Sen. Gary Romine’s Capitol Update: Education and Telehealth Legislation Heard in Committee

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Three pieces of legislation I filed this session took another step forward in the process this week, with one bill being heard in committee, one heard in committee then sent to the Senate floor, and another reported to the Senate floor for debate.

On Wednesday the Senate Education Committee voted to pass my career and technical education (CTE) legislation (Senate Bill 620) out of committee, which means it can now be brought up on the floor for debate. The measure establishes graduation requirements for a CTE certificate that a student can earn in addition to their diploma. If signed into law, students entering high school in the 2017-2018 academic year and thereafter will be eligible for a CTE certificate.

That same day I presented Senate Bill 857 to the Education Committee. The measure makes it possible for students from low-income households to apply to the Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program for scholarship money to cover their portion of fees for any dual credit courses. Research has shown that promoting personal responsibility traits in our students leads to a higher completion rate. For this reason, SB 857 also requires students to meet the same eligibility criteria as Missouri’s A+ Scholarship Program.

The bill also contains a local scholarship program for dual credit students, which is funded through a tax credit program modeled after the Innovation Tax Credit we passed two years ago. The good news is the tax credit will not cost the state any tax dollars because it is designed to leverage the federal tax code.

The local dual credit scholarship is an excellent opportunity for businesses within the community or even online to find and train the workers it needs. Under the bill, a business could provide a scholarship to students who will take dual credit courses the business believes is useful. The student gets a jump on completing a college degree, and the business gets a worker who is ready to fill an opening. It’s a win/win.

Today the Senate Veterans’ Affairs and Health Committee heard testimony and passed out of committee Senate Bill 621, legislation I filed relating to telehealth services. Telehealth allows doctors to practice remotely, via a computer or telephone connection, increasing medical access to rural communities, which usually don’t have access to specialists and the most advanced technologies. Expanding telehealth services in Missouri is one of the recommended reforms to come out of the 2013 Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation and Reform, which I chaired. This bill has also been reported to the Senate floor for debate.

As someone who believes strongly in advancing telehealth in the Show-Me State, I was honored to be one of three state lawmakers invited to serve on a legislative panel at the University of Missouri’s Telehealth Summit, held yesterday in Jefferson City. For my part, I was able to share how telehealth can positively impact the lives of not just my constituents, but of all Missourians, most especially those living in rural communities.

Finally, I hope the following individuals and groups who made the trip up to my Capitol office had a good time: Justin Bennett, of Leadington, who was appointed to the State Committee for Social Workers; Brad Crocker, Superintendent of Valley R-VI School District; Craig Henning with the Disability Resource Association; members from the Meramec Regional Planning Commission; Iron County Assessor David Huff; St. Francois County Assessor Dan Ward; Ginger Williams and Ken Sheets with Missouri Community Improvement Industries, Inc. in Farmington; and Principal Jared Matthews, along with students Wyatt O’Harver, Gavin Cole, Caleb Marr, Noah Walls and Jonah Melkowski, all from the Twin City Christian Academy in Festus.

Contact Me

I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101; or email me at; or