Tuesday evening we attended a Property Rights meeting at New Mac in Neosho. The group meets monthly and holds meetings in Newton and McDonald Counties. We answered questions dealing with Medicaid expansion and Common Core. There was a good discussion and the bottom line on both questions is that the Speaker of the House has formed special interim committees to hold hearings during the interim and report their findings as soon as we are back in session. His committee on Medicaid is staffed with health professionals and private citizens and the Education committee is composed of educators from all over the state as well as legislators.
One thing I really enjoy doing is to speak to groups that I haven’t seen before. The Methodist Women’s Club in Anderson invited me to visit with them about our work last session. We had a great time and I hope everyone got a little better idea of what goes on at the Capitol.
This was the last week for the Governor to veto or sign bills. He signed bills dealing with Public School Retirement, allowing school districts to commission school officers to enforce laws at activities, creating “Innovation Campus” grants, Mandatory Reporters for child abuse, testing infants for heart defects, safe havens for children, and many others. I was pleasantly surprised to see two very important workforce bills pass. The Second Injury Fund fix was signed into law and will allow hundreds of injured workers to receive the judgments they have been waiting for. This is a problem that the Legislature has worked on for 10 years and we finally got all the parties to agree to the solution. The other workforce bill that became law was the first bill I heard as a Committee Chairman. HB 34 allows school districts in all counties except Charter Form, to opt out of prevailing wages for construction, improvements, or maintenance. This will save huge amounts of money for rural school districts and will allow the taxpayer dollars to go much farther! As long as I’m reporting good news, a new law will go into effect on August 28 that moves “Concealed Carry” from the Department of Revenue to the County Sheriff’s Office. There are also some additional powers for County Commissions. In the case of catastrophic changes in a County’s revenues, a new law will allow the Commissioners to adjust the budget to allow for the differences. They will also be able to declare “no burn” orders in severe droughts.
There were a lot of bills that didn’t make it to the finish line. Some of them were good legislation and deserve an opportunity for a veto over ride in September; others were hastily drawn up and are probably not a really good bill to begin with. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens then. That’s probably enough for this week, until next time, I am and remain in your service.