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Flag bill makes progress

** Missouri 117th District House Representative Mike Henderson, R-Desloge, files his Capital Report at the end of each week during the state legislative session.

My bill, HB 817 has been passed out of committee. It is my hope to have this bill hit the finish line this year. Over the course of the legislature, there have been a few changes made to the bill. HB 817 requires all state buildings and state parks to fly the POW/MIA flag along with the United States flag and the Missouri flag. If a state building or state park does not have a POW/MIA flag, they must request a flag from a local Veteran’s organization. If a donated flag is unavailable or if displaying the flag would be inconsistent with the state policy for display of national and state flags, the state building or state park must be exempt from the provisions of this bill.

As a former assistant superintendent, I found HB 94 noteworthy. HB 94 would allow students to choose between the ACT WorkKeys and the regular ACT. The WorkKeys assessment tests students on real world skills and helps guide students to the proper profession once they graduate. This will guide students to realize their skills and follow the best fit career path for them. HB 94 also benefits employers because they get to see the skillsets potential employees have and are able to place them in the job best suited for them.

Two other bills have peeked my interest this week. HB 459 will change the law in tort cases so if a defendant gets dismissed in a case, the case must be moved to a venue where a remaining defendant (s) is located. HB 460 also has to do with tort cases. HB 460 would change the law in tort cases so that if there are multiple defendants, a trial must take place in each venue that a defendant is located. Currently, the law allows a plaintiff to sue all the stores in a single venue, typically one that is friendlier toward the plaintiff. This law will keep the plaintiff from suing all defendants in the venue friendliest to the plaintiff.

In recent weeks, the Speaker of the House has formed several special and sub committees to address issues ranging from student debt relief to agricultural education to the tax burden on working families.

The House Special Committee on Tax Policy for Working Families will take a closer look at legislation that could reduce the tax burden for Missouri families. One bill the committee is expected to review and discuss thoroughly is a state earned income tax credit. Legislators are proposing legislation this year that would authorize a state individual income tax credit equal to 20 percent of any federal earned income tax credit claimed by the taxpayer. If approved, the legislation could provide meaningful tax relief to more than a quarter million working Missourians.

The House Subcommittee on Agriculture Education will look at ways to bolster agriculture education in Missouri. The state currently has a shortage of young farmers with the majority of farmers falling in the age groups of 45-54 and 70 plus. More than 28,000 students are enrolled in agriculture education programs, but legislators hope to find ways to encourage even more young people to pursue careers in agriculture.

The House Subcommittee on Student Debt Relief will review legislation that could help Missouri students more easily repay their college loan debt. The committee is expected to review legislative measures such as the “Student Debt Relief Act” that would enable the Department of Higher Education to refinance student loans through consolidation. The legislation is meant to reduce interest rates, extend repayment periods, and enact a cap for monthly payments proportional to each graduate’s amount of discretionary income.

On Thursday the Missouri State Capitol was filled with students and education supporters who made the trip to Jefferson City to observe the state’s annual STEM day. The day is meant to highlight the important roles STEM education plays in the state’s economy and the opportunities it provides to students. The day was highlighted by various hands-on technology displays, including an F-18 flight simulator provided by the Boeing Company. Students also competed for the Capitol Cup in the first Lego League Robotics Challenge.

The event is hosted each year by the Missouri Chamber Foundation’s Mathematics and Science Coalition. The coalition is a group of business, education, government and community stakeholders who have come together to foster collaboration to ensure Missouri citizens are equipped with knowledge and skills in mathematics, engineering, technology and science to prosper in a global economy. In the coming weeks, the House is set to discuss legislation that would raise awareness of the need for young people to pursue STEM careers.

HB 248 would require the Department of Economic Development to establish a statewide, online program for middle schools designed to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In anticipation of the state’s annual Vietnam Veterans Day on March 30, House members are encouraging Veterans throughout the state to come forward to receive recognition for their service. As part of the annual celebration, Vietnam Veterans will be honored at the State Capitol in the House Chamber by the Speaker of the House and the members of the House of Representatives. Each Veteran will also receive an official House Resolution in honor of the service they provided to our nation.

Vietnam Veterans Day was created by the General Assembly with the passage of HB 1128 in 2012. The day is meant to recognize the courage and patriotism of those who served during the Vietnam Conflict. On that day, Missourians are encouraged to hold events, activities and remembrances in honor of the Veterans who bravely fought, served and sacrificed during the Vietnam Conflict and then returned home to no parades, no ceremonies, no public celebrations to welcome them in gratitude for their courageous service given and sacrifices made on behalf of our nation.

I had the opportunity this week to meet with several members of the Missouri Retired Teachers Association, the Silver Haired Legislators, Insurance groups, East MO Action Agency and with Dolores Howard and Ronda Elfrink with the University of MO Extension Council.

I do thank and appreciate all visitors who made the trip to their State Capitol to discuss their agenda, concerns and legislative priorities for their organizations.

It is an honor to represent the people of District 117!



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