Greetings, My Fellow Missourians

It seems Easter came early this year; Easter weekend is usually spent with my family and church activities. However, due to the rainy, icy weather and below normal temperatures, I spent more time than usual just braving the elements and taking care of the livestock. My sincere hope is that sunshine and green grass are both on the horizon.

I would like to share some good news about legislation that I have been working on for some time. After much promotion and urging, with the wonderful support from hundreds of Veterans and other concerned citizens across the state, House Leadership referred HB2189 to the General Laws Committee, and it received its hearing on Tuesday, March 27th. The hearing room was full of supporters for the Missouri Veterans’ Heritage Protection Act . We were extremely honored to have Mr. Ralph Barrale testify in favor of the bill; Mr. Barrale, from the St. Louis area, is a 94 year old World War II Veteran, who served under General George Patton. His testimony received a standing ovation from everyone in the hearing room. I have had many interesting experiences during my years as a representative, but this was certainly one of my most inspiring moments.

Legislation this week:

Many hours were spent in the House chamber this week debating, perfecting and third reading bills. Several have been sent to the Senate for consideration including:

HB 1368 would modify the Missouri Returning Heroes Education Act to require any institution of higher education that receives state funds to limit the amount of tuition it charges to combat veterans enrolled in a program leading to a graduate degree to no more than 30% of the cost of tuition and fees. Supporters say the bill would allow servicemen and women who fought for their country to stretch their benefits a little further and to receive a graduate education at a reduced cost.

HB 1257 would allow private businesses to give hiring preference for veterans. Supporters note that the federal and state government can give preferential treatment to veterans. The bill simply makes it clear that private businesses can do the same. Supporters say some businesses want to give a hiring preference to veterans, but are worried about violating employment laws. This bill does not require private businesses to do anything. The legislation simply clarifies that they can legally give a preference to veterans should they want to.

Undergraduate research day:

Each year the University of MO System hosts an Undergraduate Research Day in the Capitol Rotunda. It illustrates student accomplishments on innovations taking place at MU-Columbia, UMKC-Kansas City, MS&T-Rolla, and UMSL-St. Louis. Out of thousands of students who attend these schools, only 51 were chosen to have their projects displayed in the Rotunda on Thursday. I am very proud to report that Lauren (Olivia) Shafer of Appleton City had her research highlighted on “The Impact of Social and Communication Skills Instruction on Bullying Involvement.” This is a prestigious honor. Congratulations to Olivia.

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