Representatives urge on Yom HaShoah remembrance, education about the Holocaust

Two state representatives have asked Missourians to remember the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah, the day Israel commemorates the six million Jews killed in that event.

Representatives Shamed Dogan (left) and Stacey Newman speak in the Missouri House about Holocaust remembrance.  (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communication)
Representatives Shamed Dogan (left) and Stacey Newman speak in the Missouri House about Holocaust remembrance. (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communication)

St. Louis Democrat Stacey Newman and Ballwin Republican Shamed Dogan spoke on the House Floor on Monday, as Yom HaShoah was being observed.  In Israel, the day is marked by ceremonies, the closing by law of entertainment facilities, and a two-minute moment of silence during which most people stop what they’re doing for solemn reflection.  This includes motorists stopping and standing by their vehicles in the roadway.

“The overwhelming theme that runs through all of these observances worldwide, with reformed, conservative, orthodox Jews, lay leaders of all faiths, is the importance of remembering,” said Newman.  “Recalling the victims of the catastrophe and ensuring that this tragedy never happens again.”

Newman’s husband’s father, aunts, uncle, and grandmother are Holocaust survivors who escaped Nazi Germany in 1938.  Many of his grandmother’s sisters, brothers-in-law, and other family members, were never accounted for.

She and Dogan, whose wife is Jewish, say they will spend the next year working together to revive the Missouri Holocaust Education and Awareness Commission Act of 2006.

Dogan said the commission was created to, “Educate the public of the crimes of genocide in an effort to deter indifference to crimes against humanity, and human suffering wherever they occur.”

Missouri House members observe a minute of silence in remembrance of the victims, survivors, and heroes of the Holocaust.  (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Missouri House members observe a minute of silence in remembrance of the victims, survivors, and heroes of the Holocaust. (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Dogan said he and Newman would work with the St. Louis Holocaust Museum & Learning Center and the state’s universities and public schools to keep the Act alive.

“We’ve seen enough antisemitism in our own state, and unfortunately nationwide we’ve seen the continued existence of Holocaust denial, which is a lie, and all of those things make this – the education of the Holocaust – even more urgent,” said Dogan.

At the request of Newman and Dogan, the House observed a minute of silence on Monday to remember the victims, survivors, and heroes of the Holocaust.

House pushes for closure for families of missing Missourians from Vietnam War

The Missouri House has voted to urge the federal government to determine what happened to 15 Missourians who fought in the Vietnam War.

Representative Tom Hurst (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Tom Hurst (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Of 35 Missourians unaccounted for in that war, 20 are classified as killed in action.  15 Missourians are presumed dead.

The sponsor of House Concurrent Resolution 35, Meta Republican Tom Hurst, said it’s time the families of those 15 soldiers know definitively what happened to them.

“When our nation has the opportunity to bring our fallen heroes home and to provide closure to the families who simply want to know what happened to their loved ones and to give them an honorable burial, it’s heartbreaking to see our nation fall short in its duties and to see these families forced to live for decades with the pain of loss and uncertainty,” said Hurst.

HCR 35 would ask the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to prioritize resolution of the cases of those 15 men.

“This is a country that should honor and revere its heroes.  This should not be a nation that forgets those that have given their lives in services, and we should not be a people who abandon those who have fought and died for our freedoms,” said Hurst.

Hurst shared on the House floor the story of Private First Class Paul Alfred Hasenbeck of Freeburg, who disappeared while returning from a patrol in Vietnam.  His sister, Jeanie, is still looking for information on what happened to him.

“Throughout her efforts she has been frustrated by conflicting and confusing information.  Officials from the Pentagon have disputed information provided by U.S. intelligence services regarding the whereabouts of her brother.  The C.I.A. told her that they have no files on her brother after she had already obtained several C.I.A. documents from other sources,” said Hurst.  “Then she later found out that a museum in North Vietnam’s Hanoi once held 13 pieces of Paul Hasenbeck’s personal identification including his wallet, his social security card, his dog tags … The North Vietnamese government claimed to have no information detailing Paul’s fate.  Clearly someone knows something.”

Hurst said Jeanie Hasenbeck told him, “When Paul went to Vietnam, I know he expected to be wounded.  I know he expected to be killed, but he never expected to be abandoned.”

