Supporting Our Troops
This week, the General Assembly sent the second completed bill of the 2021 legislative session to the governor’s desk. Senate Bill 2, which was passed by the Senate in January, received final approval from the House of Representatives. This measure expands the Missouri Works jobs creation program, allowing part-time military jobs to be eligible for tax incentives. The aim of the legislation is to make Missouri military facilities more attractive to Pentagon planners by reducing payroll costs. Currently, a Missouri Air National Guard base in St. Joseph is in the running to host a new air evacuation unit.
Another measure impacting veterans, members of the military and their families received initial approval by the Senate this week. Senate Bill 120 creates a new Missouri Department of the National Guard, which will administer programs of the state relating to military services. The Office of the Adjutant General will be transferred to this new department, but the Missouri Veterans Commission will remain a separate entity. Similar legislation was passed last year, but vetoed because a corresponding resolution placing a required constitutional amendment on the ballot was not approved. This provision will only take effect if Senate Joint Resolution 7 is passed and the voters approve adding an additional cabinet-level department of state government.
Senate Bill 120 also requires any state agency attempting to fill open job positions grant interviews to applicants who are members of the Missouri National Guard, and establishes a Purple Star Campus designation for elementary and secondary schools that meet certain criteria related to support services for military-connected students. Another provision designates November as Military Family Month in Missouri, and all residents of the state “are encouraged to participate in appropriate events and activities to honor the daily sacrifices of all military families.”
In other legislative activity this week, the Senate perfected legislation that expands tax credits for adoptions. Senate Bill 327 also includes several other provisions relating to adoption, parental rights, child placement, custody and visitation. I was less pleased to see the Senate give initial approval to a bill establishing a government database to track your personal, private drug prescriptions. Proponents of Senate Bill 63 say the database will help combat opioid addiction, while opponents say doctor shopping for prescriptions is a small part of Missouri’s opioid problem, since most overdoses are related to illegal street drugs. I have long opposed government databases out of concerns about privacy and the misuse of medical data. The current bill is perhaps better than previous versions, but I still have legitimate concerns. It remains to be seen what the House will do with the bill.
This week, I presented Senate Concurrent Resolution 8 to the Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee. This measure renews a previous resolution passed by the 99th General Assembly. That resolution called on the U.S. Congress to convene an Article V convention for the purpose of amending the U.S. Constitution to limit terms of office for members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. With the expiration of the earlier resolution looming, the Senate needs to restate its desire for Congress to get busy imposing term limits. Members of the Missouri General Assembly are only allowed to seek office a finite number of times. I believe the same should apply to Congress. I also presented Senate Bill 548, which relates to continuing education credits for insurance producers, to the Professional Registration Committee.
I hope everyone has a joyous Easter holiday. One of the most blessed days in the Christian calendar, Easter provides all of us an opportunity to remember Jesus’ crucifixion and reflect on the blessings his resurrection brings to our own lives. Meanwhile, our Jewish brothers and sisters are celebrating Passover. The holiday holds a special place for non-believers, as well, as it comes as the signs of spring are all around us. This is a time for renewal and rebirth and I wish all of you the blessings of the season.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me at email@example.com.