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Weekly Capitol Report - March 2, 2017
ANOTHER COUNTY PASSES PDMP!
Every week the list is growing. Another county joins in passing a local ordinance for a prescription drug monitoring program.  Over half of the state's population is now covered!  Thank you Lincoln County!
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Touring Missouri Businesses
Charter in St. Louis

Yesterday, Reps Mark Matthiesen, Tom Hannegan and I had the pleasure of touring Charter's St. Louis Call Center & Technical Training Center. 

Charter has state of the art facilities and employ hundreds of Missourians.  They provide in-house training, good pay and benefits.  As a cable girl at heart, I have to admit the outside training in the pole yard was my favorite!  My husband Ray even snuck in on the tail end of the tour.

Thank you so much to Paul Berra, Eddie Trower, Sean O'Donnell, Jana Brewer and Rob Burton of Charter for taking the time to show us around!

Helping Missouri Small Businesses Grow
(HB 93)
My colleagues and I recently approved legislation that would provide a boost to the state’s small businesses, including many in rural areas. We voted in favor of a bill that would expand the Missouri Works program so that more of the state’s small businesses would be eligible for workforce training benefits.

The sponsor of the bill noted that in many areas of the state there are small businesses that do not qualify to obtain the benefits provided through Missouri Works. These businesses fall short of the program’s qualification criteria such as number of workers employed, or health insurance benefits provided. The bill approved this week would allow these businesses to pool together with businesses that do meet all of the program’s criteria in order to receive benefits. Specifically, the bill would allow a group of businesses to qualify as long as the majority of them meet the program’s criteria.

The Missouri Works program, which was created by the legislature in 2013, is the state’s  number one incentive tool for expansion and retention. The program helps businesses access capital through withholdings or tax credits to embark on facility expansions and create jobs.  It works to assist companies with the training of employees in new jobs and the retraining or upgrading of the skills of full-time employees in retained jobs.

Many states spend an enormous amount on economic development tools to bring in new business.  I realize this is important as well, however statistics prove that cultivating the small businesses in your state have a much stronger return on the the state's tax dollars.  Businesses already located here are already invested and intend to stay, many with generations of family roots.  Data proves that these are the best investments!
Preparing Students for the Workforce (HB 94)
 
We also approved legislation this week to give students a more direct path to the workforce. The bill approved by us House members would provide students with the option to obtain ACT National Career Readiness Certification.  The certification is meant to demonstrate the individual has essential, verifiable workplace skills.

As the sponsor mentioned on the House floor, many students take the traditional ACT test and then end up not going to college. By making the National Career Readiness Certification an option, legislators hope to give Missourians the ability to document their essential job skills, while also giving employers a helping hand in identifying capable workers.

Right now Missouri has 84 counties that participate in the Certified Work Ready Communities program that is designed to attract, retain, and develop a workforce with the education and fundamental skills to succeed in the 21st century. More than 3,300 businesses across the state participate in the program and are ready to hire employees with National Career Readiness Certification.
House Approves Bill to Continue Support for Pregnancy Resource Centers
(HB 655)
We took action this week to continue a tax credit program that helps secure funding for pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes in the state.  The tax credits encourage investment in programs that benefit many of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens.

Under current law, the tax credit for donations to maternity homes is set to expire June 30, 2020. The tax credit for donations to pregnancy resource centers expires December 31, 2019. The legislation approved by us would extend the sunset for both credits to 2023. There are $2.5 million in credits available each year for pregnancy resource centers. Each credit requires a minimum contribution of $100, of which 50 percent is tax-credit-eligible. Donors can claim up to a $50,000 credit per tax year. The maternity home tax credit works in similar fashion.

