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May God bless you - Representative Bill Reiboldt
This past week began with the news that Governor Nixon would be calling a taxpayer-funded Special Session of Missouri’s General Assembly. His purpose was to request critical funding for the Ferguson, Missouri crisis. However, after being provided with an explanation from the House and Senate appropriations committees to the effect that he already had the authority to pay the expenses for calling out the Missouri National Guard and the Missouri Highway Patrol, the governor agreed with their legislative analyst that a Special Session would not be necessary after all. Now that he realizes that he has the authority to make the funds available to these groups, the governor has again turned to silence in regard to our questions concerning Ferguson.
Consequently, the leadership of the Missouri House and Senate are in the process of activating the existing Joint Committee on Governmental Accountability to thoroughly examine the governor’s decisions leading up to and those taking place during the Ferguson situation. The committee will be taking testimony from many concerned citizens and will be granted subpoena power as needed to conduct the investigation. It is not a head hunting expedition targeting the governor. It is about finding answers. The people of our state deserve to know what went on and why rioting, looting, and burning of Missouri businesses was permitted to take place when the National Guard was supposed to be there. Another pressing question being asked is why there were no phone calls answered by the governor or his staff during this critical time.
Since the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri began back in August and resurfaced again last week following the release of the Grand Jury decision in the Michael Brown case, I have had very little to say and nothing to write about the situation. As members of Missouri’s General Assembly, we legislators have had no communication of any kind from the governor’s office, nor has the House or the Senate leadership. Now, Governor Nixon is ready to talk and needs the General Assembly, as he is requesting taxpayer monies.
On Saturday, November 29, we received our first correspondence from Governor Jay Nixon, when he requested a Special Session of the General Assembly. His purpose for this action is to provide “critical funding” for the ongoing operation of the Missouri National Guard and the Missouri State Highway Patrol in Ferguson and throughout the St. Louis region.
Governor Nixon declared a state of emergency on November 17, 2014, and activated the Missouri National Guard. The Guard’s job was to support local law enforcement in the Ferguson-St. Louis region in advance of the announced decision by the Grand Jury. The National Guard provided security to police stations, firehouses, utility substations, hospitals, shopping malls, and stadiums, in addition to providing patrols in the Ferguson area. Based on current estimates, the cost for these services has already exceeded $4 million for the National Guard and the $3.4 million authorization for other state agencies and the Highway Patrol. The fiscal 2015 state budget, which was approved by the General Assembly, included $4 million for National Guard emergency response costs and $3.4 million for the State Emergency Management Agency, including the Highway Patrol. These figures have already been exceeded and more money is needed.
I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and blessed Thanksgiving holiday. If I had to choose just one holiday to celebrate, I believe it would be Thanksgiving. The idea of observing a day of praising and giving thanks for the abundance that we have so richly received from God is very important to me. In today’s society, far too often we fail to take the time to give and to show the proper gratitude to the Giver and Creator of all things. However, throughout the ages, man has in some way sought to stop and acknowledge the Great Provider for all we possess in this life.
Certainly an attitude of giving thanks is deeply rooted in our nation. From the Pilgrims to the colonists, during America’s Revolutionary War and the forming of a new government with its constitution, requests for guidance and direction were frequently made by not only this country’s new inhabitants, but also by those who were helping to guide the forming process. Of those who stopped to give their heartfelt thanks and to express their deepest gratitude to the Creator for what had been so abundantly given, was our first president, George Washington.