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 Agricultural Issues
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Wow, can you believe it's only two weeks until Christmas? It seems like the time is just flying by. In just three weeks we will begin Session and brother do we ever have a lot of stuff waiting for us. I saw a three-page list of bills dealing with the Ferguson situation. I read through the list and all but a couple of them were designed to restrict police officers. I realize that we're dealing with an emotional issue here, but do we really want do keep the law enforcement people from enforcing the laws? I have to admit that I fully support the idea of police using lethal force when their life is endangered. During the time we have been dealing with Ferguson, at least a dozen police officers have lost their lives in circumstances similar to officer Wilson's. Of course we have to expect law enforcement personnel to exercise restraint but when their life is threatened, they only have seconds to react. I expect there will be many hours of discussion related to the three pages of new proposed laws but I would hope that common sense will prevail and most of them will not be added to current statutes.
State government is a lot like the weather, wait a few days and everything changes. This time last week the Governor was on all the news outlets calling for a Special Session of the Legislature because we weren't going to be able to pay the Highway Patrol and National Guard for their overtime at Ferguson. His reasoning was that we had put a stop to his use of the "E" lines in the budget. These things were originally established so Governor's had access to emergency funds during interims. Over the years there have been emergencies, both real and fabricated, where this Governor has drawn huge amounts of money from the budget and never given an accounting of what it was spent for. That is simply not acceptable to the budget people so the optional "E's" were removed. In this instance, less than five months into the the fiscal year, House and Senate leaders pointed out to the Governor that the Patrol and Guard had nearly two thirds of their budget remaining and there was certainly no reason to call a Special Session to appropriate additional funds. This is a perfect illustration of why our House and Senate Budget Chairmen are designing a budget process that is much more transparent. When we spend a little time looking at what the various departments spend their allocations on and then compare it to what they said they needed it for, there is oftentimes a remarkable difference. Spending taxpayer dollars should be a totally transparent process. If the Governor needs money for Association Dues, it should be accounted for in his budget, not sneaked out of money designated for Children's services. The fault lies with all of us. We in the Legislature have oversight responsibility; it's time to use it!
Boy has this interim flown by! We have been spending as much time as possible working on getting our house built and suddenly I find myself within a few weeks of Session starting. Jane and I built a house 15 years ago and I learned a few valuable lessons from that experience. The most important thing I learned was to keep my big mouth shut and let her build it the way she wants to. After all, putting up with me for 46 years entitles her to build whatever she wants! It can be a stressful exercise but so far we've done pretty well. I'll be glad to get settled in but there's really no point in rushing the process and messing something up.
The Grand Jury's decision that there wasn't enough evidence to indict officer Wilson pretty well took over the news last week. The job of a Grand Jury is to look at all the evidence and determine whether or not there is an indication of a crime. From the early reports, I was pretty certain of the outcome. I think that with the exception of a few hate filled agitators, most everyone realized that. It is always tragic when a young person loses their life but the events leading up to the fatal confrontation left few alternatives for the officer. In Youngstown New York last week a similar confrontation led to an officer being killed with his own weapon when it was wrestled away from him. The real tragedy in Ferguson is the attitude of the rioters. How does it honor the memory of the dead young man to loot and burn businesses? What I saw was young men breaking into stores, stealing everything in sight, and then burning them to the ground. This isn't the first time for this activity by any means. Fifty years ago when Martin Luther King was assassinated, rioters took to the streets all over America. Since then there have been multiple occasions where riots have occurred and millions upon millions of dollars worth of buildings burned and merchandise stolen. I can't understand how this possibly benefits the civil rights movement. Many times, the areas destroyed by the rioters are never rebuilt. They remain burned out hulls of buildings in the very neighborhoods the rioters live in. The biggest question in my mind is what the thunder were our elected leaders doing? The Governor called up the National Guard then ordered them to stand down and allow certain areas to be looted? Where was the Attorney General? Are political ambitions so all fired important that the people we place our trust in to keep us safe sell us out for the potential of a few more votes? Now the esteemed Governor has announced a Special session of the Legislature to authorize funding increases to pay the National Guard. It's a dangerous game for him to be playing, as it will present an opportunity for him to explain where the Guard was the first night of the riots. There is more than a little speculation that Holder's office instructed the Governor to withhold the Guard. Regardless, there are a lot more questions than answers so far. I'm hoping we can get past all this by January and get back to working on job creation, education, children's services and things that really matter. I've seen about all the political gamesmanship I want to.
Did you ever think you'd be celebrating a 55-degree day this time of year? Wow! The early cold spell sure caught me unprepared. Of course, who expected a 5 degree low in the third week of November? At least we were spared the heavy snows they are getting East of us.
We were at the Festival of Wreathes at Crowder on Tuesday evening. This was the 12th year for the Festival and it was a huge success! There was an excellent meal furnished and a fantastic silent auction with every kind of Christmas Decoration imaginable available at great prices. Area merchants donated some great items for both the silent auction and the live auction that followed. Bob and Cara Lasswell were great as usual and another record amount of money was raised to provide scholarships to area students. Over a hundred thousand dollars was generated by some of the greatest people in the world! I keep saying that if the rest of the country operated the way we do in Southwest Missouri there wouldn't be any problems! Crowder continues to offer an excellent deal to area students with campuses in Neosho, Jane, Webb City, Nevada, and Cassville.