Senator Rusty Black's Legislative Column for the Week of Jan. 15

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Appropriations hearings have started in both the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate. In crafting the state’s budget, the governor delivers his proposals to the General Assembly during the State of the State, which takes place next week, and then the House begins making its recommendations shortly after.


Also, I am hopeful that my top priority, providing access to effective Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatments — such as electroencephalogram (EEG), combined with Electromyography-Triggered Neuromuscular Stimulation (eTMS) — that can help veterans and first responders to reduce and treat symptoms such as flashbacks, anxiety and depression. This would allow them to function better in their daily lives. Furthermore, investing in these treatments for veterans and first responders is not only a moral obligation but also an economic one. By investing in their well-being, we are not only supporting our heroes but also investing in the long-term health and productivity of our communities.


In 2021, a significant ruling was reached when the Missouri Supreme Court delivered its ruling on Fowler v. MO Sheriff’s Retirement System. The court declared the surcharge, intended to support the Sheriff’s Retirement System, was not deemed “reasonably related to the administration of justice” and consequently violated the Missouri Constitution. This verdict has injected a wave of stress and uncertainty into the law enforcement community, as the retirement fund races rapid depletion. Responding to the urgency of the situation, the previous year saw the General Assembly implementing a temporary fix by appropriating $2.5 million to the fund, all while efforts were made to pass a more permanent solution through legislation. This year, I introduced Senate Joint Resolution 71, which would tackle this issue head on. Senate Joint Resolution 71 asks voters to enshrine in the state’s constitution that sheriffs play a crucial role in the administration of justice, thereby rectifying the current predicament and ensuring a robust retirement fund for sheriffs as they approach the end of their careers.


Another piece of legislation that I filed would modernize the Missouri Local Government Employees’ Retirement System (LAGERS) board structure and election practices. These are currently defined in state statute and cannot be changed without legislative action from the General Assembly. The goal of this legislation is to modernize best-practices in system governance, increase the accessibility, transparency and participation of the LAGERS’ membership of the Board of Trustees election, and ensure fair and appropriate representation of the system’s 35,000 active members, 28,000 retirees and 850 employers. There are three primary changes within in the bill. First, the removal of specific statutory requirements for LAGERS’ election procedures and annual meetings. These will be moved to Administrative Rules, which is more consistent with the Missouri Public Education Employee Retirement System. This change will allow LAGERS’ Board of Trustees to modernize trustee election process. Secondly, this legislation would add a retiree trustee to the board. Retirees currently do not have representation on the LAGERS board. The retiree trustee will replace one of the employer trustees. Lastly, this would expand eligibility for the employer trustee seats. Currently, an employer trustee may not be a member of the system. The change will allow governing body and executive level positions to have membership in LAGERS.

Earlier this week the Missouri Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee, which has the sole responsibility of considering and reporting upon appointments made to various boards, departments and committees by the governor, held a hearing. Former Sen. Dan Hegeman, who represented the 12th Senate District before me, was appointed to serve as a commissioner on the State Highways and Transportation Commission. This panel works to preserve, enhance and support Missouri’s transportation system. I was honored to support his nomination. The committee also approved Dennis Hicks to the Livingston County Commission as the eastern district commissioner. I was privileged to sponsor and approve his nomination.


As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is 573-751-1415, my email is and my mailing address is
201 W. Capitol Ave., Room 331, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.