There are currently 69 pregnancy resource centers in Missouri that benefit from the tax credits. The centers provide assistance to women with crisis pregnancies or unplanned pregnancies by offering pregnancy testing, counseling, emotional and material support, and other similar services to encourage and assist such women in carrying their pregnancies to term. The state currently has 17 qualified maternity homes, which are residential facilities established for the purpose of providing housing and assistance to pregnant women who are carrying their pregnancies to term.
Urging the United States Senate to Confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch as United States Supreme Court Justice (HR 403)
 
In the House we took action this week to urge the United States Senate to confirm Judge Neil M. Gorsuch as a United States Supreme Court Justice. We approved a resolution supporting Gorsuch, who was nominated by President Trump and currently serves as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

The resolution notes that Gorsuch is an outstanding jurist with a commitment to upholding the United States Constitution and the rule of law. It also points out that he respects the role state government has and he consistently defends the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religion and the right to bear arms. In passing the resolution, we also praised Gorsuch for being a constitutional scholar, who will ensure the three branches of government act within the roles assigned to them by the United States Constitution.
 
Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing in the Senate is scheduled for March 20.
Ensuring Students Gain Skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fields
On Thursday our State Capitol was filled with students and education supporters who made the trip to Jefferson City to observe the state’s annual STEM day. The day is meant to highlight the important roles STEM education plays in the state’s economy and the opportunities it provides to students. The day was highlighted by various hands-on technology displays, including an F-18 flight simulator provided by the Boeing Company. Students also competed for the Capitol Cup in the first Lego League Robotics Challenge.

The event is hosted each year by the Missouri Chamber Foundation’s Mathematics and Science Coalition. The coalition is a group of business, education, government and community stakeholders who have come together to foster collaboration to ensure Missouri citizens are equipped with knowledge and skills in mathematics, engineering, technology and science to prosper in a global economy.

In the coming weeks, we are set to discuss legislation that would raise awareness of the need for young people to pursue STEM careers. The bill (HB 248) would require the Department of Economic Development to establish a statewide, online program for middle schools designed to promote careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
House Members to Honor Missouri’s Vietnam Veterans
In anticipation of the state’s annual Vietnam Veterans Day on March 30, we are encouraging veterans throughout the state to come forward to receive recognition for their service. As part of the annual celebration, Vietnam veterans will be honored at the State Capitol in our House Chamber by the Speaker of the House and my colleagues in House of Representatives. Each veteran will also receive an official House Resolution in honor of the service they provided to the nation.

Vietnam Veterans Day was created by the General Assembly with the passage of HB 1128 in 2012. The day, which is scheduled for March 30, is meant to recognize the courage and patriotism of those who served during the Vietnam Conflict. During the day, Missourians are encouraged to hold events, activities, and remembrances in honor of the veterans who bravely fought, served, and sacrificed during the Vietnam Conflict and returned home to no parades, ceremonies, or public celebrations to welcome them in gratitude for their courageous service given and sacrifices made on behalf of our nation.

Capitol Visitors

Missouri State Teachers Association

It was so nice to see Jonathan and Shaelynn from East Prairie for the MSTA Lobby Day!  East Prairie Schools are leading the Bootheel in school growth.  They have much to be proud of!

Rachel Grubbs from Sikeston was presented with a resolution for her activities in the 4H Legislative Academy. It was a pleasure to visit with her and hear about her future plans!
In the Press
Opposing Schaaf's PDMP

“It’s not about having a win, it’s about having good policy that can address this huge, huge problem. I can’t be okay passing something that doesn’t touch that main problem.”


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2016 Legislative Session Comes to a Close

 

 

Productive 2016 Legislative Session Comes to a Close

After more than four months of hard work, late nights and lengthy discussions, the Missouri House of Representatives concluded the 2016 legislative session with a long list of accomplishments. The session began with a focus on substantive ethics reform, and the legislature pushed several measures across the legislative finish line that will help to improve the culture at the State Capitol. The House and Senate also worked together to approve a fiscally responsible spending plan that makes a record investment in K-12 education, significantly boosts funding for Missouri’s colleges and universities, and provides new spending to help improve and repair the state’s transportation infrastructure.

 

In addition to ethics reform and the state spending plan, the legislature moved to protect the integrity of the elections process by implementing a system of voter identification, and approved legislation to root out waste, fraud, and abuse in the state’s welfare programs. Lawmakers also adopted several economic development measures to reduce bureaucratic red tape for Missouri’s small businesses, and invest in Missouri’s system of ports. Additionally, the legislature passed bills addressing issues ranging from suicide prevention to CPR instruction to tax relief for active duty members of the military.

