Senator Rusty Black's Legislative Column for the Week of Jan. 22, 2024

Friday, January 26, 2024

Jan. 26, 2024



As the fourth week of the session concludes, the Missouri Senate focused on committee hearings and the State of the State Address as its official business. With bills progressing through committee votes, I am optimistic that those members holding up legislative progress will permit Senate leadership to address crucial issues our constituents elected us to handle.


Last week, I highlighted the appointment of former Sen. Dan Hegeman to the State Highways and Transportation Commission. This role holds significant importance, particularly for our region with its specific concerns regarding low-volume roads in the 12th Senatorial District. Constituents regularly express their worries about road quality and its lasting impact on their vehicles, and sometimes even their immediate safety. It is essential to have someone like Dan on this commission, an individual who travels these roads daily. Unfortunately, his nomination faces delays in the Senate, courtesy of a small group of members hindering discussions and votes on the issues entrusted to us by our constituents. It’s worth noting that, to me, there seems to be no logical or philosophical reason stated to impede his, or many others’, nomination, at least as far as mentioned during their committee hearing.


Earlier this week in the Missouri General Assembly, the governor delivered his State of the State Address, which outlines his priorities for the ongoing legislative session.  Some of the highlights include:


  • Raises for teachers to a baseline pay of $40,000.
  • Fulling funding the K-12 foundation formula, an increase of $120.6 million.
  • Fully funding school transportation costs.
  • Investments in the expansion of pre-kindergarten programs and an investment of $52 million to boost child care subsidy rates to help address the child care crisis.
  • 3% increase for higher education core and other funding to boost workforce development.
  • $1.7 billion investment to close the broadband digital divide over the next 5 years.
  • $93 million for low-volume roads that have not received attention in previous years.   


I look forward to discussing these priorities with the governor and his staff during the next few months in the appropriations hearings.


On Thursday, Jan. 25, the Committee on Local Government and Elections held a hearing on Senate Bill 900 that I sponsored. I believe this legislation could have a significant impact on the Daviess-DeKalb Regional Jail District. Senate Bill 900 would facilitate completion of a new regional jail facility that would house prisoners from Daviess-DeKalb Counties and more if those counties would vote to join the district. The current facility is outdated, too small and poses risks to both the inmates and staff of the facility. I believe this legislation could not only impact the Daviess-DeKalb Regional Jail District but also other counties who are experiencing similar problems.


Lastly, the Board of Healing Arts has initiated corrective action by approving collaborative practice arrangements between physicians and advance-practice registered nurses (APRNs) without the previous limitation of 75 miles. Although the mileage restriction was lifted last year, the board had been reluctant to comply with the law. This marks a significant stride in addressing the health care disparity between rural and urban communities. I am optimistic that our efforts to meet the health care needs of rural areas will persist throughout this legislative session.


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.