– Week in Review –
Week of March 13, 2006
MONDAY, March 13, 2006
HCS HB 1783 Sponsored by Speaker Pro Tem, Carl Bearden creates the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œMissouri Student Success Scholarship Tax Credit ProgramÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â. The tax credit outlined in HCS HB1783 is the same as the other 52 tax credits currently available under state law. Yet major questions exist.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIs this new scholarship a form of vouchers?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
No, absolutely not; and hereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s why. Vouchers, are a program where the government takes in tax dollars for education, and then gives it back to parents so they can use these ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“vouchersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ to pay for their childÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s education however they want (Private, Public, Christian, or even Home School).
There is a problem with government vouchers. The courts have ruled numerous times that government money equals government control. To put it simply, if a Christian school accepted a voucher, government would have the authority to step in and say ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œyou can not teach your own viewsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ but that of the government (he who pays the piper, calls the tune). If a Home Schooled family took a voucher, the government could force them to teach their version of sex ed, etc.
If you want to lose your control of your childrenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s educationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ accept a voucher.
This scholarship is completely different however; the money never comes into big brothers hands, it goes from a private individual, to a private foundation, to low income parents. Because there is no government interference, the courts have ruled that these types of scholarships are not vouchers and government cannot control how the money is spent.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWho is eligible for this scholarship?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The scholarship is very limited in scope. It is only for three school districts (basically the 3 districts that are having the most problems) in the state; St. Louis, Kansas City and Wellston. There are also very strict guidelines for who can apply, family income must fall below a means test, and the student must be at or under a 2.5 GPA. The program is directed to these lower income families whose children are trapped in a failing school system. These are the public school students at highest risk of illiteracy and are flunking out of what is their only educational option. HCS HB 1783 gives these students a chance that they have never had before. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a chance to get out of a failing system. IsnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t it interesting to note, that the recognized solution for these families- is to get their kids out of public schools. No wonder the committee meeting lasted for six and a half hours with every public school lobbyist opposed to allowing these families any kind of options!
TUESDAY, March 14, 2006
The House Judiciary Committee took public testimony on HB 1944. This bill, sponsored by Representative Steve Hobbs, focuses on reforming eminent domain abuse. Expected to be the main bill to be pushed in the Legislature, HB 1944 addresses multiple concerns and helps protect private property from government, and others who would take property for private gain. Churches and other not-for profit properties would also benefit from the reforms offered by this proposal.
The House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee continued their public hearings dealing with several sex crimes bills. Chairman Scott Lipke and his committee members will be well prepared to address their house bills as well as the omnibus sex crimes bill coming to them from the Senate, SB 588 et. al. Included in these bills, will be a form of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œJessicaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s LawÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â (a 25 year mandatory sentence for certain sex offences).
WEDNESDAY, March 15, 2006
Wednesday started off with HB 1266 presented in the House Education Committee. Sponsored by Representative Wayne Cooper M.D., HB 1266 is a milestone in education requirements. It set forth some much needed parameters for teaching science. One of the many important requirements involves giving
THURSDAY, March 16, 2006
The Health Care Policy Committee passed HB 1534 with a unanimous vote. HB 1534 (sponsored by Representative Jim Lembke), provides funding for umbilical cord blood banks, and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œnon-fetalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â stem cell research. The debate over stem cells will continue to be a major political hot button from now till November.
The House spent all week long working on the budget. House Budget Chair, Allen Icet, has invested many long hours in balancing the state budget. When it was discovered that a funding proposal for the health department included a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œfamily planningÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â mandate to provide contraception services in a list of services to be provided (HB 1010), Representative Icet worked quickly to get the language removed. Tucked away in the thousands of pages, there was one line that would drastically alter government provided services. To some ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œcontraceptionÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â may not sound all that bad; after all we would rather have fewer ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“unwantedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ pregnanciesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ right?
LetÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s address two issues; what is governmentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s roll, and the definition of contraception. First, the Bible sets out two major guidelines for the government. To reward those who do right; and to punish those who do evil – NOT to enable people to continue living in sin, and teach them how to live without the consequences of their lifestyles. As for contraception, there are many different things that fall into this category. Included on this list is the RU486 and the morning after pill; and if you talk to Planned Parenthood, abortion is also considered contraception.
An amendment was passed on the House floor to remove this language (with a lot of debate!), but the final vote was very disconcerting, with 96 yes, 59 no. The bill still passed with a clear prohibition on public funded ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œsex subsidiesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â, but several ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“conservativeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Representatives voted in favor of government funded ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œcontraceptionÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â (including premarital and extramarital sexual partners, as well as minors with no parental consent!).