Sen. Jeanie Riddle’s Capitol Report for the Week of Jan. 18, 2016

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On January 20, Governor Jay Nixon delivered his State of the State Address after serving as governor for the past seven years. During the speech, the governor outlined his target spending proposals and reflected positively on his administration. While he may have the best intentions in the proposals he describes, I hope to focus on more pressing issues currently facing Missourians and my constituents.

Some of the main points from the governor’s address Wednesday night included: regulating online gambling, sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination laws, and increased welfare spending. Those topics may be of great importance to some citizens of this state, but my constituents have communicated a different set of priorities. The governor also addressed ethics reform and education funding, but it was a shared opinion that my fellow lawmakers and I offer stronger solutions to these problems than the governor offered in his speech. As the General Assembly continues to work throughout the rest of the session and after the governor has left office, our focus should remain on the issues impacting everyday Missourians. These are problems like increasing funding levels for the Missouri education system, improving the health and safety of our state’s children, families, and elderly, and ensuring the Missouri judicial system is as efficient and fair as possible.

Every day, I hear concerns from my constituents on the lack of transportation funding, the need for a stronger education system, and family-supporting employment. Unfortunately, Missourians are facing a crumbling transportation infrastructure after historic flooding, which needs to be corrected with additional focus in our budget. I also hope we can strengthen technical education programs and provide more skilled workers for the jobs currently available.  I think the aim of last night’s speech and the governor’s goals for the future could have been more effectively targeted if he had focused on some of the concerns that I hear from constituents from the 10th district.

I am pleased to say that Sen. Parson’s new piece of legislation, SB 591, officially passed in the Senate this week and was then referred to the House of Representatives. The bill deals with expert witness testimony during court trials. Missouri has not yet adopted the Daubert standard into its judicial system, which is a rule of evidence that only allows actual expert witnesses to provide expert testimony in civil action. The standard allows judges to act as a filter between witnesses and the jury regarding who is able to testify, ensuring that no irrelevant or unreliable testimonies are heard in court.

Sen. Riddle is presented an award from the MOAAP. From left: Dr. Linh Pham, Dr. Ken Haller, Sen. Jeanie Riddle, Dr. Beth Simpson and Dr. Stuart Sweet.

Missouri’s judicial system has sorely needed this bill as its failure to adopt the Daubert standard recently earned it a ranking as one of the worst judicial systems in the country from the American Tort Reform Association. Sen. Parson’s bill will prompt our state’s judicial system to adhere to the same levels of quality and justice that already applies to the federal court system.

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, I was extremely honored to receive the Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MOAPP) Child Champion Award for my work in the state House of Representatives and Senate regarding child health safety. One of my top priorities is increasing safety standards for Missouri children, and I am humbled to receive the MOAPP’s recognition.

It is an honor to be your State Senator, and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at