Greetings Friends of the 144th!
It was so nice to be in Wayne County last week for a Meet the Candidates forum for the upcoming August primary election. I was surprised at the number of people that showed up to listen to the candidates. There were candidates for the local as well as statewide elections. It’s nice to have some many individuals interested in public service. It is not an easy thing to do to put your name on the ballot and all of these individuals need to be commended whether they win or not, for having the desire to serve their community.
Something Smells Fishy
Last week I was informed about 11 young individuals who were each issued a ticket for kayaking on the Current River. The water level was evidentially 8 inches too high for non -motorized watercraft. They weren’t smoking dope or pushing pills, they were just enjoying nature’s beauty on the river with family and friends. Isn’t that what we want our young people doing? If the river levels were so dangerous that it warranted 11 tickets being issued, then why on earth would the ranger allow them to get back on the river and finish the float? Either it wasn’t that dangerous or he just put several people’s lives at serious risk. My opinion is that the river levels were not dangerous and this was just an over reach of government.
When the individuals asked how they were supposed to know that the river was closed to kayaking, they were told they should have called and asked. The ranger told them that if they would have started at the campsite and floated to the bridge, instead of starting above and floating back to the campsite that they would not have received the tickets. Since he had jurisdiction over that part of the river he was issuing tickets to all of them. Whether you start at point A or end at point A the water level will still be the same at Point A.
Something just doesn’t seem right when all 11 of these individuals are old enough to put their life on the line for our country, but government doesn’t believe they can make a decision about kayaking when the water level is slightly above normal. Over the last several weeks we have seen a lot of things happen that we never imagined would happen in our lifetime. If we don’t wake up to what is going on around us we will see government take more and more of our freedoms away.
New Online Dashboard Will Track Missouri’s Economic Recovery
Missouri moved into Phase 2 of the Show Me Strong Economic Recovery Plan on Tuesday, June 16 and is now officially fully open for business. In an effort to track the state’s economic recovery, Gov. Mike Parson and the Missouri Department of Economic Development launched an online economic recovery dashboard. The new dashboard can be viewed at showmestrong.mo.gov/dashboard/.
The director of the Department of Economic Development said, “In the economy, we’re starting to see early signs of recovery. Data driven decision making is a core value of our department and it is crucial that other leaders use this data to revitalize our economy and get Missourians back to work.”
The dashboard tracks metrics across multiple categories impacting businesses, communities and citizens. Already, the state is exhibiting early signs of recovery, including:
A decrease in continued unemployment claims from a peak of more than 40,234 to just over 350,490.
An increase in the hours worked by Missourians employed hourly by small businesses such as restaurants and retailers. These workers were at only about 50 percent of the hours that they worked in January. The most recent data shows improvement, with a 22.9 percent decline from January levels as of May 29.
An increase in the small businesses seeing an uptick in revenue. At the end of April one survey showed only 5 percent of small businesses were seeing increases in revenue. The latest data has climbed to more than 15 percent.
Renewed credit and debit card spending. At its lowest point, credit and debit card consumer spending had fallen by roughly 35.2 percent since January. The latest data shows the state has returned to within 5 percent of January levels.
Increases in job postings in some of the hardest hit industries like leisure and hospitality.
Helping Low-Income Missourians with Their Cooling Bills
Low-income Missourians who may need help with payments for their summer cooling bills received good news this week. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) received an additional $15 million in funding that will allow the program to assist more Missourians in need. The increased funding will double the maximum benefit amount to $600 and allow the program to serve the needs of a greater number of Missourians who are now facing a crisis.
The program provided assistance to 114,639 Missouri households during the federal Fiscal Year 2019. To be eligible for the program, low-income Missourians must:
Be responsible for paying home cooling costs,
Have $3,000 or less in bank accounts, retirement accounts, or investments,
Have a household income of 135 percent or less of the federal poverty level (a monthly income of $2,400 for a family of three or $2,897 for a family of four) and,
Be a U.S. citizen or legally admitted for permanent residence.
To apply for the LIHEAP program, households need to complete one application form and then mail or fax the form to the office serving their community listed on the last page of the application. The application can be found online at https://dss.mo.gov/fsd/formsmanual/EA-1-Application-for-the-Low-Income-Home-Energy-Assistance-Program.pdf. Missourians can also call 855-373-4636 Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for more information.
New Missouri Driver License Available June 22
Missourians who go to renew their driver licenses will see a new design chosen in honor of the state’s upcoming bicentennial. The newly redesigned licenses will be available starting June 22 and the new design will also be reflected on the Missouri non-driver identification card and instruction permit.
Along with an updated design, the new Missouri driver license includes enhanced security features that will further deter counterfeiting and fraud and help protect Missourians from identity theft. It is important to note that a previously issued Missouri driver license or ID card is still valid until its listed expiration date and that nothing else about the process of applying for or obtaining a driver license or ID card is changing.
The new design includes enhanced security features such as designated header colors for different license types, ghost images, an updated laser perforation in the shape of a dogwood flower and more. Special optional indicators, such as Organ Donor, Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) and Veteran, will appear on the front of the card, while others appear on the back.
Missouri residents who wish to obtain the new driver license as part of normal processing will not be charged any additional fees. The standard duplicate processing fees will apply to those who request a new driver license or ID card outside of their normal renewal period and solely for the purpose of obtaining the new version.
Missouri residents will continue to have the option of applying for a REAL ID-compliant driver license or ID card. The REAL ID-compliant versions of Missouri’s new driver license and ID card will continue to feature a star in the upper right-hand corner. Versions of Missouri’s new driver licenses and ID cards that are not compliant with REAL ID will continue to have “NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES” in the upper right-hand corner.
It’s important for Missourians to note that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security extended the REAL ID enforcement deadline from Oct. 1, 2020, to Oct. 1, 2021, due to the COVID-19 health crisis. For more information about REAL ID, visit dor.mo.gov/drivers/real-id-information/.
Missouri residents can apply for their driver license, non-driver ID card or instruction permit at any one of the more than 170 contract license offices throughout the state. Find a license office near you at dor.mo.gov/offloc/.
I hope you have a Wonderful Week! 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. Please do not contact me via social media. These messages are easy to overlook and may not be responded to in a timely manner.
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.