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May God bless you - Representative Bill Reiboldt
While serving on the House committee on Corrections, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Missouri Department of Corrections, the major penal system in our state. The Department has twenty prisons across Missouri—eighteen institutions for men and two for women. In these facilities they incarcerate 31,000 inmates; there are approximately 70,000 parolees; forty-seven inmates are sentenced to death.
On November 20, 2013, the Department of Corrections carried out its first execution in nearly three years. Joseph Paul Franklin, a White Supremacist who targeted Blacks and Jews, killed Gerald Gordon in a sniper shooting in 1977 at a suburban St. Louis synagogue.
Following the shooting, Franklin went on a cross-country killing spree until his apprehension in 1980. He was convicted of eight murders but claimed responsibility for up to twenty killings overall. The Missouri killing was the only one that brought the death sentence—and it took over thirty-three years to carry it out. Franklin also admitted to shooting and wounding Civil Rights leader Vernon Jordan and Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynn, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since the 1978 attack.
As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, I want to wish each of my readers a most blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving Day. Of all the holidays we celebrate, Thanksgiving is my favorite. It is a time of reflecting on and a time of giving thanks for what we have been given, as well as a time of sharing and reconnecting with family and friends. Thanksgiving is a special time of publicly and jointly expressing our thanks for these blessings.
Long before the three-day, 1621 Plymouth Thanksgiving feast, the Native American Indians, the Europeans, and the people from different cultures around the world, celebrated the harvest season by giving thanks to God. Certainly, those early pilgrims and settlers of America were thankful for the ability to survive and to have enough food to eat. Today, we are blessed to have an over abundance of good food in our nation, and we need to show our gratitude to God for providing so bountifully for us, as well as for giving us the great fertile and rich land in which we live.
The Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare), without a doubt, has certainly dominated the American news coverage lately. In Washington, even as the focus has been primarily on the nation’s healthcare issues, the U.S. Senate and House have been trying to write a new five-year farm bill. The last farm bill was written in 2008, and it expired in 2012; however, it was given a one-year extension, which took it to September 30 of this year. Some analysts are saying there may be another extension of the current law for a second straight year because of the ongoing stalemate in Congress with disputes over the federal budget and the national debt, along with irreconcilable differences as to what to put into the final version.
Already a year behind schedule, the new farm bill is being described as a slow-moving freight train. The main area of contention seems to be funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program. This program alone accounts for three-fourths of the total farm bill package of $500 billion over five years. The food stamp program costs the taxpayers roughly $75 billion annually. The U.S. Senate had voted in their version of the new bill to cut the food stamp program by $4.5 billion over a period of ten years. The House version of the new bill wanted to cut food stamps by $40 billion over the same ten-year period, or about $4 billion per year. Also, the House’s bill wants to end benefits for about 10% of recipients in 2014 and tighten the eligibility of those coming into the program.