Legislative Column - Jan. 30, 2014

The fourth week of the legislative session was very busy.

Along with Sen. Mike Cunningham, I co-sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 22, which urges the National Park Service to not take action on the Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) draft general management plan. It also calls for the Department of Interior to negotiate the return and management of the ONSR to our state. While our legislative delegation agrees we need to protect the ONSR, we must not overlook our citizens' heritage and livelihood. Tourism is one of the most critical components of our rural economy and the ONSR is the primary attraction. Thousands of out-of-state as well as in-state hikers, campers, boaters, hunters, fishermen and horseback riders visit this area annually and bring many irreplaceable dollars when they come. Any further limitations or federal encroachment on the access to these assets would severely impact this local economy. The public comment period for the proposed GMP will continue through Feb. 7. I strongly support the “No-Action Alternative,” because the other proposals will have devastating consequences on our local economies and way of life. We need to be promoting this beautiful and wonderful resource, not restricting access to it!

As a member of the Senate General Laws Committee, we spent two weeks hearing Senate Bill 613, also known as the "Second Amendment Preservation Act." This measure would prohibit federal laws from restricting or prohibiting the manufacture, ownership and use of firearms and their accessories within our state, while also promoting responsible gun ownership. I remain committed to standing up for our constitutional rights.

The Million Family (left) and the Ward Family (right) join Sen. Libla in the Pershing Gallery.

I presented my first bill before the Seniors, Families, and Pensions Committee this week. Senate Bill 530 is designed to provide incentives to parents of children who are removed from their homes because of illegal drug use, drug manufacturing or distribution.  This bill is designed to encourage parents to seek out treatment for rehabilitation in a timelier manner. In addition, this legislation sets out to speed up the process of terminating parental rights for those parents who are deemed unfit. The goal is to get drug addicted parents the help they need in order to provide a safe, nurturing home, OR depending on their commitment to get healthy, not let their children languish so long in foster care. This will relieve foster and prospective adoptive homes of the agonizing wait in considering a parent’s progress in addressing his or her drug addiction, and make it faster and easier to get these children out of foster care and adopted into a caring and loving home. Dean and Cindy Million, and Jim and Deana Ward traveled to the Capitol and testified before the committee in favor of my bill. Jim and Deana shared their experiences as foster parents, and Dean shared statistics about children after they have been removed from their homes because the parents were abusing drugs. Children are our future and have rights, too, so let’s give them the start and nurturing home they so desperately need.

The Missouri Corn Growers Association visited Jefferson City and met with legislators about some of the issues affecting them. I visited with John Moreton from Charleston, Mike and Jami Geske from Matthews, and Sean Edler from Arbyrd. Joel Evans and Paula Kinchen were here to educate legislators about the Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation, whose mission is to provide appropriate programs and services that empower people to make positive change in their community, family and personal lives in order to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. Lastly, David Madison from Caruthersville was here for the Missouri Port Authority Association’s annual meeting. David represented the Pemiscot County Port Authority, and I enjoyed speaking to them about the important role ports play in our state and local economy.

If you would like to read more about the legislation or committees mentioned in this column, visit www.senate.mo.gov/libla. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

State Senator Doug Libla
201 W. Capitol Ave., Rm. 226
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-4843

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