Representative Jim Neely's Capitol Report
The Missouri House of Representative has approved legislation to protect taxpayer dollars from expensive projects that run over budget or behind schedule. Known as the Million Dollar Boondoggle Act, the bill is meant to increase transparency for taxpayers so they are aware of what the state is doing with their tax dollars.
House Bill 1088 requires the Office of Administration to submit a report on specified projects that are one year behind schedule or $1 million or more over original cost estimates to the General Assembly. The report will also be posted to the Office of Administration website.
The bill would require the Office of Administration to report on capital improvement, building, renovation, or construction projects or any information technology project of any type that is funded by an executive agency using only funds appropriated by the general assembly.
This is a bipartisan bill that simply creates an automatic alert system to the General Assembly to address these problems before they become a bottomless money pit of taxpayer dollars. With this we can identify projects that are significantly over budget or behind schedule to hopefully stop future boondoggles. The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Other Legislation Sent to the Senate this Week
HB 456 which is my bill creates a STEM diploma endorsement for high school students who demonstrate mastery in the STEM disciplines. The bill will help encourage students to consider STEM fields of study, and that bringing focus to STEM is important as it brings job skills to areas of need. They also support students that may not be college bound to have the opportunity to get endorsements like the bill would provide.
HB 604 establishes the "School Turnaround Act." Schools and children are our most precious resource and if the current structure is failing, we need more options beyond school takeovers and lack of local control. This bill will provide high accountability with high local buy in.
HB 462 creates certified teacher externships. The purpose of the bill is to enhance discussion with students regarding employment opportunities after graduation. It addresses a skills gap issue by bringing practical experience into the classroom. In addition, externships are an important piece of workforce development.
HB 762 establishes the Missouri Municipality Government Expenditure Database. The database must include extensive information about a given municipality's expenditures and the vendors to whom payments were made. The bill will provide public access to local government expenditure data. The Office of Administration will provide a template so political subdivisions can easily send information. This bill provides transparency of our local governments.
HB 628 prohibits a dentist from writing a prescription for long-acting or extended-release opioids for the treatment of acute dental pain, unless, in the professional judgment of the dentist, the use of said opioid is necessary to treat the patient's acute pain. The legislation is important in attempting to prevent opioid abuse and protect patients, as research shows that in preventing opioid dependency, it is important to limit the duration and dosage of an opioid prescription. However, the legislation still allows the dentist to exceed the parameters if they feel it is in the best interest of the patient.
HB 824 modifies the requirements relating to the production of industrial hemp. The federal government has completely legalized the growth and sale of industrial hemp. The acreage limitations were part of the pilot program and are no longer needed. Expanding the program and allowing more farmers to take advantage of the new crop would allow for more economic opportunity throughout the state.
HB 715 removes the sunset provision for the Wartime Veteran's Survivor Grant Program. The bill would remove sunset provisions to the Veteran's Survivors Grant Program, but would still leave the program subject to appropriations. This program does not cost that much money and the program should be extended.
I hope you have a wonderful week! As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. As your Representative I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Jim.Neely@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-0246.