Greetings Friends of the 144th!
House activities are currently on hold as leadership made the decision to cancel a week of session to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The third week of session is normally a busy time as committees begin to meet to consider legislation, but pausing activity now still gives legislators ample time to move their bills through the process before session ends in mid-May. House leadership decided to be overly cautious after learning of a handful of positive cases in the building.
In canceling session for January 19, 20, and 21, House Speaker Rob Vescovo, Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann, and Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher said, “we are exercising an abundance of caution to protect members, staff, and visitors.” They added that their goal is to return to normal session activity on Monday, January 25.
House Takes Time to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.
While the legislature rarely takes a break once the legislative session has started, the members of the General Assembly have made it a tradition to stop their work each year in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Members took time out from their busy schedules to honor Dr. King, who devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice, and opportunity for all.
The annual holiday was created in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed legislation to create the federal holiday. The holiday was then first observed on January 20, 1986. A proclamation issued by President Reagan in 1987 said, “In celebrating the birthday of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we honor an American who recognized the great injustice of segregation and discrimination, and made it his life’s purpose and toil to right those wrongs in favor of justice, freedom, equality, fairness, and reconciliation.”
The Missouri House did not take the day off in observance of the holiday for many years because it took place during the legislative session. The legislature traditionally had not taken off for any holidays that occurred during session. However, in 2003, House Speaker Catherine Hanaway made the decision to observe the holiday with a day off. In doing so, Hanaway said, “we hope that it will be a day when all of us pause to take some time to try and think about how we are trying to further Dr. King’s dream that every American will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Dr. King was a great speaker and many of his quotes continuing to apply today. One of my favorites is, “We must learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools.” It seems today’s society is all about “me” and they have no respect for others, their beliefs or their belongings. It is sad to see our nation behave in this manner. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” is another one of his quotes that rings so true today. It seems that a lot of the principles that this nation was founded upon are beginning to dwindle away. We can not be silent about things that matter, but we must also do it in a peaceful, respectful manner. Over the years I’ve often quoted the lyrics of a popular country song, “you’ve to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything…never compromise what’s right…” This is something that I’ve tried to live by. It is not always easy standing up for what you believe is right, but it is the right thing to do. As our nation begins a new transition, remember those things and let not your heart be troubled but continue to stand firm in your beliefs and do it in a peaceful, respectful manner.
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 Chris.Dinkins@house.mo.gov 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.