Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, April 14, 2014
Honoring Former Senators and Their Families

Legislative News

On Monday, April 14, the Legislature held a Memorial Service honoring the distinguished members of the upper chamber who have passed away since May 1987. It was the first event of this nature to be held in nearly 30 years. It was long overdue. These men and women served with distinction trying make our state a better place for future generations. 

The event was not only a way to acknowledge those who have contributed to the legacy of our state, but the families who supported those lawmakers and made their work possible. We wanted to share our profound appreciation for those who gave up precious time with their loved ones so they could conduct the people’s business in Jefferson City.

It was a lovely ceremony, attended by family members throughout the state. Here in our area, we honored former Sen. Cliff Titus: 

Cliff Titus
1890 – 1988
28th Senate District (1931-1934)

Cliff Titus
served the people of the 28th District (Jasper County). Born in Fairfield, Nebraska, he received his education from public, state and theological schools in Nebraska. Senator Titus was a minister and resided in Joplin. During World War I, Senator Titus served as First Lieutenant-Chaplain with the 14th Infantry and became Captain-Chaplain of the 203rd CAC, Missouri National Guard in 1921. He was elected to the Senate in 1930, and in the 57th General Assembly acted as Secretary of the Veterans’ Legislative Club of the Legislature.

Also on Monday, we continued working on ethics reform. Reinstating sensible and responsible ethics laws in Missouri has been a long-time goal of many legislators, myself included. A lack of comprehensive laws prohibiting elected officials from engaging in questionable behavior has a severe impact on the public’s perception of their government. It makes them distrust the actions we take, and increases doubt in the effectiveness of the democratic process  to implement real change in this state and country.

Shown above, Sen. Richard takes part in the Memorial Ceremony honoring former members of the Missouri Senate on Monday, April 14.


Unfortunately, this is another one of those topics where most people agree it needs to be done, but not how to go about doing it, or exactly how we should fix it. It became clear Monday night there are still some sharp divides between lawmakers on how to get this done. I hope my colleagues in the Senate work toward a compromise and remain committed to strengthening ethics laws in Missouri.  

This week, we approved legislation that increases the cap on two very important tax credit programs, the Pregnancy Resource Center and Food Pantry tax credits. These programs provide critical services to multiple citizens throughout our state, and they do this by encouraging people to make charitable donations. The need for these two programs grows every year, however.

Senate Bill 638 increases the total cap of both programs by $500,000. These additional funds will help these groups continue carrying out their important missions in our state. The legislation now goes to the House for similar consideration.

On Thursday, the General Assembly sent to the governor Senate Bill 509, which provides broad-based tax relief to all citizens and small businesses in Missouri. The legislation will allow hardworking families to keep more of their money, and then reinvest it into our economy. These are the types of measures that can truly grow our state and foster economic prosperity.
To maintain our fiscal responsibility, however, the reductions will only take place if certain triggers are met, including increased general revenue collections and sufficient funding of the education foundation formula.

District News

This week, the Missouri Credit Union Association has offered the following tips on how to protect yourself from a virus on the Internet called “Heartbleed,” a newly discovered and extremely dangerous security flaw in many websites. Undetected for two years, the Heartbleed bug was discovered on April 7 and potentially exposes private data such as usernames, passwords, and even financial information.

The following information will show you how to protect your private information:

  • What is Heartbleed?

    According to the Better Business Bureau, the Heartbleed bug exploits a flaw in the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) of popular open source software called OpenSSL.  SSL is the standard security technology that establishes an encrypted link between a user’s Web browser and the server where a website is hosted.  It is used to secure numerous kinds of data transfers, including email, instant messaging, social media, and business transactions.
  • Which Websites are Affected?

    It is estimated the Heartbleed bug affects two-thirds of encrypted websites.  CNET conveniently compiled a list of the top 100 websites and updates regularly as it checks for vulnerability and repairs. 
  • How Do I Protect My Data?

    First things first - change your passwords on all sites, particularly those that retain personal identifying information.  However, change your password after confirming that the site is not vulnerable or has fixed its SSL. 

    Be vigilant over your financial accounts, as there is no way to know when or if financial fraud will occur.  It’s recommended that you review your card transactions through a secure Internet connection at least once a day.  If you see suspicious charges, contact your financial institution or card provider immediately.

    The Better Business Bureau also offers the following suggestions to protect your identity:

    • Secure your accounts:  If possible, ask for protection beyond passwords. 

    • Make passwords long and strong:   Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols.

    • Unique account, unique password:  Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.

    • Write it down and keep it safe:  Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer.

    • Own your online presence:  When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing.  It’s ok to limit how and with whom you share information.