Senate committee hearings underway

Posted January 31, 2013 at 11:33 am


It is now starting to feel like session is underway as committee hearings are in full swing. This year I am chairing the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Review Committee. This committee hears bills relating to functions of government and also reviews any proposed legislation that will have a large fiscal impact on the state. There are seven members on the committee, four of whom are newly elected.

This week we had our first committee hearing, and we didn’t waste any time jumping into some contentious issues. SB71, which I am sponsoring, prohibits labor unions of public sector employees from deducting dues and fees from employees’ paychecks without authorization from those employees. This bill drew a large crowd, mostly from people representing labor unions, to testify against it.

Another bill we heard would require the State Auditor to compile a report comparing the cost of death penalty cases to cases seeking life without parole. Most of the people who testified in favor of this bill also acknowledged they were in favor of abolishing the death penalty.

The other two bills were much less controversial. One would eliminate a number of committees and commissions that have outlived their usefulness. Most of them have not had a meeting in years and serve no purpose. The other bill called for increased accountability of state spending within various departments, including tracking of where federal money is being spent.

This week we heard from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Richard Teitelman, as he gave the annual State of the Judiciary Address. He used the speech to highlight successes Missouri has had in the areas of treatment courts. Treatment courts were established 20 years ago and offer an alternative to prison for nonviolent offenders. Participants must submit to random drug tests, group meetings and treatment to be in the program. Over 12,000 offenders have graduated from Missouri treatment courts.

Governor Jay Nixon will give his State of the State Address. This event is used by the governor to outline his legislative priorities for the coming session as well as present his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. This typically marks the beginning of the budgeting process by the Legislature.

‘Nothing is Politically Right Which is Morally Wrong’

If you have any questions or comments regarding issues in state government or within the 28th Senatorial District, please feel free to contact my office. Senator Mike Parson, State Capitol Building, Room 420. Phone: 573-751-8793 or 800-752-8256.