At the Capitol, we’ve been getting a lot of visitors this year, and meeting with guests is one of my favorite parts of the job.  I’ve been talking with folks from back home who are advocating for their occupations and other interests, including: farming; banking; and health care (both short and long-term care); and, K-12 and college school matters.  I really enjoy visiting with everybody from our area and getting their advice on important issues that impact them personally.  
The only downside for visitors is the parking which is bad in downtown Jefferson City.  When you come up, you might have a longer walk and longer wait at local dining areas.  The Capitol planning folks are finalizing long-term plans for additional parking in the area, but it will be a several year project and expensive.  I’ll be supporting the project to insure better access to our Capitol, especially for those with disabilities.
We also have a lot of school groups visiting from our local schools, and we host as many as we can (if you call ahead) for lunch (pizza with Girl Scout cookies for dessert).  I get gold stars from my granddaughters each year because I buy so many boxes of cookies for our visiting students at the Capitol.  
I also recently hosted a group of foreign exchange students from across the state.  Local school representative, Joanna Patillo, helped lead that trip and also brought Diana Swyter from Germany and Allessandra Cone from Italy.  They are remarkable student leaders, and are both being hosted by Steven and Pamela McCann from West Plains.  
Highlighting another great student that visited, Miles McWilliams traveled up with program leader Joan Dietrich from West Plains. Miles is a statewide student leader of the JAG program (Jobs for American Graduates).  He’s a very good student with a great voice as well.  With other statewide JAG leaders, he was invited to a breakfast at the Governor’s Mansion where he sang the national anthem.  He also recently sang at the JAG national meeting.   Governor and First Lady Parson are both strong supporters and state volunteers for JAG.    
Moving to legislation, both the state budget and various bills are moving through the House.  We should have another balanced budget passed out of the House on the way to the Missouri Senate within the next couple of weeks.  I’ve been lucky to be assigned to the House budget committee for several years.  It’s our only specifically required constitutional duty, and arguably, our biggest responsibility each year.
My HB 662 (eliminating state income tax on Social Security benefits) is now out of committee as part of a bigger tax relief bill, HB 816/660.  HB 816/660 is the House priority tax cut bill this session.  It’s likely to pass out of the House, but I’m not yet sure what will happen to the bill in the Missouri Senate.  Missouri is only 1 of 11 remaining states in the country that still tax Social Security benefits as state income, and with our big state surplus, we need to be providing taxpayers more across the board tax relief (especially for seniors and the disabled, which is what HB 662 is designed to do).
One of the best parts of being House Judiciary Chair is putting together bills that strongly support law enforcement and public safety.  This past week we passed out of committee HB 1108/1181.  Among other things, this bill (if passed into law) will create a new crime of illegal drug sales which cause serious phyical injury or death.  Fentanyl and other drugs often causes serious harm or death to the user, but legally, it still can be difficult to prove intentional murder by the drug dealer.  
This bill will give prosecutors and law enforcement another option in the war against illegal drugs and is strongly supported by law enforcement groups.  It’s very similar to a bill recently passed in Kansas.  My goal is to get this bill passed out of the House within the next few weeks.  I’ll keep you advised.  
Again, thank you for the ongoing honor of serving as your representative and speaking for your common sense values.  If you would like to schedule a specific time to meet locally or at the Capitol, please call Becky at my office at 573-751-1455, or email my office at   
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Howell County News

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