Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, March 10, 2014
Senate Reaches Half-Way Point of Session

Legislative News

The annual General Assembly’s spring recess next week marks the halfway point of the 2014 session. I’m proud to say we worked diligently to address the most immediate problems facing our state. It took a lot of late nights, and a fair bit of compromise, but we’ve already sent six measures to the governor with numerous other Senate Bills in the House awaiting debate.

The first bill we sent to the governor’s desk this year is Senate Bill 668, which requires insurance companies to establish equal out-of-pocket costs for oral and intravenously administered chemotherapy medications. The governor also signed legislation this year that lets representatives of military candidates or disabled individuals who are unable to reach the Secretary of State’s office on the first day of filling to determine ballot placement.

Additionally, the Legislature sent to the governor five bills—Senate Bills 649, 650, 651, and 653— to help increase broadband access to Missouri and support on information infrastructure. If signed by the governor, the legislation would establish a statewide process for telecommunication companies to make infrastructure repairs and improvements. 

The Senate approved a number of bills that are now in the House awaiting debate. One of our top priorities this year was dealing with unaccredited schools and the related school transfer law.

This month, we spent hours of floor time working through various senators’ differences on the bill. In the end, though, we came together and approved Senate Bill 493, which addresses how we deal with unaccredited districts, eases the problems with the transfer law, and protects accredited districts from having to take on more students than they can handle. The legislation is now in the House awaiting debate.

The Senate also sent to the House:

  • Senate Bill 735, which establishes causes by which a campground owner can remove a person from a campground and impose a penalty for failure to leave;
  • Senate Bill 492, which would create a higher education funding formula to more equitably distribute state funding;
  • Senate Bill 530, which allows drug use or convictions to be used in determining the parental fitness in proceedings regarding the termination of parental rights; and
  • Senate Bill 643, which removes the requirement to publish revised statutes of Missouri every 10 years, and instead, print the statutes when the Legislature adopts a concurrent resolution request the publication of the statutes.

We also gave initial approval to two proposals that would greatly help our area. Senate Bill 718, which I’m sponsoring, would allow volunteers to work on public works projects without being held to prevailing wage requirements. This bill was brought to me by the city of Carl Junction.  The Garden Club wanted to build a gazebo for the town.  Unfortunately, the Department of Labor saw this as a public project and wasn’t allowed.  I think it’s ridiculous people can’t volunteer their time to worthy causes. However, we also added an amendment that protects contractors from being forced to “volunteer” their time without fair pay.

Additionally, Senate Bill 907, which I sponsored, received approval from the Senate Education Committee this week.  This bill would allow the Carthage School District to move money from their general fund to capital improvements to build storm shelters, turn lanes and stoplights.

These are only a handful of the many measures we’ve debated so far. There’s a lot of session left, and there are still numerous high-profile measures we have yet to address. As always, I will keep you updated on the news from the Capitol.

District News

Shown above, Fred Lemons, a leader in his community, passed away on Feb. 26, 2014. / Aaron Scott


In other news, our region lost Fred Lemons, a great man who understood the importance of supporting his community. In 1998, Fred started the Lockwood Community Foundation and created the Lockwood School Foundation and the Lockwood Chamber of Commerce.

As mentioned in a moving article by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks about Fred’s legacy recently featured in the Springfield News-Leader, “The tragedy is not in Fred’s passing—as was noted as his funeral, Fred and life did not cheat each other—but that the world desperately needs more people like Fred Lemons, not fewer. He was a giant of his community—a leader, a rallying point, and a reasonable voice—the kind of man more towns desperately need if they are to thrive in the future.”

We all mourn Fred’s passing. My deepest condolences to his friends and family.