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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I had the opportunity to spend some time with some of my grandchildren last week. We were watching a documentary on World War 1 and it surprised me that they were as interested as they were. Somehow, seeing actual photos from events in 1917 and 1918 had a much stronger impression on them than just reading about the events. We were surprised at the similarities to today's events. We explained to them how the Bolshevik revolution was the reason their Great Grandmother's family came to America. That opened an entirely new line of questions. I am one of those people that believe we should be able to devote more teaching time to history. I realize that there are just so many hours available in a school day, but I'm sad that our children aren't more aware of the things that have formed this nation and the reasons that we are who we are. In just 100 years we have gone from being an agrarian society with the majority of our population living in rural areas to a very urban industrialized nation. We've gone from horse and buggy to computerized trucks that slow down to match traffic speed without any help from the drivers! People my age have seen us go from wall phones with a hand crank to hand held computers that allow us to do a multitude of things including talk on the phone! We can vividly remember the first Texas Instrument's calculator and how amazed we were that that little thing could do what a big adding machine could. Teachers in the 60's were afraid that students wouldn't learn how to do basic math and banned the evil things from the classrooms. To think, we've gone from worrying about calculators to Government mandated Common Core in just 50 years. History has a lot to teach us if we would just slow down a little and listen.
Well we certainly had an eventful election. Depending on what news channel you listen to, we either have a complete lack of confidence in our present administration or the voters want to see if congress can work together better with one party in the Senate and House and another in the White House. My personal opinion is that we had better try something different that what we've been doing if we want to continue enjoying the freedoms we have all grown up with. In the Missouri House, we have a Republican majority that hasn't been seen in modern history. We ended up election day with 117 members which was a gain of 8 seats and the following morning, Linda Black, a 4th term Democrat switched parties to become the 118th member of the Republican Caucus. Representative Black has voted with us on many conservative bills like second amendment rights and abortion issues. The Senate gained another seat as well and they also enjoy a super majority. The significance of this is that both the House and the Senate are able to override the Governor's vetoes with a two-thirds majority. Realistically speaking, both bodies want to work with the Governor to pass much needed reforms and jobs bills. If he will leave political ambitions aside, we should be able to do some good things for the state.
I've received a lot of emails and calls about the decision to put aside our gay marriage laws. The President is encouraging Federal Judges to rule against the voter approved state laws. Our Attorney General could have petitioned the court for an emergency stay until such time as the Supreme Court rules on the merits of the case. It is the job of the Attorney General to enforce the Marriage Amendment that voters approved in 2004. Once again, political ambitions are stopping our elected officials from doing their constitutional duty. Recently, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rights of Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, and Michigan to regulate the definition of marriage and likely sets up a review by the Supreme Court. This is how it should be done, not a politically motivated end run by 2016 hopefuls!
What a great week in the district! On Tuesday we were at the Annual Donor Appreciation Dinner for the Talkington Foundation at the Civic in Neosho. The Talkington Foundation is located on North Valley in Neosho. The Foundation and its outreach arm, The Kelly Club, are dedicated to drug and alcohol recovery. The Foundation is totally funded by donations and it is unbelievable what they are accomplishing! The program has an excellent percentage of success and is recognized all over the state as a pilot program. Once again, our Southwest area is setting the standards for the state. Did you know that drug and alcohol courts along with programs like the Foundation are being credited with reducing our prison populations? For the second year in a row, we have a lower number repeat offenders being sent to Missouri prisons. When we work together to solve the problems of alcohol and drug addiction, we also reduce the crime rates in our communities. Their Purpose Statement reads: "To provide and maintain a facility in which persons addressing and recovering from substance abuse can meet for any activities beneficial to their education and recovery. By providing this daily accessible resource we achieve a positive impact on the recovering abuser and thus benefit the community as a whole." They are truly a valuable asset to our community!
Thursday evening we took part in a carnival and pie auction to benefit the residents of Seneca House. The proceeds are to go for Christmas presents and much needed essentials for those folks residing there. They had a variety of activities for young and old, some great music, and of course, the pie auction. It didn't take Jim Lievens long to spot me as a potential buyer and Dave Arwood did a great job of running up the prices. A great time was had by all!
I'm still getting a lot of questions about the Amendments on coming election. Constitutional Amendments can only be placed on the ballot by two methods. One method is when we Legislators believe that the voters should decide an issue instead of the General Assembly and the Governor creating a law. The other way is when enough signatures of registered voters are presented to the Secretary of State. That is the process by which Amendment 3 was initiated. Amendment 3 would create a standards based evaluation system for teachers which would be used in hiring, firing, and awarding wage increases. It would also do away with teacher tenure. This proposal was initiated and paid for largely by a group from St. Louis who contend that The Department of Education doesn't require teachers to meet high enough standards. I think that school districts and administrators should set standards and perform evaluations.
Amendment 2 would allow a judge to decide to allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts in prosecutions of child sexual assault. If a person is a repeat child sex offender the jury needs to know that information! You can bet I support this one!
Amendment 6 would allow voting by mail or in person for six business days prior to an election. We placed this one on the ballot to prevent special interest groups in St Louis and Kansas City from establishing a 30-day early vote. I'll have to vote yes because of that.