Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, Feb. 17, 2014

Serving the Constituents of the 8th District

One of my greatest pleasures as your state senator is to provide truly great constituent services. My job, first and foremost, is to serve you. This includes listening to your concerns through town hall meetings, community events, phone calls, e-mails, and letters, then taking appropriate action through proposing legislation or helping decipher existing laws and department rules that apply to a situation that is affecting you.

The most common type of constituent service I offer is helping citizens navigate through the “red tape” of the 16 state departments, and the divisions and agencies contained in each department. With the size and scope of the state bureaucracy, it can be overwhelming for individuals to find the right person to contact with their particular issue. If you contact me or my staff, we will do everything we can, from working with the appropriate state department, to finding someone to contact you in regard to an issue and making sure it gets resolved as far as the law will allow.

One example that comes to mind involved helping a young woman and her child who had been told they were no longer eligible for food stamps, because she had not completed her renewal paperwork in time. If the program exists, I expect it to be carried out efficiently and to the best of the abilities of those in the agency, which, in this case, was the Department of Social Services. Unfortunately for the young woman and her child, this was not the case. Her paperwork had been misplaced and her food stamps cut off through no fault of her own. By intervening and asking for the case to be reviewed at the state level, the mistake was found and she was able to buy groceries again within the week.

Another example that stands out is one from when I was in the Missouri House of Representatives. A family came to me concerned about their son, the services he needed, and the lack of service available to him. Their son had behavioral issues, and they needed help getting a handle on the situation. Unfortunately, they ran into brick walls trying to get state assistance. With a few phone calls, I was able to get that family the help they needed. Just last week, I received an email telling me that their son, now a young adult, was recently nominated by his provider as the “success story of the year.” That is the type of story that keeps me energized in Jefferson City.

Some other quick examples include helping people get answers as to where they can go to find help for friends or family members with mental illness, where to find treatment for children with autism, or how to contact the Attorney General’s office to file a consumer complaint (such as investigating the sudden spike in propane prices).

My staff and I can also assist you with setting up a tour of the Capitol, Governor’s Mansion, and Supreme Court, or if you would like, you can request a courtesy resolution by visiting my web site (www.senate.mo.gov/kraus) and clicking on “Constituent Services” at the top of the page.

Of course, not all issues have a quick resolution. Some take time, but if there is ever an issue that you are having trouble getting resolved with a state department, or simply have a quick question about state government or pending legislation, please feel free to let myself or my staff know, and we will do our best to see that you get the answers you need.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions, and trying to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at 573-751-1464, or e-mail at will.kraus@senate.mo.gov.