A Busy Week At the Capitol
We had a busy week at the State Capitol. I’m pleased to share that I passed my first bill out of the upper chamber of the Legislature. Senate Bill 72, which designates the first full week of September as “Fox Trotter Week in Missouri,” is now in the hands of the House of Representatives. It’s no coincidence that Fox Trotter Week will occur at the same time as the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association’s annual World Show and Celebration. This event brings approximately 1,500 equestrians to Ava, Missouri, each year for competitions, trail rides, educational seminars and clinics. My legislation recognizes the versatility and grace of Missouri’s official state horse, the Fox Trotter, and all the benefits these majestic animals bring to our state. I’m thankful for my Senate colleagues for their help getting this bill passed, and I’m counting on my friends in the House to go the distance, making Fox Trotter Week a reality.
Also this week, I presented Senate Bill 377 to the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee. This legislation adds just three words to Missouri’s statutes, but greatly increases peace of mind for landowners. Missouri law already shields property owners from lawsuits when a guest suffers an injury while engaging in recreational activities on their land. My bill expands that protection to include wildlife management programs. If this bill passes, landowners enrolled in such programs can rest easier when others hunt on their property.
Aside from my own legislation, it was an eventful week in the Missouri Senate with two late-night filibusters and several bills moving on to the House of Representatives. On Monday, the Senate worked until well past midnight to perfect Senate Bill 26. This legislation includes a number of provisions relating to public safety. There are new penalties for protestors who impede traffic or vandalize public property or monuments. The bill also provides taxpayers a recourse in the event their local government attempts to defund the police. In addition, the bill creates a Bill of Rights for law enforcement officers, ensuring due process to policemen and women accused of wrong doing.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed a COVID-19 liability protection bill. A legislative priority for the governor, Senate Bill 51 raises the threshold for lawsuits related to COVID-19 exposure in businesses, schools, churches and other public places. It’s not enough for someone to think they might have caught COVID while visiting one of these places. They have to show misconduct. The bill also protects medical facilities and health care workers and shields certain manufacturers from product liability suits.
We had another late night Tuesday, as the Senate remained in session until nearly 2 a.m. discussing an education bill. Senate Bill 55 includes a number of provisions that could have profound impacts to schools across the state. Most notably, the bill expands charter schools and allows tax credits for contributions to educational savings accounts used to pay for private school tuition. During Tuesday’s debate several rural lawmakers proposed conditioning education tax credits on first addressing school transportation funding shortfalls. The bill was eventually tabled and there are many issues that must be resolved before the Legislature can come to an agreement on this contentious issue.
As I continue to delve deeper into the many facets of legislation before the Senate, I am always grateful for the guidance of my constituents. On Feb. 12, I had an opportunity to visit with nearly 20 law enforcement officers representing different agencies throughout the 33rd Senatorial District. During a meeting held at Shield Solutions in Douglas County, we talked about current legislation, their priorities and solutions going forward. I promised to be a strong voice for law enforcement in Jefferson City and continue to make progress on issues of importance to the brave men and women who work so hard to keep us safe.
I’m also thankful for a recent opportunity to meet with Missouri’s governor and discuss some of his legislative priorities. The governor was gracious, sharing sound advice for success in the Senate and offering to help any way he could.
Finally, I’d like to say how much I enjoy visiting with constituents as they visit the Capitol. This week, I had the pleasure of hosting Gabriel Todd, a sophomore from Norwood High School, who came to Jefferson City for a day shadowing me here at the Capitol. I also was thrilled to introduce special guests Texas County Commissioner John Casey and the state champion West Plains Zizzers girls cross-country team to my Senate colleagues this week.
It is my honor to serve the residents of Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Ripley, Texas, Webster and Wright counties in the Missouri Senate, and it’s always a pleasure to hear from friends and family back home. If I can help you in any way, please call my Capitol Office at 573-751-1882, or my District Office at 417-596-9011. You can also visit my webpage at www.senate.mo.gov/mem33, on Facebook: @SenatorKarlaEslinger, or follow me on Twitter: @seneslingermo.