Senator Bill White’s Capitol Report for April 22, 2021
The Great Balancing Act
This week, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee began the arduous task of going through the House’s recommendations for the state’s FY 22 operating budget. As the only constitutional requirement of the Missouri Legislature, passing a balanced state budget demands a great deal of time, energy and ability to compromise. The complex process begins with translating the governor’s funding recommendations into House bills, then various state departments vie for funding during hearings on the budget proposals in the lower chamber. After the House Budget Committee approves the figures, the entire House considers their version of the budget. Once the House is finished with their deliberations, the budget is sent to the Senate for our consideration. Over the course of the past week, the Senate Appropriations Committee conducted daily hearings on each line item of the House’s approved recommendations. Next week, the entire Senate will have the opportunity to discuss and debate the proposed state operating budget for the coming fiscal year. Both chambers must agree on the balanced budget before May 7.
Aside from finalizing the budget, the next three weeks will be a mad dash for senators to get their bills across the finish line and signed into law. One of these finished measures, House Bill 429, relates to child placement, adoption and foster care tax credits, and one of its provisions includes my Senate Bill 454, which establishes the Birth Match Program. This program requires data sharing between the State Registrar’s Office and the Children’s Division when a child is born to a parent who has been convicted of certain crimes or has had their parental rights terminated to ascertain if services are needed or appropriate. On April 22, the governor hosted a bill signing ceremony on the north steps of the Capitol, signing HB 429 and two other bills into law.
Governor Mike Parson signs House Bill 429 on the north steps of the Capitol.
My Senate Bill 369, which removes the requirement that home damage must be caused by fire to receive full insurance payouts, has been placed on the Senate Informal Calendar for perfection.
Crime Victim’s Week Culminates with Ceremony at Capitol
On April 22, the Missouri Department of Public Safety hosted a ceremony on the north lawn of the Capitol to acknowledge crime victims and bring the state’s Crime Victims’ Rights Week to a close. Several advocacy groups and agencies hosted events and vigils throughout the week to enable these victims’ voices to be heard and prevent their pursuit of justice from going unanswered.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
April is Stress Awareness Month, the perfect time to educate yourself on the physiological, emotional and psychological effects of stress on the body. Stress is an inevitable part of everyday life, so learning positive stress relieving strategies, like taking deep breaths and exercising regularly, benefits everyone, both immediately and in the long run. If you are feeling overwhelmed, please take advantage of the free resources available through the Show-Me HOPE program.
Donation Helps Local Autism Center
On April 9, I was honored to attend an event commemorating AT&T’s generous donation of $5,000 to the Bill and Virginia Leffen Center as they gear up for their 14th Annual Walk for Autism Awareness in Joplin. The donation and fundraiser will contribute to program development and scholarship assistance at the Center. This year, Freeman Health Systems’ annual Freeman 5K will be held in conjunction with the Walk on Saturday, April 24. Call 417-347-7850 for more information.
Paula Baker, president and CEO of Freeman Health Systems, and Sen. White address the audience following AT&T’s generous $5,000 donation to the Leffen Center in Joplin.
Joplin Chamber of Commerce Hosts Eggs and Issues
The Joplin Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Eggs and Issues breakfast with area legislators on April 16 and invited me to provide a legislative update. I was pleased by the number of young voters who attended the event and showed interest in the public policy process.
Constituents ask Sen. White questions about legislation at the Joplin Eggs and Issues breakfast.