 

With the completion of the regular session, the many bills passed by the General Assembly now head to the governor for his consideration. Legislators will next return to the State Capitol in September for the annual Veto Session when they will have the opportunity to consider overriding any vetoes made by the governor.

I've listed several below but will send out an "End of Session" report that you will receive via mail.  Too many to list in this report!

 

Strengthening Second Amendment Rights (SB 656)

The Missouri General Assembly advanced legislation this session to strengthen the gun rights of law-abiding Missourians. The bill will allow Missourians to carry a concealed weapon without the need for a permit. Commonly referred to as constitutional carry, the bill would allow any person to carry a concealed firearm anywhere that isn’t expressly prohibited by law. The bill is meant to build on the constitutional change made by Missouri citizens in 2014 that allows Missourians the right to permit-less carry.

 

The bill also ensures that individuals who do want to obtain a five-year concealed carry permit will not be charged a fee in excess of $100. The bill specifically prohibits additional fees that may be charged, including any fee for fingerprinting or criminal background check. Additionally, the bill will allow Missouri citizens to obtain 10-year, 25-year, or lifetime permits for $200, $250, and $500 respectively.

 

The legislation also contains a provision commonly referred to as “Stand Your Ground” law. The measure removes the requirement that a person who is any place they are legally allowed to be can use force without retreating first. The bill also expands the state’s castle doctrine law. Current statute allows individuals to use deadly force to defend themselves and their property against intruders. The bill approved by lawmakers will extend the protection against lawsuits to house guests who use deadly force. 

 Famous end of session paper toss!  2016

 

This is the famous end of session paper toss!  I didn't get to participate this year, as I had to leave a couple hours early due to family duties.  Fun photo showing the beauty of the House chamber and the end of the legislative session.

 

Ethics Reform - Changing the Culture in Jefferson City

  • HB 1979 – Revolving Door Ban.  Requires a waiting period for elected officials seeking to become lobbyists after leaving office.
  • HB 1983 – Ban on Elected Paid Political Consultants. Prevents elected officials from working as paid political consultants.
  • HB 2203 – Limits the investment of campaign funds and prohibits anyone from working as a lobbyist while they have an active campaign account.

 

Voter ID (HB 1631 and HJR 53)

 

The House and Senate reached final agreement on two measures designed to require a valid form of photo identification in order to vote. One is a proposed constitutional amendment that will go on the November ballot for voter approval. The other is a statutory change that is now on the governor’s desk for his consideration.

 

HJR 53 will allow voters to decide if the Missouri Constitution should be changed to allow a system of voter identification. If approved by voters, HB 1631 would then implement the system of voter identification. The bill would require voters to present a specified form of identification in order to vote in a public election. Valid forms of identification would include photo IDs issued by the state, the federal government or the military. The bill also would require the state to pay for individuals to obtain a valid ID if they do not have one, or to obtain documents necessary for an ID. Additionally, the final version of the HB 1631 contains a provision that would allow a voter without a valid photo ID to vote with a regular ballot by showing another form of identification.

Big Government Get Off My Back Act (HB 1870)

The General Assembly approved legislation meant to cut the bureaucratic red tape that too often stifles the growth of small businesses in Missouri. The bill revives the Big Government Get Off My Back Act for tax years 2016 through 2021.

 

The act originally ran from 2009 to 2014 and was instrumental in prohibiting new rules and regulations on small businesses, as well as unnecessary fee increases. The act also gives a $10,000 tax deduction for any small business, with 50 employees or less, that hires additional employees and pays them at least the average county wage. A business can claim a $20,000 deduction if it also pays for at least half of its employees’ health insurance premiums.

 

In its final year in 2014, the act provided tax relief to 196 small businesses throughout Missouri. Supporters hope to provide assistance to even more businesses by reviving the program.

Welfare Reform (SB 607)

As you know welfare reform is one of the things in government that I'm quite passionate about.  I feel we must continually work on this program to ensure that we are helping those who truly need it, but by helping I mean to get to a point of standing on your own two feet through education and job training.  Simple hand-outs only prevent recipients from being able to see and obtain their true potential.  Over the years government has actually hurt people with the way they have tried to help.  

