Workforce Development & Workplace Safety - Chairman
Joint Committee on Child Abuse & Neglect - Vice-Chair
Professional Registration & Licensing
Subcommittee on Child Abuse Reporting & Investigating - Chairman
Issue Development Standing Committee on Cowboy Caucus on Agricultural Issues
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The week was off to a great start with an 8:30 Monday appointment to teach a Government class at Anderson Elementary. I explained how an idea could become a bill proposal for a new law and we went through the entire process of 21 steps to the final stop at the Governor's desk for his signature. He vetoed the bill. (The bill proposed would have allowed gum to be chewed in school and the Governor's mom was a teacher.) I can't tell you how much I enjoy working with 4th grade legislators! At 2:00 I got to repeat the lesson down at White Rock. There were not as many in the class at White Rock and during the question and answer period they were tougher on me! I am always amazed at how good the questions are. The State prints a great information book for schools to use teaching state government classes which includes multitudes of facts about Missouri. For example, did you know we have a state dinosaur? Every 4th grader in McDonald County will know before the end of the month!
Wednesday the Children's Trust Fund board meeting was held in Jefferson City. Jane got up really, really early and we got there in plenty of time for the 10:00 a.m. meeting. One of the major funding sources for the Trust Fund is the sale of license plates. They are the ones with the little green handprints and the reference to child abuse. They are a really worthwhile investment. There were many topics discussed at the meeting but quite a bit of time was spent talking about ways to educate children on gun safety. I told them about the variety of programs that we have in Southwest Missouri, not the least of which are championed by our own Dan Fuller. We are also working with the Missouri Conservationist publication to gear ads toward children.
Well it certainly is beginning to feel like fall. The much-needed rain has insured that it will be a colorful one! For those living to the North of us, if only a hundred miles or so, much of the fall color is already evident. I've made several trips to Springfield this past week and there are even obvious differences no further than that is. The other thing that Jane and I noticed was how much better the river systems look after a little high water. I'm not talking about floods, just a couple feet over normal does a great job of renovating the look of the streams. All the moss and high weeds are uprooted to become food and fertilizer for the eco system downstream. It also allows fish to come upstream from the lake and inhabit all the deeper pools and backwaters. It should be great fishing this week!
We got started off right on Monday. I was privileged to present a Resolution honoring the accomplishment of White Rock School scoring a 100% on their MSIP grades. This reflected a 13% increase over last years grade, which is a huge accomplishment! Their score helped McDonald County as a whole to score in the mid 90's and thereby be one of the highest scores in the state. How about that? Once again we're leading the way. And no wonder, you should see the school spirit and teamwork at White Rock. Principal Adam Lett and his wonderful staff are doing a great job of preparing our kids to be the leaders of the future. I wonder if I could get DESE to come down here and train their people?
Monday afternoon I was privileged to host a Stewards' of Children training seminar at the Community Center. Through a grant by the Children's Trust Fund, training by Missouri Kids First personnel is being provided all over the state. The principal reason for the training is the alarming rate of child sexual abuse. There were bout 30 people from the area in attendance. We learned to recognize the signs of sexual abuse in children and how to initiate a hot line investigation. There are dos and don'ts of questioning a child and we were told how to keep from jeopardizing an investigation by asking too much or getting too many people to ask the questions. We have some great resources at our disposal in Southwest Missouri and by working together, we can make a huge difference in children's lives. Thanks to the Alliance and Kids First for making this training possible. We were also given the updated training on Mandated Reporting. We had some new laws passed last year that enabled additional people to be Mandated Reporters of Abuse and Neglect and the training was a big help.
I profusely apologize to anyone I may have offended with my posting concerning a 50-year reunion. It was not intended to be demeaning of anyone, and I would have removed it immediately had I not had emergency eye surgery on Friday. Again, I am very sorry if I have offended anyone.
With the November election just a few weeks away, I thought it might be a good time to explain the Amendments on the ballot. There are four issues for consideration. Three of the amendments were voted in by the Legislature and one by the initiative petition process. I'll share my thoughts on that process later.
Amendment Two would allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under the age of 18. Currently in Missouri, if a person is charged with this type of crime, any prior acts would not be submitted to the judge or jury in regard to their past conduct. This amendment, if passed, would allow a judge to decide if these are relevant and reliable facts and allow the prosecutor to admit them as evidence. With my feelings about child abuse, I don't have to tell you how I voted.
Amendment Three is the initiative petition dealing with ending teacher tenure for new hires and requiring teacher evaluations by testing. The House defeated this issue twice in 2013 because we didn't like the idea that a majority of the evaluation would be based on standardized testing. Like Common Core, this takes local school boards out of the decision process.