The Legislative Process Begins
The Senate returned to Jefferson City following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and quickly got to work with committee hearings, the first step in the legislative process. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I joined my colleagues in hearing testimony about legislation to renew the Federal Reimbursement Allowances program, a critical part of the state budget. The FRA leverages a fee paid by hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacists and other health care providers to “draw down” federal Medicaid money. Every dollar raised from health care providers is paid back at a higher rate through a federal match. The FRA funds more than $1 billion of Missouri’s Medicaid program each year.
Also this week, I attended my first hearing as a member of the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee. I was pleased to join Marshfield clinical psychologist Dr. Ann Rost at the witness table as the Senate sponsor for her appointment to the State Committee of Psychologists.
There are now more than 400 separate legislative proposals before the Senate. Among those are five bills and two resolutions I submitted. For the bills to become law, they will need to pass in both chambers of the Legislature and be signed by the governor. The two resolutions, once approved by the Legislature, will require a vote of the people.
Missouri’s Constitution already enshrines the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of life and property. Senate Joint Resolution 15 adds hunting and sport shooting to the list of activities that qualify for constitutional protection. A related measure, Senate Joint Resolution 16, asks voters to amend the Missouri Constitution to forever protect “the right of hunters and anglers to engage in hunting, fishing and harvesting wildlife.”
Senate Bill 72 is a renewal of a proposition I put forward while I served in the House of Representatives. This measure designates one week in September to honor Missouri’s official state horse, the Fox Trotter, a breed which originated in the Ozarks. For more than 60 years, Fox Trotter enthusiasts have gathered in Ava, Missouri, for the annual World Show and Celebration, sponsored by the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association. These graceful and distinctive horses are a treasured part of Ozark history and they deserve special recognition.
Three additional bills I filed relate to education. Senate Bill 265 enacts changes to workforce development programs in Missouri schools. The bill allows schools the flexibility to develop individualized career development plans and educational programs to better prepare students for the workplace. Senate Bill 304 enacts a number of changes to address reading deficiencies among elementary school students. Under the act, school districts and charter schools would be required to develop a reading success plan for any student through grade five who cannot demonstrate reading ability appropriate for their grade level. Senate Bill 386 requires the State Board of Education to develop minimum requirements for Career and Technical Education Certificates.
Finally, Senate Bill 377, expands landowner liability protections. Current law shields property owners when others enter their land for recreational use and suffer injury. My legislation extends that protection to wildlife management activities.
You can follow the progress of these or any other bills before the Missouri Senate online at www.senate.mo.gov. You’ll also see a schedule for committee hearings, journals for each day’s chamber activity and links to listen to legislative activity online as it happens. Also, the Capitol building remains open in spite of COVID-19, and visitors can continue to watch legislative proceedings in person.
Former Rep. Maynard Wallace Passes
On a personal note, I am saddened by the passing of former Missouri State Rep. Maynard Wallace. I worked with Maynard when he was superintendent and I was assistant superintendent of the Ava R-I School District. Maynard served in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2003 through 2011, and was a member of the State Board of Education and the Missouri Tourism Commission. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and a man of faith. Maynard Wallace was a statesman, a champion for education, a mentor and most importantly a friend. I’ll miss him dearly. My prayers go out to his wife and family.
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 417-256-2343. You can also visit my webpage at www.senate.mo.gov/mem33, on Facebook: @SenatorKarlaEslinger, or follow me on Twitter: @seneslingermo.