Legislation is now on its way to the governor’s desk to allow the state to more efficiently and proficiently verify applicants and recipients of welfare services. The bill will allow the Missouri Department of Social Services to hire an outside vendor to conduct the verification process for applicants for the state’s various welfare programs such as the supplemental nutrition assistance program, temporary assistance for needy families, child care assistance, and MO HealthNet. The bill is meant to help the department ensure accuracy in the welfare rolls, which is a process it has admittedly fallen behind in performing. The bill has the added benefit of possibly saving the state more than $20 million over the next three years by eliminating waste and fraud from the system.

 

The legislation also creates the Joint Committee on Public Assistance to study, monitor, and review the efficacy of Missouri’s public assistance programs. The committee will also determine the level and adequacy of resources needed for the state’s programs, and develop recommendations on the public assistance programs and on promoting independence from safety net programs.

 

 

Suffering Some Set-Backs

Two of the pieces of legislation that I sponsored, and you heard the most about, were Paycheck Protection and The Narcotics Control Act.  Both died the second to the last day of session.

Paycheck Protection was veto'd by the Governor and returned for an in-session over-ride.  This bill is vehemently opposed by the unions as it would make the union bosses work to provide a service to their members.  The House successfully completed the over-ride with no room to spare.  The Senate went to it Wednesday night and after a few hours voted around 12:30 am and came up one vote short of the number needed.  

We will continue to work to revamp Missouri's antiquated labor laws.  We lost this battle, but it is too important to give-up on.  Unions continue to shrink in Missouri and they don't seem to understand when you do the same thing over and over you cannot expect different results.  In the meantime our factories will continue to close and our jobs will continue to go to states with better labor laws.  What you can do right now is help me work to get a governor that will sign labor law reform bills.  An over-ride isn't necessary when you have a governor that will work with the legislature and pass laws that increase business in the state - union and non-union jobs.  We need them all.  Right now we get neither.

The Narcotics Control Act as you know would implement a prescription monitoring program in Missouri as in all the other states.  Right now Missouri medical professionals cannot see what medications another doctor has their patient taking.  We have forced our doctors to be investigators, therefore those with chronic pain have a harder time obtaining their medication and those with addictions are not noticed until social services, law enforcement or desperate family members get involved. I was very hopeful this would be the session that we would get this life-saving piece of legislation over the finish line.  I'm so very disappointed that is not the case.  However, giving up is not within me.  

I am so pleased that St. Louis County has passed an ordinance to have a prescription drug monitoring program within their county and other surrounding counties are working to join in.  We will have prescription drug monitoring programs in Missouri.     

 

 

One thing is always certain, God's love for us.  He knows our hearts and is always present.  With The Narcotics Control Act dying on Thursday, and Paycheck Protection, I woke up Friday morning with a heavy heart.

However, it was Kayden's first time to come to the Capitol!  He has waited patiently for years now to see where I worked.  In this photo Kayden is standing with me during our opening prayer.  He was a bit overwhelmed at first but it certainly made my heart smile to have him next to me.

 

Thank you for allowing me to represent you.  Always know I don't take it lightly and I put my whole heart into it.      

Please share with your friends and encourage them to sign up for our reports.  Stop by or contact us anytime by calling (573) 751-5471 or via email at holly.rehder@house.mo.gov or lynn.overton@house.mo.gov.   

Kindest regards,

 

 

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PDMP Update 4-22-16

The Narcotics Control Act Moves Forward in the Senate!

I’m excited to tell you today that the Narcotics Control Act was voted out of the Senate Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure, and Public Safety by a vote of 7 to 0 yesterday.  Our hearing went very well and I can’t thank Chairman Libla enough for the kindness he conveyed to those who came to testify on personal tragedies they have experienced due to us not having a prescription drug monitoring program in place.  I’ve added a video clip from the hearing.  Mrs. Cindy O’Neill displayed enormous courage explaining to the committee the downfall of our medical professionals not being able to see all the medications being prescribed to their patients.

