This past week was one full of excitement. I had the pleasure of visiting with multiple constituents from our district who were up visiting the capitol. I had the opportunity to present Tori Harlow with some newspaper clippings I had saved from our local paper while she and her team were at the Capitol to receive recognition for winning the State Basketball Championship. Tori’s parents were former colleagues of mine and Tori’s grandparents, John and Stella Harlow, still live in Annapolis.
We also had Carol Kelsheimer, Karen Sutton, Ann Smith, and Mike and Sue Henry up from the district for a visit. We met with Speaker-elect Elijah Haahr to discuss issues important to our rural communities. Jonathon Loyd from Centerville, MO attends State Tech and was up advocating on behalf of and being able to use the A+ program to attend. State Tech is a great school focused on trade skills and A+ has been an invaluable program for our rural students. Rob Elder and the MO Working and Hunting Dog Alliance held informational meetings at the Capitol and cooked lunch for all the legislators—Wild Hog! Great meal, thanks Rob for helping educate legislators about these important issues.
Last week I met with Senator Romine and Senator Blunt at the Iron County Hospital to discuss the current economic status of the hospital and the plans for moving forward. The county passed a sales tax measure in April that will help get the hospital get back on the right track and keep the doors open.
House Approves Legislation to Improve Well-Being of Foster Care Children (HCB 11)
This week the House approved a wide-ranging bill meant to make life better for children who are in, and who leave, foster care in the state.
House Speaker Todd Richardson in January created the Special Committee to Improve the Care and Well-Being of Young People, to focus on improving the state’s child welfare system and he assigned me to serve on this committee after I was sworn in. The Department of Social Services is responsible for nearly 13,000 children this year.
The legislation approved by the House is a combination of provisions originally found in 11 separate bills. Several of the things in the bill are fixes that could have significant, positive impacts on foster children who have been described as “falling through the cracks.”
I was able to add an amendment to the bill that would enable investigations of abuse of children in foster care in Missouri when it happens outside of the state. Current law prevents Missouri Social Services workers from investigating reports of abuse of children in foster care in Missouri if it doesn’t happen in Missouri, and prevents them from communicating with counterparts in other states about abuse or potential abuse.
General Assembly Gives Final Approval to Legislation to Support Veterans (SB 573)
Last week the House approved an important piece of legislation that would provide additional support to members of the National Guard and the state’s veterans. While the bill started as an expansion of the military income tax deduction, House members added several amendments during floor debate that greatly expanded the scope of the bill to support our National Guard members.
The original intent of the legislation was to allow members of the National Guard or reserve components of the Armed Forces of the United States to deduct their military income from their Missouri adjusted gross income to determine their Missouri taxable income. I believe the expansion shows support for members of the National Guard and for the military installations and operations in the state.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. As your Representative I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Chris.Dinkins@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-2112.
Missouri 144th District State Representative Chris Dinkins, R-Annapolis, files a report every week while the state legislature is in session.