This Week’s Guest Column from Sen. Will Kraus for the Week of June 26, 2017

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Have a Safe and Happy Fourth of July

The governor now has a little less than three weeks before the July 14 deadline to either sign or veto bills passed during the 2017 regular legislative session. As of this report, the governor has affixed his signature to 16 measures, two of which I’m pleased to report are bills I sponsored.

Throughout my time in the Legislature, it’s been my honor to sponsor several successful policies aimed at helping our military, including this session’s Senate Bill 279. This measure expands the list of documents that demonstrate eligibility for a veteran designation on an applicant’s driver’s license or ID card. Specifically, SB 279 authorizes a person to receive a veteran designation on a driver’s license or ID card upon submission of a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo ID card or a discharge document WD AGO 53, WD AGO 55, WD AGO 53-55, NAVPERS 553, NAVMC 78 PD, NAVCG 553 or DD 215 form showing a discharge status of “honorable” or “general under honorable conditions.” The governor signed SB 279 into law on June 14.

On June 20, the governor approved Senate Bill 248, repealing the Organ Donor Program Fund’s expiration date. In 2011, the Legislature passed the organ donor tax checkoff measure, allowing Missouri taxpayers to make a financial contribution when completing their income tax form. All contributions go to the state’s Organ Donor Program Fund, which was set to expire on Aug. 28, 2017. Thanks to SB 248, that’s no longer the case. The organ donor tax checkoff offers Missouri citizens an easy opportunity to make a small contribution and help save the life of someone who is currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. In Fiscal Year 2016, Missourians donated close to $24,000 through the organ donor tax checkoff.

Both SB 279 and SB 248 will take effect Aug. 28, 2017.

Next week, Americans everywhere will join in celebration of our still-young nation’s 241st birthday. We will host family and friends at backyard barbeques, watch patriotic parades march by and take in the sights and sounds of grand fireworks displays. In addition to these Fourth of July staples, I hope your Independence Day plans also will include some meaningful way of honoring all the brave members of the U.S. military, living and dead, who have safeguarded the many freedoms we’ve enjoyed for more than two centuries now. Our country wouldn’t be what it is today — we wouldn’t be who we are  today — were it not for the selfless service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.

To be an American citizen is an incredible gift and opportunity that should never be taken for granted. On this Independence Day, I encourage all Missourians to pause and recognize the sacred blessing of freedom we enjoy. Remember that, despite our imperfections, we remain the same nation that boldly declared our independence from tyranny and oppression and affirmed that “all men are created equal.”

I hope you have a safe and happy Fourth of July, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Join the conversation and follow me on Twitter @SenWillKraus. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and will try to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at (573) 751-1464, or email at Will.Kraus@Senate.Mo.Gov.

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Senator Will Kraus serves Eastern Jackson County in the 8th State Senatorial District.