Capitol Reports | Ed Emery for State Senate 31

Electricity Imperative

“Principle 3 –The most promising method of securing a virtuous people is to elect virtuous leaders.” – Found in “The 5000 Year Leap” “Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who…will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man.” – Samuel Adams It’s final – Missouri will be the 28th Right to Work state. Governor Eric Greitens signed Senate Bill 19 on Monday, and it will become law on August 28, 2017. Most of this week was spent debating the pros and cons of “Project Labor Agreements,” (PLAs). Senate Bill 182, prohibiting PLAs for public projects in Missouri, was perfected Wednesday at about 8 p.m. Once enacted, SB 182 could save the state and local governments millions when it is necessary to build schools, roads, or public libraries. Progress was made on important appointments as well. The governor’s appointments to the Departments of Natural Resources, Corrections, Agriculture, and Public Safety plus the commissioner of the Office of Administration were confirmed by the Senate. One of my bills that has begun receiving significant media attention is Senate Bill 190. It resulted from exhaustive study, consultation, and exhaustive research both during the summer and since the 2017 legislative session began. You may have already received a robo-call asking you to voice disapproval. I haven’t received the call so cannot speak to its content, but as my office receives calls from constituents, we are finding that many are voicing support once the bill is explained. The Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 190 was voted out of the Commerce Committee on Wednesday 9 to 1 and should be on the perfection calendar soon. Because of the hysteria being circulated by those opposed to the bill, I am offering some explanation below. Much of the opposition is due to either a misunderstanding about how electricity rates are set by the Public Service Commission or a lack of full disclosure of information about the public utilities themselves. First of all, contrary to the opinions you may have heard, Senate Bill 190 does not create “automatic increases” in your electric bill. It does create a small surcharge that could add up to 1.2 percent per year to your cost of electricity or about one tenth of one percent per month. It also allows an investment accounting procedure called PISA or plant-in-service-accounting, which should have the effect of freeing up more capital for grid upgrades. It removes none of the Public Service Commission oversight. The current regulatory model was created in...

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Achieving Education

Achieving Education

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...

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Advancing Liberty

Advancing Liberty

“A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A Society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.” – Milton Friedman Missouri’s new governor’s State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature was delivered on Tuesday of this week. One difference from the typical address to the Legislature was the absence of a budget proposal. The budget is expected later than is tradition. One reason is the challenge of learning the budget process while dealing with countless appointments, an emergency ice storm and demands on the governor’s time that increase daily. This year’s budget offers uncommon challenges and opportunities – reflections of the lagging-behind condition of Missouri’s economy. I have high expectations that Governor Eric Greitens’ leadership and a significant shift in state policies will produce new levels of prosperity. But while we are waiting, what some characterize as a fiscal crisis is being viewed by a group of fiscally conservative legislators as a divinely timed opportunity. We cannot spend what we do not have, and both of the House and Senate can choose to see this year’s state budget as a prime opportunity to carefully spend each dollar by rooting out waste and focusing on the biggest bang for the buck. We must also begin a new pattern of forecasting and appropriating that supports such a philosophy. The absence of budget numbers did not prevent our new governor from challenging the threats to liberty on several fronts. Those fronts included calling for advancements in worker freedom – he promised to work for Right to Work as well as project labor agreement and prevailing wage reforms. Bills have been advancing quickly through both the House and the Senate. The governor’s plans for education include new liberties for parents, students, and teachers. Those freedoms will come in the form of parental options. The governor’s reforms, if enacted, will free families from the chains of zip codes and tight family budgets so parents can choose the learning environment that best suits their son’s or daughter’s needs. Education Savings Accounts, Charter Schools, and Virtual education will all contribute to this advance in liberty. The governor also seemed to be calling for increased salaries for the most effective teachers and for the shift of funding to the classrooms rather than overhead and administration. Another proposal that represents a major advance in liberty was Gov. Greitens’ commitment to eliminate unnecessary and ineffective regulations on businesses and individuals. Akin to regulatory reform was his call for major “tort reform.” Missouri has the costly reputation of being the worst judicial environment in the union for business. Attorneys take extraordinary legal steps to ensure their lawsuits are...

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Divine Providence

Divine Providence

“…I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the Sacred Writings, that “except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel…” – Benjamin Franklin, calling the 1787 Constitutional Convention to prayer This was a very big week at the Capitol with the inauguration of a new governor and four new constitutional officers in what might have been the largest ever event of its kind. It was a real blessing to have many of my constituents in Jefferson City as well as my wife, Rebecca, and family from Minnesota and New Mexico. Senate Committees also began meeting this week, and the Government Reform Committee, which I chair, held our first public hearing for Senate Bill 31 – Collateral Source on Wednesday morning. Multiple bills have already been assigned to the Government Reform Committee, and I look forward to hearing many of them in future hearings. The committee on Gubernatorial Appointments is another committee to which I have been appointed, and we will be busily examining and vetting the governor’s countless appointments as he staffs his administration. Several appointees have already been by to introduce themselves, and their abilities and qualifications are encouraging. Last week I promised to publish excerpts from the prayers offered at the local prayer breakfast held to kick off the 2017 legislative session. Prayers were offered for each branch of government. Following is the prayer offered for the Missouri Supreme Court: “Heavenly Father, we are thankful for the privilege and freedom we have to gather together in Your name.  I agree with the prayers that have been spoken, and I come to lift up our Supreme Court judges. I pray your blessings on them and their families and ask You to provide for their every need and protect them as they carry out their duties. Help them to fulfill their oath of office to judge equally without partiality in accordance with our laws and Constitution. “Where our laws conflict with Your Word, I pray You would turn their hearts to do what is right in Your sight. Sadly, we have laws that are in conflict with Your Word. We have abortion, which is premeditated murder of the unborn in the womb, and Your Word says “thou shall not murder,” and “before I formed you...

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