St. Joseph Democrat Pat Conway is a Vietnam Veteran.  He said people who fought for this country should not be left behind, and their families should not be left with questions.

“If we owe a debt, we owe a debt to those people who served, but we carry on that debt to those families who supported those servicemen,” said Conway.  “Especially in this resolution, for those servicemen and those families who have not had the answer to the questions that they’ve had for over four decades.”

Besides Hasenbeck, the Resolution lists the other 14 Missourians who fought in Vietnam and are presumed dead:  First Lieutenant Steven Neil Bezold, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Donald Martin Cramer, First Lieutenant William R. Edmondson, Private First Class Dickey W. Finley, First Lieutenant Frederick William Hess Jr., Lieutenant Junior Grade Charles Weldon Marik, Major Carl D. Miller, First Lieutenant Bernard Herbert Plassmeyer, Lieutenant Colonel Dayton William Ragland, First Lieutenant Dwight G. Rickman, Captain Robert Page Rosenbach, Captain John W. Seuell, First Lieutenant George Craig Smith, and Sergeant Randolph Bothwell Suber.

The resolution has been sent to the Senate for its consideration.

House asks Senate to come to the table on proposed prescription drug monitoring program

The state House has asked the Senate to debate the changes it made to the House’s proposed prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP).

Representative Holly Rehder (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Holly Rehder (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

A PDMP aims to fight the abuse of prescription drugs by entering into a database information on people’s prescriptions to see who is getting large numbers of drugs that can be abused.  Backers say the program will help identify abusers and cut back on “doctor shopping,” or going to multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions for drugs.

The House passed House Bill 90 earlier this month that would require pharmacists to report to the database in real time by 2020, require the Department of Health and Senior Services to notify law enforcement if it believes any law or professional standard has been broken, and keep submitted prescription information confidential except when there has been a breach.

The Senate proposed several changes to the House plan.  It would require that information only be kept on the database for 180 days; limit the database to opioids and benzodiazepines (the House proposed including all schedule II, III, and IV drugs); and mandate that doctors check the database before writing prescriptions for specified drugs.

The sponsor of HB 90, Sikeston Republican Holly Rehder, has been pushing for passage of a PDMP for years, driven in part by how drug abuse has affected her family.  She opposes some of those proposed changes and wants to see if the House and Senate can work out differences.

She said those in the medical field she has talked to say the database won’t be effective if information is only kept on it for 180 days.  They want it to be on there for at least two years.

“Typically when you’re looking at addiction, your first two years you have more relapses,” Rehder explained.  “Once you get past that two-year mark you’re doing pretty good.”

Rehder said limiting a PDMP to opioids and benzodiazepines wouldn’t go far enough.

“Ritalin – Adderall is one of the highest drugs of misuse and abuse, so we need to be sure that we have all schedule II through IV (drugs) in my opinion,” said Rehder.

Rehder said she would not fight the change that requires doctors to check the database before writing a prescription.

Representative Justin Hill (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Justin Hill (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The Senate also proposed letting the legislature decide after six years whether to continue the PDMP, and requiring training for database users.

Lake St. Louis Republican Justin Hill opposes Rehder’s proposal and urged the body to deny her motion.  He said if Missouri is going to have a PDMP it should include the 180-day provision.

“I hope we keep the 180-days in because if we’re talking about addiction and pill shopping, then let’s try it.  Let’s see if it works with 180-days,” said Hill.

Hill would rather Missouri not have a PDMP.  He argues they haven’t worked in other states except to push more people from abusing prescription drugs to heroin.

“49 other states admit that this doesn’t work,” Hill told Rehder.

“No, no, tell me a state that admits it.  You can’t just throw things out like that on the House floor and not have anything to back you up,” Rehder responded.

The House passed Rehder’s motion to seek a conference with the Senate, and now awaits the Senate’s answer.  Fewer than four weeks remain in the legislative session for lawmakers to attempt to reach a compromise.

Veterans Committee chair: the path is clear on addressing veterans awaiting long-term care

State lawmakers now have information from the federal government that could make clear the path forward on creating more places for veterans on a waiting list to get into the state’s veterans homes.

