I went to Jefferson City on Thursday to meet with Representatives Vescovo and Rehder. We were joined by 14 union representatives from all over the state to discuss ways to provide new layers of transparency and accountability for employee pension plans. I believe this type of meeting was unprecedented and I certainly hope it represents a good faith effort by unions to protect their members from underfunded, unsustainable pension plans. The union reps we met with indicated a willingness to work with us on this issue, which I hope leads to policy changes that will add some protections to the pension plans that so many depend on for security during their retirement years. Representative Vescovo has filed legislation that requires pension plans to report annually to their participants a comprehensive overview of the fiscal health of the system. I intend to hear his bill early in the session. These are reforms that are not by any means anti-union, but instead completely pro-worker. With many pension funds underfunded by billions of dollars, it is clear to me that we must give participants the power to know how the plan they are paying into is handling their money. This is an issue where the legislators and the unions can be on the same page together and we can ensure our workers will have the retirement benefits they expect and deserve.
I got some terrific news on Friday. The Supreme Court issued rules concerning the Juvenile Officers and their association with the Circuit Judges. We won't have to change the entire system to comply with the DOJ rulings now. We are going to ask the court to implement the new Standards also which would be much faster than pursuing new statutes. It makes me feel great knowing that all the committee hearings and roundtable discussions led to a good solution.
Please take a few minutes in the next couple of weeks to reach out to those who have recently lost a loved one. It is terribly hard to face the holiday season when you have that awful feeling of loss. It only takes a few minutes to make a call or run by someone's home and give them some encouragement. That small act of kindness can make a world of difference in a lonely person's life.
Have a blessed Christmas!