Senate Passes Resolutions to Subpoena Individuals in Connection with Sanctity of Life Committee Investigation
Although the issue of abortion comes up almost every year, it has loomed especially large over the 2016 session since well before it even began, due in large part to the recent controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood’s business practices and disposal of fetal tissue. While the terrible allegations against Planned Parenthood may no longer dominate the news cycle, Missouri lawmakers have never stopped trying to uncover the whole truth and hold this organization accountable for its actions.
This week, the Senate began debating Senate Resolution 1793 and Senate Resolution 1794, both of which summon individuals for their failure to comply with properly executed subpoenas issued by the Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life last November. In an effort to conduct as thorough of an investigation as possible, the committee issued subpoenas for certain records pertinent to the investigation and requested one of the individuals to testify before the committee.
Just today, the Senate voted to adopt the resolutions, enforcing the committee’s subpoenas and requiring the Planned Parenthood and Pathology Services, Inc. employees to appear before the Senate body to show cause for why they should not be punished for their contemptuous behavior.
For years now, the Department of Revenue (DOR) has been taking heat from businesses and legislators regarding their tax collection efforts, which many feel exceed the department’s authority. By law, places of recreation are required to collect sales taxes on the fees they receive. So when the Missouri Supreme Court began ruling that fitness clubs are considered to be places of recreation, it opened up the door for the DOR to begin taxing instructional classes like dance, gymnastics, karate, aerobics, etc. Whether for adults or children, instructional classes provide great opportunities for learning and exercise, and those are two things that should always be encouraged, not discouraged through taxation.
Similar to legislation filed last year, Senate Bill 1025 clarifies that instructional classes are exempt from sales tax. This legislation not only protects our small business owners and saves Missouri taxpayers money, but it also sends another clear message to the DOR that state lawmakers will continue pushing back against government overreach. The Senate unanimously passed SB 1025 earlier today.
Also this week, the Senate gave its approval to Senate Bill 827, which creates the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia to make recommendations for a statewide system for identification, intervention and delivery of supports for students with dyslexia.
Affecting males and females almost equally, dyslexia is a neurological disorder, characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition and poor spelling and decoding abilities that typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences of dyslexia may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. It is estimated that about 70-80 percent of individuals with poor reading skills are likely dyslexic.
The task force will be comprised of 17 members, including members of the Legislature, the commissioner of education, educators and experts specializing in dyslexia and reading, and private citizens who have been diagnosed with dyslexia, among others.
Finally, as unfortunate as it is, the very sad truth is that many U.S. citizens do not possess even the most basic understanding of American history or how our government works. While students may learn this information at some point in the course of their education, it is certainly not stressed to the degree it should be, especially when you consider the preparation and knowledge we require immigrants to have before they can pass the U.S. Naturalization Test and become American citizens.
Senate Bill 638 creates the “Missouri Civics Education Initiative.” This act requires the subject of American civics to be included in the exam required for graduation from any public or private school, other than private trade schools. It also requires any student entering ninth grade after July 1, 2017, who is attending a public, charter or private school, except for private schools, to pass an exam on the provisions and principles of American civics. The test will consist of 100 questions that are similar to the questions used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. We owe it to our ancestors and our country to be better citizens and that starts with knowing who we are as a nation and understanding our fundamental processes. The Senate has passed SB 638, and the measure is now on its way to the House for further consideration.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2173. You may write to me at Senator Ron Richard, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, 201 W. Capitol Ave., Rm. 326, Jefferson City, MO 65101; e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit me on the Web at www.senate.mo.gov/richard.
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