Click below to watch this testimony in support of House Bill 1892 to establish PDMP in Missouri.

 

 

The Narcotics Control Act is now in a position to be brought up on the Senate floor for debate.  We are three weeks away from the end of session so it is imperative that you contact your Senator today and explain why this bill is important to you.  Whether you are in the medical field, and you see the need first hand every day, or if you or your family has suffered due to Missouri not having this important medical tool, they need to hear from you.  

As elected officials, it is important to us to hear from our constituents on the issues that matter to them.  Please make that call today.  YOU can help move this ball forward.

Together, we can help save families.

Kindest regards,

 

 


Holly Rehder

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Capitol Report - 4/14/16

4 Weeks to Go!

In the last few weeks of session we have to watch especially close to all bills brought up on the floor because of last minute amendments.  A bill that we could be in favor of, and extremely familiar with, can change in an instant with a floor amendment.  A bill coming back from the senate could be completely changed via added senate language.  This is why when you look at our votes we very well may have voted for something the first round and then against on the second or third vote.  One instance of this happened just today.  House Bill 1632 originally simply required county office vacancies to be appointed in a timely fashion.  However, once amendments were finalized, the bill takes away the authority of local county health boards to pass health regulations, rules and orders.  This is a problem...so my vote changed from a yes, to a no.


 

 

 

Please share this video with your friends and family.  We need to generate as many calls into our Senators as possible.  It truly makes a difference.  When a Senator has 10 calls against legislation and 200 for it....they can easily say "my district needs and wants this passed!"  That's powerful.  I humbly ask for your help...together we can help save families.


 

Legislative Pressure Prompts Governor Nixon to Release Withheld Funding

As the governor released $2.1 million in funds he had withheld from the current state operating budget, House Budget Chairman Tom Flanigan expressed his thanks but also cautioned that the legislature will continue to monitor other opportunities to override the governor’s withholdings.
 
The Missouri House had voted in bipartisan fashion on Wednesday, March 16 to override the governor’s withholds of $575,000 for the Missouri Scholars Academy and the Missouri Fine Arts Academy, and $350,000 for the Brain Injury Waiver Fund. While the Senate has yet to complete the overrides, Flanigan said it’s clear that the constitutional authority given to the General Assembly by voters was instrumental in forcing the governor’s hand.
 
“I’m happy to see the governor release funds to these deserving programs, but also extremely thankful that the voters made the wise decision to give the legislature the authority to intervene in times when his withholds are not justified. This is an important check and balance that Missourians saw fit to give us, and it’s a power we will continue to exercise when the governor oversteps his authority by unnecessarily restricting funding for worthy programs,” said Flanigan.
 
The governor also released $250,000 in funding for the foster kids health home, $400,000 for asthma services, $300,000 for naturally occurring retirement communities, and $250,000 for the Sullivan County Lake project. Even with the money he released, the governor continues to withhold more than $44 million in funds appropriated by the legislature for the current state operating budget.
 
The legislature gained the constitutional authority to override withholdings made by the governor when Missourians overwhelming approved Amendment 10 in 2014. The legislature’s authority works in a similar fashion to its ability to override a gubernatorial veto and requires a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.


 

This lovely group came to the Capitol from SADI, the SEMO Alliance for Disability Independence.  They come up every year and always work hard to explain how SADI benefits our districts!


 

Additional Help For Noranda Employees

This past week we had the opportunity to help pass House Bill 2689 out of the House of Representatives.  HB 2689 would enable the Noranda to receive a sustainable power rate.  It is a critical step to restarting the smelter’s pot lines and getting people back to work.  Without a competitive and sustainable power rate it is very unlikely the smelter will ever produce another pound of aluminum.
 
House Bill 2689 now moves on to the Senate.  With only four weeks remaining in this legislative session, time cannot be wasted.  The jobs at Noranda support our region in many ways.  The risk of this rippling effect through our region is too great to miss any and all opportunities to mitigate the damage.


