Taking Stock in Wake of this Week’s Tornado
In the wake of this week’s EF3 tornado that touched down and took a devastating toll on many structures in Oak Grove, Odessa, Carrollton and Richmond, as well as other parts of Lafayette County, I believe this to be an opportune time to take stock, and give thanks that there were no lives lost. I implore you to always pay attention to the weather and give serious heed to tornado warnings. Next time we might not be so lucky. And if there is anything predictable about Missouri weather, it’s that there will be a next time.
I did speak this week with the director of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), who confirmed there were no lives lost in the 21st District. I also learned from the director that the governor was visiting first responders and tornado victims in Oak Grove and hadactivated the State Emergency Operations Plan and declared a state of emergency for the area. This is good news as these actions make available to victims special emergency and rebuilding funds reserved for these types of disasters. If you are among those impacted, please use my office as a resource. We are here to help you navigate the process of securing any available assistance.
Transportation Network Companies
Trading on a famous line from one of my generation’s cult classics, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I have carried this philosophy with me into adulthood. From time-to-time, we have to pause, look around and evaluate what’s working and what’s not; what’s on its way in and what’s on its way out. Accordingly, I believe it’s high-time Missourians start acknowledging and embracing some of the more sensible aspects of the sharing economy, ride sharing for example.
Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, operate high-tech digital networks that connect riders who need rides with drivers who operate independently, contracting their services through licensed TNCs. This modern business model provides a regulated framework that ensures safety and reliability.
I personally have used Uber in places where it is allowed to operate in Missouri, and I’ve used it in other states. I also use taxi cabs. Adding another option, from which consumers can choose, lines up perfectly with the free-market principles upon which America was built, principles in which I wholeheartedly believe.
The Senate spent a significant amount of floor time this week debating House Bill 130, which enacts provisions relating to Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), and is more commonly known as the Uber or Lyft bill. This much-needed legislation has been percolating in the Capitol for the past few years. This year it appears poised to make it across the finish line and will legalize ride sharing throughout the state of Missouri.
Transportation Network Companies add to consumers’ menu of transportation options and provide safety benefits. For example, cities that have embraced ride sharing report sharp decreases in drunk driving arrests.
Additionally, TNCs have the opportunity to create thousands of new jobs in Missouri. Drivers — who must pass extensive background checks — make their own hours, enabling them the flexibility to choose to make this their full-time vocation or a part-time way to supplement other income.
Missouri Community College Workforce Development Network
Fishermen know you gotta go where the fish are. Likewise, skilled workers know they gotta go where the jobs are, which creates a conundrum of sorts because businesses look to locate where the skilled workers are.
For years, leading economic development organizations like the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry have been telling us the state’s workforce system needs to change in order for Missouri to compete with other states for job creation projects. This week, in response to that sage advice, Missouri’s 12 community colleges established the Missouri Community College Workforce Development Network. The new network will address a longstanding challenge facing Missouri businesses: the availability of a skilled workforce.
Unlike many states, Missouri’s community colleges do not have one shared governing authority, making them completely independent. The upsides are pretty obvious: less bureaucracy, more flexibility and the ability to tailor programs to meet the specific needs of students and employers in their respective local communities.
This new network allows community colleges to maintain all of the benefits of their independence while also allowing them to draw upon the collective resources of the statewide group. Likewise, through their local community college, businesses will have access to resources at every community college in Missouri. By allowing each college to play to its strengths, the collective will be better able to serve businesses in every square inch of the state, ultimately ensuring:
* Missourians will get the skills they need to earn higher pay;
* Missouri businesses will get the workforce they need to expand and grow; and
* Economic developers will have a tool they can use to win new jobs for our state.
This new network will help ensure our Missouri ponds stay stocked with fish.
Bill Tracking Update
SB 183 - 03/09/2017 Placed on Formal Calendar for Perfection
Extends the Big Government Get Off My Back Act and modifies several provisions relating to the collection of money by public entities
Allows telephone companies to select an alternate method of property tax assessment
SB 280 - 03/09/2017 Placed on Formal Calendar for Perfection
Requires the Department of Revenue to issue both REAL ID compliant and noncompliant driver's licenses and identification cards
Modifies the definition of a service dog
Modifies provisions relating to the promotion and sale of alcoholic beverages
Modifies provisions relating to virtual public schools
Changes the law regarding consent for a minor to obtain an abortion
SB 376 - 03/09/2017 Placed on Formal Calendar
Designates "Old Drum" as the historical dog of the state of Missouri
Modifies provisions relating to the practice of public accounting
Exempts the purchase of utilities for certain food preparation uses from state sales and use taxes
Creates the Missouri Video Lottery Control Act
Modifies provisions of the Missouri Athletic Trainer Practice Act
Modifies the definition of "livestock" to include honey bees for the purposes of the state sales tax law
Excludes funds designated by taxpayers in an urban district as early childhood education funds from the local tax revenue calculation used to provide funding to charter schools that declared themselves as a local education agency
Provides for patient due process for persons receiving services from the Division of Developmental Disabilities
Modifies provisions relating to Department of Mental Health inspections
Expresses support for the people of Israel
Designates August 21, 2017, as "Total Eclipse Day" in the state of Missouri
I urge you to contact my office with any questions or concerns you have about state government so I can better represent you during the 2017 legislative session.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me firstname.lastname@example.org.