I started out last Monday with a sub-committee hearing on Child Abuse Hotline Reporting and Emergency Removal. We had a list of questions for the department taken from the PowerPoint presentation they gave us two weeks ago. Several of the committee members need clarification of department policy and quite frankly, there are even conflicting statutes dealing with some of the issues. Our joint committee will be meeting during the interim in the district as well as other places around the state to get a better understanding of the wide variations in dealing with hotline calls. Our next meeting will be with some people from the juvenile office as well as some juvenile judges to get their take on why the system seems to be failing so many children.
The McDonald County FCCLA visited the Capitol after a successful competition in Columbia. They came home with four silver medals in Culinary Arts and Chapter Showcase. Way to go guys. This is the time of year for visits from schools and I think it's absolutely great that they are able to come to see our beautiful capitol. Pineville and Rocky Comfort brought groups last week and Seneca is coming this week. I always encourage groups to come and if we can get a little notice, we can arrange tours of the Supreme Court, Governor's Mansion, Prison, etc.
After an early morning Workforce Committee meeting, we went into session Wednesday for what would become a very long day. We had a number of bills to consider and lots of debate was necessary. We finally adjourned at midnight after a long and fruitful day. We had a great deal of discussion on the Education Reform bill. The major point of contention seemed to be the proposal that new hire teachers would no longer be eligible for "tenure." I voted for the measure primarily because special interests in the St.Louis area intend to put this measure on the ballot and depending on ballot language, it could eliminate all tenure, even for existing teachers. The vote for the measure was soundly defeated so I guess we will just have to wait and hope it doesn't make it on the ballot.
If you've been paying attention to the state news wires, you are probably aware of the accusations that the Division of Motor Vehicles has been scanning, storing, and sharing information with the federal government regarding Missouri citizens who have concealed weapon permits. The governor assured us last week that none of our records had been shared with the feds, but on a closer look by House and Senate committees, including a Senate subpoena of records, the governor was found to be in error. Once again, just like with the $6 million plane, the highway patrol is chosen to take the blame.
The Missouri General Assembly in 2009 passed HB361 which specifically states "no citizen of this state shall have his or her privacy compromised by the state or agents of the state." It appears to me as if the Nixon administration is saying one thing and doing something quite different. We are now preparing yet more legislation to prevent them from retaining and sharing information from the source documents we are required to show to obtain a driver's license. While this issue is still evolving, we should all be outraged. One of the Representatives from the Columbia area is now obtaining proof that personal information on every driver in the state has been sold to commercial interests. (Read that as telemarketers and others who want to sell us crap.)
Page 2 of 2 - The Medicaid expansion effort appears to be on hold for a while at least. The Senate last week took the position that they would not consider an expansion until we initiated some real reforms. One issue that I've been dealing with in Professional Registration is the question of letting Nurse Practitioners have more latitude in operating clinics, especially in rural areas. This is naturally met with some pretty heavy opposition from some Physician's groups, but when we are inundated with information that primary care physicians are rapidly diminishing, it appears to me to make perfect sense to allow nurses to provide some increased level of care. I know that there are definite lines drawn in the sand, but I'd sure rather be seen by a nurse with 10 or 12 years of school and 3 or more years in a clinic with a physician, than have to drive 20 or 30 miles to see a doctor.
Finally, I received a great e-mail entitled "Food For Thought" I'm going to share a tid bit with you weekly to see if you enjoy them as much as I did. "If you can get arrested for fishing or hunting without a license, BUT NOT for being in the country illegally... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots".
More next week, 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.