Missouri Job Center Programs and Services:
The Missouri Job Centers provide the following programs and services to Dislocated Workers:
•  Assessment services to identify your skills, interests and other traits to help guide you to a new career
•  Earn a National Career Readiness Certificate, a portable credential measuring workplace skills
•  Career counseling services to help you explore potential careers, utilize labor market information and identify open jobs that meet your skill sets
•  Development of an Individual Employment Plan to assist you in reaching your employment goals
•  Job preparation workshops to assist with resume writing, interviewing skills and effective job searching
•  Workshops on financial management and starting a small business
•  Training and education services that allow you to earn a certificate or work toward a degree
•  Work Based Learning programs to either gain valuable work experience or train On-the-Job
•  Utilize Job Center equipment to conduct a self directed job search
 
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Supportive Services may be available to Noranda workers, living out of state, on a limited basis to allow for participation in Career, Individualized or Training services (career counseling, workshops, assessments, or training).  Supportive services are not available to individuals participating in self directed services. Eligibility for WIOA Supportive Services is determined on a case by case basis and based on actual need. Allowable Supportive Services include:
•  Transportation (mileage reimbursement, car repairs, car payment);
•  Child or dependent care;
•  Housing (rent, utilities); and
•  Tools, uniforms, boots/shoes, clothing or books necessary for training or work.
 
Eligibility Guidelines for WIOA Supportive Services require:
 
•  Participation in a WIOA Career, Individualized or Training Service;
•  Inability to obtain services through any other source, such as faith based organizations, non-profit organizations, government assistance programs, etc; and
•  Be able to show how the Supportive Service is necessary to participate in WIOA Individualized or Training services. 
 
Trade Act Program:
The Noranda closure has been certified as a Trade Act eligible event.   Trade Act offers the following benefits:
•  Training Assistance
    •  Provides up to 130 weeks of full or part time training based on need and Labor Market Information (LMI); or
    •  Up to 130 weeks of Registered Apprenticeship; or
    •  Up to 104 weeks of On-the-Job training based on need and Labor Market Information (LMI).
•  Trade Reemployment Allowance (TRA)
    •  Provides benefit similar to Unemployment Insurance (UI) for workers who meet specific criteria.  When combined with UI, a worker may receive up to 130 weeks of benefits.  Filing deadlines apply.
•  Job Search Allowance
    •  Provides a 90% reimbursement of expenses incurred to participate in approved job search activities that are outside the worker’s commuting area (commuting area is defined, in Missouri, as 25 miles one-way).
•  Relocation Allowance
    •  Provides a 90% reimbursement of moving expenses when suitable employment is obtained outside of the worker’s commuting area.  Suitable employment is a job that pays at least 80% of the wage rate of the previously held position and is full-time, permanent.
    •  Provides a lump up to $1,250 for other expenses (deposit on utilities, apartment, etc.)
•  Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance (RTAA)
    •  Provides a wage subsidy for workers who are 50 years old or older that pays half the difference in wage between the previously held job and new employment.  Maximum benefit is two years or $10,000.
•  Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC)
    •  Provides a 72.5% tax credit for health insurance premiums.  This program is administered by the IRS (www.irs.com) and they define which insurance plans are allowable.
        •  To be potentially eligible under the Trade Act program, the worker has to be receiving Unemployment Insurance (and be eligible for TRA), TRA, or RTAA.
        •  HCTC is on a month to month basis depending on if a UI, TRA, or RTAA payment was drawn.


 

Mr. Tom Beardsley came up to see me this week to discuss the Convention of the States.  I was so impressed and appreciate Mr. Tom caring so much about our district and nation!


 

House Approves Regulations for Fantasy Sports such as FanDuel and DraftKings (HB 1941)

The Missouri House gave approval this week to legislation that would require daily fantasy sports sites to register to do business in Missouri, but would exempt them from the state’s gambling laws.
 
The legislation would require fantasy sports sites like FanDuel and DraftKings to register with the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, and pay an annual $5,000 registration fee. The bill also would require safeguards to prevent individuals who would have an unfair advantage from participating in fantasy contests, such as employees or individuals who participate in, or officiate, the sporting event.
 