Representative Charlie Davis (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Charlie Davis (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

That waiting list has around 1800 veterans on it; about one-third of those have an immediate need for care.  Legislators and state officials have in recent years considered building another state veterans home, replacing and/or expanding an existing home, or looking for options to get veterans into existing nursing homes closer to their own homes and families.

Missouri exceeds the number of veterans home beds it is allowed by the federal government before it will no longer reimburse the state for adding more.  This has largely halted efforts that included attempts to pass a bond issue in the legislature to pay for a new home, at a cost now estimated to be around $60-million.

Webb City Republican Charlie Davis, in an e-mail last week to House members and staff, said the state Veterans Commission recently met with the Veterans Association about Missouri’s options for adding bed space.  He said the VA confirmed it would not support the building of a new home.  It would cover part of the cost to replace a home.

Davis said if a home will be replaced, it will be the home at Mexico.

“It is one of our oldest homes.  It is one that is absolutely in need of some renovation and possibly so much renovation that it would cost quite a bit to actually take care of what needs to be done,” said Davis.

A new home to replace the one at Mexico would have about 50 additional beds.

To further address the state’s waiting list, Davis said the state could utilize existing space at nursing homes throughout Missouri.  The difference is that veterans don’t have to liquidate their assets to enter a veterans home, whereas a person benefitting from Medicaid support to go into a nursing home must spend down their assets to get below the income threshold for assistance.

Davis wants to seek a waiver from the federal government so that federal dollars coming to Missouri could be used for part of the cost of care for veterans in nursing homes.  The remainder of that cost would come from state aid and individual veterans’ own money.

“We do have some beds in all of our facilities across the state of Missouri, that would love to take care of our veterans, honor them, and do a fantastic job,” said Davis.

With the deadline to file new legislation for this year passed and four weeks left in the legislative session, Davis said it could be next year before the legislature can consider seeking the necessary federal waiver.

Davis, who is the chairman of the House Veterans Committee, said he is anxious to see action taken to provide homes and care for those who fought for the country.

“But the compassion, the love that we have, the honor that we have for veterans has to be met with the ability to fund it.  If we do not have the ability to fund it then we absolutely cannot do it,” said Davis.

Hannibal representative Lindell Shumake (R) has a resolution that would ask voters to approve $63-million in bonds that could go toward replacing the veterans home in Mexico.  That resolution (HJR 2) has passed out of one committee and awaits a second committee’s action.

House votes to block new state park creation until current parks’ maintenance is caught up

The state House has proposed that Missouri shouldn’t create any new parks until it catches up on taking care of the ones it has.

Representative Randy Pietzman (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Randy Pietzman (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

It’s sent House Bill 698, sponsored by Representative Randy Pietzman (R-Troy), to the Senate.  That would require that before any new parks are established and before any parks are expanded by more than 10-percent in acreage, the state’s current parks should be maintained, brought up-to-date, and have all maintenance work completed.

HB 698 would allow the Department of Natural Resources to accept the donation or gift of additional land, but no work could be done to it except to address public health, safety, or welfare concerns, until the other requirements of the bill are met.  It would also require the Department to report annually to the General Assembly on maintenance at state parks and historic sites.

Pietzman said the bill is about making the Department of Natural Resources more accountable and more communicative with Missouri residents.  He said the state has more than $200-million in state park maintenance backed up, but in recent years the Department has created and prepared new parks while letting others stay at various levels of disrepair.

La Monte Republican Dean Dohrman said the bill would go toward supporting one of the state’s top industries:  tourism.

“We want to bring people in here.  We don’t want to take them out to our showcases and they be dilapidated,” said Dohrman.  “We want nice, clean facilities.  We want to keep those facilities, I think, to a high mark.”

Washington Republican Paul Curtman said the bill represents the type of policy the state should be using on other issues as well.

“We should not be acquiring more property for our state parks if we don’t even have the ability to actually maintain the programs that we have right now,” said Curtman.  “I think if we go back home and we tell people we had an opportunity to rein in government spending and make sure we’re spending money only on things that we can actually manage, people would expect us to say that we voted for that rather than against it.”

The bill passed out of the House 85-62; only a few more votes than enough necessary for passage.  Many, including some of Pietzman’s fellow Republicans, said it goes too far.

High Ridge Republican John McCaherty said he supports seeking greater accountability, but said prohibiting new parks until all maintenance is caught up is unrealistic.

