Rep. Allen Andrews’ farewell to the House

May 13 was the last day of the last regular session as a member of the House for Representative Allen Andrews (R-Grant City). He offered this farewell before the final gavel.

“We are given temporary platforms of influence … while on this platform, while eyes are watching your every move and ears are listening to your every word, I encourage you, I beg of you to examine your ways and look hard at your example.”

Hundreds of Vietnam veterans and families honored in Missouri Capitol ceremony

Today hundreds of Vietnam veterans and their families gathered in the Missouri State Capitol, where they were honored by members of the House as well as Governor Mike Parson and Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe.

Hundreds of Vietnam veterans gathered in the Missouri Capitol for a ceremony to honor them during the ongoing 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War. (photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The ceremony was part of the continuing commemoration of the 50th anniversary of that conflict.

“It is our hope that today and each day forward that you will always know that your state legislature, along with those serving in the executive and the judicial branch and the people of our great State of Missouri have not forgotten you, our Vietnam veterans, and we will never forget your service.  To you we are forever grateful,” Grant City Representative Allen Andrews (R) told the veterans and family members who filled the rotunda.

Click here to view a montage of photos taken during the ceremony

Andrews spearheaded the ceremony, which continues an annual tradition started by former state representative Pat Conway (D-St. Joseph) who left the legislature due to term limits.

Vietnam War veterans and their families gathered in the Missouri State Capitol rotunda for a ceremony honoring them during the ongoing commemoration of the 50th anniversary of that conflict. (photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“Unfortunately [for] many of you here today this will be the first time that you have been honored.  This potentially may be the first time that you have been offered a sincere, ‘Thank you,’ for your service to our state and to our nation,” said Andrews.

Governor Parson, who served 6 years in the Army, said it wasn’t until he wore the uniform that he understood the importance of the U.S. flag and the Pledge of Allegiance.

“When I did figure out what it all meant, it wasn’t about me wearing the uniform.  It wasn’t necessarily about you wearing the uniform.  It was about all the people that wore the uniform before me and you.  It was about the sacrifices they made for our county,” said Parson.  “The only reason that we’re all here today, the only reason all of us have lived the American dream … is because of the sacrifices people made before you – the sacrifices to this country, to this service.  They stood on solid ground for me and you.”

Parson said he also wanted to thank another group, “that normally don’t get to be recognized and sometimes we take them for granted.”

Missouri House members wait during a ceremony to honor Vietnam War veterans to present those veterans with pins commemorating their service and the 50th anniversary of that conflict. (photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“Today I also want to say, ‘thank you,’ to the mothers, fathers, wives, children, relatives, and friends that so many times worried and prayed for us while we were overseas, while we were gone from home.  They truly deserve distinction themselves for their service to the country by helping us when we served,” said Parson.

All the veterans who attended were pinned with a lapel pin proclaiming the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.  The pins were meant to recognize, thank, and honor those who served in that conflict.  The pins were presented by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and several House members.

“Allow me to offer you our most sincere gratitude for the selfless service that you have provided to our country.  This is a nation that is rich in tradition of heroism, of bravery, that is exhibited by outstanding individuals like you – Americans who put love of country before love of self,” said Andrews.

House votes to allow production, interstate imports of industrial hemp

The Missouri House has again endorsed getting the state into the industrial hemp industry.

Representative Paul Curtman (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The House voted 141-4 on Thursday in favor of House Bill 2034, which would exempt hemp from state law governing controlled substances and create a pilot program for hemp production.

“Missouri used to be one of the leaders in the growth and the cultivation of industrial hemp.  This is a huge cash crop.  This is not something that people use for narcotic purposes.  This is simply something that people use for manufacturing purposes,” said bill sponsor Paul Curtman (R-Pacific)“This is a substantial step in the direction of economic freedom and also property rights as it relates to what our farmers can and can’t grow or what they choose to grow.”

HB 2034 would also allow Missouri manufacturers to import hemp from other states where it can be grown.  Currently they must get it from other nations because of laws that prohibit transport across state lines.

The bill would allow the cultivation of hemp with less than .3-percent THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis.

That earned the bill support from legislators with a law enforcement background, including Galen Higdon (R-St. Joseph), who is a retired Buchanon County deputy sheriff.  He said it has no value as an illegal drug.

“In our rural areas a lot of what we call ‘ditch weed’ just grows wild, and people from out of state that don’t know this go and harvest that and bag it and sell it and end up getting themselves in trouble with the people they’ve sold it to,” said Higdon.

Representative Allen Andrews (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Higdon said he’s learned that at one time seven different farms grew hemp in his county.

“There was a rope manufacturer, there was a burlap bag manufacturer; and those plants were grown and cut until the federal government banned marijuana throughout the United States,” said Higdon.

During debate several lawmakers raised the question of whether Curtman’s legislation should be tied to legalization of marijuana.  Others, including St. Louis Democrat Deb Lavender, said the topics should be kept separate.

“It is a different plant and I would love to see [hemp] in.  I’m not opposed to [marijuana] either, and I think there’s tremendous financial aspects that the state could benefit from, but for this purpose I think we need to get this up and going for the good of our state, for the good of our farmers,” said Lavender.

Grant City Republican Allen Andrews was one of the four “no” votes on HB 2034.  He said the state Highway Patrol opposes it and said other law enforcement consider hemp as a first step toward legalization of marijuana.

“Our own state Highway Patrol told me two days ago in a meeting that the legalization of industrial hemp will be difficult to police and even more difficult to control, requiring more manpower than is currently available, and will prove to be a detriment from the other patrol safety concerns that they have,” said Andrews.

Curtman said the Patrol is neutral on his legislation.

Farm groups have said that adding industrial hemp to a crop rotation can lead to an increase in yields.  Hemp also grows well in poor soil, including land not suitable for more typical crops such as corn or soybeans.

The bill goes to the Senate where in past years similar legislation has been passed out of a committee but has not been passed by the full chamber.