Over the last several weeks, I've kept the roads "hot" between local functions, Interim Committee Meetings, and visiting with folks from across the district. Recently I was joined by our Senator Mike Cunningham in helping the Elk Creek Baptist Church celebrate 75 years of service. Many of the problems that we see on the local, state, and national levels hold a common thread; the lack of family values/support/structure. Churches across the 142nd District and throughout our nation (along with Elk Creek Baptist Church) foster and encourage these vital values which helped form our nation. Whether your church recently opened last week, or has been serving the community for 150 years, the positive impact that they have on our communities is evident and appreciated.
Fall has finally found us, with the temperatures dipping cooler and the leaves beginning to change colors (depending on tree species) as a result of the reduced amount of daylight. As a Land Surveyor, I'm always glad to see this time of year arrive, as ticks/chiggers/yellow jackets and hornets won't be around much longer. This annual process began with the Black Walnut (which have mostly lost their leaves) with Hickories not far behind, and at this point some of the best color is being displayed by Black Gum, Sumac, Dogwood, Sassafras and Maples (with their deep red-red/orange color). The Oaks (White, Black, Post & Black Jack) are just starting their cycle and should peak within the next 1-1/2 weeks. Personally, I am torn in deciding which is more picturesque; Spring which displays a beautiful array of greens as the leaves first begin budding out, or Fall which has a much wider variety of colors. We are truly blessed to live in an area which has so many views of this show to offer. I would encourage you to get out and enjoy nature's display (whether driving, walking, working, or relaxing) which is fully upon us.
Solid Waste Interim Committee:
The Interim Committee on Solid Waste districts recently held our first hearing in Jefferson City, to determine our Committee's scope and direction. Last session a bill was filed that would have eliminated all of the individual Solid Waste Districts across the state, while giving the authority (and subsequently all of the money associated with the districts) exclusively to the Missouri DNR. To say that this was a "bad idea" would be an incredible understatement. In the majority of cases across our state, these Solid Waste Districts do a great job in providing a necessary service, in assisting the public with disposing of paint, pesticides, tires, chemicals and other items which should not be a part of our landfills. During the committee hearing, of the 23 individuals that testified, only one supported changing the current structure of these districts. I absolutely support looking for ways that this program can be ran more efficiently and to correct any misuse of taxpayer dollars, but am not willing to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" while giving more money and control to Missouri DNR (which would actually be less efficient with our money anyway). This discussion will continue to evolve as more meetings are held between now and the beginning of session.
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Continuing our discussion of veto session bills-
SB9 (Veto Overridden):
This bill establishes the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council and protects our state’s number one industry – agriculture – by making important changes on our laws regarding animal abuse and neglect.
Under current Missouri law, a livestock owner who has animals that break through a fence and are unconfined for any period of time can be charged with the crime of animal abuse or neglect. While it is hard to believe, a livestock owner who has cows that get loose could actually be jailed for the “offense”. The bill we passed will give livestock owners a reasonable amount of time to get their animals back under control and allow the state to avoid needlessly punishing responsible animal owners. In addition, the bill places harsher penalties on cattle rustling and theft, which has been a major problem across all of Missouri, and nearly reaching an epidemic in the southwest portion of our state. The bill also contains provisions to develop a comprehensive long-range strategic plan for career and technical education in Missouri.
Governor Nixon vetoed SB9 in part because of his concerns with a provision regarding foreign ownership of Missouri agricultural land. SB9 is meant to grandfather in some of the foreign individuals and entities who already own Missouri land and have been responsible and productive in doing so. Foreign ownership of our farm land is definitely a concern, due to the direct impact that this could potentially have on our food supply. With China's recent purchase of roughly 50,000 acres in Northern Missouri, this is an issue that cannot be ignored.
SB129 (Veto Overridden):
This bill will eliminate an enormous barrier that has prevented many health care professionals from volunteering their services in times of need (Joplin tornado, flooding, etc.). The threat of litigation and the need for expensive medical malpractice insurance prevents many capable health care professionals from providing their services during emergencies. This bill is designed to ensure Missourians continue to receive quality care, and that health care practitioners are not subjected to overly-burdensome regulations or frivolous litigation. We want to encourage our doctors and nurses to volunteer their time and their expertise to provide quality care to those who desperately need it.
As always, please do not hesitate to call or write me anytime with your questions or thoughts on this or any other issue. My Capitol office is 573.751.1490 and my email is Robert.Ross@house.mo.gov. Thank you for the honor to serve as your Representative in the Missouri House of Representatives.