The week started off with a trip to Jefferson City . We were able to pre file bills on Monday which assures them a place on the calendar early in the session. That's if the speaker and the floor leader decide that they deserve a hearing in committee. Quite honestly, a lot of bills are filed that are never destined to get past the first step.
In an average year, more than 1,000 bills are filed and less than 100 get passed. That's a good thing, we don't need all that many new laws, we just need to enforce the ones we have. A lot of time this session will be spent trying to redo what the Supreme Court saw fit to undo. All but a very few of Missouri's 114 counties have complained about the loss of revenue due to the changes in sales tax collections.
There are literally dozens of suggestions for Legislation to restore the tax dollars to the counties. My opinion is that it should be the initiatives of the individual counties rather than the state telling the taxpayers what to do. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens on this one. There are also many requests to restore the caps on medical lawsuits. Once again the Supreme Court found a loophole on an existing law and put the State back where it was six years ago. This is an important issue when we lose doctors to other states that have tort reform.
If you haven't noticed, more and more clinics are popping up in neighboring states with lower limits. When this happens, we lose the tax revenues that those businesses generate as well as many professional people simply relocate to the other states. This is one of those issues that the trial lawyers champion and I can't see where it does my constituents a bit of good!
Monday afternoon was the first meeting of our Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. We had a quorum present and Senator Schaefer asked me to explain my idea for two sub committees. I suggested that by forming one sub committee to look into the reporting, investigation, and subsequent removal of a child and a second sub committee to investigate the foster and adoption process, we could accomplish more actual work. The entire program needs to be studied and improvements are needed at every level. The committee voted unanimously to proceed with my plan and we should be ready to go by the time session convenes in January. I was really surprised with the amount of excitement on the part of the committee members. Several of the Senators were most anxious to get started and believe me, if you can get a Senator excited, you've accomplished something. All kidding aside, this is something that a lot of people have wanted to participate in for a long time and I am really proud to be a part of it.
Page 2 of 2 - Tuesday was the last meeting for the interim committee on Local Governance. We will be reporting the results of our hearings to the speaker and he may or may not recommend legislative action. The situation in St. Louis County is, for the most part, a great example of the state trying to help a situation that was better left to local control. No matter which party is in control, someone always has a better idea of how to solve problems for cities or counties. The same thing is true of our National Government. I don't care whether it's sales tax, schools, health care, or employment practices, we are better off implementing rules for those things on a local basis than to have some well intended but sadly misinformed politician doing it for us. That's kind of like mom telling me that I have to eat brussels sprouts and liver because it's good for me!
We were at Goodman for a great parade Saturday afternoon. The weather cooperated and there was a wonderful crowd on hand to see all the entries. The Neosho Shrine Club had their old cars there and I reminisced on how the same cars with different hillbillies delighted my three boys 40 years ago! We do have some great traditions here in Southwest Missouri.
The Seneca parade Saturday night was a typical Seneca blowout!
How they can get that many people on Main Street is an amazing feat. The first two rows deep are children. The littlest ones are always allowed in front with the older ones behind them helping them spot the best stuff. Next comes three rows of adults ranging in age from their 20's to 80-plus! That was my last parade until next summer and although I won't miss the hectic schedule, I will miss all the fun.( Jane threw 30 pounds of candy out the window in 20 minutes).
Next week, there is a full schedule with Speaker Jones coming on Tuesday for his manufacturing tour and Senator Blunt here Wednesday for the I-49 opening. The senator is taking a side trip to Pineville to tour the Old Courthouse and see the progress on restoration.
Friday, I get to try my hand teaching a Government Class at Tri-way Elementary in Stella. I should have a good report next week. Until then, I am and remain, in your service.
Bill Lant represents the people of Southwest Missouri in the Missouri House of Representatives. Contact him locally at 437-8223 or at his Jefferson City office at (573) 751-9801 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.