TUESDAY, January 6, 2009
Legislative Academy 2009
We started out the 2009 legislative session with another very successful Legislative Academy. Despite the dismal weather reports, only a blistery cold wind was blowing on Tuesday morning.
During the Legislative Academy, we dealt with issues like decorum, presentability and how to communicate effectively with your elected officials. A mock hearing gave everyone the feel for the do’s and don’t of an official public hearing, as well as how to practically apply the ideas presented.
We wish to extend a hearty “thank you” to the numerous guest speakers, State Representatives, and Senators; all of whom were gracious with their time, open for questions and willing to participate
in the program. From everyone involved, we would also like extend a special thank you to the Honorable John Ashcroft; who took time out of his very cramped schedule to address the crowd.
If you missed out on the Legislative Academy, determine today to attend the next Â Legislative Academy – that is if you are willing to engage in the fight for the future!
A generous ‘Thank You’ goes out to Missouri Eagle Forum, for their underwriting and participation. We would also like to thank Ronnie Margason Missouri Federation of Republican Women,
Families for Home Education, and Bev Ehlen, with Concerned Women of America.
WEDNESDAY, January 7, 2009
Wednesday – the first day of the 2009 State Legislative Session (the 95th Missouri General Assembly, first regular session) – began with a special Prayer Dedication Service.Â This time
of worshipÂ included a specific recognition, honor, and prayerful commission of the members of the House and Senate, their families and staff. Â Thank you to Concord Baptist Church,
the Missouri Baptist Convention Christian Life Commission, and the Pathway (MBC) newspaper for sponsoring such an event.
Wednesday noon started the first official legislative session of 2009. Before the regular legislative activities began; the House and the Senate heard addresses from the newly elected Speaker of the House (State Representative Ron Richards, district 129), and Senate President Pro Tem (Senator Charlie Shields, district 34).
“Family Recovery Plan”
Speaker Richard’s Opening Day Address
Speaker Richards dealt with many issues during his opening address on Wednesday morning. From committing to meet the economic issues that threatens our state, to education, gun rights and abortion. Speaker Richard’s called on his colleagues to roll their sleeves up and get to work.
Stressing the importance of decorum, timeliness and mutual respect for members on both sides of the isle, Representative Richards raised the necessity of working together. Sighting his past chairmanship, Richard’s pointes out that under his leadership “the Economic Development Committee has worked together regardless of party affiliation to create innovative and productive legislation, on almost every occasion, the bills we passed received unanimous approval as a result of the work we did together”. A formula which he expects everyone to follow.
But as clouds of compromise begin to gather, Speaker Richards also points out “you should be aware it also means that while I am willing to compromise, I will stand firm when necessary, and I will always stay true to my own conservative beliefs”. And aside from a very open commitment to protect the rights of Missouri’s citizens to bare arms, Speaker Richards also pledged that “This year we also will reaffirm our commitment to protecting the lives of the unborn… we must continue our efforts to ensure Missouri holds life sacred”
Sighting the inadequate actions of the Federal Government as a “bailout extravaganza”, Richards pledged that they would seek out true solutions for our economic situation. Solutions he outlined in his “Family Recovery Plan”.
1. Job creation
Speaker Richards asked to expand the Quality Jobs program, as well as working together to create solid, family-sustaining jobs.
2. Affordable healthcare
“there is more we must do if we are to create a system that is truly responsive to the needs of families. That includes not only improvements to access and affordability, but also increasing accountability and transparency of insurance companies, healthcare providers and hospitals. Our healthcare system must be one that provides quality care to those in need, but it must do so without bankrupting our state”.
In order to combat mounting utility costs which plague Missouri’s families, Richards called on the General Assembly to expand the nuclear power plant in our state. He also outlined his plan to expand on the natural resources of our state, by investing in hydroelectric power and wind farms.
As a whole, Speaker Richards’ took great care to address economic issues, and their impact on Missouri’s families. In addition to his recovery plan, Speaker Richards also pointed out “Our need to both simplify and cut taxes, freeing up more of Missourians own money”, as an additional way to stimulate the current economic situation.
