A Successful First Half of the 2018 Legislative Session
The Missouri Senate has reached the halfway point of the 2018 legislative session. While we have spent several long days on the Senate floor and countless hours in committee hearings, I am proud of the conservative, common-sense proposals my colleagues and I have approved and sent to the Missouri House of Representatives for consideration. We started this legislative session focused on passing legislation intended to make our great state a better place to live, work and raise a family, and I believe we are well on our way to accomplishing that goal.
Promoting economic development and attracting new businesses and job creators to the Show-Me State continues to be one of my top priorities in the Missouri Senate. My colleagues and I approved legislation reauthorizing two of Missouri’s top economic development tools. Senate Bill 549 extends the Missouri Works Training Program and the Missouri Works Program until 2030.
The Missouri Works Training Program strives to address the No. 1 challenge facing Missouri businesses in today’s growing economy — finding educated, skilled workers. Through this program, businesses receive funding for job training when they introduce new product lines, new technology, competition-driven productivity improvements or when they are expanding or relocating their business within the state. As a result of the program, Missouri has seen more than 9,500 new jobs and the state has retained more than 121,000 jobs as a direct result of the Missouri Works Training Program.
The Missouri Works Program is the state’s top economic development tool for attracting and retaining businesses. This program incentivizes businesses to expand their operations as well as hire new employees through the ability to retain their withholding taxes on the created jobs or receive refundable tax credits. For every dollar invested by the state in the Missouri Works Program, it has generated more than $3.29 in economic activity. These two programs have a proven track record of creating jobs and helping businesses grow. Extending these programs sends an important message to our country’s business community, Missouri is open for business.
In response to last year’s budget cuts, the Missouri Senate approved Senate Bill 563. This legislation restores the cuts made to the MO Rx program and removes the Medicaid dual-eligibility only requirement. As a result, every senior who was eligible for the program prior to the 2017 budget cuts will now be able to participate again to access needed prescriptions. In today’s economy, some seniors face tough choices, but acquiring life-saving prescription drugs should not be one of them. Policies like the MO Rx program are essential to supporting our seniors as they enter their golden years.
Opioid-related deaths are at an all-time high in Missouri. Today, one out of every 66 deaths in Missouri can be attributed to opioid overdose. To help combat opioid abuse, the Missouri Senate approved Senate Bill 826. This bill limits the initial prescription length of opioids to no more than a 7-day supply. Studies show the long-term use of a prescription sharply increases after the third and fifth days of taking the medicine. The 7-day limit would not affect patients suffering from chronic pain, nor would it affect anyone undergoing treatment for cancer, receiving hospice care or palliative care, or anyone residing in a long-term care facility. In addition, the bill allows pharmacies to house kiosks for the collection of unused drugs. The legislation also expands the list of drugs pharmacies are legally allowed to take back, and it creates a statewide education campaign encouraging all Missourians to safely dispose of their prescription drugs.
As technology continues to evolve, our businesses and job creators require an educated workforce that understands how to best utilize modern technology. Senate Bills 894 & 921 establish a statewide STEM career awareness program. This legislation also aims to incentivize more of our state’s high school students to enroll in computer science courses by allowing those classes to count toward graduation. Currently, there are more than 10,000 open computer science jobs in our state. By encouraging and improving computer science education, we can better prepare our students to enter Missouri’s workforce.
While my colleagues and I have approved numerous pieces of common-sense, conservative legislation, there is still much work left to be done before the end of the 2018 legislative session. As always, it is an honor and privilege to be your State Senator and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at www.senate.mo.gov/riddle.