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May God bless you - Representative Bill Reiboldt
On the morning of September 12, 2015, the Neosho community was saddened to hear of the tragic accident that claimed the life of a young 19-year-old man. The news of the death of Matthew Stevens, a 2015 NHS graduate, was even more difficult to accept when whoever hit him with their vehicle apparently left the scene of the accident, leaving Matthew’s body on the roadway. Police reports indicate that Matthew was killed instantly. For his family, many questions were left unanswered. (It is important to note that later the driver did come forward and the case today is in the courts.)
It was late October when the news media and Matthew’s mother, Stacy Stevens, contacted my office about the situation. At that time I began to look into the laws concerning hit and run and leaving the scene of an accident and what might be done to strengthen the existing laws. After many weeks of visiting with prosecutors, lawyers, judges, and law enforcement personnel, I filed House Bill 2551, a measure that would give prosecutors and judges a stronger tool with which to work. Currently, leaving the scene of an accident is punishable as a Class E felony that carries a fine of $5,000 and up to four years in prison. If HB 2551 becomes law, it would make such an offense a Class D felony in 2016 and would change it to a Class C felony on January 1, 2017, when Missouri’s new criminal code takes effect.
The main news coming out of Jefferson City this past week is the completion of the FY17 state operating budget. After long hours of discussion in the House and Senate conference committee, compromises were made by both sides to come up with a final agreement on the $27.26 billion spending plan.
The budgeting process began in the Missouri House, and the House based its original budget on a more conservative revenue estimate than was used by the Governor and the Senate. The House’s version contained a surplus revenue fund designed to capture any additional revenue that would come in above the projected estimate. The compromised version of the budget does away with the surplus revenue fund and, instead, is based on a slightly higher revenue estimate than was originally used by the House. Thus, the end result is a fiscally responsible spending plan based on a realistic revenue projection that makes the wisest use of taxpayer’s dollars. After the final approval by the House and the Senate, the budget is now on its way to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.
It seems that time really does fly. There are just four weeks remaining in this year’s legislative session, and House members are working to move forward multiple bills before session’s end.
Last week the Missouri House advanced legislation which seeks to prevent fetal tissue from being donated for medical or scientific use. House bills 2069 and 2371 specifically prohibit an individual from knowingly donating fetal organs or tissue to any person or entity for experimental, therapeutic, or any research purpose. These bills stem from the recommendations of two House interim committees that met to investigate allegations Planned Parenthood sold the tissue and organs from aborted fetuses.
Last year an anti-abortion group released a series of videos that appeared to show Planned Parenthood executives discussing how the organization disposes of fetal remains. Pro-life activists claim the video proved beyond a doubt that Planned Parenthood was selling the tissue for profit, which is illegal. However, Planned Parenthood claimed these allegations were not true and any costs associated with the tissue were only to recover related expenses.
For several years the Missouri General Assembly has been wrestling with the issue of how to adequately and consistently fund transportation. That topic was one being discussed this past week in the state Senate, and it will be coming to the House soon for debate there. In addition to transportation funding, another topic of interest was discussed—that of autism and how many of the families of those with this disorder are in need of assistance. Support for individuals with autism and funding for transportation costs are two areas of concern statewide.
Missouri’s highway system ranks 7th in the nation, with 33,702 miles of state highways. Our major roadways consist of approximately 5,500 miles, of which 1,500 miles are interstates that carry roughly 80% of our state’s traffic. Minor roadways consist of just over 27,000 miles and carry approximately 20% of our state’s traffic. There are also 10,405 bridges, with an average age of 46 years. Of these bridges, 2,200 are deficient and come with a projected replacement cost of $5 billion. Each year 100 new bridges are added to this list.
Select Committee on Agriculture - Chairman
Appropriations - Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources