Every week I try to include the names of all the constituents, public servants, community leaders, organizations and business groups who take time out of their busy schedules to make the drive up to Jefferson City and meet with me and my staff. Whether stopping by to say a quick hello or visiting at length to discuss a policy issue or difficulty they are facing, I appreciate everyone who takes an active interest in their state government.
Although I normally wait until the end of my columns, I wanted to go ahead and thank this week’s visitors: Beth Ogden, Jeremy Gagnon, Angela Gagnon, Tom Hurt, Mary and John Kramer, John Kelly, Rick Glidewell, Sarah Denkler, Dolores Howard, Rhonda Elfrink, Stephanie Cunningham, Kate Ryder, Christina Jackson, Steve Lierman and Paul Mallmann. In addition, members of the American Red Cross, MU Extension and the Missouri State Teachers Association showed up in full force. As a former educator and member of MSTA, I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on the important issues facing Missouri’s educators.
We are continuing our efforts to get some projects started within the SEMO Lead Mining District with the ASARCO money. The governor took a very small step in our direction when he announced that $750,000 in funds will be available to counties affected by mining in southwest and southeast Missouri. The funds are meant to assist landowners with planting trees, shrubs and grasses; fencing livestock away from stream corridors and providing an alternative water supply; and stabilizing eroding stream banks. Soil and water conservation districts in Iron, Reynolds, St. Francois, Washington and Wayne counties are set to receive $250,000.
To find out more about participating, landowners may contact their soil and water conservation district offices. A map of district offices is available online at www.swcd.mo.gov.
Turning to another important issue for citizens of the 3rd District, this week Representative Fitzwater and I met with Brian Kinkade and Dean Linneman, from the Departments of Social Services, and Health and Senior Services, respectively, to discuss SoutheastHEALTH’s decision to close the Health Center in Ellington and the clinic in Van Buren.
Overall, the meeting went very well. We are urging Southeast Hospital to request a suspension of the certificate of need. Suspending the certificate of need is the only way to keep an interested party from needing to reapply for it. This will give us around 90 days to find another group to take over the operations of the facility. I would like to thank everyone who is working on the issue, especially the county commission and, in particular, Joe Loyd, as well as Christy Roberts with the Chamber of Commerce. We need to continue showing strong community interest in keeping the hospital open.
We are also continuing our fight against the EPA. SB 858, my bill suspending all work on the state implementation plan for the Clean Power Rule, was reported to the floor this week. As you may recall, the Supreme Court recently issued a stay on the rule until it could hear the case that would overturn the rule. Suspending the state’s work is important because moving forward would cause electric rates to skyrocket. I will be talking more about this issue in the next few weeks.
Finally, on Monday evening, my office staff and I joined other senators and Senate staff for the 2016 Senate Bowling Tournament. This year we were able to raise over $7,000 for St. Raymond’s Society — an organization that supports mothers who have chosen life for their child, taking particular care to continue support after the baby is born. Although Romine’s Rollers may not have won, we had a great time bowling with our Senate colleagues and were very proud to support such an incredible and worthy organization.
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 email@example.com; or www.senate.mo.gov/romine.