Greetings Citizens of the 125th District,
First month has been interesting, eye-opening and an honor to participate in this process. I’ve enjoyed meeting so many of my new colleagues from all across the state and everyone unique in their own way, but all here to do what is best for the citizens of Missouri. The wide array of knowledge and experience from so many fields and backgrounds makes the House of Representatives a great place to work and learn.
On Jan. 9, I attended the 53rd Annual Missouri Cattleman’s Association Convention in Osage Beach. At the convention I met the Missouri Cattleman’s Association Queen, Avery Schiereck from El Dorado Springs. Congratulations Avery.
House approves second Amendment Preservation Act (HBs 85 & 310)
Members of the Missouri House gave approval to legislation meant to protect the Second Amendment rights of Missourians against an overreaching federal government.
Known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act, the bill is meant to protect law-abiding gun owners from potential gun control legislation that could be passed in Washington, D.C. It states that laws and other actions that prohibit the manufacture, ownership, and use of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition within Missouri exceed the powers granted to the federal government. It also declares that all federal laws, acts, and orders that infringe on Missourians’ second amendment rights are invalid in the state. The sponsor of the bill said, “If we fail to protect the Second Amendment rights from an overreaching government as a government entity, or as law enforcement, we have failed in our chief design; we have failed our constituents.”
Additionally, the bill declares it is the duty of the courts and law enforcement agencies to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and states that no public officer or employee of Missouri or any political subdivision of the state can have authority to enforce or attempt to enforce federal laws that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. “We are not saying that these laws cannot be enforced by the feds. We’re just saying that we’re not going to do it as a state. We’re not going to use our resources to enforce their unconstitutional gun laws,” said the bill’s sponsor. He added, “Our citizens deserve and I think they demand us to protect their rights.”
With the approval of the House, the bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. The House and Senate previously approved similar legislation (HB 436) in 2013. That bill was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon. During the annual Veto Session, the House secured the necessary votes to override the veto, but the Senate fell one vote short of the votes necessary to complete the motion and put the bill into effect as law.
House committee investigates overpayment of unemployment benefits
The House Special Committee on Government Oversight took testimony this week from Missourians who are being asked to repay unemployment benefits they received in error through no fault of their own. The committee heard from Department of Labor Director Anna Hui, who told members the state issued approximately $150 million in “overpayments” that the state now wants back. Hui explained overpayments are “kind of built into” the unemployment system. The Department is expected to make an eligibility determination and get a payment out to an applicant within 14 days, generally based solely on information provided by the applicant. As additional information comes in, often from the applicant’s current or past employers, it could prove he or she was not eligible.
Hui told the committee Governor Mike Parson has made clear that he wants the Department to seek collection of those overpayments, viewing them as taxpayer dollars that went to ineligible individuals. Several legislators said they have heard from constituents who have been asked to pay back thousands of dollars in state or federal relief, sometimes months after they received it. One constituent was asked to repay about $23,000. One of the members of the committee said it’s wrong for the state to ask people already struggling financially due to Covid-19 to pay back thousands of dollars.
He said, “Need I remind you of our median income in this state? Most people in my district make $26,000 a year, and you’re asking for $11,000 payback? We’re talking about keeping Missouri’s economy going. We’re talking about equity and conscience. [It’s] taxpayers’ money, it’s these people’s money, and frankly we’re in a crisis. They need to keep it. Because that money’s already spent on mortgage, it’s already spent on food on the table, and frankly we have a responsibility to the common welfare here.”
Federal directives have given states the option not to require repayment of assistance from the federal government, which makes up the majority of the $150 million the Department overpaid. The labor director explained that Missouri is choosing to seek repayment of federal relief. Members of the committee told the director that the state shouldn’t expend its resources to pull money from Missouri’s economy just to send it back to the federal government.
The committee also heard from a union that includes 500 school bus drivers and monitors. The union representative said many of them make salaries that would put them near the poverty level, yet roughly 400 are being asked to pay back thousands of dollars. “Now we want to take $9,000, $10,000 back from them? Where are they going to get it? These are hardworking individuals that did nothing wrong or fraudulent. They simply did exactly what was urged for them by the Missouri Department of Labor,” he said. Members of the committee said the repayment situation is adding to already heightened stress for struggling Missourians. They want Missourians to know legislators are paying attention, and are looking for a solution. As one member of the committee said, “I want people to know this: do not do anything dumb because the state has sent you a letter that says you owe them money. Don’t do it. If you’re stressed out about it, stop being stressed.” Several members have already filed legislation to address the unemployment overpayments and more are developing legislative solutions.
Lawmakers wear red to recognize American Heart month
Members of the Missouri House of Representatives joined together to show support and help recognize American Heart Month by donning their best crimson attire. February 5 marks National Wear Red Day in the United States, in which Americans are encouraged to wear red clothing to help bring awareness to one of the leading causes of death in the nation. Members of the House commemorated the occasion on Thursday, February 4 as the House does not have session on the official day. By doing so, members hope to increase awareness of the dangers of coronary heart disease.
New office to assist Missouri children
As the House worked in strong bipartisan fashion to support families who foster and adopt young people in need, the governor’s office announced a new office that will provide a comprehensive approach to early childhood care and education.
The new Office of Childhood represents the consolidation of several early childhood programs across state government. Housed in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the new office includes all state programs related to child care, home visiting, early learning, and early intervention.
The governor’s office said the consolidation will streamline early childhood work across state government and ensure all Missouri children and families have access to more consistent, quality programs and services.
Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission is conducting a Broadband survey. Their goal is to gather information about AVAILABILITY and SPEED in the counties of District 125. We know it varies widely and they are wanting your help to document that. The survey should take just a few minutes. Click the link, then scroll down and find your county to complete the survey. Survey link: http://kaysinger.com/?page_id=1128&fbclid=IwAR273FG8IAGOjw3-a6kXy2jZBwpOVBNfra6sBDUIq_NTrLKBr92KUFTsYBk.
State Representative Jim Kalberloh