Legislative Column for the Week of Jan. 22, 2015
Governor Releases FY 2016 Budget

Shown above, Sen. Ron Richard and members of the Southwest Missouri Realtors Association in the Senate chamber on Jan. 14.

With the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, the governor’s annual State of the State address Wednesday evening and Chief Justice Mary R. Russell’s State of the Judiciary on Thursday, the third week of session has been a busy one.

Every year, the governor presents his legislative priorities in the State of the State speech to members of the General Assembly, as well as judges of the Missouri Supreme Court and various state officials. On Wednesday evening, the governor spoke for nearly 50 minutes to a joint session on issues ranging from our state’s transportation infrastructure to providing better care for our veterans.

The most important event that occurred, however, was the release of the governor’s FY 2016 budget recommendations. The budget will be used by lawmakers as a guide in crafting the state’s spending plan for the 2016 Fiscal Year, which begins July 1. The governor’s proposed $26.1 billion budget is slightly smaller than FY 2015.

Shown above, Sen. Ron Richard and members of the Missouri Society of CPAs in the Senate chamber on Jan. 21.

Since the budget has been laid out, the Senate Appropriations Committee will continue hearing from the various state departments on their financial needs, and we’ll be taking everything into consideration as we debate the state’s next spending plan. It is worth noting this will be the first budget the Legislature will craft since voters approved a ballot measure last November that considerably restricts the governor’s budget authority.

On Tuesday, two measures were filed to identify much needed construction, renovation and maintenance projects for numerous state parks and historic sites, state buildings and the Capitol, and places of higher education. The funding for the projects listed in Senate Concurrent Resolution 8 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 9 will be funded,
in part, by a $600 million bonding plan as previously authorized by the 2014 General Assembly.

When it comes to ensuring the safety of our state workers, providing for the future education of our students and preserving the integrity of our state parks and historic sites, we must act in a timely manner. Putting off necessary repairs and delaying important expansion projects not only poses safety risks, but also stifles education and economic development.

Finally, I was honored to have the Southwest Missouri Realtors Association and the Missouri Society of CPAs as guests this week. As always, my office staff and I look forward to meeting visitors from the 32nd District.


The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will be hosting several free events in the southwest region during January and February. Getting outdoors and appreciating Missouri’s natural beauty isn’t just something reserved for the warmer months.

In fact, wintertime provides Missouri residents with many great opportunities to see a lot of sights and wildlife that are completely unique to this time of year. Be sure to mark your calendars for these upcoming events:

Stella Eagle Day Event
Location: Veteran's Memorial Park in Stella, Mo.
Date: Saturday, Jan. 24
Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

No registration is required and all ages are welcome to enjoy learning why the fish-filled streams of southwest Missouri are a favorite winter draw for bald eagles. Join staff from the MDC, community of Stella and Missouri Master Naturalists for an eagle-viewing opportunity. There will be spotting scopes at designated viewing stations, education displays and hands-on activities for the entire family. For more information, call (417) 629-3423.

Story of Snow
Location: Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery
Date: Saturday, Jan. 31
Time: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

This program is a look at the magic of snowflakes, how and why they form, how to catch them, how animals deal with them, crafts to make them, and snowman soup. For reservations or more information, call (417) 334-4865 ext. 0. Reserve by Jan. 31.

Prescribed Burn Workshop in Carthage
Location: Jasper County Annex Meeting Room in Carthage (on the south side of the Jasper County Health Department Building at 205 Lincoln St.)
Date: Thursday, Feb. 12
Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

This free workshop is for landowners who are interested in learning how to conduct prescribed burns properly and safely on their properties, with the goal of improving wildlife habitat. MDC staff will discuss methods and techniques for implementing controlled burns, safety considerations, how to create a burn plan, and the proper weather conditions needed for a safe burn. The workshop is a pre-requisite for landowners who wish to enroll in prescribed fire cost-share programs.

To register for this program, get more information or get directions to the workshop's location, call MDC Private Land Conservationist Randy Haas at (417) 629-3423. The registration deadline is Feb. 10.

Discover - Trapping Traditions
Location: Walter Woods Conservation Area (5 min south of Wildcat)
Date: Saturday, Feb. 7
Time: 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Discover the heritage of trapping by learning the basics of how to prepare your furs to be sold or tanned. Finishing and drying your own hides can be a very fulfilling way to end your hunting and trapping season. We will cover what a buyer looks for in a quality hide, fleshing, cleaning, stretching, salting and storing your hides. All equipment will be provided. To register for this program or for more information, call (417) 629-3423.

Find a Hunter Education Class

Click here to see a list of scheduled courses this fall and winter. Check back regularly as classes are periodically added. MDC recently revised its Hunter Education curriculum to enhance student convenience and emphasize mentorship and hands-on training.