There was a lot of input from those in attendance and with everyone’s help, we came up with a 15 member board that represented all the stakeholders. The great thing about using a roundtable format is that all the interested parties can help craft the legislation. Every party at the table has some ownership in the finished product.
At noon we held our first Workforce Standards hearing of the session. The first bill we considered was Representative Rehder’s Paycheck Protection bill. This proposal would allow members of public trade unions to choose yearly how much they wish to have withheld from their paychecks for contributions to charities and political funds. There were several people present to testify in support and in opposition to the measure.
The second bill we heard was a proposal that I sponsored that would allow school districts and municipalities to opt out of paying prevailing wages on projects that cost less than $750,000 dollars. This measure has a lot of popularity in rural areas where school districts and small towns are having a hard time coming up with money for minor repairs and improvements. There seems to be quite a bit of opposition in the larger metropolitan areas so I may amend the bill to exclude them.
On Wednesday the Photo ID bill was debated on the floor. The proponents of the bill reasoned that we need photo ID’s for virtually every transaction we make in today’s world and that showing them in order to vote should not be construed as anything but a reasonable precaution. The opposition voiced concerns that some elderly people may not have the necessary documents to get an ID.
The main point they made was that in some parts of the country 70 or 80 years ago, there were no birth certificates issued for “at home” births. The bill has provisions to provide an applicant with the necessary documentation and to pay for it at State expense. After considerable debate, it passed with a wide margin and now is on its way to the Senate.
Wednesday evening we received the State of The State address from Governor Nixon. He gave highlights of his political career and lamented that he had promised to do five things upon his election seven years ago and that only one thing remained unfinished.
It looks to me that there’s a lot of things unfinished. We are 47th in the Nation in industrial growth yet he has repeatedly vetoed attempts to encourage bringing industry back to the state. Our state employees are the 49th worst paid in the nation yet he refuses to budget increases.
Our Children’s Division is woefully understaffed yet he raids their budget to pay his Governor’s Association dues. Our Highway Patrolmen haven’t had a meaningful raise in years but he raids their budget to buy a new plane that we don’t need. Oh, the one thing he says he didn’t get done… ethics reform!
Friday evening was the annual International Food Fest at McDonald County High School. There was every kind of food and dessert imaginable prepared and served by some great cooks! The proceeds were all designated to the Drug Free Scholarship Program.
From what I saw, they had a successful event and Jane and I both ate way too much!
More next week, until then I am and remain in your service.
By Bill Lant
(State Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, represents the 159th District of Missouri, which includes Seneca and all of McDonald County. He can be reached in his Capitol office at (573) 751-9801 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)