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Weekly Capitol Report - March 22, 2017
In the Press
Interview at St. Louis Public Radio (NPR)
Economic Development, PDMP, the 2020 election and more - I very much enjoyed the chatting with Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies in their studio Friday morning!
MISSOURI TIMES: House and Senate accomplishments (so far) in the 2017 session

"The session started with a bang when Gov. Eric Greitens signed right-to-work into law in early February after years of effort by Senate and House Republicans. Republicans in both chambers wasted no time in passing bills from Sen. Dan Brown and Rep. Holly Rehder.

The state also looks set on adopting some form of a prescription drug monitoring program this year as well with Sen. Dave Schatz and Rehder continuing their battle against Sen. Rob Schaaf on the issue."

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Interview with Columbia Missourian
I interviewed this week with John from Columbia Missourian on the need for a statewide PDMP. I appreciate their interest in this vital topic.  Columbia has passed a local ordinance for a PDMP.
KSN: Confronting Opioid Abuse

"74 percent of doctors said that they changed their prescribing practices based on having this information about their patient," Rehder continued. "In Florida, when they were fully implemented, 50 percent less Methadone was prescribed." 

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Upcoming Area Events

Ran into hard working ladies this weekend! Scott City Girl Scouts...oh yes, I couldn't resist those sweet faces & cookies!
Charter School Expansion Bill Receives House Approval (HB 634)
As you probably know by now, we did approve the amended Charter Expansion bill on Thursday.  Many changes went into the amendment and I believe it came out a very strong, positive bill for all school districts.  Let me give you a few of the highlights below:
  • The bill will only allow charter schools to expand to areas where at least one school is performing poorly.  Performing poorly as in has failed two of the last three years by having a 60% or below school building grade. 
  • The legislation would increase the accountability and academic requirements for not only new charter schools, but existing ones as well.  From the documentation and statistics that we reviewed while working through this bill, it was clear that we needed a mechanism in place to shut down charter schools that are not performing.  If the charter underperforms in comparison to similar schools in their district for two of the past three years, they will be limited to a three year charter renewal.  Then not renewed if they do not come up to passing. 
  • The legislation limits the public dollars sent to the charter schools to no more than 90% of the sending district’s tuition. 
  • The entire bill is contingent on the public school foundation formula being fully funded.  If the K-12 formula is not fully funded, then no charter school changes go into effect.  
This bill is certainly not perfect.  I’ve yet to see one that is.  But the facts are that we have many kids in schools throughout Missouri that are failing.  Many are poor children destined to grow up, in America, without an education.  They have no alternative right now, they will come out of their public school system and continue in the poverty cycle to which they were born.  Maybe growing up in poverty and having only slim hope for a better life is not something you are familiar with.  I am.   However I was also blessed to be in public school systems that made a difference in my life.  For these many, many children who are not blessed with adequate public schools, we must look beyond our comfort and accept some changes.  

The threshold for change is having a score of 60% or below two of three years in a row.  We wouldn’t pass a child to the next year with a 60% or lower grade and we shouldn’t allow that to continue throughout our state for our schools either.  I have been shocked by looking at the scores.  It is a clear indication that we need to introduce competition into the public school system in some areas.  The way to prevent charter schools from coming in is to simply pass with only a D average.  Surely this is something we can all agree on.

Allowing charter schools in Missouri without proper checks and balances is not acceptable either.  I’m happy to see this bill now takes into account concerns from both sides of this issue.  Charter schools are not the answer to every failing district and I do realize that.  But they are the answer for some.  To those children this very well may mean the difference between a life with potential or a life without.  Those children should matter as well.  

The bill will now move through the senate.  We will be watchful, any changes will have to come back through the house for approval.  

Again, the way to prevent charter schools from ever coming into the 148th district is to keep a D grade or better.  I hope this information has given you more insight to what the bill contains.  You can also read the bill by clicking the following link: http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills171/hlrbillspdf/0986H.04P.pdf
Raising the Marriage Age to Protect Young People (HB 270)
 
We continued our fight against human trafficking this week as the we approved legislation to raise the minimum age for marriage from 15 to 17 years old.  Many of you may be thinking, "Is this really a problem in Missouri?".  I'm so sorry to report that it is, and due to our current laws, we are a state that others come to for this very reason.
 
We currently have a minimum age of 18 to obtain a marriage license without parental consent. Young people age 15 to 17 can receive a license with parental consent. Individuals of any age also have the option to get married without consent if they successfully petition the court to obtain a license.
 
The legislation approved by this past week would raise the age requirement to 17. An earlier version of the bill had raised concerns that Missouri law would block a marriage and interfere in the decision of a family in situations in which no coercion or wrongdoing is present. The bill’s language was changed to require a hearing before a judge, so that parties can present evidence that the marriage is advisable. The bill also includes a provision to ensure no marriage license is issued to any person 21 years of age or older if the other party to the marriage is less than 17 years of age.
 
The goal of the bill is to prevent child marriages that are used to disguise abusive situations and human trafficking. Virginia recently raised its minimum age requirement after seeing a large number of underage girls marry men who were far older. According to one study, more than 7,300 teens under the age of 18 were married in Missouri from 2000 to 2014.
 
