The Munzlinger Minutes for the Week of Jan. 18: Expanding Opportunities for Farmers; Meet Our Interns

This week in Jefferson City saw the first perfected bill of the legislative session. Senators from across the state are working to advance our state’s interests and serve the citizens of our great state. Throughout the Capitol, the sounds of legislation moving through the committee process have intensified and legislators are earnestly representing their constituents through meetings, hearings and votes. This session is poised to be productive and see a large number of important, high-profile bills.

A particular high-profile bill relating to Show-Me agriculture that I am sponsoring is Senate Bill 584, to allow those licensed by the Missouri Department of Agriculture to grow and handle industrial hemp. This would create a pilot program for agricultural industrial hemp, not medical or recreational marijuana. Those with a felony offense in the past 10 years would be barred from receiving a permit. Furthermore, those with a federal or state felony offense relating to controlled substances — regardless of when the offense occurred — would also be ineligible to receive an industrial hemp permit. Hemp is used in a variety of agricultural products by providing fiber and oil. Economic benefits of industrial hemp include the potential for additional millions of dollars to be injected into our state’s economy. By increasing the number of cash crops farmers are able to grow, Missouri’s agriculture industry and overall economy stand to benefit greatly.

The first bill perfected this session was Senate Bill 591, sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson. In line with the federal court system and 40 other states, this bill would bring certain standards for expert witnesses in court. The expert would be required to base his or her opinion on sufficient facts and reliable principles. This bill would allow for a more streamlined process in admitting expert testimony in legal proceedings that affect many Missourians. In addition, I filed an amendment to the bill to ensure property owners are competent to testify as to the value of their property. This amendment passed and became part of the now-perfected bill.

There are many other bills currently going through the Senate that are of interest to many 18th District citizens. Topics of particular interest that have been in the news recently include Real ID options and creating jobs in rural areas. It is my purpose to continue hearing from you and representing your interests in Jefferson City. I welcome questions and comments about the topics above, as well as other topics, through my office.

In office news, we are pleased to welcome two interns to our office who will be serving the 18th District and its constituents while being presented with a unique learning opportunity.

Emily Harrison:

Hello! My name is Emily Harrison and I am a sophomore at Truman State University in Kirksville. My major is Agricultural Sciences with a minor in Political Sciences. At Truman, I am involved in Collegiate Farm Bureau and Sigma Alpha, a national professional agriculture sorority. I am incredibly honored and excited to work for Sen. Munzlinger this legislative session. In order to ensure that Missouri continues to be at the forefront of developing agricultural markets, I am looking forward to working on legislation that promotes the growth and advancement of technology in the agriculture industry. I would like to thank Dr. Candy Young and all of the Truman State University administration and donors for allowing this incredible internship to happen year after year. Without their endless support, Truman students would not have the success they do in the Missouri State Capitol.

Cole Edwards:

Hi, my name is Cole Edwards and I am a sophomore at the University of Missouri majoring in Agribusiness Management with a minor in Political Science. I was raised on a family farm near Salisbury in Chariton County, where I developed a strong background in production agriculture. Building upon that background, I served as Missouri FFA State President for 2014-15 and today continue my involvement with agriculture on the MU campus. In addition to my studies, I am a member of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, Collegiate Farm Bureau, Outreach Student Recruitment and several other organizations. I am honored to be serving as an intern this legislative session and am excited to work on policy enabling farmers to continue feeding the world and their way of life. After graduation, I plan on pursuing a law degree before a career in federal agricultural policy in Washington, D.C.

I am glad to have two, talented, young individuals interning in my office this session and look forward to their help in the office this year. I will continue to advocate for the 18th District in Jefferson City, working towards common-sense legislation to build better, more resilient economies and stronger communities.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office. Thank you.