Last week, I reported Governor Parson had vetoed four policy bills, and I detailed one of them, SB226 which related to taxes. This week, I’ll cover another one of his vetoes, HB661 which was about transportation.
HB661 began with the purpose to disqualify anyone from driving a commercial motor vehicle for life if they are convicted of using a commercial motor vehicle in human trafficking, hopefully to reduce the amount of prostitution rings and illegal immigration. But by the time it had worked its way through the House and Senate processes, HB661 had grown to modify 25 different transportation related topics. These topics included tow trucks, electric bicycles, school buses, farm vehicle registrations, logging trucks, delivery robots, catalytic converter theft, and smog checks.
According to the governor’s veto letter (found here: www.tinyurl.com/fee6zpn6), one of the topics he objected to was to the smog check language, which would have eliminated vehicle emissions inspections, because it might jeopardize federal funding. The federal government requires vehicles in certain cities be inspected for emissions to try to reduce urban smog. The only area in Missouri required to comply are the four counties of the St. Louis area. Many citizens there feel like their air quality is fine and the federal requirements are government overreach. But the feds give the St. Louis area money for transportation if the area complies, and Governor Parson was concerned the feds might pull that money if he signed the bill that would eliminate the inspections. This leads to a broader discussion of how addicted state and local governments can get to federal hand-outs, and whether those governments should sell out their values for money. But that’s a topic for a later report.
The legislature will meet in September to decide if we want to override any of the governor’s vetoes and enact any of those bills into law despite his objection. Many of the non-controversial provisions in HB661 were also included in other bills that the governor did sign, so I doubt we try to override this veto.
Until next time, health, happiness and prosperity to you and your family.
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PICTURES FROM THE DISTRICT
I recently got to spend a little quality time with my granddaughter
OTHER NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
Governor Parson Unveils Incentive Program to Encourage Missourians to Get Vaccinated
Missourians who have been vaccinated, or choose to receive the vaccine, will be eligible for cash prizes in the amount of $10,000. The incentives are part of the new MO VIP program unveiled by Gov. Mike Parson this week to encourage vaccination among Missourians age 12 and up.
While nationally more than 49 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, in Missouri just over 40 percent of the residents have received the vaccine. Missouri had one of the lowest COVID-19 case rates in the country for months, but the Delta variant of the virus has created additional concerns because of its high level of transmissibility. Parson said the best way to be protected from COVID-19 in any of its forms is to receive the vaccination. Parson said, “This new program will complement our existing efforts to educate Missourians about the importance of getting the vaccine.”
MO VIP incentivizes vaccination for those who have not yet been vaccinated as well as provides an opportunity for rewards for the 2.8 million Missourians who have already made the decision to be protected through vaccination.
Missourians who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are now able to enter to win one of the 900 prizes. The first drawing will be on August 13. Drawings will occur every two weeks with the final drawing scheduled for October 8. Once Missouri residents receive a dose, they become eligible to enter the sweepstakes at MOStopsCovid.com/win. Once Missourians enter, their entry will be carried over through all the drawings. There is no need to enter more than once. The entry list will be reviewed, and duplicate entries will be removed prior to each drawing.
A winner must meet all of the following eligibility requirements:
Entries will be divided into three categories:
Eighty winners will be randomly selected during each drawing from the Red and White categories (10 from each congressional district). These individuals will each receive a cash prize of $10,000. During each drawing, 20 adolescents from the Blue category will be randomly selected to receive a $10,000 education savings account through the Missouri State Treasurer’s MOST 529 program.
Those without the ability to enter the sweepstakes online can get assistance by calling the COVID-19 hotline Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. at 877-435-8411.
Parson also announced that local public health agencies that administer COVID-19 vaccines will now be eligible to provide a financial incentive of up to $25 for each vaccine recipient, up to a total of $11 million. This program will provide incentives for administrators to pass along to recipients for 440,000 vaccines administered across Missouri and will sunset on December 31, 2021. Local public health agencies are able to partner with enrolled COVID-19 vaccinators within the State of Missouri to be part of this program. Vaccinators should apply by August 15 and can learn more about this opportunity at MOStopsCovid.com/vaccinators.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines and to find a vaccine near you, please visit MOStopsCovid.com.
Donald Kauerauf Selected to Lead Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
On the same day Gov. Parson unveiled the state’s new vaccine incentive program, the governor also announced the new director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). Donald Kauerauf, who previously served as the assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, will lead Missouri’s public health efforts beginning September 1.
Parson said, “Don is no stranger to state government and has more than 30 years of experience in public health and emergency management with the state of Illinois. It is obvious that he has a firm grasp on public health issues and the COVID-19 crisis, and we are confident in his ability to lead DHSS.”
Parson noted that Kauerauf has more than 30 years of experience in state government and has served in various senior leadership positions in public health and emergency management. During his time with the Illinois Department of Public Health, he developed a statewide structure to improve communication between the Department and local public health agencies and directed the development and implementation of the nation’s first statewide pandemic influenza exercise, among other accomplishments.
“I’m looking forward to working with public health agencies, healthcare providers, and communities to build upon the great work that has been initiated in Missouri to address the current COVID-19 situation. At the same time, I’ll work to make available critical preventative programs and services to increase the health and safety of all Missourians,” said Kauerauf.
State Offers New Funding to Combat Crimes Against Children
The state of Missouri is enhancing its efforts to combat crimes against children and to support agencies that provide services to crime victims.
Gov. Parson recently announced that $2 million in grant opportunities will be made available to assist local law enforcement and prosecutors to combat crimes against children, which rose in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. An additional $2 million in grant opportunities will be available to support crime victim service agencies, which have reported increases in service referrals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parson said, “The last two years have created hardships and strained resources across the nation, but the reported rise in crimes affecting children and the difficulties experienced by agencies that provide vital services to crime victims is most concerning.”
He added, “These new grant programs will allow us to better investigate and prosecute criminals who victimize children and support domestic violence service agencies and child advocacy centers who serve our most vulnerable citizens and help bring criminals to justice.”
The two competitive grants will utilize funds previously allocated to Missouri from the federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program (CESF). The grants will be administered by the Missouri Department of Public Safety.
The funding opportunity for the Crimes Against Children/Sex Crimes Grant is expected to open August 1, 2021. Projects may include hiring additional staff to investigate, prosecute, and detect crimes against children.
The funding opportunity for the Victims of Crime Grant is expected to open September 1, 2021. Projects may include providing resource assistance to domestic violence service agencies and child advocacy centers and aiding other entities serving victims from vulnerable populations adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.