Investing in Infrastructure
The governor delivered his State of the State address to the General Assembly this week. His speech provides a preview of the governor’s legislative priorities, as well as his budget requests. One of the things I was encouraged to hear the governor talk about during his speech was public safety. He specifically mentioned the need to stand with the men and women of law enforcement, and said Missouri should defend our law enforcement officers, not defund them.
Along those lines, the first bill we heard in the Judiciary Committee this year was my Senate Bill 678. This legislation, which was voted out of committee and sent to the full Senate this week, would prevent future attempts to defund the Kansas City Police Department. That’s exactly what the city council tried to do in May when it stripped more than $42 million of funding from the police department budget. I was happy to hear the governor express his support for law enforcement, and I hope my legislation will cross his desk as soon as possible.
We also heard the governor’s ideas on how to spend the federal funding Missouri is receiving. These are one-time funding sources, so it’s important not to spend these resources on on-going programs. My concern, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, was that we shouldn’t commit to obligations we can’t fulfill in the future. Fortunately, the governor didn’t go that route, and instead called for federal funds to be devoted to long-term investments, such as new facilities at college campuses, or traditional infrastructure projects like roads and bridges. He also talked about putting significant dollars toward expanding high-speed internet services in rural areas and underserved communities. Those are all things I agree we need to be doing, and that we should spend this money wisely by investing in projects that will have lasting impacts for generations of Missourians to come.
Also this week, the Judiciary Committee heard testimony on “Max’s Law.” Named after a St. Joseph K-9 officer killed in the line of duty, Senate Bill 765 increases the penalties for harming or killing a police dog. Under current law, harming a K-9 officer is a mere misdemeanor and the offense is treated no more seriously than property damage. The committee was fortunate this week to hear from St. Joseph Police Officer Dillon Powell who appeared with his K-9 partner Thazer. Officer Powell explained the important roles these animals serve both to officer safety and to the community. They are significant assets to the police department and are treated as another officer on the force. It’s time the law adequately protects them.
It is my great honor to represent the citizens of Platte and Buchanan counties in the Missouri Senate. Please contact my office at (573) 751-2183, or visit www.senate.mo.gov/mem34.