As a whole it was very comforting to hear that the family is at the core of the new Speaker’s recovery plan. But we will all be anxiously waiting to see what areas are worth compromising on, and which areas of public policy will warrant the stand Speaker of the House Richards warned us about.
“Commit to the vision”
Senate President Pro Tem’s Opening Address
Senator Charlie Shields (district 34) took over as the new President Pro Tem in the Senate. In the past, Senator Shields dedication to the economical, and educational future of our state has certainly stood out as a driving factor in the senators’ political career.
A review of the senator’s opening address, I believe, will give us a good outline of the new senate leaders’ priorities, and intentions. Based on his pointed speech about our current economic status, it is very clear that our states economy is one of the number one priorities for Senator Shields. And one that he means to meet head on.
In a rather candid manor, the senator pointed out the need to realize how we got to where we are as a state, and what we want to accomplish economically. In describing the current state of things, senator shields commented “we are a $23 billion organization without a long-term vision and operating without the benefit of a strategic plan”. In short, it is this long term plan that senator Shields plans to develop in his time as President Pro Tem. His long term plan is broken down into three strategies.
1. Economic growth and job creation/development.
Praising the ‘Quality Jobs Act’, Senator Shields went on to stress the need to continue pressing forward. “We must build on these policies and create new tools to attract the jobs of the future”.
2. Health coverage.
Health care is a major deciding factor for most job decisions, not just the employees but for the employers as well. Shields addressed the need to confront the 700,000 Missourians without coverage. “This cannot be done simply by expanding MO HealthNet. It can only be accomplished by working with employers, hospitals, physicians, insurance companies and our federal government to blend funding streams and create market incentives to bring these citizens into a rational healthcare system”.
Missouri’s rank in education matches the embarrassing trend set by the educational system in the US as a whole. USA, 10th in the world, Missouri 30th in the nation, if these statistics where not startling enough, the President Pro Tem Points out, “we have 47 counties in Missouri that have education levels below Mexico for young adults.”
In spite of everything else happening in our country, and in our state. Senator Shields invites us to embrace our future, and “commit to the vision”, the vision of a stronger economy, a stronger and better educated workforce; and a better state for our children.
Senator Shields’ remarks reflected his passion for the economy of our beloved state. To be sure, a strong economy is vital to most everything we hold dear. As citizens of this Great State, let us not forget where, or who, our American way of life and our economic successes comes from.
THURSDAY, January 8, 2009
Thursday began with the annual tradition of the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast.Â In a room packed with guests and dignitaries both Governor Matt Blunt and Governor elect Jay Nixon sat
at the head table to hear the music and prayers of the event.Â Prior to the keynote address (U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway in a rare display of spiritual transparency and public humility)
introductory comments were made by outgoing Governor Matt Blunt.Â Here are those comments:
Good morning. Thank you for the kind introduction. Welcome to the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. It is a pleasure to be here this morning, and an honor to address leaders and public servants who have strong convictions and an abiding
faith in God. I would like to thank the Missouri Prayer Breakfast Committee for their work to organize this year’s breakfast. Mike Kehoe has served as Chair for all four of my Governor Prayer Breakfasts, and many others have helped year after
year as well.
To all involved, I say “thank you.”
I also want to take a moment and thank another Missourian who has served our state for the past four years.Â That would be the most important person in my life, my wife and Missouri First Lady Melanie Blunt. Melanie has not only been
a source of support for me personally, but she has also been a tireless advocate for Missouri children, women’s health issues, and the arts, just to name a few. Melanie was also the driving force behind the long overdue repairs to the Missouri
Governor’s Mansion, helping to preserve the mansion for future generations of Missourians. As a father, I am blessed with a son whose mother is a person of faith with strong convictions and principle. For all of this, and for so much more, I say
“thank you” to Melanie Blunt.
