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Week of Feb. 16, 2015

Dear friends,

This week in the Missouri Senate was cut short due to the winter weather that moved through the area on Sunday and Monday.  Senators returned to work on Tuesday afternoon and hit the ground running.

Tuesday's debate on the Senate floor included the consideration of Senate Bill 104, sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus , R-Lee's Summit.  The bill requires that actions challenging referendums and initiatives be fully adjudicated more than 56 days prior to the elections in which the measure will appear on the ballot. Given the increasing number of initiatives being proposed there has also been an increase in challenges and court rulings regarding those initiatives. As a result, county clerks have noticed increased expenses in the printing of ballots as they have to change the ballot language based on court decisions. Many hope that the fifty-six day requirement will help save money by lessening the number of reprints necessary. The legislation also helps to ensure that soldiers serving overseas receive the ballot in time to vote. The bill was perfected on Tuesday giving it first-round Senate approval.

The House also debated two proposals related to elections. One bill would ask voters to amend the Missouri Constitution to allow the state to require a photo ID prior to voting. Should the constitutional amendment pass, the second House bill sets for the requirements for implementing photo ID. Similar bills were also filed in the Senate this session. Voter ID laws have been discussed in previous sessions but attempts to pass such laws have been unsuccessful thanks to Senators bargaining the issue for other priority bills and in some cases as the result of a governor's veto.

The later part of the week was spent debating Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce, R- Warrensburg. The measure is commonly referred to as the student transfer bill. The bill picks up a debate that the House and Senate tackled last session only to have their efforts vetoed by the governor with the reasoning that a nonreligious private school option was unacceptable. This year's bill requires children who have attended an unaccredited school in an unaccredited district for one semester to attempt to transfer into open spots in other accredited schools in the district. Once students have exhausted that option they can look at other choices such as virtual schools and charters, which many say the governor has offered as a compromise for removing the nonreligious private school option.

I devoted quite a bit of time to floor debate this week in discussing the option of virtual schools. My goal was to ensure that the option was a viable one. After much debate on the floor, members agreed to open up the virtual option to students in unaccredited and provisionally accredited districts and in districts with an average APR score of 65 or below over a three-year period. 

I appreciate the debate and hearing from other Senators regarding the reasons why they supported and sometimes did not support the idea of additional options and virtual schools specifically.  A healthy discussion of what actually puts the students first is a priority for me.  My wife and I greatly value the education our public schools provide. We've seen first-hand how much they impacted our children's lives. However, we also understand that each student has a different experience based on their needs. Some need alternatives to the traditional setting because they have special needs while others who have been bullied need options outside of the district where they no longer feel comfortable.  Additional options also benefit gifted students who wish to learn at a faster pace than other students.  I feel that all are worthy of options that fit their needs.

Aside from our work on the Senate floor, we also had the opportunity to hear numerous bills in the committees I serve on.  On Thursday morning we heard a proposal from Sen. David Sater , R- Cassville , to create an income tax for individuals able to claim a dependency deduction for a qualifying child on their federal income taxes. The maximum amount of the credit is $300 per child but the actual amount depends on filing status and adjusted gross income of the filer. The credit is nonrefundable, nontransferable and cannot be carried forward or backward.  I applaud Sen. Sater's consideration of ways to provide relief to the middle class, a segment of our society that is often overlooked in our policy making process. I believe a middle class is the backbone of society and support efforts to provide relief when and where possible.

As always we had a great showing of constituents in the office this week. On Wednesday, members of the Vision St. Charles County Leadership program visited the Capitol. The organization educates local leaders on public policy and social issues. Sen. Tom Dempsey, my fellow St. Charles County Senator, and I had the pleasure of meeting the very impressive group.

Next week in the Missouri Senate promises to be a busy one as we continue our debate on the school transfer bill and return to our usually full committee schedule.  I hope you will share your thoughts with me on our progress thus far by sending me an email or calling my office.

Thanks for your continued interest in our work at the Capitol.  I am honored to serve you.

Very Sincerely,

Robert F. (Bob) Onder, Jr.

I appreciate your interest in our work here in Jefferson City, and am grateful for the opportunity to serve you.  Please do not hesitate to contact my office with questions about legislation, ideas for bills and any other matters we can assist you with. 

For scheduling and general questions, please contact my Scheduler and Deputy Legislative Director Sam Saffa at  

For constituent questions or concerns, please contact my Director of Constituent Services Theckla Spainhower at 

For questions pertaining to legislation, please contact my Chief of Staff and Legislative Director Jennae Neustadt at

You can reach my Capitol office at (573) 751-1282.  You can also e-mail me personally at

I would like to encourage you to sign up for my weekly capitol reports so we can inform you of our work each week.  Please email Sam Saffa at to be added to our mailing list.

Senator Onder serves a portion of St. Charles County
in the Missouri Senate.

Click on the image above to view Missouri Senate District 2.

Contact Information:

State Capitol Building, Room 226

Jefferson City, Missouri, 65101

(573) 751-1282

Elected to the Senate: 2014


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