Representative Neely's Capitol Report
Greetings Friends of the 8th!
Governor Signs State Operating Budget
The governor recently signed the state operating budget into law. The budget for the current fiscal year that began on July 1 includes record levels of spending for K-12 public education as it fully funds the School Foundation Formula for the first time. The budget passed by the legislature and signed by the governor also includes $6 million for the rural school broadband program; an additional $12 million for Early Childhood Special Education; more than $10 million to keep children out of dangerous and abusive situations; and over $12 million to combat the opioid crisis.
While the governor signed the budget into law, he also announced more than $250 million in budget restrictions. The restrictions are necessary because actual revenue growth has failed to meet the projections upon which the budget is based. Some of the restrictions include $47 million from the Facilities Maintenance Reserve Fund that is used to maintain government buildings; $24 million from funding for higher education; $15 million from funding for K-12 school transportation; $10 million from funds to promote Missouri tourism; and $30 million from the Department of Social Services, which is working to identify efficiencies in their department.
Governor Signs Foster Care Bill of Rights into Law (SB 160)
The governor recently signed into law a piece of legislation meant to help the state better care for children, including those who have been abused or trafficked.
One of the bill’s provisions will prevent the destruction of some 11,000 records related to cases of children that were abused but the perpetrator could not be identified. An appeals court ruling put those records in jeopardy. Supporters say children’s safety could have been at risk if the information wasn’t kept in the system. They say the ability to retain such records allows investigators to detect patterns in cases of abuse or neglect.
Another key provision in the bill changes the definition of child abuse and neglect to include trafficking. Under state law, the ability for the state Children’s Division to get involved in a case hinged on a perpetrator having care, custody, and control of a child. Supporters say that in trafficking cases often times that caretaking role is missing, which means the Children’s Division can’t provide the sort of protective interventions that are necessary. The provision also makes more federal money available to Missouri, and aids in prosecution of both state and federal cases by aligning Missouri’s definition with that of federal law.
The legislation also establishes the Foster Care Bill of Rights to establish in law how foster children will be treated and how their rights will be protected. Another provision allows children entering foster care to be placed with people who are not related to, but have a close relationship with, the child or the child’s family – otherwise known as “kinship placements.”
The bill also extends through 2023 the existence of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.
With the governor’s signature, the provisions dealing with the definitions of abuse and neglect and with retention of abuse records became effective immediately.
Governor Signs Several Other Bills into Law
The governor has been busy in recent weeks as he has signed several pieces of legislation approved by the General Assembly into law. Some of the bills signed by the governor include:
· SB 139 protects and extends the MORx program until at least 2022 so that more than 182,000 low-income Missourians will continue to receive assistance to afford their prescription medications.
· HB 190 gives community college police officers jurisdiction to enforce speed limits and issue tickets to those who break the law. This bill is meant to keep students and the public safe while they are on Missouri’s community college campuses.
· SB 161 establishes the Ozark Exploration Bicentennial Commission, which is tasked with celebrating the exploration of Missouri’s Ozarks. This celebration is intended to increase tourism to Missouri’s Ozarks and highlight Missouri’s natural beauty.
· HB 51 allows for more investment options with the goal of making more funds available for public cemetery upkeep. Many of the state’s cemeteries that are falling into disrepair will benefit from a new funding source for vital maintenance projects.
· SB 248 repeals the sunset date for tax refund contributions to the Organ Donor Program Fund allowing the fund to continue to accept donations in support of a program that has helped many Missourians.
· SB 8 decreases government regulations for Missouri loggers and log haulers by giving them the freedom to haul additional forest products outside the 100-mile restriction. This bill also allows Missouri farmers to drive on state highways at night with properly lighted machinery during harvest season.
· SB 222 improves public safety for utility workers by expanding Missouri’s Slow Down/Move Over law to include utility vehicles. The bill also allows for additional superior lighting on utility vehicles that will keep workers safe on the jobsite.
· SB 225 closes a loophole in Missouri’s DUI laws and honors veterans by allowing those who have received the Distinguished Service Cross commendation to park at public colleges for free.
· SB 240 establishes statewide licensing for electrical contractors in order to promote competition and fairness. This bill maintains strict and high standards to ensure safety and preserve local building code enforcement.
· SB 88 gives veterinarians the same malpractice coverage as doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals.
· HB 452 says that, with certain exceptions, no health care provider shall be liable for the negligence of another entity or person who is not an employee of the health care provider.
· SB 43 brings standards for lawsuits in Missouri in line with 38 other states and the federal government.
Ensuring that Missourians’ Private Information Remains Private
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is working to ease Missourians’ fears about the sharing of their personal information with the federal government.
After receiving a request from President Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity for information about publicly available voter data, Secretary of State Ashcroft worked quickly to both fulfill the requests and defend his decision to the Missouri public.
In his statement following the decision Ashcroft pointed out the validity of concerns held by Missourians who value their privacy in an age of government overreach. He emphasized that this request applied only to publicly available information and said similar requests had been fulfilled by his predecessors hundreds of times.
His office is required to comply with these types of requests in compliance with Missouri’s Sunshine Law. He said an important thing to note is that no voter preferences, political affiliations, or confidential information will be provided.
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 573.751.0246 and my email is email@example.com . Thank you for the honor to serve as your Representative in the Missouri House of Representatives.
Working on your behalf,
Representative Jim Neely
Proudly Serving the 8th House District
Clinton, Caldwell, Clay and Ray Counties
Missouri House of Representatives