House Sends SAPA to the Senate
Greetings Friends of the 144th!
This week I presented my HJR38 in committee. This is a Constitutional amendment that prohibits any law or rule that unreasonably restricts hunting, fishing, or harvesting wildlife using traditional methods and devices. It seems we the people continue to see more and more of our rights whittled away. Hunting and Fishing are a way of life for many people especially in our rural area. This amendment would make sure that we continue to have these rights preserved.
House Approves Second Amendment Preservation Act (HBs 85 & 310)
Members of the Missouri House gave approval to legislation meant to protect the Second Amendment rights of Missourians against an overreaching federal government.
Known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act, the bill is meant to protect law-abiding gun owners from potential gun control legislation that could be passed in Washington, D.C. It states that laws and other actions that prohibit the manufacture, ownership, and use of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition within Missouri exceed the powers granted to the federal government. It also declares that all federal laws, acts, and orders that infringe on Missourians’ second amendment rights are invalid in the state.
Additionally, the bill declares it is the duty of the courts and law enforcement agencies to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and states that no public officer or employee of Missouri or any political subdivision of the state can have authority to enforce or attempt to enforce federal laws that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.
We are not saying that these laws cannot be enforced by the federal government. We are just saying that we’re not going to do it as a state. We are not going to use our resources to enforce their unconstitutional gun laws. Our citizens deserve and I think they demand us to protect their rights.
With the approval of the House, the bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. The House and Senate previously approved similar legislation (HB 436) in 2013. That bill was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon. During the annual Veto Session, the House secured the necessary votes to override the veto, but the Senate fell one vote short of the votes necessary to complete the motion and put the bill into effect as law.
House Committee Investigates Overpayment of Unemployment Benefits
The House Special Committee on Government Oversight took testimony this week from Missourians who are being asked to repay unemployment benefits they received in error through no fault of their own.
The committee heard from Department of Labor Director Anna Hui, who told members the state issued approximately $150 million in “overpayments” that the state now wants back. Hui explained overpayments are “kind of built into” the unemployment system. The Department is expected to make an eligibility determination and get a payment out to an applicant within 14 days, generally based solely on information provided by the applicant. As additional information comes in, often from the applicant’s current or past employers, it could prove he or she was not eligible.
Hui told the committee Governor Mike Parson has made clear that he wants the Department to seek collection of those overpayments, viewing them as taxpayer dollars that went to ineligible individuals.
Several legislators said they have heard from constituents who have been asked to pay back thousands of dollars in state or federal relief, sometimes months after they received it. One constituent was asked to repay about $23,000.
One of the members of the committee said it’s wrong for the state to ask people already struggling financially due to Covid-19 to pay back thousands of dollars. Federal directives have given states the option not to require repayment of assistance from the federal government, which makes up the majority of the $150 million the Department overpaid. The labor director explained that Missouri is choosing to seek repayment of federal relief.
Members of the committee told the director that the state shouldn’t expend its resources to pull money from Missouri’s economy just to send it back to the federal government.
The committee also heard from a union that includes 500 school bus drivers and monitors. The union representative said many of them make salaries that would put them near the poverty level, yet roughly 400 are being asked to pay back thousands of dollars. These are hardworking individuals that did nothing wrong or fraudulent. They simply did exactly what was urged for them by the Missouri Department of Labor.
Members of the committee said the repayment situation is adding to already heightened stress for struggling Missourians. They want Missourians to know legislators are paying attention, and are looking for a solution. Several members have already filed legislation to address the unemployment overpayments and more are developing legislative solutions.
New Office to Assist Missouri Children
As the House worked in strong bipartisan fashion to support families who foster and adopt young people in need, the governor’s office announced a new office that will provide a comprehensive approach to early childhood care and education.
The new Office of Childhood represents the consolidation of several early childhood programs across state government. Housed in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the new office includes all state programs related to child care, home visiting, early learning, and early intervention.
The governor’s office said the consolidation will streamline early childhood work across state government and ensure all Missouri children and families have access to more consistent, quality programs and services. The Office of Childhood will consist of approximately 145 employees across the state. No state employee positions are being eliminated due to this consolidation. Current funding will remain unchanged for the programs involved as well as private child care providers and public schools. The Office of Childhood will have an estimated Fiscal Year 2022 budget of approximately $660 million.
The Wayne County Health Center is planning a COVID-19 vaccine clinic. The clinic will be held Thursday, February 11th, from 9 am. to 4 pm. At the Old Greenville Campground. You must call and have your name placed on the list. There is a limited supply.
|Route K in Reynolds County to Close for Bridge Rehabilitation|
|Weather permitting, work will begin on Tuesday, February 16 on the Route K bridge over the Black River in Reynolds County. This bridge is located between County Road 452 and the Route K East Park Entrance, just west of the Reynolds/Iron County line. The bridge will be closed to all vehicle traffic and motorist will need to use an alternate route. Due to the size, design, and infrastructure repairs to be completed, it is impossible to leave one lane open for the project. MoDOT understands that there is no easy detour around the bridge construction. Although this seems like a major inconvenience to all of us who have to drive around, it is a small inconvenience to be able to get this bridge repaired. If deterioration on this bridge continued much longer without these repairs, we would be looking at having the bridge closed for a much, much longer period of time. We were fortunate at this time to have this bridge included in the Bootheel Bridge Bundle which will improve 17 bridges throughout Southeast Missouri. The contractor has been working with the school district and area employers regarding the closure and alternate routes.|
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.