April 20, 2018
Missouri Senate Considers Legislation and Gubernatorial Appointments
Board of Education appointments
Last week, the Missouri Senate’s Gubernatorial Appointments Committee approved an appointee to serve on the state Board of Education. The committee approved Eddy Justice from Poplar Bluff to serve on the Missouri State Board of Education. Although he was approved by the committee, Mr. Justice must receive the advice and consent of the full Senate before he can return to service on the Board of Education. I am still of the opinion that Mr. Justice, along with the other members appointed by Governor Greitens, should not serve on this important state-wide board due to their hasty and ill-informed decision to fire Missouri’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education in December.
I am still encouraging the governor to withdraw these candidates and submit new appointees to the Senate for confirmation. The Missouri Board of Education has a responsibility to the students of our state, and the current appointees have a proven track-record of voting without thoroughly and thoughtfully considering the issue at hand.
The Board of Education currently lacks a quorum. Important decisions must be made and the lack of leadership is hampering our schools and students. Once again, I am asking the governor to put our students first and submit five new, qualified appointees for the Senate’s consideration so the Board can get back to the business of overseeing Missouri’s public school system.
Amendment creates new opportunities
Opportunities often arise during the legislative session to consider similar policy changes simultaneously by combining legislation in committee. House Bill 2044, which modifies provisions regarding retirement for public employees, now contains my language from Senate Bill 1045. This bill allows any retired teacher to be employed in a position covered under the Public Education Employee Retirement System without stopping or reducing their retirement benefits. These teachers could earn up to 50 percent of the minimum teacher’s salary set forth by state law in addition to their monthly retirement benefits. This legislation provides retired teachers with an opportunity to earn supplemental income while also addressing a practical need in our school system.
These reforms are now included in HB 2044 which was debated on the Missouri Senate floor this week. House Bill 2044 has been placed on the informal Senate calendar to await further debate in the coming weeks.
Rural Broadband access
One of the major priorities for the Missouri Senate this year is to improve broadband internet access in rural areas. The internet is utilized in every aspect of daily life, and limited access puts individuals who live in rural communities at a disadvantage. Several pieces of legislation have been considered this year that aim to expand access to the internet and close the digital divide between urban and rural populations.
Students need high-speed, broadband internet at home to facilitate learning, businesses need online platforms to remain competitive and communities need resources to solve local challenges. These reasons have compelled me to support legislation addressing the lack of internet access throughout large portions of our state. I feel confident that the Missouri General Assembly will work cooperatively to pass legislation to incentivize and aid expansion of broadband access in our rural communities.
- Senator Denny Hoskins Column for the Week of April 16, 2018
- Audio: Sen. Cunningham Discusses Recent Events at the Capitol