Supporters of the legislation believe daily fantasy sports sites require skill and should not be regulated in the same way gambling is in Missouri. Opponents say daily fantasy sports do involve luck rather than just skill, and that the regulations outlined by the bill are not extensive enough.


 

Protecting Missourians from the Dangers of Human Trafficking (HB 2561)

Missourians would be better aware of the dangers of human trafficking under legislation approved by the House this week. House members approved a bill to require various establishments in Missouri to display a poster that provides information regarding the national human trafficking resource center hotline.
 
Under the bill, the poster would have to be displayed near the entrance of establishments such as hotels or motels that have been cited as a public nuisance for prostitution, strip clubs or other sexually-oriented businesses, private clubs that have a liquor permit, women’s health centers, bus stations, train stations, airports, emergency rooms, and urgent care centers.
 
The posted would contain the following information:
 
“If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave – whether it is commercial sex, housework, farm work, or any other activity – call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to access help and services. Victims of human trafficking are protected under U.S. and Missouri law.
 
The toll-free hotline is:
·         Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
·         Operated by a non-profit, non-governmental organization
·         Anonymous and confidential
·         Accessible in 170 languages
·         Able to provide help, referral to services, training, and general information."

 
Supporters of the bill said the posters are an important tool to raise awareness by providing access to information for victims and those who might observe human trafficking. They noted that 25 other states already encourage or mandate that similar posters be displayed.


 

Protecting Seniors from Bullying (HB 1715)

The House took action this week to approve a very simple but very important piece of legislation that will better protect Missouri’s senior population from harm. The bill approved by House members defines that bullying an elderly person constitutes elderly abuse.  The bill goes on to define bullying as intimidation or harassment that causes a reasonable person to fear for his or her physical safety or property. Under the bill, bullying would consist of physical actions including gestures; cyberbullying; oral, electronic, or written communication; and any threat of retaliation for reporting of such acts.
The sponsor of the bill noted that Missouri already acknowledges bullying is wrong for children, and his bill simply makes it a crime to bully seniors as well. He said the goal with his bill is to send the message that bullying Missouri’s most vulnerable is unacceptable.

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Capitol Report - 4/08/16

5 Weeks to Go!

Bills are moving fast and both Houses are working diligently to finalize the budget, wrap up remaining bills coming through committees and discuss all bills that have advanced to the floor.

Paycheck Protection is waiting for our veto over-ride.  I'm looking forward to getting this done!

The Narcotics Control Act is scheduled to be heard in the Senate committee on April 20th.   Keep this in your prayers please!


 

The ladies from Bootheel Babies made the trip up from Southeast Missouri to lobby on behalf of this important program.


 

So excited to have some of our East Prairie ladies up this week with Mississippi County Caring Communities.  They had a table display in the rotunda and met with legislators about the programs they provide.  Very important to our communities!


 

First Ethics Reform Measure Advances to Governor’s Desk (HB 1983)

Making good on the promise to make substantive ethics reform a top priority, the General Assembly sent legislation to the governor’s desk this week that would help improve the culture at the State Capitol. The legislation that has now received final approval from both the House and Senate would prohibit statewide elected officials and members of the General Assembly from receiving compensation as paid political consultants.
 
The bill, which received bipartisan support in the House and unanimous approval in the Senate, would ensure that elected officials do not receive pay for campaign strategy or fundraising work while in office. The sponsor of the legislation explained how some elected officials have used their positions to gain personal wealth, and the bill is meant to prevent this type of conflict of interest.  You would think this common sense measure would already be in place....but, hopefully it will be soon!
 
The bill now awaits the signature of the governor, who has said he supports strengthening the state’s ethics laws. 


 

I love having our retired teachers up from Sikeston each year.  Seeing Mrs. Marlys always puts a smile on my face!  You can bet these ladies had fun while getting business done.


 

House Approves “Step Therapy” Measure to Improve Access to Vital Medications (HB 2029)

Missourians with chronic illnesses would have better access to the medications they need under legislation approved by the Missouri House this week. The legislation is designed to prevent redundant “step therapy” so that patients who switch health insurance benefits are not forced to try medications that have already proven to be ineffective before being allowed to use medication that works.
 
