Senators wasted no time getting back to work on issues important to the state in their first week back following the legislative Spring Break.
On the Senate floor, senators debated the possibility of increasing the state’s gas tax to help fund Missouri’s transportation needs. Senate Bill 623 proposes a 5.9 cent-per-gallon increase, which would increase the current rate from 17 cents to 22.9 cents-per-gallon starting Jan. 1, 2017. The difference between this legislation and versions that were debated in the past include the addition of a referendum clause which sends the question to a vote of the people. My own position on this legislation is that Missouri does need to direct more resources toward transportation infrastructure, but a tax increase is unnecessary and potentially counterproductive. The measure ultimately passed the Senate and is now in the House awaiting similar consideration.
Senators also debated Senate Bill 786, which permits a person to file a complaint alleging an election offense with the secretary of state. The bill also grants the secretary of state the authority to investigate such claims. I applaud Senator Will Kraus, R-Independence, and his continued work to safeguard our election process in Missouri.
Senators also considered legislation pertaining to the fraudulent use of credit and debit cards. Senate Bill 624 adds an element to the crime of fraudulent procurement of a credit or debit card by requiring one to knowingly possess the fraudulently obtained credit or debit card. As most consumers know, credit and debit card fraud has skyrocketed. As more and more criminals find ways to illegally obtain such information, it is important that we protect consumers and business owners who are impacted by their actions, as well as those individuals who have their personal information compromised.
Two bills relating to suicide prevention were also brought forward for debate on the Senate floor. One requires public institutions of higher education to develop policies to educate students and staff of suicide prevention programs that are available to them both on and off campus. The legislation also states that incoming students should be provided with information about suicide prevention, and requires that institutions establish methods of anonymous reporting of unsafe and violent activities or threats related to a possible suicide.
The other bill would allow any licensed educator to annually complete up to two hours of training or professional development in youth suicide awareness and prevention as part of the professional development hours required for State Board of Education certification. The bill also requires school districts to adopt policies for youth suicide and awareness prevention by seeking input from organizations with expertise in the area.
I applaud the work of the legislators who have made suicide prevention a key legislative priority. During both last session and this session, public instances of suicide have really pushed the conversation to the forefront and helped to increase awareness of the issue. I am hopeful that this legislation will help provide the resources necessary to prevent future instances.
Aside from our work on the Senate floor, I also had the great honor of meeting with constituents visiting from the 2nd Senatorial District, many of whom are pictured below. Many thanks to all those who made the trip to Jefferson City to witness our work first-hand.
As always, thank you for allowing me to serve you in Jefferson City. It is an honor and a privilege. I look forward to providing additional updates next week as we begin to tackle the budget and other issues important to our great state.
Capitol Visitors – I always enjoy welcoming visitors to my office, most especially constituents from my district.
Contacting Sen. Onder
Throughout this session, I will do my best to keep you informed of our work here in the Capitol. I encourage you to contact my office if you have comments, questions or concerns.
For constituent questions, scheduling and general questions, please contact my Scheduler and Director of Constituent Services Theckla Spainhower at Theckla.Spainhower@senate.mo.gov.
For questions pertaining to legislation, please contact my Chief of Staff and Legislative Director Jennae Neustadt at Jennae.Neustadt@senate.mo.gov.
You can reach my Capitol office at (573) 751-1282. You can also e-mail me personally at Bob.Onder@senate.mo.gov.
I would like to encourage you to sign up for my weekly capitol reports so we can inform you of our work each week. Please email Theckla Spainhower at Theckla.Spainhower@senate.mo.gov to be added to our mailing list.
Thank you again for your support. I look forward to serving you.
Robert F. (Bob) Onder, Jr.