We had an interesting week of committee work, floor work, and lively debate. Monday, in the Committee for Local Government, I presented HB65, which would allow 18 year olds to run for office in 4th class cities.
Dirk Deaton, from Noel, had the idea for the proposal and was on hand to appear as a witness for the bill. The committee was impressed with his testimony and we expect to hear the outcome of their vote this week. Dirk and his dad did a tour of the Capitol and ended up on the top of the dome! It is really a special treat for me to have visitors come to the Capitol and if you haven't been there, you are really missing a treat.
I heard HB320 Monday afternoon. It deals with providing protection for people who report illegal activity at their place of work. The bill gives a clear description of what an employer must do when there is a report of illegal activity and provides clear language of how an employee is to be treated after making a report. In the past there have been instances of an employee being fired for reporting misconduct and this bill seeks to remedy the problem.
Monday, Feb. 11, I was privileged to meet with Ross Babbitt, Aaron Gent and Jay Mitchell at a reception and dinner sponsored by the Telecommunications Industry Association. They always have a very informative meeting and it sure is helpful to have folks from home there to explain things to us.
Tuesday, Feb. 12 in session, we took up HB256. This piece of legislation deals with drawing a clear line between public safety and public information. There was a concern that things like school disaster response plans might be made public through information disclosures and thus available to those who wish to do harm. We must take care that transparency in government doesn't jeopardize public safety.
On Wednesday I held a public hearing on two Right to Work proposals. These bills were for the most part identical to the bill last week that set an attendance record for a committee hearing. I was pleasantly surprised to see only about 45 people in the hearing room. Once again, all who were present and wished to testify were given the opportunity to speak.
By conducting a fair hearing and allowing everyone to participate, we can get a good understanding of both points of view and this will guide us on whether to pursue the legislation further. In floor action Wednesday, we took up HJR5 and HB48. These bills deal with voter I.D. This subject has always been heavily favored in our part of the state. It really makes good sense to me to require positive identification for exercising our most important right. We had significant opposition from the large metropolitan areas but after 6 hours of debate, the vote heavily favored the proposal. Now we will send it to the Senate where it will undoubtedly face several more grueling hours of debate. I have to give great credit to Senator Richard and the Senate leadership for getting right down to business this year. If we're not careful, they will have stuff ready for us before we send them anything. Working together is always in the best interest of the voters, and both houses seem determined to accomplish this.
Page 2 of 2 - Finally, I want to address some rather silly legislation that has been proposed by a couple of St.Louis reps that seem intent on stirring up the mud. HB545 is a goofy proposal that we should have 90 days to turn in our "assault weapons" or to ship them out of Missouri. First, let me explain something. Any one of the 163 Representatives has the right to submit a bill for consideration. Once the bill is turned into the clerk's office, it becomes public information. This allows a rep to "grandstand" an issue if they so please. They so pleased! HB545 is so outrageous that it shouldn't even have been considered news. It was unfortunately spread all over the internet and most all of the reps in the state have spent all weekend answering constituents concerns. This bill will NOT GO ANYWHERE. At least in Missouri. Maybe Illinois, California and Canada. In my humble opinion, we need to spend our time and efforts on enforcing our current laws and working on proposals for better care for the mentally unstable.
This week we will be meeting in sub committee on Child Abuse Reporting and will hear from the department heads about the current methods they use to categorize calls. I also have Transportation and Workforce Hearings so I will have a lot to report next time. Until then, I am and remain, in your service.
Bill Lant represents the people of Southwest Missouri in the Mo. 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.