The bill is designed to address a problem the sponsor encountered as he sought medical treatment for his type II diabetes. With step therapy, a patient will first use the most cost-effective and safest medication and, if it is not effective, will then move to a more costly therapy. Step therapy has been an effective process, but the sponsor noted that it becomes an issue when a patient tries several medications to find one that is effective, but then has to start the process all over again when changing insurance providers.
 
The legislation approved by the House simply ensures that a patient will not have to go through the process of trying multiple medications again simply because of an insurance change. In effect, it makes it so the medicine prescribed by the patient’s doctor is the medicine the patient is allowed to take. 
 
The legislation received overwhelming bipartisan support and is now on its way to the Senate for consideration.


 

Farm Bureau has an annual dinner for farmers and legislators each year in Jefferson City.  Several farmers from SEMO always make it up.  In this picture is Rep. Tila Hubrecht, Tom and Becky Jennings, Holly and Mr. Matt Bain from Lt. Governor Peter Kinder's office.


 

Expanding Access to Health Care (HB 1923)

The Missouri House approved legislation this week designed to modernize health care in Missouri, and improve the level of care provided by the state’s system of Medicaid. The legislation brings telehealth services in Missouri into state statute and works to bring greater access to health care to Missourians in rural and underserved areas. 
 
The bill would update Missouri’s laws on Medicaid reimbursement in regard to telehealth services so that more health care professionals could provide telehealth care to Medicaid recipients. Supporters of the bill say it is an important change that will allow patients to receive care without having to travel long distances. They noted the change could also result in a significant cost savings. In 2015 the state’s Medicaid program allocated more than $40 million for use in providing non-emergency medical transportation to take patients in underserved areas to see specialists.
 
The legislation would further expand telehealth services by adding schools as an approved originating site that is eligible for Medicaid reimbursement. Additionally, the bill clarifies the law regarding prescriptions made by a physician via telemedicine to better ensure pharmacies will provide the prescribed medication.
 
Telehealth is a means of delivering health care through the use of videoconferencing and other telecommunication technologies. It allows patients to have a live, real-time interaction with a specialist, who can provide care almost as effectively as if they are in the same room. Telemedicine has been an option for some Missourians for more than two decades now and the Missouri Telehealth Network has more than 200 sites in 62 Missouri counties. The network provided 30,000 appointments in 2013 that allowed most patients to see specialists that weren’t available in their hometown. A recent study by the network found that 90 percent of patients and providers were satisfied with the quality of care they received via telemedicine.


 

Our SEMO Electric folks stopped in last week to talk about the issues facing our utility companies today.  Great group from Southeast Missouri....and much better weather for their trip this year!


 

Each year Senator Doug Libla brings a group of kids up from the Bootheel to show them their Capitol and to learn a little about the legislative process.  This is such a great experience for the kids and I can't thank Senator Libla enough for his kindness and concern about our communities and constituents.  In this picture, Rep. Don Rone is answering questions.


 

Honoring Missouri’s Vietnam Veterans

Some of the state’s greatest heroes made their way to the State Capitol this week to be honored for their service to this country. Vietnam veterans traveled to Jefferson City to be honored by lawmakers during the annual observance of Vietnam Veterans Day.
 
House members offered resolutions to many of the visiting veterans in appreciation for their service to the United States. Lawmakers also gathered in the House Lounge to offer their sincere thanks to the many veterans in attendance. Finally, members paused from a busy day of debate to honor the visiting Vietnam Veterans on the House floor.
 
The observance of Vietnam Veterans Day was created by HB 1128, which was approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor in 2012. The day is meant to recognize the courage and patriotism of those who served during the Vietnam Conflict.


 

Look at this awesome group that came to the Capitol from Southeast Missouri!  Brian Henson brought the students up from the Sikeston Career and Technology Center.  They were in Jefferson City for the SkillsUSA leadership state competition.


 

Representative Swan and Holly working on the House floor

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Holly Rehder, state representative, 148th District paid for by friends of Holly Rehder, Lisa Neumeyer, Treasurer
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