Thursday, July 26, 2007

Transportation Panel to Meet

JEFFERSON CITY — The Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight will meet Tuesday, July 31 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City. The meeting will feature presentations by MoDOT Director Pete Rahn and Assistant Secretary of Transportation Tyler Duvall.
The meeting is being billed as the 2007 Transportation Funding Summit, and attendees will review what other states are doing regarding transportation infrastructure funding.
The committee is required by statute to meet at least twice a year, and the agenda must include but may not be limited to the following:
(1) Presentation of a prioritized plan for all modes of transportation;
(2) Discussion of department efficiencies and expenditure of cost- savings within the department;
(3) Presentation of a status report on department of transportation revenues and expenditures, including a detailed summary of projects funded by new state revenue as provided in paragraph (a) of subdivision (1) of subsection 3 of this section;
(4) Review of any report from the joint committee inspector general; and
(5) Implementation of any actions as may be deemed necessary by the committee as authorized by law.
Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, is co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight. Stouffer also serves as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. Other senators serving on the Joint Committee include Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville, John Griesheimer, R-Washington, Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring, Joan Bray, D-St. Louis, and Rita Days, D-St. Louis.
The Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight will meet Tuesday, July 31st at 10 a.m.
For more information about this event or legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, dial (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Senate Interim Committee to Review Funding for County Sheriff Offices

JEFFERSON CITY — Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, has created an interim committee to study current funding levels for county sheriff offices across Missouri. The five-member Senate Interim Committee on Funding for County Sheriff Offices will:
Ø Review current court costs, fees and other funding mechanisms relating to the operation of law enforcement or civil justice-related activities of county Sheriff departments;
Ø Study the current compensation formulas for deputy sheriffs in Missouri counties;
Ø Compare compensation of deputy sheriffs across different county classifications in Missouri and neighboring states.
Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington, has been named chairman of the interim committee.
“Our county sheriffs and their deputies play a crucial role in law enforcement in this state, particularly in rural areas of Missouri,” Sen. Griesheimer said. “We will help make sure they are fairly compensated for the job they do to make sure they continue to have the people and equipment to keep everyone safe.”
Other members of the interim committee include Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter; Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau; Sen. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence; and Sen. Ryan McKenna, D-Crystal City. The bi-partisan panel will issue a report of their findings for any legislative action to the General Assembly no later than January 1st, 2008.
For more information about this and other legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, dial (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.

Flurry of Senate Bill Signings

JEFFERSON CITY — More than a third of all the senate bills approved by the legislature this year were signed by the governor on the next to last day that he could affix his signature to a bill. Under the state constitution, the governor has 45 days from the official last day of the 94th General Assembly’s First Regular Session to either sign a bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. The last 21 of the 57 senate bills that received the governor’s approval did so on July 13th. Some of the highlights included reforms to the state’s mental health system, unemployment compensation for veterans, and making more severe the punishment for dealing drugs in and around state parks.
Senate Bill 3 reforms Missouri’s mental health system and was a priority for sponsor Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons (R-Kirkwood). The new law is aimed at better protecting the safety and quality of life of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens served by both private and state-run care centers. The comprehensive measure requires reviews of all suspicious deaths, published reports of abuse and neglect, and creates the crime of vulnerable person abuse. The measure also stiffens the penalties for community providers who don’t correct problems cited in their facilities by upping the daily fine from $100 to $10,000.
Sen. Victor Callahan’s (D-Independence) SB 433 also received the governor’s signature. Last year, the legislature approved and the governor signed protections that ensure War on Terror veterans have their jobs and full benefits waiting for them after they return from service. Senate Bill 433 strengthens that law, increasing penalties for employers who fail to comply with the law from $25,000 to $35,000. It is seen as a deterrent to any employer who would consider violating those job protections for veterans.
Senate Bill 198, sponsored by Sen. Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) became law after the governor signed it. The new law makes it a crime to distribute controlled substances near a park. Drug pushers who try to deal heroin, cocaine, LSD, amphetamines, or methamphetamines within a thousand feet of a park would be charged with a Class A felony. The measure is seen as a way help clean up areas intended to cater to families looking to get away from it all.

All three of these measures take effect on August 28th, 2007.
For more information about this and other legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, dial (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bill Creating Protections for Crime Victims Signed into Law

JEFFERSON CITY — Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Michael Gibbons, Gov. Matt Blunt, and other state legislators traveled to Columbia Thursday (July 12) for the signing of House Bill 583. The bill, which Sen. Gibbons made a priority in the Senate over the past session, protects the rights of victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child exploitation.
Experts estimate that only 1 out of 10 sexual assaults are reported and only half of domestic abuse cases are reported. House Bill 583 has been hailed as a way to encourage victims of violent crimes to report the incidents through increased confidentiality and protections.
The bill includes provisions requiring the Department of Health and Senior Services to pay for examinations for victims of sexual offenses and the State Highway Patrol to distribute free evidence collection kits to medical providers. Rape crisis centers must maintain the confidentiality of their victims and cannot release information relating to the identity of the victims. Law enforcement agencies will not be able to subject victims of sexual assault to polygraph tests.
Domestic assault victims will see greater punishments for offenders under the new law. Those convicted of domestic assault with prior offenses will be charged with a Class A felony. Previously, the offense was a Class B felony. In addition, the legislation establishes the “Address Confidentiality Program,” under which victims’ addresses are made secret. The Missouri Secretary of State’s office coordinates the program and forwards mail to the proper address for victims who fear releasing their address.
Child pornography victims will be able to sue for mental or physical injury. Victims will have the opportunity to bring their abusers to civil court by the age of 31 or within three years after the injury is discovered, whichever is later.
The bill will go into effect on August 28, 2007.
For more information about this and other legislation in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov. To contact Senate Communications, dial (573) 751-3824 or send an email to newsroom@senate.mo.gov.