The Last Gavel Falls
The General Assembly adjourned its 2021 regular session on Friday, May 14, and it has been my distinct honor to represent the people of the 33rd District in the Missouri Senate this year. By the time the last gavel fell, we had passed 69 separate bills.
As a member of the legislature, I never measure success by the number of bills I file or how many pieces of legislation make it to the governor’s desk. I measure success by working to address problems and to create opportunities for our district. I focus on improving jobs and opportunities through economic development and infrastructure, and getting government out of the way by streamlining and reducing regulations.
One of the accomplishments that I am proud of this session is a measure to help our sheltered workshops. I sponsored Senate Bill 582 to protect these facilities from actions proposed at the federal level. My legislation mirrors Section 14(c) of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which authorizes employers to pay workers with disabilities at commensurate wage rates when their disability affects their productivity for the work being performed. Legislation currently pending before Congress threatens to abolish Section 14(c). My language preserves commensurate wages in our state.
To illustrate the size and scope of who this legislation affects, Missouri has 87 separate and independent sheltered workshops that employ more than 5,800 people with disabilities. I’ve served on a local sheltered workshop board, and I know first-hand of the opportunities they afford to our local residents with disabilities by providing a valid and valued option for employment and skills training.
I proudly supported the Second Amendment Preservation Act, House Bills 85 & 310, which declares all federal acts, laws, orders, rules and regulations – past, present or future – that infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are invalid in the State of Missouri. Local law enforcement officials are barred from assisting federal authorities from enforcing federal laws believed to be unconstitutional.
As I’ve crisscrossed the district, I’ve heard from many of our city and county leaders about protecting Main Street brick-and-mortar businesses by passing internet sales tax legislation (also referred to as the “Wayfair” bill). I voted for Senate Bill 153 so Missouri can begin collecting sales tax from online purchases and level the playing field with internet-based retailers, so all sales are taxed the same.
Senate Bill 26 is another bill that I was proud to support. This bill contains many provisions related to public safety, but perhaps most importantly, it contains a “Law Enforcement Bill of Rights” that provides specific safeguards for officers if they are the subject of investigation. I have regularly met with and discussed issues of importance with law enforcement officials from across the district, and I believe this legislation will be an important tool in their toolbox to aid officer retention and recruitment.
Senate Bill 120 includes a number of provisions relating to servicemen and servicewomen, veterans and their families. The bill creates a new cabinet level Department of the National Guard, designates November as Military Families Month and creates a Purple Star Campus designation with special programs for school districts that serve children of military members. I was able to amend Senate Bill 494 onto to this bill, requiring the Department of Revenue to place the “VETERAN” designation on the front of drivers’ licenses.
House Bill 661 has also made it to the governor’s desk, and I worked hard to ensure that it contained local log truck legislation. The logging and timber industry is important to the 33rd District, and this legislation streamlines current regulations by allowing all local log trucks to carry 22,400 pounds per axle, capped at 105,000 pounds. This portion of the bill fixes previous arbitrary and inconsistent measurement standards and will make it easier for log truck drivers to stay in compliance, and for law enforcement to administer these regulations.
Finally, my Senate Bill 72 declares the first full week in September as Missouri Fox Trotter Week, and is designed to further promote the annual Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association’s World Show and Celebration held annually in Ava during this week. In the final days of the session, a number of other special designations were included. The bill also recognizes “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day,” “Random Acts of Kindness Day,” “Mark Twain Day” and names the St. Louis Gateway Arch as Missouri’s official state monument, among other designations. Seems like a lot of senators and representatives wanted to catch a ride on Douglas County’s favorite horse.
It’s been an exciting, exhausting, final week of an extremely busy legislative session. The Senate stayed in the chamber well past midnight three nights this week, including one session that lasted until 4 a.m. The First Regular Session of the 101st General Assembly has come to a close. We tackled tough issues and approved legislation that has been stymied for years, and I was glad to be part of this important progress for the 33rd District and our state.
While this will be my last regular legislative column for a while, I want you to know that if I can be of any assistance with issues related to state government, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office.
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.