(March 26, 2021) — The Legislature returned to Jefferson City this week following a one-week spring recess. During our time away from the Capitol, I was honored to participate in a ground-breaking ceremony marking the beginning of the construction phase of the Little Otter Creek Reservoir project. This event, held southeast of Hamilton, brought representatives of the Caldwell County Commission, the Regional Planning Commission and USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service together to turn the first shovels of dirt toward the realization of a 344-acre reservoir that will provide water, flood control and recreation for residents of Caldwell County.
It's taken us nearly 30 years to get to this point, but this important milestone brings us one step closer to the day when the area’s persistent water shortages and seasonal floods can finally be addressed. The project is funded primarily through federal programs, with state appropriations and a local half-cent sales tax contributing the rest of the money. It’s a great investment in our community that will pay dividends for generations to come.
Back at the Capitol, the full Senate third read and passed my Senate Bill 283 this week. This legislation makes permanent a COVID-19 emergency waiver that allowed restaurants to provide alcoholic beverages in leak-proof sealable containers to patrons who order food for carry-out or curbside pickup. The ability to provide beverage sales along with take-out meals was critical to many restaurants’ survival during the pandemic shut-downs. The experiment proved to be popular with consumers and resulted in no apparent increases in impaired driving or other problems. My legislation will allow restaurants to continue the service even after the pandemic has passed. I also added a provision that allows occasional and limited retailer-to-retailer sales of intoxicating liquor. I proposed this measure at the request of some local businesses who were caught short of ingredients and were unable to turn to neighboring businesses for small purchases due to state laws that control the distribution of liquor.
This week, the Senate Professional Registration Committee heard testimony on my Senate Bill 293, which makes permanent another COVID-19 waiver, this one relating to advanced practice registered nurses (APRN). In order to facilitate telehealth services and increase access to health care in rural areas during the pandemic, the governor eased requirements regarding collaborative relationships between APRNs and physicians. If there’s anything good that came out of COVID-19, it may be reduced government regulation and a more efficient and responsive system of delivering health care services to rural Missourians.
The Senate Appropriations Committee continues its work reviewing proposals for the 2022 operating budget. One hearing held this week focused on tax credits administered by a number of state departments. During a separate hearing, the committee heard a number of bills, including my Senate Bill 467. This legislation allows participants in peer-to-peer fantasy sports contests to make wagers on the outcome. I also presented Senate Bill 470 to the Local Government and Elections Committee. This bill prohibits cities, counties and other political subdivisions from requiring a permit to install a battery-charged fence that interfaces with an alarm system. These fences are typically installed at storage lots and other commercial areas.
Several of my proposals moved beyond the committee stage of the legislative process this week. The Economic Development Committee, which I chair, voted “do pass” on my Senate Bill 437. This measure repeals a never-used provision of the law relating to economic development districts. The committee also approved my Senate Bill 466, which expands the make-up of the Missouri Development Finance Board and the Missouri Housing Development Commission to include seats to be filled by members of the Legislature. Senate Bill 547, legislation relating to financial statements of counties, was voted “do pass” by the Local Government and Elections Committee. My Senate Joint Resolution 3, a measure to amend Missouri’s Constitution to affirm the right to hunt and fish, also passed out of the Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Recreation Committee.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at 573-751-4302. You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.