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Staying save without feeling stifled

** Missouri 144th District Representative Paul Fitzwater, R-Potosi, files a capital report at the end of each week during the legislative session.

Greetings again from your Missouri Capitol. This week the House addressed an issue that my office has received many complaints about that it making it difficult for many who have had problems entering our military bases across the country. The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would give Missourians the option to obtain a photo identification that complies with the federal REAL ID Act. After several hours of debate, the House gave initial approval to a bill that would REQUIRE the state revenue department to issue Real ID-compliant driver’s license and identification cards to those who want them.

The attack on Sept. 11, 2001 is the real reason why Congress passed legislation designed to enhance security procedures by establishing new minimum standards for driver’s licenses here in the United States. Our state responded to this action by passing a law in 2009 that would protect our private information of Missouri citizens by prohibiting the Missouri Dept. of Revenue from complying with this federal mandate. Because our state has NOT complied with the requirements, our Missouri licenses are no longer a valid form of identification at federal facilities and military bases, and will no longer be valid at airports as proof of identity for domestic flights beginning in 2018.

The big problem here is there are many Missourians who feel they should NOT have to share their personal information with our the federal government. So for those that have privacy concerns with the REAL ID requirements, this legislation would allow them to request the existing style of Missouri licenses that is NOT compliant with the federal mandate. For those who want or need the federally compliant driver’s license, this legislation will allow the DOR to provide one that meets the standards of the REAL ID mandate.

I support HB 151 because I believe Missourians should have a choice on whether they want to participate or not in this federal mandate. I DO NOT want to be responsible for a citizen of Missouri not being able to enter a federal building or getting on a airplane to travel wherever they desire. This bill is about FREEDOM. Freedom to choose. That is what I feel is best for all of us. There are organizations that are threatening many legislators that are supporting this piece of legislation. As many of you know, I have been threatened many times before while serving on your behalf and I can assure this threat means nothing to me. I’ll keep you posted on the progress of HB 151. If you would like to express your opinion on this issue, give me a call.

In my past Capitol reports, I have been troubled by the cuts in the governor’s budget that would have effected approximately 20,000 in-home elderly and disabled residents by cutting funding for home and community-based services. These cuts would have forced many of these residents into finding other ways to provide for themselves or they would have had to possibly go to a nearby nursing home, which would have been almost impossible for so many because of the cost.

Today (Thur. 2-23) I received word from the governor’s office that Gov. Greitens has offered a Governor’s amendment to the budget that will restore $41 million in funding to home and community-based services. Can anyone say, HALLELUJAH . What great news this is. This new funding will maintain coverage for every patient currently in the program, while giving us time to work to overhaul a broken healthcare system. Thank you Gov. Greitens for this great news.

This amendment also restores $11 million for K-12 school bus transportation. This restoration of money was made possible by a $52 million legal settlement and additional federal funding.

This week the House approved legislation meant to expand course options and access for K-12 students. The bill would change the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MOVIP) to “The Missouri Course Access Program” (MCAP) and allows any K-12 student to enroll in MCAP courses.

The Missouri Virtual Instruction Program was established in 2007 to offer online courses to public, private, and home school students. The program allows students to take advanced courses that are not currently offered by their local school district.

In order to give students in all parts of the state access to advanced coursework, the legislation would allow students to take online courses that would be paid by the school district or charter school. Students would be eligible if they have attended the school for at least one semester, and the course is NOT is not available in the school district. It is very important that ALL of our students have access to a quality education and this is one way to make that possible.

A couple weeks ago I visited a dear friend that I have known for many years that is facing some health issues. I ask that you join me in continuing to pray for my friend Bill Maxwell. If you ever had the chance to meet him, you would never forget. Bill has been a great example for many of us that have had the opportunity to know him. His wife Freda is such a wonderful lady who also needs our prayers. Thank you so much.

Just an update, HB 600, a bill that will rename the newly Jay Nixon State Park to the Profffit Mountain State Park was voted out of committee this week by a vote of 10 Ayes and 0 noes . Now it is headed to rules and hopefully to the House Floor for full debate. I’ll keep you posted on this one.

I know by the time most of you receive this that our district basketball tourneys will be completed , but it is my hope that we still have some of our local district teams still in the hunt for a trip to the state finals. I am heading down to Viburnum this evening to watch the South Iron boys and girls team who are playing for a district title. I am hoping for a big Panther win tonight.

Let me close by saying I hope you have been enjoying this beautiful Spring-like weather. I don’t believe I have ever seen it near 80 degrees in the month of February.

Fitzwater

Fitzwater

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