Senator Holly Thompson Rehder's Legislative Column for April 6, 2023

Thursday, April 6, 2023

A Week of Tragedy and Results

Like so many other Southeast Missouri residents, I began this week believing everything was normal and things I took for granted would be just as I expected. That all changed Wednesday morning with the news that a devastating tornado touched down in Bollinger County. Suddenly, the committee hearings, floor debates and legislative negotiations that seemed so important a day before didn’t mean much. I hustled to the Jefferson City airport to catch a flight with the governor, who traveled to the area to survey the damage. I accompanied the governor as he visited with local first responders and the community volunteers who rushed in to help. My heart was filled with compassion for the victims and gratitude for our hometown heroes as we flew back to the Capitol.

If you’ve never visited the site of a tornado, you can’t imagine the destruction. Literally everything in the twister’s path is destroyed. The homes and possessions families spent their lives building and gathering are tossed to the wind with a violence that’s hard to comprehend. Sometimes, these storms only destroy property, but spare lives. That was not the case Wednesday. Tragically, five people lost their lives in Southeast Missouri.

The impact Wednesday’s tornado had on people in its path is immeasurable. It will take months or years for the community to rebuild from the physical damage. Families will never recover from the loss of their loved ones. We all need to pray for the victims of this storm and do our part to help those affected. If you’re inspired to make a financial donation, I suggest you channel your generosity through the Red Cross.

Events like this put life in perspective. The things we thought were important become less so. Still, you elected me to represent you to do a job and I have an obligation to keep you informed about events at the State Capitol. So, with that in mind, I’ll provide an update, while the developments of the past week are still fresh in mind.

Senate Bill 41, my bill to allow pharmacists to continue to dispense routine vaccinations, was added to House Bill 115 as it came up for a vote in the Senate. The bill needs to go back to the House for one final vote, but I expect it to cross the legislative finish line soon. Earlier in the week, SB 41 received a hearing by the House Health and Mental Health Policy Committee as a stand-alone bill.

Also this week, the House General Laws Committee took up my Senate Bill 40, a measure requiring a criminal background check for adults who attend classes alongside traditional high school students. My legislation authorizing a fifth adult high school in Missouri has passed out of the Senate and now moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration. Senate Bill 199 transfers oversight of adult high schools to the Department of Social Services, to better reflect the workforce development mission of these schools.

Senate Bill 381, which I presented to the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee this week, directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to revise the health education class required of every high school student. The bill renames the class “Health and Family Education,” reflecting a greater emphasis on family relationships, child abuse, drug and alcohol disorders and parenting competence.

The Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee took testimony on my Senate Bill 481. This measure would require 85% of the state’s share of federal revenue from underground mining activities in Missouri be distributed to the counties where the minerals are extracted. Iron and Reynolds counties, which became part of the district in January, produce 98% of all the lead produced in the United States. These two counties bear the brunt of the environmental costs and infrastructure demands associated with mining, so it makes sense revenue from mining should mostly benefit these areas.

Also this week, I presented Senate Bill 368 to the Senate Insurance and Banking Committee. This legislation addresses a gap in insurance coverage for bioidentical hormone therapies. My legislation requires any health benefit plan that covers the cost of synthetic hormone therapies to also provide coverage for alternative bioidentical therapies. This change would increase treatment options for women experiencing symptoms related to menopause.

Contact Me

I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Holly Thompson Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101, send an email to or visit