Greetings, My Fellow Missourians
On Saturday evening Marla and I attended the 26th Annual St. Clair County Cattlemen’s Annual Meeting. Our guest speaker was MCA State President Bobby Simpson from Salem, Missouri. Bobby like myself has been a lifelong Cattlemen and both of us has supported and been members of our State Association since the 1970’s. He shared that much of the MCA’s focus is on government affairs. It is our strong belief that producers, as citizens, should be tireless in their protection of their rights and their business. MCA operates through membership dollars. MCA receives no money from the beef checkoff program.
In the November issue of Missouri Beef Cattleman Publication, President Simpson emphasized the need for people that are passionate about the Missouri cattle industry, leaders that will take on the challenges facing them and producers that will take time to prepare the next generation of cattlemen and cattlewomen.
In the last several years, the organization has become the most respected farm group in the state and nation. It is now time to prepare for the future. The Missouri Cattleman’s Association is looking for Regional Vice Presidents to help keep local affiliates informed of state activities and organize the grassroots efforts. Each year, half of the districts are up for election, and I would like to encourage you to get involved. Even if you don’t feel ready for leadership, you can still get involved. To find out how, visit https://www.mocattle.org/ .
The Missouri Cattleman’s Leadership College provides classes that will develop future leaders. For more information visit https://www.mocattle.org/meetings-events/missouri-cattlemens-leadership-college.
Recognizing the Contributions and Sacrifices of our Veterans
On Veterans Day, I had plans to attend three different Veteran events, but old man winter threw me a curve ball. Due to the cold weather I had to take care of the cattle and things on the ranch but the Veterans were in my thoughts. I’m glad that we pause as a nation to honor those who have put their love of country above all else. It’s a time to thank those who have risked life and limb to defend the American way of life. It’s a time to salute those who have fought to protect us from the scourge of tyranny and injustice.
Expressing that gratitude can be as simple as saying thank you to someone you know who has served, or as involved as donating your time or money to charitable causes that work with our veterans. And for the legislature, it means continuing to find policy solutions for the issues faced by our veterans.
I’m proud to say that this year the legislature worked diligently on a number of issues that directly impact our veterans in a positive way. A piece of legislation we passed this year that I was proud to support will make sure our veterans get the assistance they need when they’re facing difficulties after service. HB 547 will help ensure veterans courts are available throughout our state.
Veterans courts utilize an intensive program of court supervision, drug or alcohol testing, and rehabilitation to help defendants overcome substance abuse, mental, emotional, or behavioral issues and keep them from re-offending. With the help of veterans treatment courts, veterans who have struggled after returning home an opportunity will have the opportunity to clear their names, to get a clean record, and to earn a second chance at life.
Another bill we passed during the 2019 session expands the Missouri Returning Heroes Education Act. This program provides reduced tuition for certain combat veterans attending public institutions of higher education. It has been highly successful during the ten years it has been in effect, but it has only been available to some veterans. By passing SB 306 this year, we open up the program so that any veteran who has served in a combat zone who lives in Missouri, or moves to Missouri, can access its benefits. We also expanded the eligibility period to 20 years after the veteran’s last discharge, and we also modified the program so that it would help veterans afford the cost of graduate level studies.
The expansion of the program isn’t just about making it more affordable for veterans to obtain their degree. It’s also about getting the knowledge and real world experience of veterans into our classrooms where they can share their wisdom with younger students. This is a huge win for veterans and an even bigger win for our state as a whole.
I’m proud of the way our state is taking action to support the valiant individuals who fought to protect our rights, our freedoms, our ideals, and our hopes.
Interim hours: Now that Session is over for 2019, I will be back in the District full time. If you need any assistance my Legislative Assistant Amy Helton will continue to be in my Capitol office Tuesday-Thursday and will be happy to help you.