Pictured with me are my colleagues Representatives Hannah Kelley, Jered Taylor, and Robert Cornejo.  Stretching our legs while listening to debate gets necessary this time of year as our sessions on the floor get much longer! 
House Budget Committee Unveils Spending Proposal that Fully Funds Education
 
Our public schools in Missouri would be fully funded for the first time under the budget proposal unveiled by our House Budget Committee Chairman this week. The proposed spending plan would also restore a proposed cut to in-home care and nursing home services for senior and disabled Missourians.

Our Budget Chairman said the 13 appropriations bills that will make up the Fiscal Year 2018 state operating budget represent the legislature’s commitment to its young people, as well as to its most vulnerable citizens.

In addition to the additional $48 million that will fully fund the School Foundation Formula, our House budget proposal restores proposed cuts to K-12 transportation funding. The plan also secures $6 million in funding to increase broadband internet access for our Missouri schools. Additionally, our budget plan in the House restores $21.75 million in proposed cuts for the state’s institutions of higher learning.

The FY 2018 spending plan proposed by our House Budget Committee also restores approximately $52 million in proposed cuts that would have impacted 20,000 seniors and disabled Missourians who currently qualify for state-funded in-home care and nursing home services.

Other notable funding decisions in our House plan include $3.5 million to fulfill the state’s commitment to the Biodiesel Producer Incentive Fund, record levels of funding for the state employee pension plan, and $1.4 million to fund a system of voter identification in our state.

Our House Budget Committee will work to finalize the budget bills and send them to the floor when we resume session. The plan is to discuss the bills on the floor and have them out of our Chamber by April 6. The Senate will then have until May 5 to agree with us in the House to a spending plan and send it to the governor.
Rep. Warren Love and I were happy to have Rep. Bill White's help in the middle of floor debate!  An amendment was dropped and sometimes it takes multiple sets of eyes to be certain we have the full understanding before moving forward.  I am very thankful and blessed.  We have many colleagues that are always willing to step up and help!
This is my "I'm so proud to serve with Rep. Don Rone" section!

House Bill 662, Sponsored by Rep. Don Rone, is meant to stop the illegal use of herbicides.  

Many farmers in our region lost an average of 35 percent of their crops when neighboring farmers used an outdated Dicamba product.  Wind and temperature changes caused the product to spread onto nearby fields.  Because the product was drifting onto fields not planted with seeds resistant to it, those crops were damaged. At least 150 farmers were impacted by the illegal use of the product.

The legislation we approved would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a fine to any individual who knowingly applies a herbicide to a crop for which the herbicide is not labeled for use. Under current law, the fine is a flat $1,000, which we feel is not a strong enough deterrent. Under the bill, the department could issue a fine of up to $10,000 per violation when a product is spread illegally. The fine would escalate to up to $25,000 per violation for those who repeatedly break the new law. The money collected from any fines would go to the local school district in which the violation occurred.

Our bill would also give the Department of Agriculture additional powers to investigate claims of illegal herbicide use. The department would be able to subpoena witnesses and compel the production of certain records related to the misuse of herbicides. Farmers penalized for illegal use would be liable to the department for its expenses and for personal property affected.


The bill includes an emergency clause, which would make it effective immediately upon being signed by our governor. 
Expert Witness Legislation Headed to the Governor’s Desk (HB 153)
This week the Senate took up and passed our House legislation meant to improve the reliability of expert evidence that is presented to juries in our state courts. The bill, which is now on its way to the governor, would implement an established standard for determining when expert-witness testimony is admissible as evidence at trial. The proposed standard, which is commonly referred to as the Daubert standard after a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case, is used in federal courts and in more than two-thirds of the states.

The bill is an important component of the legislature’s tort reform efforts this year. The change will ensure that testimony from someone designated by lawyers as an ‘expert’ can be relied upon by citizen jurors.
Capitol Visitors
On Thursday, Tom Webb came and job shadowed me during his college spring break. Very impressed with a young man who takes his spring break to learn about our state government!

Senate Art Winner

I was excited to have spent time Thursday afternoon with East Prairie's Senate Art Winner Brayden!  His mom, Ms. Quaite and Mrs. Dahlbeck all joined as well.  Brayden is such a talented young man....I'm sure we will be seeing more of his work in the years to come!

Good to see Audrey & Ashton from Sikeston High School in the Capitol this week spreading tobacco awareness to legislators! We enjoyed showing them around and am really proud of our young people speaking out on important causes!

SADI

So good to see friends from SADI in the Capitol. Southeast Missouri was well represented with Ms. Janet Knous and Ms. Tameka Kyles!

#2HollysAreBetterThan1

Look who I ran into on the side gallery....my dear friend Holly Lintner! I love seeing faces from home.
Our area is very underfunded when it comes to children's mental health needs.  Dr. David Dahlbeck is very special to many in our area, including my family.  It's always a pleasure to have him visit the Capitol.  Thank you Dr. Dahlbeck for all that you do for SEMO!
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Holly Rehder, state representative, 148th District paid for by friends of Holly Rehder, Lisa Neumeyer, Treasurer
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