“That’s never going to happen.  It’s never going to be completed.  It wouldn’t be completed at your house.  It’s not going to be completed at my house.  There’s always going to be a building that needs repair, there’s always going to be electrical work that needs to be done, there’s always going to be some project somewhere within the state of Missouri that needs to be done,” said McCaherty.

McCaherty said the bill would tie the hands of the new administration of Governor Eric Greitens (R) in response to lawmakers’ perception of mismanagement that occurred under Greitens’ predecessor.

Representative David Wood (R-Versailles) is concerned the bill would interfere with a project to add 144-miles of the former Rock Island Railroad to the state’s trail system.  He said the bill’s prohibitions would not block the state from taking that property in an anticipated donation from Ameren, but it would prevent the state from putting fencing along it.

“If we can’t spend the money, the gates for the crossings, the signs for the crossings to keep people off of the trail, the way to keep the cattle and the sheep, the livestock in place will not be put in unless it’s done at the property owner’s expense,” said Wood.

He is also concerned that without supervision of the newly-donated land, people will trespass on it.

HB 698 has gone to the Senate with four weeks left in the legislative session.

House votes to send proposed ridesharing company regulations to Governor Greitens

The state House has voted to send Governor Eric Greitens (R) a bill to regulate ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

Representative Kirk Mathews (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Kirk Mathews (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representatives voted 144-7 to endorse House Bill 130, sponsored by Pacific Republican Kirk Mathews.  He told lawmakers such companies could mean thousands of jobs in Missouri, but those companies might leave the state if his bill failed.

“There’s enormous demand for these services in our state,” said Mathews.  “The economic driver that this can be for our state, not just in the way that there will be thousands of new small businesses, but keeping Missouri competitive to compete on the national stage for high-tech businesses.”

The bill would require such companies, which let customers use apps to connect them to drivers offering rides, to pay a $5,000 licensing fee and conduct driver background checks and vehicle inspections.  It would also exempt companies from local taxes and bar the hiring of drivers guilty of certain offenses.

The bill had broad bipartisan support, including from St. Louis Democrat Karla May, who had filed her own rideshare legislation.

“I just want to tell you congratulations and I’m excited,” May said to Mathews.  “I can’t wait to see these jobs come into fruition.”

HB 130 advanced in part because of a compromise with Kansas City and St. Louis, who wanted criminal background checks of rideshare drivers including fingerprinting.  Under the compromise, rideshare companies will perform checks on drivers and Kansas City and St. Louis can audit those records twice a year.

It is now up to Governor Greitens whether to sign HB 130 into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his action.  If it becomes law it will take effect on August 28.

House passes bill meant to let Missouri farmers grow hemp

The state House wants to give Missouri farmers a chance to enter a new market.  It has passed a bill that would legalize the growing of industrial hemp.

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

Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant with a low concentration of THC, the psychoactive component found in marijuana.  It can be used to make products including paper, clothing, and biodegradable plastics.

House Bill 170, sponsored by Washington Republican Paul Curtman, would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a permit to growers who pass a background check, have not been found guilty of a felony in the previous ten years, and have never been  convicted of a drug-related offense.  The Department can also inspect growers and handlers for compliance, and inspect crops to make sure nothing illegal is being grown.

“We have manufacturers in our state who use industrial hemp as a raw material in their manufacturing goods, however because it’s illegal to grow in Missouri they have to spend Missouri dollars in the economies of other states and other countries because they can’t spend the Missouri dollars in Missouri to buy this raw material from Missouri farmers,” said Curtman.

Curtman and other supporters emphasized the bill is in no way related to attempts to legalize marijuana.  He noted the concentration of THC is so low that if anyone tries to smoke it, “they’re just going to get a headache, they’re going to throw up, and they’re going to regret it for the rest of their life.”

Some representatives disagreed.  Dexter Republican Tila Hubrect argued the small amounts of THC found in hemp can cause “intoxication.”  She also said hemp and marijuana plants are “indistinguishable to the eye,” so allowing the farming of hemp could complicate law enforcement efforts.

Carrollton Republican Joe Don McGaugh said the federal farm bill allows the growing of hemp by universities and colleges and state agriculture departments for research, unlike what Curtman is proposing.

“I support industrial hemp.  I want there to be research in industrial hemp.  Why would I not?  Why would we not want another market for our farmers?” McGaugh asked.  “I just think we need to do it right.”

The bill had broad, bipartisan support, passing 126-26.  Similar legislation has been passed out of the House in several previous years, and St. Louis City Democrat Michael Butler said he’s supported it every time.

“I am, for one, tired of voting ‘yes’ on this bill.  I think it should already be law,” said Butler.

St. Louis City Democrat Bob Burns also wanted the bill to advance.

“I believe we are people with entrepreneurial spirit, and if 31 other states are doing this I don’t think we have to reinvent the wheel to create jobs right here in Missouri, and we don’t have to write every Nth degree of this law.  You’re just trying to give people an opportunity to explore it legally,” said Burns.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

House passes bill to shield those seeking help for overdose victims

The state House has approved a bill that supporters hope will prevent overdose deaths.

Representative Steve Lynch (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Steve Lynch (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

House Bill 294 would give immunity from charges for minor possession of drugs or paraphernalia or being under the influence to a person who calls for emergency medical attention for someone who is overdosing on drugs or alcohol, and would give immunity to the person in need of medical attention.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Steve Lynch (R-Waynesville), called the bill an effort at “harm reduction,” and refers to it as “Bailey and Cody’s law,” for two overdose victims whose parents believe that having such a law in place might have saved their children’s lives.

“I fight hard on this issue because I believe that every life is valuable, and that some, because of bad decisions, or bad circumstances, or bad home life, or running with the wrong group, make one wrong decision sometimes and because heroin or opioids are so powerful, it takes all those dreams that they had and all those goals, and it becomes the next fix that becomes their focus,” said Lynch.

Lynch’s legislation won bipartisan praise and support.  Velda Village Hills Democrat Clem Smith said in the neighborhood he grew up in, he saw people who had overdosed and their bodies were left, sometimes for days, in places like alleys and empty lots by people afraid of being prosecuted if they called for help.

“I’m glad that your bill will allow that somebody could get some help.  Sometimes it’s those minutes that make a difference,” said Smith.

Lynch said this “Good Samaritan” bill has been shown in other states and local areas to save lives, particularly when working in conjunction with bills that allow first responders or friends and loved ones to have and administer naloxone – a drug that counteracts overdoses to opioids, including heroin.  Missouri in 2014 and 2016 enacted such laws, both also sponsored by Lynch.

Lake St. Louis Republican Justin Hill, a former police officer, was one of 21 “no” votes against HB 294.  He said by giving immunity to callers and those overdosing, the bill takes away an opportunity to get those individuals into treatment programs.

“There’s all kinds of problems with this, and here’s another bill that purports to help people with a drug problem that makes it worse,” said Hill.

The bill passed with 134 votes and goes to the Senate for consideration.

Earlier story:  Proposed ‘Good Samaritan Law’ aims to save the lives of some who would overdose

House budget proposal attempts to strengthen defunding of abortion providers

The budget proposed this week by the Missouri House attempts to strengthen an attempt started last year to defund abortion providers.

Representative Robert Ross (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Robert Ross (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The current fiscal year’s budget includes language that intended to keep all money appropriated by it from going to hospitals or clinics that perform abortions.  Yukon Republican Robert Ross proposed that prohibition, and said it needed to be strengthened.

“Despite that being a simple amendment last year, apparently [the Department of Social Services] was confused, and has chosen not to implement until recently … in this last month,” said Ross.

The House voted to adopt language offered by Ross for this year’s budget to use the definition of “abortion services” found elsewhere in state law.  Republicans including Sonya Anderson of Springfield said they hope this will clarify to the Department the legislature’s intent.

“Time and time again we have heard from our constituents that they do not support their tax dollars being used to fund abortions.  Last year we thought we had put a stop to this … yet here we are again a year later and Missouri is still sending taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood, an organization that is the largest abortion provider in Missouri,” said Anderson.

House Democrat leader Gail McCann Beatty called the amendment a “continued attack on women.”

“I think that amendment, while its target may be Planned Parenthood, this is going to cause some issues to our hospitals as well,” said McCann Beatty.

The statutory definition of “abortion services” includes not only performing abortions, but encouraging or referring a patient to have one.  Raytown Representative Jerome Barnes (D) said that means facilities besides Planned Parenthood could lose money.

Representative Deb Lavender (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Deb Lavender (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“Talking about abortion and providing fact-based information is not the same thing as providing abortions.  While the amendment maker may indeed target one particular provider, I am very concerned that any women’s health provider could be swept up in this amendment,” said Barnes.

Kirkwood Representative Deb Lavender (D) said the healthcare of women statewide could suffer under the prohibition.

“We are now in this amendment saying if you refer somebody for an abortion out of your facility, we’re not going to pay.  This now affects federally-qualified health facilities,” said Lavender.  “Make no mistake:  you think infant mortality in the Bootheel is high today?  Wait until you pass this amendment because you are going to prevent women from getting healthcare.”

Democrats also argue that tax dollars are already prohibited from being used to pay for abortions, but Republicans including Anderson say that isn’t enough.

“The taxpayers’ money is still going to fund Planned Parenthood.  It may not just be specifically for abortion but Planned Parenthood does offer abortion services in Missouri, so they do benefit from those taxpayer dollars,” said Anderson.

Ross’ amendment was adopted 115-35.  It is now part of the proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 that the House has sent to the Senate for its consideration.  The Senate will begin its work on that proposal next week.

House budget plan would save program to get low-income youths into workforce

The single biggest change the House made during floor debate of its budget proposal this week would continue a program that aims to help low-income youth enter into the workforce.

Representative Bruce Franks (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Bruce Franks (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

St. Louis City Democrat Bruce Franks, Junior, saw that Governor Eric Greitens (R) had proposed cutting all funding to the Summer Jobs League within the Department of Economic Development.  Franks proposed taking $6-million from unused funds in two programs within Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to restore it, and the House voted to accept Franks’ proposal.

The Summer Jobs League gives 16- to 24-year-olds from low-income homes in the St. Louis or Kansas City areas the chance to work in a business in a field they’re interested in.

“It’s really a comprehensive approach to youth violence prevention,” said Franks.  “We serve the underserved:  the highest crime rate areas, highest poverty within the city.”

The largest portion of the state’s appropriation to the Summer Jobs League will pay the salaries of the youth participants – up to $8.50 an hour for up to 240 hours.  Franks said that is part of the incentive for businesses to participate.

“The jobs and the small businesses really benefit from having extra employees that they don’t have to pay that payroll, or that salary, so it really helps the small businesses when they can get three or four youth, teach them a great program, how to work, how to own their own business,” said Franks.

Participating businesses often hire the Summer Jobs League youths after their League term has expired.

Franks said Summer Jobs works in conjunction with other programs such as Prison to Prosperity, which helps youth in the St. Louis region transition out of prison.

“Now we’ve got youth that are getting out going straight to a job, straight to financial literacy, financial empowerment.  Summer Jobs doesn’t just offer summer jobs.  It offers 24-hour mentoring, behavior modification, job readiness training; all these different things to get you not only ready for the workforce but to continue on within the workforce,” said Franks.

Franks’ proposal earned praise from Republicans including Versailles Representative David Wood, who called it a better use of TANF dollars, “to catch the youth, get them into summer job programs, and teach them how to work early on.”

House Budget Committee Vice Chairman Justin Alferman (R-Hermann) said Franks, “worked extremely hard to find the funding for this program.”

House Democrat leader Gail McCann Beatty (Kansas City) said her law firm participated in Summer Jobs, and she worked with several young people through it.

“It is a great opportunity to work with these students, and sometimes you are the most positive influence that they have,” said McCann Beatty.

Franks thanked Alferman as well as House Budget Committee Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick (R), Budget Committee member Representative Crystal Quade (D-Springfield), and others, for helping him find money for the League.

Many of Franks’ fellow lawmakers commended him on being a freshman member of a superminority who secured a large change in the state’s budget, but Franks said that’s not what he felt good about.

“It feels great because I was able to help the underserved.  It feels great because I was able to work across party lines and we were able to come together to serve my community,” said Franks.  “All too often the community that I serve has felt like they’ve been left out, and to have representatives on both sides truly care, truly vote in the interest of the people, that matters more than anything.”

The House’s budget proposal has been sent to the State Senate, which will propose its own changes.  Once the two chambers agree on a spending plan, it will be sent to Governor Greitens.