The theme of this year’s breakfast is “God’s Amazing Grace.” And indeed, God’s grace is great-He even has room for politicians.
The theme obviously brings to mind the great hymn by John Newton. John Newton was the captain of a slave trading ship, who in a moment of crisis on the sea became utterly convicted of his wicked way. And before we throw stones at
John Newton for his wicked past, we should remind ourselves that there are far more people enslaved today than at the height of the European slave trade.
John Newton experienced God’s grace, he repented and years later he became a notable figure in the British effort to end the slave trade. That is as it should be, experiencing God’s mercy should lead to repentance, changed behavior, and
active efforts to right a wrong.
The story of John Newton is a powerful reminder of the grace and mercy that God has for all of us. We should always remember that God’s mercy is great because He is sovereign. And at a time of transition, it is important to remember that
God is sovereign and He is in control.
We are blessed to live in a great state in the greatest country in all of human history, and at a time of relative abundance that has never been seen before in world history. Most realize how fortunate and blessed we are. Today, Americans,
and Missourians in particular, remain steadfast in their faith, and committed to the principle that God has a place in their own daily life, and in civic life.
And through all of history-of our great Nation and of all the annals of man- there has been one constant: the sovereignty of God. Scripture tells us that God has a plan for every man, every woman, every community, every state and every
nation. We do not always understand His ways, but God is always in control.
Psalm 33: 11 tells us “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation”
Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
These short, yet powerful verses remind us that God has always been with us, His hand always guiding us. It reminds us that our blessings have never been by accident or coincidence.
And surely any student of American history would deny coincidence and settle on providence. The United States was created by founders that had simple, but powerful ideas: that all men are created equal, that we possess inalienable rights
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and, most importantly, that our equality and our rights do not exist by the whims of any earthly government, but because of our inherent dignity as human beings formed in the likeness of our Creator.
And just as God guided our Nation according to His will then, he has continued to guide us for more than 200 years. Sometimes, that simple fact can be easy to forget. There is a natural human tendency to take action, then seek God’s
approval after the fact. But we must ask God for guidance before we act, so that He may direct us to the right place. Proverbs 19:21 tells us that;Â Â Â “Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand”Â Â God’s plans and hopes
for us do not change. His truth and Word remains constant.
There is a hymn called God of the Mountain that contains an appropriate line about God’s sovereign nature; “and the God of the mountain is the God of the valley/and the God of the day is still God of the night.”
That knowledge should not only be of great solace to us in our personal lives, but I believe it also gives us perspective as a nation. God is in control. He is always with us. He always has a plan.
And our civic life rests on this understanding that there exists a power far greater than that enjoyed by earthly governments.
Colossians 1:16-17 tells us “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is
before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”Â Â God is truly the sustainer of the universe.
The leaders of our nation and state have a great responsibility to faithfully and honestly serve our fellow citizens to the best of our abilities. And frankly, I do not know how anyone can even begin to take on such a task without asking God
for guidance and strength, and asking for the prayers of our fellow citizens.
We can all take comfort in the undeniable fact that there is a God who guides us, protects us, and takes care of us. And from beginning to end, the Bible reiterates this sovereign nature of God.
Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.”
Revelations 19:6 “Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.”
In the beginning, He is the Creator, throughout He is the Sustainer, and in the end He is still sovereign.
We are well served to listen carefully to what God is trying to tell us, and how we can all best serve Him. By so doing, we can better follow God’s will and trust in the assurances that He has provided us throughout all eternity.
This morning’s keynote speaker is well aware of the role of faith in civic duty. Catherine Hanaway, as we all know, served in the Missouri House of Representatives and as Speaker of the House. Currently, she is the United States Attorney for
the Eastern District of Missouri.
From the moment when I first met Catherine when we were first elected to the House, I knew she would do great things-and more importantly, she would do great things for the right reasons.
She has managed to keep perspective of what is important in life, and has been a powerful example for fellow Christians. Catherine Hanaway is a devoted mother, spouse and a great friend to many of us here today.
