Despite the inclement weather and bitter cold temperatures, the Missouri Senate had a productive week as my colleagues and I discussed and debated several proposals. I had the pleasure of filling in for the majority floor leader for part of this week in my capacity as assistant majority floor leader. On Monday, I presented Senate Bill 171 to the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and am thankful for the overwhelming support the “empty chair defense” measure received from proponents. This committee’s members also unanimously voted to “do pass” a bill I presented last week,Senate Bill 212. I filed SB 212 at the request of the Department of Corrections to update statutes concerning the relationship between the Department of Corrections, the Parole Board and the Division of Probation and Parole to reflect the changes made in a 2018 bill which failed to update all sections of the statute. When the Senate reconvened that evening, the body passed House Bill 16, a supplemental budget bill that allocates additional CARES Act money to help struggling citizens with rent and utilities.
On Wednesday, the Senate Seniors, Families, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee heard three bills, one of which was my Senate Bill 173. This legislation has garnered tremendous support from mental health associations and advocates. It allows Missouri Medicaid health care providers to prescribe appropriate antipsychotic medications without adherence to regimented step therapy protocols. We also advanced my Senate Bill 258out of committee. This legislation permits members of the Missouri National Guard to use state vehicles for official state business.
The Senate hosted a press event on Feb. 4 to field questions from reporters regarding COVID-19 liability legislation. I appreciate all the calls and emails I have received on this topic since I started working on it last spring. Below is a short excerpt from that event to help summarize some of the bill’s objectives.
Getting to Know You…
A tradition I started when I became a senator was hosting bi-monthly breakfasts for the five representatives who cover the 32nd Senatorial District in the House of Representatives. This informal platform provides an opportunity for us to discuss, prioritize and respond to the unique needs of our southwestern communities, and on occasion, throw a teasing jab at one another. I always learn something new from these dedicated public servants, and they have learned where to find the best cup of coffee on the 4th floor of the Capitol!
When Can I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Missourians may now sign up to receive information on when they will be eligible to get the vaccine through a centralized online system. If you know someone who cannot access the internet, please direct them to the COVID-19 hotline at (877) 435-8411 for assistance with registering.
Free Tax Assistance Programs Available
Qualifying tax payers may access free tax filing and counseling services online or in person during select times at Fairview Christian Church in Carthage and Great Plains Federal Credit Union in Joplin. Visit irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep and enter your zip code for more information.
I have added a link to Missouri’s tax forms on my website for your tax filing convenience.
I welcomed Delia Meier to my office on Feb. 9 while she was at the Capitol to testify at a hearing on biodiesel mandates. She’s the owner and vice president of Joplin 44 Petro and three other large truck stops throughout the United States.
If you are in Jefferson City, please stop by my office for a visit. Although my schedule is pretty full, I can always find the time to say hello to the residents of the 32nd Senatorial District!