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On Thursday, Feb. 21, I had the distinct pleasure of speaking at the University of Missouri System’s annual Legislative Day at the Capitol.

This event allows the UM System to showcase projects from all four universities, such as investing in the future health of Missourians, helping communities invest in their workforce, leading initiatives to address the opioid crisis, helping small businesses, educating citizens about jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and preparing students to handle challenges once they graduate. I was glad to voice my support for the UM System and discuss the importance of higher education in Missouri.

Last Thursday night, I also had the pleasure to speak at a banquet for Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) at Central High School. This leadership and career readiness program helps students enter the workforce. The goal of the program is for students to make the connection between the curriculum they learn and the skills needed in the workforce. Local business owners and employers attended the banquet to learn about the goals of the program. JAG is seeking opportunities to partner with these local businesses to provide internships, job shadowing and summer employment for its students. Career readiness programs are so important for the development of our workforce, and I was pleased to be able to share my thoughts on the value of career and technical education.

Senate Bill 7 was discussed and debated on the Senate Floor on Tuesday, Feb. 26. This bill modifies provisions relating to the venue of class action lawsuits. Recently, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that permissive joinder of separate claims cannot extend venue to a county that, without a joinder, would not be proper for each plaintiff. This means that a group of plaintiffs cannot establish venue in a county unless each plaintiff suffered damages or injury in that county. The goal of SB 7 is to stop out of state plaintiffs from shopping around Missouri courts in hopes of receiving a favorable verdict. Currently, attorneys often find an individual from St. Louis to join a lawsuit in order to establish venue in one of the city’s courts. These courts are considered favorable because they have a history of producing higher awards for plaintiffs. This important piece of tort reform aims to cut down on the waves of out-of-state lawsuits that are flooding Missouri’s taxpayer funded courts. The discussion on this bill continued into Wednesday morning, and eventually the bill was given initial approval by the Senate.

I always appreciate hearing your opinions and concerns regarding your state government. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101; or email me at gary.romine@senate.mo.gov. For more information, please visit my official Senate webpage at www.senate.mo.gov/romine.

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