Greetings, My Fellow Missourians

Well, it’s official! The Second Regular 99th Missouri General Assembly gaveled back into session at high noon on Wednesday, Jan. 3. My morning activities of the first day of session have become a tradition; for the 6th year in a row, I attended the Concord Baptist Church Annual Legislative Breakfast and Prayer Service. The physical food was delicious, however, the spiritual food and prayer was even greater. Colonel Gary Gilmore, Chaplain of the National Guard, was the guest speaker at the event and commented, “The wise thing that leaders can do is align one self’s heart with God’s plan and purpose for our life.”

The opening day session was highlighted by a speech from House Speaker Todd Richardson who encouraged his colleagues to continue the work they have done to make the great state of Missouri even greater. As Richardson said in his speech, “That is why it is critical for those of us in our final session, and for those who will pick up the torch when we are gone, to make it our focus in everything we do to leave this state a better place than we found it.”

He stressed the need to work quickly to pass several priority pieces of legislation. The House is set to take up three pieces of legislation that have received strong bipartisan approval in the past. While these bills made it through the House, they did not receive Senate approval before time ran out on the 2017 session. Lawmakers hope this year to move all three measures across the legislative finish line.

Human Trafficking (HB 1246) – House members will work again this year to address the growing problem of human trafficking. The state is currently ranked 20th in reported human trafficking cases according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

Ethics Reform (HB 1303) – House members will also work to once again pass legislation meant to diminish the influence of lobbyists. Similar to legislation the House has passed in each of the last two sessions, the bill would ban gifts from lobbyists to legislators and other statewide elected officials.

Reducing Burdensome Regulations (HB 1500) – In the first weeks of session House members will also work to cut burdensome red tape and reduce government overregulation so that businesses can thrive in Missouri.

Wednesday morning was the annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. The message was delivered by Reverend John Lindell who is the lead pastor of James River Assembly of God Church located in greater Springfield. The message theme was ‘leading with faith and courage.’

On Thursday afternoon I was called into the House Ethics Committee for a preliminary hearing regarding the statement I made on Aug. 30 about calling out the crime of vandalism with a crude colloquial statement. The vandalism occurred on a monument in the National Veterans’ Cemetery in Springfield. The conclusion of a confusing Ethics Committee process ended without my acceptance of a reprimand and failure of the committee to proceed with other options. So, to my knowledge at this point, this issue should be over.

When we reconvene next week, the Governor will deliver the State of the State message to the members of the entire General Assembly. House Speaker Richardson will also be assigning House bills to committees and legislative work will begin.