Greetings Friends of the 144th Legislative District!
This week my House Bill 1817 passed off the House floor and is now headed to the Senate. This bill prevents money received into the Iron County School Fund from the payment of penalty under the specified administrative order issued by the Department of Natural Resources to be included in the Iron County School calculation for local effort.
As you may recall, Doe Run was fined $1.2 million to be paid to the Iron County School Fund. Under the current Local Effort calculation methods, they would be required to subtract this amount the following year making it a complete wash out. It would be subtracted the following year from the amount they would have received from DESE. House Bill 1818 is similar; it would correct the issue whenever this happens again anywhere in the state.
Legislative Leaders Issue Statement on Coronavirus
Missouri’s first confirmed cases of coronavirus have led legislative leaders from both parties, in both chambers, to consider steps to minimize exposure to the virus among Capitol lawmakers, staff, and visitors.
The Missouri Senate has made the decision to adjourn a week early for their annual legislative break. The Missouri House will continue to work during the week of March 16-20 in order to fulfill the legislature’s constitutional obligation to pass a state operating budget. House leaders will continue to monitor the situation and will evaluate daily any additional steps that may be necessary to ensure the safety of those who visit and work in the Capitol. The House will adjourn for its annual Spring Break as scheduled on Thursday, March 19.
The House Speaker, Speaker Pro Tem, and Majority Floor Leader issued a joint statement saying, “The General Assembly has the constitutional duty of writing and passing a balanced budget to fund the core function of government and the House remains focused on completing this responsibility. The legislative process for passing a budget begins in the House of Representatives and the House plans to move forward next week. The goal of both chambers is to fulfill our constitutional obligations while minimizing risk for members, staff, and visitors.”
Earlier in the week, leaders in the House and Senate announced they were taking additional measures to ensure the health and well-being of members, staff, and visitors to the Capitol. The legislative leaders noted that with hundreds of lawmakers and thousands of guests frequently traveling back and forth from every corner of Missouri, the Capitol is an environment that will be highly susceptible to spreading infections like the coronavirus. As such, the leaders of the General Assembly have encouraged guests who are not directly participating in legislative business to refrain from visiting the Capitol at this time.
Due to the large number of House members and their close proximity to guests and one another, House leadership has taken additional precautions including closing the floor and side galleries of the House Chamber to the public, as well as the House Lounge. Visitors are still able to view session from the upper galleries, and hearings will proceed as normal with the public being able to attend and testify. The goal of the House is to ensure the legislative process continues unimpeded and that visitors continue to have access, while at the same time securing high traffic areas that could promote the spread of the virus.
“It is out of an abundance of caution that the General Assembly is taking the preventative steps to minimize the risk of an outbreak in Missouri,” said House Speaker Elijah Haahr. “While the General Assembly continues to conduct business as normal, we will closely monitor the situation to take necessary actions to maintain a safe environment that will ensure the health and wellbeing of all those who work in, and visit, the Capitol.”
Lawmakers will continue to work with state and federal health officials to ensure public health resources are ready and can be used where they are needed, without delay.
Coronavirus Information Line Now Available
Missourians seeking additional information or guidance on the novel coronavirus are encouraged to call a new statewide public hotline that was activated by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). Residents can access the information available through the hotline by calling 877-435-8411. The hotline is staffed by medical professionals and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
To date, 46 patients in Missouri have been tested for the virus that causes COVID-19. Only one of those has tested positive.
Other Bills Sent to the Senate
HB 2128 exempts vehicles towing trailers specifically designed to carry harvested cotton with a total length of not more than 93 feet from the size and length requirements for vehicles traveling on the state highways. The vehicle can also be used to transport hay within the state to areas affected by drought. Supporters say the bill would allow cotton farmers to more efficiently move cotton to the gin. It would allow for 10 modules of cotton to be carried by one truck and would reduce the number of trucks on the state roads.
HB 1768 requires the Department of Economic Development to maintain a record of all federal grants awarded to entities for the purposes of providing, maintaining, and expanding rural broadband in the state of Missouri. There are currently over 1 million Missourians without access to broadband services. This bill would keep federal funds in Missouri for the purpose of expanding broadband access.
HB 1711 adds shelf stable packaged venison to the foods that a charitable or not-for-profit organization can distribute in good faith with limited liability arising from an injury or death due to the condition of the food. The bill would allow the Share the Harvest Program to provide meat sticks to the programs across the state, commonly known as the Buddy Pack Program, that send food home with hungry children on the weekend.
HB 1334 allows a resident of Missouri to have a medical alert notation placed on his or her driver’s license or non-driver’s identification card. The bill specifies the medical conditions that may be listed on the license or identification card. The bill will provide relevant information to police and first responders and ensure better medical treatment. Participation is voluntary. Privacy is also protected in a reasonable manner and consent to disclose information is required.
HB 1454 requires the Missouri Veterans Commission to actively seek out, within every county and city within a county, business organizations that have available job opportunities and are interested in hiring veterans to fill those opportunities. The commission must collect contact information from such business organizations and display such contact information in a table on the commission’s website. The bill will help veterans find jobs in their area. The Veterans Commission only shows jobs available at the VA hospital on their website. That if the bill passes, a database could be created to help veterans find jobs and apprenticeships.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. As your Representative I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 573-751-2112.
Chris Dinkins is the area’s state representative for the 144th Legislative District. She can be reached by email – [email protected] or by telephone: 573-751-2112.