Wednesday afternoon Jane and I went to Branson for the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association’s Spring Educational Conference. I was surprised with an award for my participation in helping create the new Statewide Standards for the Administration of Juvenile Justice. It came as a complete surprise to me but I was really honored to be able to work with some amazing people from the JO Association the last couple of years creating the new standards. While I am on the subject of kids, we are starting our new hearings on the foster and adoption procedure in Missouri. We’re kicking it off here at home on the 16th of June with an informational get together with our local CASA representatives. On the 21st we will be in Jefferson City where the Executive Director of CASA will provide a presentation and question and answer session for the Committee. The Children’s Division in Missouri is an extremely complex operation and every person involved has an awesome responsibility to the children of our state. Our intent with the Joint Committee is to determine what is working well and what is problematic, and then find solutions to make the system work better for the children and the Division Workers. Sounds easy if you say it fast!
Thursday evening the Republican club had a soup dinner to raise additional funds for their scholarship program. Over $500 dollars was added to the fund, which is used to help area kids pay for tuition, books, etc. One of the questions I was asked during the meeting had to do with the new I49 extension. At this time there are no immediate plans by MoDot to finish the extension. Arkansas is working on two lanes and will eventually be ready to hook up to the Missouri side. There were funds set aside for several years waiting for Arkansas to start work but the last several years MoDot has had inadequate funds to maintain our existing roads and bridges and until we can find a way to increase their funding, there will probably be no new road construction. The funding stream for them has been slowly decreasing compared to the costs of maintenance and materials. This is not an easy dilemma to face. According to the Missouri Constitution, taxes cannot be increased by the General Assembly. Any additional tax for MoDot must be approved by the voters. There were several proposals last year to solve the problem including adding taxes to cigarettes. One measure to increase gasoline tax by 6 cents made it through the Senate but wasn’t brought up in the House for lack of support. In my opinion, we have to find a way to solve the problem but it may have to involve two or three different things to make it acceptable to the voters. Some of the solutions include toll roads for some areas, a small increase in fuel taxes, and even returning control of some routes to the counties. One thing is assured, there are no easy fixes, it promises to get interesting!
Saturday afternoon found us at the 60th Wedding Anniversary celebration of Edward and Lila Colleen Haddock at Goodman. I had a Resolution for them and they had a great celebration with family and friends. It’s always fun to hear the stories that couples have to tell on each other on those occasions!