Representative Randy Pietzman (R-Troy) bid farewell to the Missouri House and his colleagues on Thursday, as his time in the chamber ends due to term limits. He thanked many current and former members and his legislative assistant, and threw in a special recognition for a longtime and beloved House Chamber doorman, Charlie Hildebrand.
“I wish as a state we could get an agency put together that cares as much about children and the sex crimes against children as Missouri Conservation cares about feral hogs.”
Representative Wes Rogers (D-Kansas City) spoke to his colleagues on Friday as he prepares to leave the House after serving two sessions.
“The amount of respect I have for so many people in this body, how much I truly just enjoy your friendship and your kindness and your perspective, even when it’s a different perspective than mine, I’m really going to miss that.”
Representative Ron Hicks (R-Defiance) said goodbye to his colleagues on Friday as his term in the House is drawing to a close, due to term limits. He spent the vast majority of that time offering his thanks to his colleagues and House staff and to specific individuals therein, and to his family.
Representative Tracy McCreery (D-St. Louis) was first elected to the House in 2011, meaning she is informally and affectionately known as a “super senior” in the House. She spoke to her colleagues on Friday about her time and accomplishments in the House, as she leaves the chamber due to term limits.
House Speaker Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) bid farewell to the House and his colleagues on Friday. Vescovo is leaving the chamber after 8 years due to term limits. He talked about his time and accomplishments in the chamber.
Vescovo, who went from dropping out of high school to “giving the last speech of the day” on the final day of the session, said he has lived the American dream and that for him, that dream has been about second chances.
“If we got one kid out of foster care and got them into a loving home it was worth it. If we got one kid adopted it was worth it. If we got one kid away from being abused and a terrible setting it was worth it. It was worth it without a doubt.”
Missouri schools and teachers would receive a number of boosts in the state spending plan approved last week by the legislature; a state budget that is one of the largest ever. The final total proposed to go to K-12 schools exceeds $10-billion.
Black, who was an agriculture teacher throughout his career, was excited by proposed increases to match programs to benefit career technical schools. Local districts could upgrade equipment or facilities if they come up with 25-percent or 50-percent of the cost.
Burnett said she was glad to see this level of support proposed for Missouri K-12 education. She said past years, when less money was appropriated, were like when she was teaching and would be confronted by an angry parent.
Black and other lawmakers stressed that much of the funding in the spending plan comes from non-recurring sources, like federal stimulus and COVID response. Part of the challenge in appropriating that money is in finding targets that will give schools the best chance of long-term benefit, rather than supporting programs that might go unfunded in future years when those funding sources aren’t available.
The Fiscal Year 2023 budget would also provide grants or reimbursements of up to $1,500 to parents and guardians to cover tutoring and other services meant to catch up K-12s students who fell behind due to the COVID pandemic, and would provide pay increases to providers of the Parents as Teachers and First Steps programs.
That spending plan is now before Governor Mike Parson (R). If he approves it, it would take effect July 1.
The Missouri House has taken time in the waning days of the session to pass a bipartisan effort to address suicide awareness and prevention.
It sent to the Senate House Bill 2136, the “Jason Flatt/Avery Reine Cantor Act,” which would require public schools, charter schools, and public higher education institutions that print pupil identification cards to print on those cards the new three-digit number for the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, 988.
The bill also contains provisions meant to equip and encourage pharmacists to identify possible signs of suicide and respond to them. This includes the “Tricia Leanne Tharp Act,” sponsored by Representative Adam Schwadron (R-St. Charles).
Similar language will allow teachers and principals to count two hours in suicide-related training toward their continuing education.
The bill advanced to the Senate 142-0 after several members spoke about their own experiences regarding suicide.
Festus Republican Cyndi Buchheit-Courtway told her colleagues that every seven hours someone commits suicide in Missouri. It’s the tenth leading cause of death in the state and the second leading cause among those aged 10 to 34.