Team Emery | Ed Emery for State Senate 31

The Oligarchy Speaks on Marriage

The Oligarchy Speaks on Marriage

“When absolutes are denied, there is no basis for truth; the absence of truth leaves only opinion; in a world of opinions, the tyrant wins.”               Anonymous Freedom is greatest for those with the greatest power. America’s founders intended for the greatest power to rest with the people. Their writings make it clear that it was not their intention for an unelected oligarchy of nine to rule with unrestrained power. Last month, five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) bullied their way past federalism and the separation of church and state in the latest attempt to crush both with their statist gavel. Thirty states had previously defined marriage as between a man and a woman, and since the opinion, governors and legislatures across the U.S. have declared their intentions to protect their states from the anti-religious Supreme Court decision. Missouri’s governor, on the other hand, has declared his full support of the reprobate opinion. Elections really do matter! The gradual demise of any moral restraint or even the legitimacy of moral values has introduced this nation to a political no man’s land where there are no moral absolutes and hence no right and wrong – only opinion. Marriage was not conceived, designed, nor imposed by the state, but it has suddenly been discovered by five judges in the U. S. Constitution. They even discovered its definition secretly coded therein. These five jurists, whose oath to support the constitution took second place, intend to impose their existential creativity upon fifty sovereign states from which they supposedly derive their jurisdiction. By their hand, federalism has been cast aside in favor of a social agenda. What happened to a “nation of laws, not of men?” The violation of separation of church and state by this opinion was unprecedented. An institution which has always been the jurisdiction of the church was hijacked and neutered. Heretofore pledged to the propagation and benefit of children, these five elitists decreed it to the pleasure of adults. Apparently, marriage is no longer about the children. The state can no more redefine marriage than it can redefine death or birth. We make laws to accommodate all three and to describe any agreed-upon legal status, but their inherent character is beyond the reach of the state. Contracts are the legitimate jurisdiction of the state. However, marriage is not a contract but a divine relationship. Had federalism prevailed, the SCOTUS would have acknowledged the absences of any constitutional status for marriage and would have left jurisdiction to the states. Some states would have taken the same reprobate approach as the SCOTUS and would have seen the exodus of those most offended by the redefinition of marriage and the immigration of...

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The Value of Life

The Value of Life

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” –  Moses Since the deadly Roe v. Wade Supreme Court opinion of 1973, nearly 58 million babies have been mechanically or chemically killed in the womb. Most Missourians take life seriously and believe it their duty to defend these most vulnerable human beings – an obligation growing out of their acknowledgement of the sanctity of innocent human life. There is also that sense of personal responsibility to counsel or assist mothers who find themselves in a desperate situation without the resources and education they feel they need. There is that deeply held understanding that every life is priceless intrinsically, not just because of its utility. On the heels of a successful legislative override of a pro-life bill requiring a 72-hour waiting period last September, this session continued with an emphasis on life. There was the creation of a more reliable funding source for those laboring to reduce the number of abortions in Missouri and to provide for women who find themselves in desperate circumstances. In April, the Legislature passed a budget that secured funding for services for pregnant women at risk for abortion, as well as $2.6 million to fully fund the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Program. Those funds will help support the state’s maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers. There was also additional funding for Show-Me-Healthy Babies, a program that ensures low-income unborn children receive adequate health care through the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. Until societal norms return to the conviction that individuals and families are better caregivers than governments, these programs may help prevent aborted children by clarifying to expectant mothers that they do not face life alone. As part of the General Assembly’s efforts to reform welfare this past session, we added a provision that will guarantee about $4.34 million in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds to promote healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood. The bill was originally vetoed by the governor, but the Legislature overrode his veto in early May. Many of those provisions will take effect next year, making Missouri one of the states with the largest funding commitments to abortion alternatives. Senator David Sater, R-Cassville, and his staff deserve much of the credit for this advance in pro-life funding. According to the Department of Health and Senior Services, from 2009 – 2013 abortion rates in Missouri have continued to decrease. There have been significant increases in the number of maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers in the Show-Me State as well, and no new abortion facilities have surfaced. Missouri has one of the lowest...

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Public School Retirement System

