REPRESENTATIVE. ED LEWIS
This week we will hear more bills targeting teacher recruitment and retention, my emphasis for this session.
One such bill is to amend a current unfunded scholarship called the Urban Flight and Rural Needs Scholarship Program, renaming it the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Scholarship Program.
This program has not been funded for several years, but if this bill passes it will be a source to fund more teachers in high need rural and urban areas.
House Bill 497
Missouri faces a significant teacher shortage, and we must make every effort to recruit and retain highly effective teachers. These shortages are not equally distributed across the state.
“It appears that high-poverty, high-minority, and rural students learn from less experienced, unqualified, out-of-tune, or less effective teachers at higher rates than occur in low-poverty schools.” Department of elementary and secondary education
The State’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Scholarship Program addresses students’ lack of access to highly effective teachers and directs state resources to where they can have the greatest impact.
This state scholarship program will provide scholarships to a student who has completed an associate degree (2 years) at a community college, such as Moberly Area Community College, or a bachelor’s degree from any four-year institution. It will provide tuition and fees for the student to go back and get a teaching certificate even in non-traditional settings.
Pay for the Kansas City Police
This week the Missouri House gave preliminary approval to a legislative proposal that would help the Kansas City Police Department attract and retain the best law enforcement personnel. In a first-round voice vote, House members passed legislation that would allow the department to offer better pay to officers and the police chief.
House Bills 640 and 729 would eliminate the current authorized salary cap for the Kansas City Police Chief and allow the Board of Police Commissioners to establish a salary cap by resolution.
The bill would also eliminate existing salary caps for police officers, calculated by rank, and authorize the board of directors to use minimum salaries as the basis in pay ranges for officers in creating their comprehensive pay schedule. .
The bill’s sponsor said it was important to place the power to set a pay schedule in the hands of the Board of Police Commissioners rather than in the hands of the state.
He said, “The hope with this bill is that they will establish a very aggressive and competitive salary schedule from boss all the way to try and get officers into the Kansas City Police Department.”
The sponsor noted that the Kansas City Police Department is currently down 254 police officers and is losing officers in surrounding areas where they can receive better pay.
He said, “I would like to see the best salary program in the Kansas City metro area. Hopefully we can use it to help with recruitment and hopefully be able to keep people on the force longer.”
Another provision in the bill would remove the current requirement that the Kansas City police chief be under the age of 60. During the floor discussion, members also approved an emergency clause that would allow the bill to go into effect immediately if approved by both houses and signed into law.
The sponsor told his colleagues: “In 2022 we had the second highest homicide rate in the history of the city. We had 169 homicides last year in Kansas City. This is unacceptable. With so many officers out of force, we need relief now. We need relief in Kansas City for the men and women who are out there every day to protect and serve.”
The bill now requires another vote in the House before moving on to Senate consideration.
Protecting businesses from warrants
Lawmakers passed legislation this week aimed at protecting businesses, schools and churches from burdensome government mandates. By a vote of 105 to 36, the House passed House Bill 184 to ban local ordinances that require businesses to pay for new electric vehicle charging stations.
The bill’s sponsor said its legislation comes in response to a trend that has seen municipalities requiring small businesses, malls and churches to install and pay for electric charging stations whenever they make improvements to their facilities. . He said an ordinance in St. Louis County requires businesses to add and pay for electric charging stations even as they expand their parking lot.
The sponsor said, “Is it okay for a government to tell a business you have to do something that has nothing to do with your business? It will not bring you any profit. It will get you nothing. Which I think is not the role of the government ”. House Bill 184 now passes before the Senate.
In a vote of 151 to 2, members of the Missouri House approved a supplemental spending bill and sent it to the Senate for consideration. The legislation (House Bill 14) will allocate more than $627 million in funding for the state’s current operating budget.
The spending plan includes an 8.7 percent wage increase for state workers, excluding General Assembly and statewide elected officials, and an additional $2 per hour shift difference for the workforce of direct night shift assistance (prisons, hospitals and other care facilities).
Also includes $286.5 million in spending authority for the State Emergency Management Agency, a $628,750 allocation to the Department of Agriculture to help address the growing black vulture problem affecting livestock owners statewide and $20 million to establish school safety programs, including upgrades to physical safety and associated technology, bleeding control kits, and automated external defibrillators.
Lawmakers this week gave strong bipartisan approval to legislation that would allow patients to have direct access to physical therapy. The Missouri House passed House Bills 115 and 99 by a vote of 147-1.
The bill’s sponsor noted that 47 states currently allow some form of direct access to physical therapy. He pointed out that studies show patients with direct access have fewer visits and lower overall costs.
“Direct access is about individual choice in healthcare decisions through the elimination of unnecessary and burdensome regulations,” said the bill’s sponsor. He added, “Enabling people to make their own decisions about their health care is a really good policy, and removing referral requirements is a step towards making health care more accessible to all people.”
Under House Bills 115 and 99 a physical therapist would no longer need a prescription or referral from a physician to evaluate and initiate treatment on a patient. To qualify, the physical therapist would need a PhD in physical therapy or five years of clinical practice as a physical therapist.