Senator Travis Fitzwater's Legislative Column for Feb. 3, 2023
Friday, February 3, 2023
Debating Bills and Meeting Constituents
The Missouri Senate entered a new phase of the 2023 legislative session this week. For the first time during the 102nd General Assembly, we engaged in lengthy floor debate in the Senate chamber as Senate Bill 4 came up for perfection.
A comprehensive package of education reforms, SB4 contains several provisions intended to increase transparency and provide parents greater control over their children’s classroom experience. A major component of the bill is a “Parents Bill of Rights,” which would allow parents to review their child’s classroom curriculum and stay informed about issues that could affect their child’s safety. In addition, the bill requires the state to establish an Education Transparency and Accountability Portal, allowing public access to school curriculums, textbooks and other educational materials, and also develop coursework aimed at teaching principles of civics and patriotism. It wasn’t these parts of the bill that tied us up on the Senate floor for nearly four hours, however.
A portion of SB 4 relates to classroom instruction about racial issues. The discussion became heated at times and members of the Senate opposed to the legislation showed no indication they were ready to allow a vote to proceed. The measure was eventually tabled, to be brought up again another day. My own belief is SB 4 would let parents have a greater role in their children’s education. That’s a good thing, in my opinion. I hope we can come to some agreement on the contentious parts of the bill and move this legislation forward.
One of the aspects of serving in the Senate I’ve already come to enjoy is a greater ability to welcome constituents to the Capitol. This week I had the pleasure of meeting with individuals representing various business and community organizations throughout the 10th Senatorial District. Each of these visits provides an opportunity to learn more about issues that impact the communities I represent and to share information about the legislative process.
This week, community leaders from both Callaway Electric Cooperative and Cuivre River Electric Cooperative stopped by to discuss issues that impact their members. I also visited with folks from Callaway Bank who discussed their legislative priorities. A delegation from the Leadership Troy organization stopped by advocating for important issues to Lincoln County, and a group representing the Missouri Alzheimer’s Association came to talk about aging issues, including proposed legislation to provide property tax relief for Missourians on fixed incomes. I had the pleasure of meeting with the mayor of Bowling Green and discussing ways to honor the community’s founder, John W. Basye, as the city prepares for its bicentennial celebration. It was also a treat to welcome art students from Bowling Green and take them on a tour of the Capitol. I especially enjoyed showing them the spectacular Thomas Hart Benton murals in the House Lounge.
It's also worth mentioning representatives from St. Charles Community College stopped by my office to update me on the progress of the proposed Regional Workforce Innovation Center. This $40 million facility will be located within the 10th Senatorial District as part of the college’s new western St. Charles campus. This state-of-the-art technical and career training center will help develop a skilled workforce for the entire region, including residents of Lincoln, Pike, Montgomery and even Callaway County.
I truly enjoy meeting constituents from the 10th Senatorial District. If you’re visiting our beautiful State Capitol, please stop by my office in room 417. I look forward to hearing your concerns.
Senator Travis Fitzwater serves residents of Callaway, Lincoln, Montgomery, Pike and a portion of St. Charles counties in the Missouri State Senate. For more information about Sen. Fitzwater, visit senate.mo.gov/Fitzwater.