Senator Kurt Schaefer – Weekly Legislative Column for the Week of Jan. 11

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Legislative Highlights from the Missouri Senate: Week of Jan. 11, 2016

The Senate is off and running this week at the Capitol. The first of many hearings were held, and many of our key issues are already moving forward.  This year, it is my hope that we are working to foster a stronger, more resilient economy.  I believe together we will craft common sense legislation that will help create jobs across all industries and build stronger communities in the Show-Me State.

On Wednesday Jan. 13, I filed three bills – Senate Bill 915, Senate Bill 916 and Senate Bill 917.

  • Senate Bill 915 – Designates the portion of U.S. Highway 63 from Breedlove Drive to Peabody Road in Boone County as the “U.S. Army Specialist Steven Paul Farnen Memorial Highway,” and the portion of U.S. Highway 63 in Boone County from the interchange with Discovery Parkway to Interstate 70 as the “U.S. Navy Lieutenant Patrick Kelly Connor Memorial Highway.”  State Rep. Chuck Basye (R-047) has filed House Bill 1958 in the House as a companion bill to SB 915.
  • Senate Bill 916 – Removes the exclusion under the term “employer” in the Missouri Human Rights Act to include corporations and associations owned and operated by religious or sectarian groups.
  • Senate Bill 917 – Currently a person who causes physical injury or death to another person by failing to yield the right-of-way is subject to additional monetary penalties and driver’s license suspensions. SB 917 increases the penalties and driver license suspension periods for those who fail to yield the right-of-way in certain instances.

Schaefer 010616 - 117To continue to advance our state forward, we need to work effectively and equally as hard to protect the rights of our citizens and push back on a
federal government that overreaches its authority.  That is now more evident than ever. Last week, the president announced he is issuing another executive order that is deliberately stomping on our Second Amendment rights. The president has made it clear: He cares more about political posturing than he does about the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.  The fact is, his executive order to tighten background checks for gun owners is hollow in nature and will not reduce crime.

The president’s order states it does not matter whether you sell your gun from a store, at a gun show, or over the Internet, you must conduct background checks and be licensed.  What the president does not say is that federal law already requires a license and background checks for gun dealers at stores and gun shows.  His executive order does not change that.

The president’s executive order still needs to go through the rule-making process so we will not know exactly what the official guidelines will look like yet.  However, the president cannot unilaterally expand the law. Misusing his power and infringing on our Second Amendment rights goes against federal law.  His order does not provide for a meaningful solution to our nation’s more pressing problems. California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington already have the stricter gun laws Obama is requiring; yet they have had the most recent acts of gun violence.

While the president specifically mentioned Missouri in his speech last week, he left out important details.  In 2007, the Legislature repealed a 1920’s statute that required sheriff departments to perform inquiry checks before a person could receive a gun permit. The law was repealed because it was outdated and only one county was actually following the statute correctly.  Since then, Missouri has been leading many states when it comes to reporting mental health issues and other background information to the federal NICS system.

We will monitor the development of rules and guidelines according to the executive order. We will work together to protect our law-abiding citizens and make sure their constitutional rights are not weakened.  We will also continue to push back against a federal government that cannot balance its own checkbook, cannot manage its own house and has an inexhaustible appetite for more power and control.

Thank you for your interest in the issues that affect the citizens of Boone and Cooper counties.  If you have any questions or concerns throughout this session, or plan on coming by the Capitol, please contact my office at (573) 751-3931.

Did you know…?

Missouri gets its name from a tribe of Sioux Indians of the state called the Missouris. The word “Missouri” has been construed to mean “muddy water,” but the Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology has stated it means “town of large canoes,” and authorities have said the Indian syllables from which the word comes mean “wooden canoe people,” “he of the big canoe” or “river of the big canoes.”