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Weighing the charter school option

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

Currently I serve on the Workforce development committee. Over the course of this legislative session we have been working with various groups to provide training paths to well-paying jobs that do not necessarily require a four-year degree.

This program will allow people with 2-year associates degrees or certified training certifications to move into well-paying jobs in the ever-expanding field of technology. Through our work with partners such as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as well as several partners from other businesses, we hope to start this program next year.

A bill on charter schools is on its way to hitting The House floor. The vast majority of Charter Schools are stationed in Saint Louis and Kansas City because this is where many unaccredited districts are located. I don’t oppose options for students where the public schools fail. However, I do not want to have them expanded across the state thus taking money from successful public schools.

The state of Missouri received good news this week as the state’s jobless rate continues to decline. The Missouri Department of Economic Development released its latest data showing that unemployment dropped to 4.2 percent in January. The number is a decrease from the December rate of 4.4 percent, and is also lower than the 4.5 percent unemployment rate the state saw in January of 2016.

The department’s data also shows an increase in the number of jobs in the state. Missouri gained 7,300 jobs from December to January. The state also has an additional 10,000 jobs when compared to January of last year. The state now has seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment of more than 2.97 million.

Five bills caught my attention this week:

HB 248 would establish a statewide program designed to promote careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The legislation is modeled after successful programs in Tennessee and Arkansas that have helped promote the importance of the STEM fields to young people.

The bill would require the state Department of Economic Development to establish the STEM Career Awareness Program to increase awareness of careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for students in grades six through eight. The program would involve online-based curriculum that would raise awareness of more than eighty different careers and technologies, and would be organized around the concept of solving societal or human-centered problems. The bill would require the department to have the program in place by the 2018-19 school year.

HB459 changes the law in tort cases so if a defendant gets dismissed in a case, the case must be moved to a new venue where a remaining defendant(s) is located. For example: there is a car accident in Cole County and the blame is placed on a faulty part on the car.

Currently, the law allows the plaintiff to sue any party that is remotely involved. In this instance they may sue the part manufacturer (located in Greene County) and the mechanic (located in Saint Louis), knowing the manufacturer is at fault. However, because the mechanic is located in St. Louis City, they sue them so the trial will be in the more favorable venue of St. Louis.

Even if the mechanic gets dismissed as a defendant, the trial is still allowed to be in St. Louis City. HB 459 changes the law so if the mechanic is dismissed as a defendant, the trial must be moved to a venue where a defendant is located, in this example, Greene County.

HB460 also changes the law in tort cases. HB460 says that if there are multiple defendants, a trial must take place in each venue that a defendant is located. For example, if a retail store sells a defective product and gets sued, there must be a trial in each circuit court that the store is located.

Currently, the law allows a plaintiff to sue all the stores in a single venue, usually one that is friendlier towards the plaintiff. What this law does is keeps a plaintiff from suing all defendants in the venue most friendly to the plaintiff.

HB1194 fixes the issues with the 1998 and 2015 bills that prohibited municipalities from raising the minimum wage above the state minimum. The court ruled against the two previous bills because they were a Hammerschmidt violation, due to having more than one topic in the bill. HB 1194 will be in compliance with Hammerschmidt

The Circuit Breaker Tax Credit eliminates the circuit breaker tax credit for renters and puts the money in the Missouri Senior Services Protection Fund, which will be used to pay for senior services such as in home health and other vital services. The initial reason for the tax credit was to assist low-income seniors on fixed income that had trouble affording property taxes.

This week I was able to meet with many guests. Thank you Doe Run Company, Nurses from nurse’s advocacy day, Dr. Steven Kurtz from Mineral Area College, Constituent Paul Mallmann representing Ameren UE, and Brian Okenfuss from MODOT for visiting. I also was able to meet with Kevin Jenkins and Matt King from the Daily Journal. Both men were given awards for their work.



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