Legislative Report for Jan. 27, 2017
“Principle 1 –The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law.” – Found in “The 5000 Year Leap.”
Labor law was front and center this week as we spent the entire legislative week debating and passing Senate Bill 19, which states no laborer can be forced to join a labor union as a condition of employment. If passed by the Missouri House and signed by the governor, Missouri will become the 28th Right to Work state in the country. There was passionate debate, but the bill was perfected and finally passed with 21 votes in favor and 12 opposed.
This was a busy week for my office with three of my bills being heard in Senate committees. Senate Bill 31 was heard in the Education Committee. This legislation would assign a simplified letter grade to each school (attendance center). The states that have employed this method of informing parents have generally seen both increased parental involvement and improved school performance. Although the language of the bill may be modified somewhat before it is voted out of committee, the intent is to determine the grade of each school by a weighted average that is derived from measures already used to determine a school’s accreditation. Instead of just three levels of performance, there would be five: A, B, C, D and F. Grades would be reported to parents annually along with an indicator of whether the school was improving, staying the same, or worsening.
Another of my bills, Senate Bill 32, was heard in the Government Reform Committee. Known as the Empowerment Scholarship Program, it would set up a tax-credit funded scholarship program to allow parents more choice in tailoring their child’s education to his or her particular situation or condition. New language is being drafted after considering the public hearing testimony with the hope of having a committee vote as early as next week. States that have implemented similar programs have had extremely positive results. One state – Arizona – polled all parents who had taken advantage of their scholarship program and found 100 percent of parents were either satisfied or extremely satisfied with the program. Satisfaction in another state came in a little lower, but still impressive at 91 percent.
Offering Missouri students the very best in education is the goal of every Missouri teacher, administrator, or regulator. These programs, if implemented, would assist in that lofty and important goal. Neither bill is in its final form, but both offer previously unavailable opportunities to both students and parents.
Finally, I presented Senate Bill 190 in the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee. Senate Bill 190 is an attempt to address the extreme age and deterioration of Missouri’s electricity distribution grid. The structure and materials of the current grid, in many if not all cases, will not support the technological advancements and new demands being imposed upon it. The problem is that the current regulatory environment simply does not support the investment costs that are becoming more and more critically important to maintaining safe, reliable, and cost-effective electricity. Senate Bill 190 is a bill designed to address these concerns and foster grid modernization. In its current form, SB 190’s impact on the average homeowner could be about 1 percent, but I expect the value of ultimate cost savings along with significantly improved consumer services should far exceed that number.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you here in state government.
Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.