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This week was another busy week here in Jefferson City.

I had several visitors from the district stop in to visit with me regarding issues that are important to them. Some of the people who stopped by were Kelley and Kathy Silvey from Washington County, Tony and Jan Harbison (Farm Bureau), Josh Campbell (Western District Commissioner), Tim Harbison (Coroner) all from Iron County, Karen White (Missouri Highlands), Joe Loyd (Presiding Commissioner) from Reynolds County and Richard Brummett and his FFA students from Arcadia Valley.

This past weekend I had several meetings in the district. Two of which dealt with workforce development. This is an area that seems to be getting a lot of attention this year and I think that it is very important. My meetings at U.S. Tool and at MAC dealt with our current workforce and how we can better prepare our students for the jobs that are currently available in our local areas. There were several area Representatives there and we look forward to working with our local communities to better meet the needs of our economy.

For the past couple of months, I have been working on something that is near and dear to my heart. Today I became one step closer as I presented the city of Piedmont a POW flag.

As many of you know, my grandfather, Alex Cortez was a POW of World War II. He was a very special man not only to me and my family but to all those who knew him. He like many others, endured things that are uncomprehendable to most of us. This week I have finally solicited the help and approval of all those needed to proceed to make Piedmont a Purple Heart City, not only as a memorial to my grandfather but to all POW/MIA’s from our local area. May we never forget their sacrifices and that of their families.

Members of the Missouri House of Representatives gave initial approval this week to legislation meant to put thousands of Missourians on a fast track to develop the skills they need to obtain good-paying jobs. The bill would create a new state financial aid program known as Fast Track that would address workforce needs by encouraging adults to pursue an industry-recognized credential in an area designated as high need.

Fast Track is a creative solution that could impact nearly 16,000 eligible students providing training, meeting specific workforce needs, improving the economy, and benefitting Missourians in all regions of our state.

The House gave final approval this week to legislation that would create a statewide monitoring program for drug prescriptions. The bill would combat the abuse of prescription drugs and help prevent conflicts between medications.

House members gave approval this week to legislation meant to raise awareness of celiac disease, which is an immune disorder that leaves a person unable to eat wheat, ry, or barley. A person with celiac can go through a broad variety of uncomfortable symptoms, but a lack of awareness about the disease can cause it to go undiagnosed for years.

The legislation would designate the second Wednesday in May as “Celiac Awareness Day” in Missouri. The date would fall during national Celiac Awareness Month. Under the bill, citizens of the state would be encouraged to participate in appropriate events and activities that increase awareness of celiac disease.

The sponsor of the bill, whose daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease, said, “My intent for this bill would be to help raise awareness for everyone including doctors, because it seems like it takes doctors a long time to say, ‘You know what, it might be celiac disease.’”

There is no treatment or cure for celiac disease. The only thing sufferers can do is closely watch what they eat and avoid even the smallest amounts of gluten. Supporters hope that passing the legislation would make more people – particularly doctors – aware of celiac and shorten the time it takes for a person to be tested for it.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Another bill headed to the Senate is meant to better protect children by improving the state’s Amber Alert system. The bill is known as “Hailey’s Law” in honor of Hailey Owens, who was abducted and murdered at the age of 10 while walking home from a friend’s house.

I hope you have a wonderful week! As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. If you have an event you would like me to attend please let me know. 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.

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