The Capitol was bustling with advocacy rallies, committee hearings, constituent visits and lengthy sessions in the Senate Chamber this week, and I had the opportunity to present two of my bills in committees. The first, Senate Bill 826, was heard by the Seniors, Families and Children Committee on Feb. 19, and its language correlates with three similar bills being considered by the House. The primary goal of this legislation is to protect the homeless children in our state. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness reports some daunting statistics for Missouri’s children: 32,133 public school students experienced homelessness during the 2016-17 school year, 3,944 were unaccompanied by an adult and 578 were unsheltered. This bill takes a three-pronged approach to reduce these numbers by giving the minor the ability to contract for mental health and substance use services, allowing access to vital records and extending MO HealthNet (Medicaid) benefits to homeless children up to the age of 26. I will be fine-tuning the fiscal note in the coming weeks to help provide a more accurate representation of the bill’s impact on our state.
I also presented Senate Bill 784 to the Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee on Feb. 20. It enacts provisions relating to disability accommodations for commercial driver’s license applicants and is similar to a bill I sponsored last session.
Senate Bill 609, commonly known as “Opioid Addiction Treatment and Recovery Fund”, passed out of the Senate and now starts the legislative process in the House of Representatives. It mandates that the proceeds gained from litigation against drug manufacturers will only fund substance use prevention, treatment and recovery services. We still have obstacles to overcome with the opioid crisis, but this policy will help the individuals and families that are directly impacted.
Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of participating on a panel with some of my colleagues from the House of Representatives during the Carthage Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues Legislative Forum on Feb. 14. Attendees had an opportunity to ask legislators questions about various topics, voice personal concerns and listen to an update regarding the 2020 legislative session.
Jasper County Veterans Treatment Court Needs Mentors!
Attention Veterans! The Jasper County Veterans Court needs mentors! This program promotes public safety and reduces recidivism by addressing the core issues of substance use disorders with a collaborative team of experts. Contact the administrator, Jared Prater, at (417) 438-4245 for more information.
Next week marks the observance of National FFA Week. Missouri’s FFA programs provide services to more than 29,920 members who will develop the skills needed to feed a growing population. The FFA’s vision is “Students whose lives are impacted by FFA and agricultural education will achieve academic and personal growth, strengthen American agriculture and provide leadership to build healthy local communities, a strong nation and a sustainable world.”
I enjoyed meeting with multiple groups and residents from our community this week as they attended various advocacy rallies and lobby days. The Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, Missouri Farm Bureau, the Convention and Visitors Bureaus of Joplin and Carthage and Moms Demand Action all visited my office and explained their legislative priorities.