We've done a lot of driving around the district this past week and the trees are sure getting pretty!

The downside of the fall weather, of course, is that winter can't be far off. Just about everyone I know is preparing for cold weather. Let's hope that some of the predictions about a mild winter come true. At least we have plenty of hay this year.
Empire District had a groundbreaking at their Riverton, Kan., plant last week. That facility has been generating electricity in one way or another since the beginning of the 20th century. Their new plant will be able to utilize the exhaust gases from the turbines to create steam and generate additional power. With the challenges that the EPA continues to place on power companies, innovative practices like this will solve many problems.

I had the pleasure of addressing the Voices Youth Program concerning the election and voting practices in Missouri.

These young people, ages 16 to 21, were not only very attentive but had some great questions. We talked about the entire process from filing to election. We had a bit of fun discussing some of the different campaign tactics that some candidates use to get that "extra edge." It is somewhat ironic that the same people we allow to lie about their opponents while campaigning, we expect to be truthful as elected officials!

We were invited to the annual fundraiser banquet for the Talkington Foundation on Thursday evening. There were some great speakers and even better food! The foundation and its affiliate, the Kelly Club, provide a wonderful resource for drug and alcohol intervention and recovery. Their programs are proven and literally thousands of lives have been made better over the years because of the caring people who work tirelessly to staff and fund the facility.

Friday morning we went to Monett for the yearly Senior Olympics. All the area nursing homes participate in fun and games at the Monett High School each year. The individual homes have their teams all ready to participate in such activities as basketball toss, cow milking, hog calling, and even bingo. Each team has mascots and cheerleaders to make it even more fun. I always look forward to being a judge and I promise you that we judges have as much fun as the participants.

Sometimes politics are confusing even for those of us that are exposed to daily doses of it. Last week the governor announced that he was going to add substantial amounts to funding for K-12 and higher education. First off, the governor doesn't control the budget, the General Assembly does. The only part the governor plays is to send a suggested budget to the Assembly and then withhold up to 3 percent of each line item if the state fails to collect as much tax as was forecast. That's all! The governor has decimated transportation funding to Missouri schools by continually cutting the amount we appropriate. Now, while this doesn't affect big city schools much, Seneca and McDonald County schools have over 3,000 miles of bus routes daily. Cutting 70 percent of their funds over the past five years and giving it to who knows what, hurts badly. The next problem is that the Department of Education is going to ask for an additional $18 million to buy laptops for Common Core testing. That's another thing the governor signed onto without allowing the General Assembly to have a say in the matter. I guess the budget director said it best when he was being interviewed about the governor's comments. "Which social program does he intend to deprive of the money he wants to give to education?" This promises to get interesting!

We were at River Ranch Saturday for the annual Ducks Unlimited banquet. John and his crew had a great meal and the auction was as fun as always. My grandson ended up with an air rifle and I fully expect that the squirrel population is about to take some serious casualties! That's enough for now, more next week. Until then, I am and remain in your service.

Bill Lant represents the people of Newton and McDonald counties in the Missouri House of Representatives.