The Senate finished its tenth week of session on Thursday, March 11. We are now past the half-way point of session. There are many more issues to be debated, from the annual budget, to my proposal to generate much-needed revenue for our transportation infrastructure. I was pleased this last month to have so many visitors from the 25th District come to the Capitol for various legislative days or to discuss issues with me.
As the senator for the 25th district, it’s incredibly important I keep an ongoing dialogue with local officials and organizations. This lets me focus my legislative priorities on the issues most affecting our district. In February, I met with Bub Forsythe, the Mayor of Harrisonville, to discuss economic development issues. Jon Douglass, the Sikeston City Administrator, also stopped by, along with Shannon County Southern Commissioner Herman Kelly. Additionally, I discussed educational issues with Malden Superintendent Ken Cook.
Numerous representatives from electrical cooperatives came to the Capitol in February, including Greg Gibson and Delbert Defriest, from the Pemiscot Dunklin Electric Cooperative; Glenn Cantrell, Denis Fowler, Tim Coppage, Carla Moore and Dannett Cooper, from the SEMO Electric Cooperative; Mike Collier and Darryl Sorrell, with M&A; and Stanley Estes, from Ozark Border Electric Cooperative.
Numerous receptions and dinners were held in February. I attended the Missouri Soybean Association reception, where I visited with farmers. Soy is one of the state’s largest crops, and those farmers are a key part of our agricultural industry.
I was grateful to be invited to the Missouri Port Authority Dinner, where we learned the important role ports play in our transportation industry and how they can lead our state in the next generation of transporting goods to market. The Missouri Telecommunications Industry Association held its annual dinner, where I had the privilege to see Lisa Winberry from BPS Telephone in Bernie, Missouri. Additionally, the Missouri Railroad Association held its annual legislative advocacy day, along with the Missouri Farm Bureau’s yearly gathering in Jefferson City.
Multiple educational groups came to visit me last month. We hosted Three Rivers College week at the Capitol. Dr. Wes Payne, Dr. Maribeth Payne, Bill Hampton, Connie Hampton, Teresa Johnson and Ann Matthews all came to Jefferson City for the event. Retired Teacher Day was on Wednesday, March 17. Many teachers from SEMO visited. I also met with Alexa Nordwald, from the FFA State Officers; Nick Nordwald, as part of MOACTE Education Day; Kay Rebstock, from the New Madrid School District with the Missouri School Boards Association; and Tom Graham and Leslie Collier, accompanied by a group of high school juniors and seniors, from Westwood Baptist Academy.
Representatives from various businesses and organizations visited with me at the Capitol in Jefferson City during February as well. I met with Mark Massingham and Ed DeGaris, of Poplar Bluff, for the Missouri Municipal League conference in Jefferson City; Chris Riley, from Archer Daniels Midland Company; Scott Nichols, from Health Facilities Rehab in Sikeston; Russell Martin, president of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home; and Tom Crawford, of the Missouri Trucking Association, who was kind enough to introduce me to the next generation of truckers. I also visited with Stoddard County Prosecutor Russ Oliver, from the Missouri Prosecuting Attorney’s Association, to learn more about what issues they’re focusing on.
Finally, I met with Congressman Jason Smith and all of the Southeast Missouri state elected officials’ delegation to discuss topics that are important to our region. These meetings are a great chance to align our priorities on things that will best help the constituents of Southeast Missouri.
In District News
On Feb. 4, I was the guest speaker at the Transportation Advisory Committee at the Ozark Foothills Regional Planning Commission office. We discussed the importance of protecting our state’s transportation infrastructure, an issue I’ve been advocating heavily for this year, and the significance of local involvement. It’s no secret our state faces a transportation funding crisis. It will take the work of both state and local leaders to solve it. I appreciated the chance to talk at this meeting.
I met with Congressman Jason Smith and local community leaders in Sikeston on Feb. 13 to discuss the impact of the Noranda Aluminum workforce reduction. This issue has hit citizens in our region especially hard.
Then, on Feb. 19, I was honored to attend the Valentines for Veterans benefit concert in Poplar Bluff, a wonderful event that highlights the need to help our veterans. The music was wonderful and I enjoyed the comradery of friends and neighbors. It’s a great cause, and I was proud to support it.