Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, Feb. 18, 2013
Preserving a Tradition for Family Farms

This week, the Missouri Senate gave initial approval to a measure to preserve a long-standing tradition in our state regarding family farms. For generations, children and young adults have worked on their family’s farms. For many people, it’s a rite of passage. It’s also a way to teach our youth about the importance of agriculture and instill in them a strong work ethic.

Unfortunately, the federal government passed regulations in recent years prohibiting children from working on farms, even those of their own family. This week we gave first-round approval to Senate Bill 16, which allows children under the age of 16 to work on their own family farms or, with the consent of their parents, the family farms of others. With a final affirmative vote, the bill will be sent to the House for consideration.

In addition, we approved Senate Bill 34 this week. The bill requires the Division of Workers’ Compensation to develop and maintain a workers’ compensation claims database. Currently, when an employer wishes to see an applicant’s past workers’ compensation claims, they have to submit a written request. It can take weeks to get a response, weeks the employee has to wait to start work.

This act will modernize the workers’ compensation claims system and streamline the process for businesses and job applicants. Employers would be able to log into a secure database and retrieve only those records they need. Those who fraudulently access the database would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. This measure will go to the House for possible debate.

Every year, the Missouri Department of Conservation offers assistance to communities through its Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) program to help them manage or care for publicly-owned trees. Since the tornado in 2011, this program has been a critical part of helping Joplin and surrounding communities rebuild their parks and community areas.

This year, I’m pleased to announce the City of Joplin, Carthage and the Franklin Technology Center will receive grants to go towards caring for and managing our community forests. For more information on TRIM grants, including the grant application and workbook, click here.