Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, Feb. 10, 2014
Protecting Missouri Consumers

Legislative News

This week the Senate approved two bills regarding health insurance navigators in Missouri. These professionals guide consumers through the new health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Navigators deal with extremely personal information, and help people make a decision with extremely long-term consequences on their lives and health.

Shown above, Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, meets MSSU Dental Hygiene students during their visit to the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.


Navigators are barely regulated here in Missouri, though. It wasn’t until last year that these insurance advisers were even required to be licensed. We have to make sure those who practice this profession are held to the same high standards and requirements as any other licensed individual.

On Monday, the Senate approved two bills toward this goal. Senate Bill 498 would require all navigators be bonded, and create a private cause of action against those who release private information. Senate Bill 508 would require navigators to take a test created by the Department of Insurance and submit to a background check.

These bills have nothing to do with the ongoing debate over the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act. Rather, they put in place practical requirements to protect the public. There are few decisions more important in life than the ones related to our health. Navigators play an incredibly influential role in this process now. We need to guarantee they’re properly vetted and are qualified to perform their duties. This isn’t partisan; it’s just plain common sense.  

In other news, I was proud to see the Missouri Senate give approval last week to Senate Bill 639, which would require doctors to advise women with dense breast tissue about the possible benefits of seeking out additional tests. This simple mandate could help save women’s lives.

My wife, Patty, has tirelessly advocated for this measure. Two weeks ago, she came to Jefferson City to testify on its importance. She’s brought some much-needed awareness to an issue that affects thousands of women. I’m proud of my wife for pushing to see the passage of this measure and honored to support her efforts. The bill now goes before the House for debate.

District News

Catch-and-keep trout fishing season begins March 1 at Missouri’s trout parks, including at Roaring River in our region. For the more than 70 years, anglers from across the state visit these locations to fish for rainbow and brown trout stocked daily by the Missouri Department of Conservation. An estimated 3,000 anglers are expected in our area at this year’s opening day. In previous years, attendance topped 14,000 at all four parks.

Hatchery managers stock around two fish per angler a day. However, on opening day, three fish are put in the water for every expected fisherman. Most trout average around 12 inches long. Some known as “lunkers,” though, and can weigh upwards of 10 pounds. From March to October, the Department of Conservation will sell approximately 400,000 tags and stock almost a million fish.

Trout season is a wonderful service provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation. It’s also a huge economic boon to areas around the state. Visitors shop in local stores, eat at local diners and enjoy of a number of recreational activities, from camping to hiking trails. This adds up to a total of $100 million injected into our state economy.

Although March 1 marks the beginning of the season, the department will hold special events at Roaring River throughout the year, including:

  • Spring Kids’ Fishing Day on May 17
  • Free Fishing Weekend on June 7-8
  • Back-to-School Kids’ Fishing Day on Aug. 16
  • W.O.W. Event on Oct. 11, 12 and 13

For more information, contact our local Department of Conservation at (417) 847-2430 or visit www.mdc.mo.gov.