The veto session saw no overrides of the Governor’s individual budget vetoes. Most of the vetoes of budget items will be taken care of through moving money already budgeted.
Following the work in the annual Veto Session, we shifted our focus to the Extraordinary Session called by Governor Parson to address two pieces of legislation he vetoed. The first bill passed by the House would expand access to treatment courts with the goal of rehabilitating more Missourians so they can return to being productive members of society.
The legislation would consolidate Missouri’s treatment courts – adult treatment court, DWI court, family treatment court, juvenile treatment court, and veterans’ treatment court – and update state statute to reflect the reality of the treatment court system today. It would allow for the expansion of treatment courts to counties that don’t have them, and it would allow an individual in a county without a treatment court to be transferred to one with a court as long as all parties agree to the transfer.
Additionally, the bill would require the Treatment Court Coordinating Commission to establish standards and practices for treatment courts, and would require each court to adopt policies and practices that are consistent with the Commission’s standards. The standards and practices would be those proven through research to reduce recidivism, save public money and resources, and improve outcomes.
The sponsor of the legislation noted that “Missouri treatment courts have been a great success at changing lives for the better, lowering criminal recidivism rates, saving tax-payer dollars by reducing incarceration, all the while making our communities safer and aiding our citizens in their quest to be more productive and improve their quality of life.” Proponents of the bill added that allowing for existing types of specialized courts to be consolidated under the "treatment court" heading will facilitate communication among judges, prosecutors, and experts in order to solve problems more effectively.
The legislation now awaits approval in the Senate before moving to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.
House Approves Legislation to Promote Careers in the STEM Fields (HB 3)
The second bill approved takes an important step to encourage more young people to pursue career paths in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The legislation (HB 3) is meant to better prepare tomorrow’s workforce for the many unfilled computer science positions in the technology industry. House members gave bipartisan support to the bill and sent it to the Missouri Senate for consideration.
The legislation would institute a STEM Career Awareness Program for 6th-8th graders designed to promote careers in these fields. It would introduce students to the STEM careers through an online-based curriculum, and requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to solicit proposals for a provider for the program. Gov. Parson vetoed the bill passed during the regular session because of the criteria for the selection of the provider. The bill passed during the Extraordinary Session provides criteria that meet with the Governor’s approval.
The legislation would also require DESE to develop a high school graduation policy that allows a student to fulfill one unit of academic credit with a district-approved computer science course for any math, science, or practical arts unit required for high school graduation. In addition, it works to support teachers pursuing STEM training and professional development by creating the “Computer Science Education Fund”, and creating a special license endorsement for teachers demonstrating sufficient STEM content knowledge.
Supporters of the bill say it will give all students access to a STEM curriculum, as well as provide a path for teacher certification. Proponents also say the bill will play an important role in preparing a capable workforce for Missouri technology industries.
The bill now requires approval in the Senate before moving to the Governor’s desk. Once signed by Governor Parson, the bill will require DESE to have the program in place by the 2019-20 school year.
I was a proponent of both bills. It is my belief that both bills are common sense bills that will benefit our students and the future of all Missourians.
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Thank you for allowing me to serve as your State Representative.