There is news being reported of a new aluminum plant opening in the Southeast part of the state and it will be adding approximately 400 new jobs. Sedalia will be opening a new plant that will be recycling cars and turning them into steel rebar for construction and that should add an additional 200 jobs. Amazon has announced a new distribution center coming to Missouri that will be adding 1,500 jobs. The economy is moving in the right direction and I am sure there will be a lot of individuals and groups taking credit for all this good news. I am thrilled at the improvement and the fact that all boats are lifted with a rising tide. We should see benefits from this growth in District 58.
There is a lot of activity going on around the outside of the Capitol. The Missouri Capitol is more than 100 years old and is beginning to show some serious signs of decay. The renovation crews have arrived to begin a two-year project of repairing and sealing the exterior. This will take away some of the parking and driving lanes around the Capitol, so visiting will be a little more difficult until this project is completed. I believe we have one of the most beautiful Capitols in the country and I am very glad to see the repairs, but it will stop tours from going to the top of the dome and possibly the whispering gallery for a while.
House Bill 1645, filed by Rep. DeGroot, deals with damages related to asbestos. This is one of the bills that the lawyers in the House get up and argue back and forth on while those of us outside the legal system listen to the debate and try to make the best decision possible. When I haven’t been involved in any type of court case and I do not know the intricacies of the law, it is very difficult to make a decision on my own. On this particular issue, the people who I trust will be divided depending on which side of the claim process they are representing. The majority of the individuals speaking against the bill were not attorneys and they were basing the decision on people they knew who had died from this horrible disease. The majority of the attorneys voted in favor of the bill because it clarified the process and improved the court system. I supported this bill based on the votes of the people I trust and the debate on the floor.
The prevailing wage bill was debated on the floor this week and this is another difficult vote. I agree schools and government agencies should not have to pay more for labor than the local rates. I also know many of my constituents work for construction companies and they benefit from the higher wage. Once an individual is accustomed to a certain wage then it is hard to work for less even if it is the right thing to do for taxpayers. I had hoped for a prevailing wage bill that limited the wage by geographic area or removed the increased rate for projects below a certain dollar amount. This bill should be back on the floor this week for a final vote and I will be supporting it in hopes that the Senate will work to a compromise solution.
I had the pleasure of Parker Dunham from Eldon High School following me around for an entire day this week. I picked him up 7 a.m. and returned him home 8:30 p.m. He got to experience long debates on the House floor, presenting a bill in committee, a budget hearing, lobbyist conversations, and visiting with constituents. He had a lot of great questions and I hope it was a good learning experience.
The Alzheimer’s Association hosted Memory Day Wednesday, March 7 at the Capitol. I was honored to be selected as their Legislator of the Year along with Rep. Deb Lavendar. The association and the caregivers are the ones who deserve the awards because they are caring for the individuals who are suffering from this horrible disease. I worked to get them additional funding for respite care so the caretakers can get a much needed break once in a while. I am very appreciative of the recognition and the good work that the association does for this group of individuals.
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