Catherine, thank you for being with us this morning.Â Â Ladies and gentlemen, Catherine Hanaway.
Thursday morning was buzzing with excitement with the presence of Senator Kit Bond, who first addressed the Republican Caucus before rocking political blogs and the media with the surprising news that he would be retiring from the U.S. Senate after the completion of this term. (2010)
His absence will open many interesting political possibilities, and speculations which will undoubtedly occupy both the newcomer and novice alike.
HB 226 Introduced by Representative Emery, provides pharmacies with immunity from liability for refusal to perform, assist, recommend, refer to, or participate in any act or service in connection with any drug or device that causes an abortion. Second read in the House.
HB 46 Introduced by Representative Davis, changes the laws regarding the consent requirements for obtaining an abortion and creates the crime of coercing an abortion. Second read.
HB 52 Introduced by Representative Hodges, requires health insurance coverage to continue for any child or dependent of an enrollee with Down Syndrome after they reach 18 years of age. Second read.
HB 82 Introduced by Representative Kraus, authorizes an individual income tax credit for military retirement benefits. Second read in the House.
HB 160 Introduced by Representative McGhee, changes the laws regarding the crime of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree and adds a penalty for the possession of a controlled substance in the presence of a minor. Read for the second time.
HB 62 Introduced by Representative Lipke, changes the laws regarding crime prevention. Second read.
HB 164 Introduced by Representative Dusenberg, prohibits certain sexual offenders from being physically present or loitering within 500 feet of a child care facility. Read for the second time in the House.
HB 131 Introduced by Representative Fallert, prohibits certain sexual offenders from being present in or loitering within 1,000 yards of a state park. Second read.
HB 106 Introduced by Representative Kraus, prohibits certain sexual offenders from serving as an athletic coach, manager, or trainer for any sports team with a member younger than 17 years of age. Read for the second time in the House.
HB 105 Introduced by Representative Kraus, prohibits certain sexual offenders from being present in or loitering within 500 feet of any public park with playground equipment or public swimming pool. Second read.
HB 132 Introduced by Representative Fallert, allows certain charitable organizations to begin selling liquor at 9:00 a.m. instead of 11:00 a.m. on Sundays. Read for the second time in the House.
HB 186 Introduced by Representative Flook, prohibits any person who commits the crime of nonsupport of a spouse or child from being admitted on an excursion gambling boat or casino until the arrearage is satisfied. Read for the second time in the House.
HB 163 Introduced by Representative Dusenberg, removes the requirement that certain individuals wait two years after termination of employment before obtaining direct ownership interest in or being employed by an excursion gambling boat. Second read.
HJR 6 Introduced by Representative Molendorp, proposes a constitutional amendment raising the allowable level of bonded indebtedness for school districts. Second read.
HB 77 Introduced by Representative Lampe, lowers the age for beginning school from seven to six years and requires full-day kindergarten at all public schools. Second read.
HB 228 Introduced by Representative Parson, changes the laws regarding petition circulators. Second read.
HB 49 Introduced by Representative Frame, allows voters to cast advance ballots. Second read in the House.
HB 104 Introduced by Representative Wildberger, changes the laws regarding sanctions for hiring unauthorized aliens. Read for the second time.
HJR 11 Introduced by Representative McGhee, proposes a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to pray and requiring public schools to display the text of the First Amendment. Read for the second time in the House.
HB 188 Introduced by Representative Flook, prohibits the use of school funds to purchase alcoholic beverages and precludes schools from reimbursing any person for such purchases. Read for the second time in the House.
HB 165 Introduced by Representative Dusenberg, requires only persons younger than 21 years of age to wear protective headgear when operating or riding as a passenger on any motorcycle or motortricyle. Second read.
HB 92 Introduced by Representative El-Amin, prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle while using a cellular telephone with certain exceptions. Second read.
SCR 3 Sponsored by Senator Justus, urges Congress to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution. First read in the Senate.