Workforce Standards & Development - Chairman
Property, Casualty, & Life Insurance
Select Committee on Labor & Industrial Relations
Thank you for visiting my website. This site is designed for your information and use.
Please visit often for updates on what is happening in the 159th District and at the Capitol.
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact me through the contact section.
The first week of session is behind us. It was filled with a lot of procedural mish mash, such as the annual discussion of smoking in the offices. As long as there are a few Senators and Reps who smoke, there will be this yearly wrestling match. It is one of the truly bi-partisan things going on. The smoker's argument is that during long debate days when there are many votes necessary, members cannot go to the street level outside the building to sneak a smoke. It gets debated for a while and then finally it is decided that members may smoke in their offices behind closed doors with the windows open. I guess it's better than the old days when there were spittoons all along the aisles.
Committee assignments were made and I was again named Workforce Chairman. I also am Chair of the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect and sit on the Transportation Committee, the Casualty Insurance Committee, and a new one called Emerging Issues. I'm figuring that committee is where we will be hearing all the proposals for solutions to the Ferguson problem. As a kid 50 years ago I lived within a few miles of St.Louis. It was a tremendously different place then as were all big cities. Even then change was on the way. Business and industry was on the move from urban areas to more rural locations. Big strip malls were replacing busy downtown areas and housing developments were springing up on the outskirts of towns. To serve the new population sprawl, schools were built in the rural areas and many of the inner city facilities started their downhill slide. A veritable army of dedicated, hardworking teachers and staff have done everything in their power to provide the best possible education for their students over the years, but sadly, they can't win the battle without some fundamental changes. We've increased the spending per student to over three times what we spend in Southwest Missouri and the test scores continue to fall. Our Education Interim Committees have worked all year on some proposals to help the problem but I'm hoping our new committee addresses some of the underlying problems. The disintegration of the family unit certainly can't be solved overnight but it is, without a doubt, one of the main factors.
We are now back in session! Last Wednesday at noon we were sworn in and elected our leadership team for the next two years. John Diehl from Town and Country, a suburb of St. Louis, is our new Speaker and Todd Richardson from Cape Girardeau is our floor leader. Denny Hoskins from Warrenton is the speaker Pro Tem and Mike Cierpoit of Kansas City remained assistant floor leader. All of the leadership team is committed to doing the right thing for our state. The Speaker walked into my office at 7:05 A.M. on Thursday and wanted to visit about my committee assignments for the coming year and give me his thoughts about how to accomplish our goals. I've got a reputation for being in the Capitol early and to see the Speaker ready for business at 7:00 was a pleasant surprise to say the least. More than once Senator Richard has walked in for coffee before sunup also.
Well, the new year has officially arrived. It sure seems strange to be writing 2015. Many people have made resolutions for the new year and some will even keep them. We all have heard countless predictions of what may or may not occur over the next twelve months but one thing is for sure, there will be pleasant surprises and unpleasant ones. I'm doing my best to take the unpleasant things in stride and enjoy the pleasant ones. I'm going to enjoy my friends and family more this year and try not to procrastinate as much. I don't know about you, but I sure find it easy to put off doing stuff that I should do but really don't want to take the time and trouble to get it done. When I finally force myself to take on the dreaded tasks I feel a great sense of satisfaction for completing them. I've taken on some pretty good size chores with my Child Abuse and Neglect legislation but with the help of a bunch of people, we have started to see some results. After two years of hearings and investigations, we are starting to clearly identify some problems. We have found primarily that the rules and regulations are different all over the state. The statutes were written with the best of intentions, but when procedures aren't clearly defined, they are open for different interpretations. I'm creating sub committees to work with department people to solve these glitches. I was pleasantly surprised to find that department heads are already at work finding solutions to problems we have identified.