Public School Retirement System

As the 2015 legislation session is drawing to a close, there are several issues that remain in the legislative process. One issue receiving multiple inquiries deals with a segment of Missouri’s public pensions. Over the last decade, due to the turbulent investment environment, public pension issues have gained increased attention across the country. Missouri’s public pensions have had a more positive experience than many others across the country and for that we are all thankful.   A public pension provision moving through the Missouri Legislature this session deals with the permanent extension of the 2.55 percent benefit multiplier for public school teachers or administrators with 31 or more years of service within PSRS (Public School Retirement System of Missouri). PSRS is a defined-benefit pension plan providing lifetime pension benefits for most public school teachers in Missouri. It is based on the following formula: The average of the highest three consecutive years of a teacher’s salary multiplied by a Benefit Multiplier (2.5 percent under normal provisions) multiplied by the teachers years of Service.   The bill before the General Assembly this session permanently extends a “bonus” program for teachers and administrators with 31 or more years of service. This program expired July 1, 2014 and an extension is being heavily lobbied for by the teachers’ unions. There is, however, the rest of the story: The 2.55 percent bonus program was enacted in 2001 under HB 660 which was a public school pension package with a cost to taxpayers of $595 million in pension liabilities. When originally passed, this provision was set to expire in 2008. When reauthorized in 2007 under SB 406, the 2.55 percent bonus program was extended to 2013 at a cost to taxpayers of $25.4 million in plan liabilities. When extended for one additional year in 2013 under SB 17, the 2.55 percent bonus program cost taxpayers an additional $16 million in plan liabilities. In the General Assembly, we are now charged with the policy decision of permanently extending the 2.55 percent bonus program for public school teachers and administrators with 31 or more years of service which is now reported to produce a savings of $69.9 million in pension liabilities. Reducing pension liability is a positive endeavor, no doubt about it. The dramatic difference between multiple reports of cost associated with this bonus program and now a savings gives me pause for concern. I also find it in conflict with projections that in 1994 the average service of a teacher was 33 years without any kind of retirement incentive while the average service for new 2013 PSRS retirees is 23.2 years.   First, let me be clear, Missouri’s teachers are charged with one of the highest callings – cultivating our most precious blessing and resource: our children. Those that choose...

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Trading Away our Future: The Medicaid Expansion Debate

Trading Away our Future: The Medicaid Expansion Debate

“Bad ideas are not removed by assassination but by exposing them to evidence and reason.” –Anonymous The contrast in world views or at least political philosophy was front and center Tuesday night when an amendment was offered to expand Medicaid under pressure from Obamacare supporters. The amendment failed on a party-line vote of 25 to 9. The nature and content of debate as well as the party-line vote revealed the sharp contrast in party perspectives regarding government accountability, national debt, and the importance of considering the long term consequences of public policy decisions. The contrast of positions was occasionally punctuated by the question of whose numbers and analyses were most accurate, but the contest more often was between fiscal realities versus emotion. Those of us declaring that Medicaid expansion was already happening by around $300 million annually and that expansion would potentially bankrupt the state and heavily penalize education funding were labeled as heartless and uncaring. If we pointed to the constitutional mandate to balance the budget, we were accused of having no regard for the poor and uninsured. Concern is mounting that entitlement spending is growing such that for several years any increase in state revenue is immediately consumed by the growth in welfare-program demands. For example, last year’s revenue growth was approximately 2 percent greater than anticipated, but that entire amount – and then some – was required to balance the growth of Medicaid spending. It is difficult to reverse your position when it is rooted primarily in emotion. Additionally, a counter argument based on financial history, budgets, and forecasts may never overcome a point of emotion. One is an argument about how government can take better care of people; the other is an argument about how the taxpayer will pay for it. From the vote count, after the lengthy debate, it appears the practical argument won out, and we will not be expanding Medicaid in Missouri. On a lighter note, the Missouri Conservation Department has asked me to inform constituents that a number of outdoor activities are scheduled in or near the 31stSenatorial District. The following link can connect you to information on two Kid’s Fishing Days, Hunter Education Classes, and a pond management workshop: http://mdc.mo.gov/events 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...

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Liberty is Choice

Liberty is Choice

“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess highest seats in government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”  — Samuel Adams Much of last week was applied to the “perfection” of Senate Bill 1, the so-called School Transfer Bill. Senate Bill 1 will receive one more vote in the Senate, the third-read vote, and then will move to the Missouri House for further consideration. A similar House bill,House Bill 42, has already passed the Missouri House and is awaiting a Senate hearing. Both bills address the pressing need to provide students a path out of failing schools. The bills will offer new options to parents who, regarding their children’s opportunity to learn and succeed, feel hopeless and helpless. New options for student learning include transferring within their district to schools that are succeeding, the expanded use of charter schools, and the availability of virtual schools. Senate Bill 1 also addresses the tragedy of “social promotion” – passing students to the next grade level, ready or not. The results of social promotion can include graduating seniors that can’t read or even make change. There are additional details and provisions in the two education bills, and of course the bills will likely be further refined throughout the process as one or both make their way to the governor’s desk. Fundamentally, SB 1 is about giving parents and student’s choice; liberty is choice. By now you have heard about the tragic death of State Auditor Tom Schweich last Thursday. A large group of us attended a memorial service in St. Louis on Tuesday, March 3. Besides the unspeakable grief for his wife and children, Missouri has lost a brilliant statesman and incredibly effective auditor. Please pray for Tom’s family and all who mourn his passing. Monday, March 2, included a coordinated trip to Fort Leonard Wood for 23 state senators, a large number of House members, as well as statewide elected officials and federal legislators. The purpose of our visit was to support the incredible community, business, and state effort to win military support for keeping Fort Leonard Wood at its present staffing and mission level. Military budget cuts and base reductions are threatening thousands of military and support jobs in Pulaski and surrounding counties. Nearly 2,000 local citizens and military personnel attended the public hearing in support of the fort.  I have not attended any of the other 20-plus meetings in support of other bases, but the public support and the information provided could not have been more compelling. Now it is up to the military. Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at...

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Paid for by Citizens for Ed Emery - Rex Rector, Treasurer