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May God bless you - Representative Bill Reiboldt
Taxation without representation was the overwhelming concern of the Thirteen Colonies in June of 1776. In England, King George III and the British Parliament were forcing higher taxes on the residents of the colonies, and as frustration and discontent continued to grow, Great Britain sent troops to put down any movement toward a rebellion. The early American colonies desired to live in peace and reached out to Britain, making numerous attempts to solve taxation problems without causing a major military conflict.
The Second Continental Congress, the governing body of the Thirteen Colonies, assembled in Philadelphia on June 11, 1776, for the purpose of drafting a document that would formally sever all ties with Great Britain. They appointed a committee of five prominent colonial leaders to write it: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. Jefferson, an eloquent writer, was chosen to author the document. On July 2, the Continental Congress voted to legally separate themselves from England, and on July 4, after hours of debating the formal document and having previously made some eighty-six changes, the final version was adopted and signed. With the Declaration of Independence, all ties with Great Britain were broken and a new nation, the United States of America, was established. Today, the Declaration of Independence is still one of our nation’s most cherished documents and stands as a symbol of freedom and liberty.
Last week I was privileged to be a part of a two-day conference where we discussed ways to revitalize the dairy industry in Missouri that, for a number of years now, has been declining. This past session, the General Assembly passed, and the governor signed into law, a bill that I sponsored to help this struggling business. House Bill 259, the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2015, is designed to provide stability for dairy farmers and to provide incentives for students and other young people to enter the dairy industry after graduation from college or university. HB 259 has three parts: dairy producers marginal insurance program, Missouri Dairy Scholars Program, and the commercial agriculture program.
Dairy producers marginal insurance premium assistance is to help provide stability against major market downturns for those dairy producers who are participating in the federal marginal protection program under the U.S. farm bill of 2014. Under Missouri’s program, producers are eligible to purchase additional insurance protection. Basically, this program works like crop insurance, helping the insured to protect against significant price drops in the market, thus allowing the producers more consistency in pricing.
For well over a year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been proposing changes in the Clean Water Act, changes that could greatly impact not only farmers but also local and state government and property owners. Ongoing discussions, an extended public comment period, and uncertainties with the EPA’s proposal brought the administrator of the EPA to Missouri in an effort to insure farmers and industries that the new rules would not disrupt their operations. When the administrator came to Missouri this spring, she argued that the expansion of the Clean Water Act (CWA) was only further clarification of the types of water that the current Act applied to. Yet opponents had concerns that these proposed regulations would have wide-reaching effects and would dramatically increase the number of waters subject to EPA control under the Clean Water jurisdiction. Top level EPA officials labeled many of the concerns brought before them as “ludicrous”; however, with the releasing of the new rules, those concerns are now being confirmed.
Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both farmers who grew various crops, including hemp. It is said that Jefferson, our third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, penned that document on paper made of hemp, possibly produced at a paper mill owned by Benjamin Franklin. It is also said that in the early American colonies, farmers were required to produce hemp, as it had numerous uses and was actually traded as legal tender. In England, two of the main uses of hemp were for canvas ship sails and ropes.
In the just completed legislative session, Missouri’s General Assembly heard two bills relating to industrial hemp. They were House Bill 830 and Senate Bill 255. In recent years, legislators in several states have moved to promote the re-introduction of industrial hemp production and cultivation across our nation. Twenty-two states have enacted statutes concerning the growing and use of industrial hemp. Generally, the statutes have taken the approach of establishing commercial industrial hemp programs by utilizing research and conducting studies. Typically these studies are done at various universities or state departments of agriculture. Most of the statutes that established industrial hemp programs will require a change in the federal law or waivers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) before any long range state programs can be implemented. States that enacted hemp laws have specified that any provision in their statutes do not become operational unless authorized by federal law. However, there is a provision in the 2014 federal farm bill that opened the door for state departments of agriculture to begin research and limited cultivation of industrial hemp, a product that offers numerous potential uses, unlike many other crops.
Sometimes it is interesting to revisit issues that have become law in order to get an update as to how they are progressing in our state. Such is the case with the 2014 House Bill 2238, the CBD Hemp Oil legislation. This legislation passed the General Assembly with tremendous bi-partisan support. The Missouri House approved the bill with 90% voting in favor of it, while the Missouri Senate passed it unanimously. Then on July 14, 2014, Governor Nixon signed the legislation into law.
CBD (cannabidoil) oil is a non-psychoactive compound; it doesn’t give people a high. Extracted from the industrial hemp plant, CBD oil has been proven to minimize seizures, especially in children who have pediatric epilepsy, as well as in adult individuals with intractable epilepsy. The CBD hemp law requires patients or the parents of children who have intractable epilepsy to register with the Missouri Department of Health. They must also have a neurologist verify that the patient with this type of epilepsy hasn’t responded to at least three different medications or treatments.
As session closed, Missouri’s General Assembly passed Senate Bill 174 (SB 174). This is an important piece of legislation designed to assist families who have a child with a disability. Missouri’s Achieving Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act will help enable families to cover their disabled children’s future needs—education, housing, transportation, and other related expenses—with a tax-free savings account. The ABLE program is modeled after the 529 College Savings Plan, allowing families to invest in tax free savings for disability-related expenses. Under previous law, persons with disabilities who had more than $2,000 in a savings account would not qualify and would be at risk of losing their Supplemental Securities Income (SSI), Medicaid, or other benefits. The federal ABLE act, passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law in December 2014, amended the federal law that capped savings at $2,000 for individuals with disabilities.
Select Committee on Agriculture - Chairman
Appropriations - Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources