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State Representative Travis Smith Capitol report for February 17, 2023Ozark Radio News

We have had an extremely busy week at the Capitol. Gainesville, Hollister and Blue Eye schools have invited students, teachers and administrators to visit our office to say hello and address their comments and concerns regarding education. We are so lucky in my district that we don’t have some of the other problems that schools in urban areas face. One thing that always worries is what students will do after graduation. Most always say that while they love the area, there just aren’t enough opportunities to work and stay close to home. One of our major goals is the establishment of high-speed Internet within the district. If there’s one positive that can come from the pandemic, it’s that many people can work from home. But that’s only if they have access to broadband. We are so fortunate that White River Electric Co-op has decided to provide this to its members. Implementing this service will change life as we know it in rural Missouri and throughout the United States.

Living here in the Ozarks, we are also fortunate to be surrounded by people with common sense, a love of freedom, and a respect for law enforcement. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for some of the people in our urban areas, so lawmakers sometimes have to step in to change laws to protect those they serve and businesses. Below are two examples of such examples.

House members approve bill to improve compensation for Kansas City police officers (HBs 640 and 729)

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.

HBs 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. .

My good friend and former football coach, Chris Brown, sponsor of the bill, said it was important to put 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 that to help with recruiting and hopefully we can keep people in service longer.”

I’m 55 and still learning. Written language decades ago had been prohibitively expensive for working people over 60. The current requirement is 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.

Brown told me and others, “In 2022, we had the second-highest homicide rate in the city’s history. 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 Expensive Mandates (HB 184)

We also passed legislation this week to protect businesses, schools and churches from onerous government mandates. By a vote of 105 to 36, the House passed HB 184 to ban local ordinances that require businesses to pay for new electric vehicle charging stations.

Jim Murphy, the bill’s sponsor, said his 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 bring in 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 space.

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 ”.

He also noted that these requirements do not properly belong to the category of building codes. “There are two things that building codes are supposed to do. They should give you confidence and protect your health. This really has nothing to do with it,” she said.

One supporter said he has seen the impact of mandates in his area where companies have deferred improvements to avoid the extra costs associated with installing charging stations.

He said, “They don’t even want to repave their parking lot because they have to put in $10,000 to $15,000 worth of EV stations. They don’t have the money to do it. It’s a useless mandate.” She added, “I think this helps our small businesses a lot.”

Another advocate added, “When a political subdivision violates the property rights of private business owners and private property owners, I believe it is the duty of this body to escalate and end that encroachment on power.”

HB 184 also prohibits any political subdivision from requiring any school or religious organization to install an electric vehicle charging station.

The bill’s sponsor told his colleagues, “I don’t think it’s the government’s responsibility to be the marketing department of General Motors, Chrysler or BMW.”

He added: “Companies develop their business, they develop their car parks, for their customers, not as petrol stations. Let the free market fend for itself. If there’s a question, there will be.”

We have Twin Bridges Canoe Rental in Douglas County and the estimated cost for a station that would charge an electric vehicle was nearly $8,000. As time goes on and customers demand that need, this is definitely something we will look at as an added benefit to our customers. However, imposing such things now simply does not make sense.

HB 184 now goes to Senate consideration.

We are also adding additional funds to the law enforcement training budget.

Missouri Blue Scholarships awarded to support training for law enforcement recruits

During the same week as Missouri House members debated legislation to improve the pay of Kansas City police officers, Governor Parson called on lawmakers to provide further support for a program designed to attract more Missourians into police careers. police. Parson announced that the Missouri Blue Scholarship has already helped fund training for 217 Missouri law enforcement recruits and asked lawmakers to approve new funding for the program in both a supplemental budget bill and the operating budget. state for the next fiscal year.

Parson announced the Missouri Blue Scholarship program in October as a way to attract more Missouri citizens to careers in law enforcement and address the shortage of law enforcement officers statewide. The scholarships, administered by the Missouri Department of Public Safety, are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to pay for law enforcement training academy tuition.

Parson said, “We designed the Missouri Blue Scholarship to help support men and women interested in dedicating their lives to a career in law enforcement, and we are extremely pleased with the success of the scholarship program.

He added, “The Missouri Blue Scholarship assists future officers who will serve and protect in urban and rural departments throughout our state. There continues to be a tremendous need for law enforcement officers, which is why we are calling for additional funds for the Missouri Blue Scholarships and continuing the program in our FY 2024 budget.”

In the first year of the program, 169 inductees received the maximum scholarship of $5,000 and 48 received scholarships up to $4,953. Missouri Blue Scholarships can be combined with other student aid programs, including the Federal Pell Grant Program, GI Bill benefits, and other scholarships. The $1 million Missouri Blue Scholarship for FY 2023 was fully spent this month.

Due to the tremendous success of the program and more scholarship applicants beyond the original $1 million allocation, Parson is asking the General Assembly to approve $175,000 to fund an additional 35 full scholarships in the current fiscal year. Currently, there are more than 30 applicants awaiting scholarship approval.

Parson also requested continued funding for the program in the FY 2024 state operating budget. If approved by the Missouri General Assembly, an additional $1 million to fund the Missouri Blue Scholarships would be available on July 1, 2023 , at the beginning of fiscal year 2024. Applications are available online at:

Recruits who would be attending a law enforcement training academy by June 1, 2024 are eligible to apply.

Supplemental Funding Act Sent to Senate (HB 14)

We are seeing many more of these black vultures in the area. These are truly creatures from hell that pop out the eyes of newborn cattle and their mothers as they give birth. If you have the stomach to see the devastation these creatures wreak on livestock, check out my colleague, Scott Cupps’ Facebook page. He has lost countless cattle to these ruthless predators.

  • Awarded $628,750 to the Department of Agriculture to help address the growing black vulture problem affecting livestock owners across the state.

Thank you for taking the time to read our Capitol Report. If you’re coming to Jefferson City, feel free to call the office and make an appointment as we can arrange all kinds of fun things for you to do. Remember, it’s your capital city and the government belongs to the people and should be run by the people.

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