Senator Bill White’s Capitol Report for Sept. 17, 2021
Annual Veto Session Concludes
With the pounding of the Senate gavel, the annual veto session concluded. The governor vetoed four bills and parts of 11 appropriations measures, but the Legislature decided to let the governor’s actions stand. With this official conclusion of the 2021 legislative session, my attention now turns to deciding which bills to sponsor in 2022. Bill pre-filing begins Dec. 1.
Senate Bill 44 in Action in Joplin
Some south Joplin residents are already reaping the benefits of my Senate Bill 44, which went into effect on Aug. 28. As a result of the legislation, 70-year-old, two-inch water mains are being replaced by eight-inch, high-capacity mains which will enable residents to have fire hydrants in their neighborhoods. This will increase safety and should result in lowering homeowners’ insurance rates. Senate Bill 44 allows for cost-effective work to be done on existing infrastructure that was not planned for in the most recent rate case. The Public Service Commission still has oversight of the projects, and they are subject to an intensive review at the next rate case.
Senators Urge Governor to Protect Employers from Vaccine Mandates
On Sept. 10, I joined 15 of my colleagues in sending a letter to the governor asking him to call an extra legislative session to address the “force-vaccinations” outlined by the president last week. While I support the choice to get vaccinated, I do not discount concerns over the lack of long-term testing. I vehemently oppose the federal government telling employers and workers what they can or cannot do. The governor has already condemned the policy, stating his administration will not “enforce an unconstitutional, federal vaccine mandate for Missourians and private businesses.” The attorney general has signaled that it is likely there will be a legal challenge to the president’s mandates. I’ll keep you posted on the next steps Missouri takes to fight the president’s unconstitutional actions.
FEMA Offers COVID-19 Funeral Assistance
Citizens who incurred funeral expenses for a death caused by COVID-19 that occurred after Jan. 20, 2020, may qualify for financial assistance. Apply for assistance or reimbursement by calling the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 844-684-6333.
Become a Missouri Explorer This Fall
Since its launch last winter, thousands of Missourians have stepped up and participated in the Missouri Explorers program. This initiative encourages residents to travel across the state and complete various challenges. To participate, register as an individual or group, select one of the 18 educational challenges and use the provided guidelines to explore and learn about our great state. You can also share your photos from the challenges on social media with the hashtag #MOExplorers to earn a badge button. Our community even has its own, “Dig into Joplin Challenge.”
My Missouri 2021 Photo Project Comes to Joplin
Be sure to visit the Joplin Public Library before Sept. 26 to see the travelling My Missouri 2021 photo exhibition. Focused on the four seasons, the selected photos showcase the diverse geography and culture of our state. If you cannot visit the display, you may view the virtual exhibition to find entries from our community, like the ones below from Dade and Newton counties.
Kristy Miller’s photo, 1922 Bandstand, shows the beautiful landscape surrounding this historical marker in Lockwood’s South Park.
Elizabeth Dodd’s photo, Old Barn, captures the winter countryside in Stella.
Governor Appoints New Jasper County Coroner
Congratulations are in order for Webb City’s Randy Nace, who was recently appointed Jasper County Coroner by the governor. Mr. Nace has served as Jasper County’s interim coroner and chief deputy, and has also worked as office manager for the Simpson Funeral Home for 10 years. His educational and professional background in mortuary services will be a great asset to our community.
Thomas Hart Benton Art Competition and Exhibition is Underway
For the 26th consecutive year, the Thomas Hart Benton Competition and Exhibition invites local artists to display and sell their 2-D artwork at Big Spring Gallery in Neosho. The exhibit runs through Oct. 27, and you may preview the entries and learn more about the competition on the Neosho Arts Council website.
Out and About in the District
Over the course of the past few weeks, my chief of staff and I have enjoyed celebrating milestones and presenting resolutions to several of our community’s bedrock organizations. Below are a few of the highlights.
My chief of staff, Mike Kelley, presented a resolution to Joplin Neighborhood Adult Literacy Action Read during its 40th anniversary celebration on Sept. 9, the Literacy Liftoff.
Lynna Blase, an administrative assistant at Forest Park Baptist Church, holds the resolution honoring the church’s 175 anniversary on Sept. 12.
Senator White joins members of the Seneca Betterment Committee at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Seneca Veterans Memorial. The dedication ceremony is planned for Nov. 14 in conjunction with Veterans Day.