lastly, several of my bills were among the bills heard this week in the House. More on these bills below.
Small Business Veteran Loans, Recognizing the Ghost Army, and Protecting Campus Free Expression
My HB 1503 was passed out of the House this week and is on its way to the Senate. HB 1503 allows veteran-owned small businesses to participate in the Missouri Linked Deposit Program. An "eligible veteran-owned small business" is defined as any business owned by an honorably discharged veteran and Missouri resident who as agreed to locate his or her business in the state for at least three years and employs less than 100 employees, a majority of whom are Missouri residents. Moreover, a veteran who receives a small business loan through the Linked Deposit Program must also complete a boots-to-business program approved by the Department of Economic Development and be assigned a mentor for 365 days following the loan approval date. The owner and his or her mentor must meet at least once every 90 days.
Another one of my bills, HCR 53, was also passed out of the House and headed to the Senate this week. HCR 53 urges Congress to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Ghost Army from WWII. The Ghost Army was a group of soldiers who used inflatable tanks, sound effects, and imagination to fool the Germans on the battlefields of Europe. The unsung heroes of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops and the 3133rd Signal Company Special saved thousands of lives and helped win the war, but their efforts were kept secret for fifty years and have yet to be officially recognized. The mission of The Ghost Army Legacy Project and HCR 53 is to preserve and honor the legacy of these men.
HB 2284 expands the Campus Free Expression Act which was passed into law a few years ago. The bill requires the governing board of each public institution of higher education to adopt a policy on free expression by Jan. 1, 2019. The free expression policy must be consistent with several principles of free speech specified in the bill. The free expression policy shall be made available to students and faculty annually. The bill also requires institutions to adopt a "student-on-student harassment" policy. The bill is designed to prohibit an institution from imposing restrictions on expressions that do not violate the United States Constitution or the Missouri Constitution.
Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration at State Capitol
In 2012, Representative Paul Fitzwater and Representative Pat Conway filed and passed legislation to declare March 30 as Missouri Vietnam Veterans Day. To celebrate, the Missouri House holds a recognition day each year to present official resolutions to Vietnam veterans who bravely served their country. This year the House will hold the Vietnam Veterans Day celebration on Thursday, March 29, at 9 a.m. in the House Lounge at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. If you or someone you know is a Vietnam veteran who would like to be honored this year, please contact my office by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-751-2204.
I enjoyed visiting with several individuals and groups this week including: the Missouri Republican Women, Breckenridge Scholar Riley Corbett from Knob Noster (top left), Johnson County EMS Chief Shane Lockard (top center), Job Shadow Karina Jaimes from the Dep. of Higher Education (top right), visitors from RISE Community Services in Warrensburg for Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council (MODDC) Day (bottom left), and Jenae Maley and Elise Hepworth from Warrensburg who were supporting the Missouri Music Educators Association’s Music Advocacy Day (bottom right).
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.