Conservation workers looking for relief

Posted May 8, 2014 at 11:38 am

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My Fellow Missourians,

My in-district Friday started early at the 4th Friday Chamber Coffee in El Dorado Springs. Then I attended the Osceola Chamber luncheon at the Sugar Foot B-B-Q. During the afternoon, I presented a Missouri History and Government program to the 4th grade class at Osceola. Marla and I then attended a fundraiser supper at the Osceola Senior Center.

While at the Senior Center, several concerned citizens asked me to attend the informational meeting Monday evening, April 28. There seems to be a lot of confusion and discontent about the progress being made on constructing the new St. Clair County Senior Center building. I was unable to attend because of my duties of being in session at the Capitol. However, I have been, and will continue to conference and stay in touch with the Attorney General’s office about this matter.

On Tuesday, the House debated SCS SB 526. This act requires the Division of Workers’ Compensation to develop and maintain a workers’ compensation claims database that is accessible to potential employers during a pre-hire period and searchable by an employee’s name and social security number. Employers are required to obtain written consent from the potential employee to acquire records and are barred from compelling or coercing a potential employee to provide consent or require consent as a condition of employment.

My good friend and fellow legislator, Joe Don McGaugh, offered an amendment (much like we tried back during March) to allow small contractors and construction tradesmen with less than three employees to opt out of being mandated to purchase Workmans’ Compensation Insurance. Once again, I spoke on the floor in favor. We failed on a 2 to 1 margin. Once again, I want to remind everyone that one of the biggest concerns I hear from the local tradesmen in our district is that the high cost of mandated Workmans’ Compensation Insurance is a heavy burden and they may quit the construction trade if they don’t get some relief. In looking ahead, it appears that we might gain support in allowing tradesmen to opt out by providing a small construction liability waiver for work rendered. This is a work in progress that will continue into the next legislative session.

A “hot button” issue that became a concern for retired teachers was an amendment added on the House side to SB 672, a bill sponsored by Senator Mike Parson to assist small Missouri counties dealing with the issue of full-time county prosecutors. It passed the Senate by a vote of 31-1. The amendment regarding pension funds was added during a committee hearing in the House of Representatives. The amendment would have mandated Missouri pension funds to invest a minimum amount of their money in MO based capital venture companies. I received many e-mails and phone calls from retired teachers voicing their concern with this new language, and I appreciated the heads up. We were able to strip that language from SB 672 on the House floor.

My HB 1728, which would clarify that County Commissioners and County Health Boards must be together in agreement on local ordinances and fees, had extensive floor debate and was laid over. Here’s the bottom line; about half of the county’s commissioners want to be involved in new ordinances and fees and half of them don’t. Most of the counties that don’t are using Statute 192.300 to control livestock operations and charge permit fees on church and non-for-profit organizations holding fundraising events like pancake breakfasts and chili suppers. The good news that came out of this debate is HB 1100, sponsored by Rep. Lyndall Fraker, had language that allows a non-profit organization to prepare food in a private home or other area for distribution to the end consumer at a charitable fundraising event. The non-profit organization may inform the consumer by placing a clearly visible placard at the serving location that states the food was prepared in a kitchen that is not subject to regulation and inspection by the regulatory authority. Nothing in the bill would prohibit the department or local health agency from conducting an investigation of a foodborne disease or outbreak. This was amended to SB 525 and has been sent to the Governor.