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It was great to have visitors from Disabled Citizens Alliance for Independence in Iron County visit the Capitol this week.

DCAI does a wonder job advocating on behalf of the disabled in our area. They do an awesome job serving their consumers and our office is always glad to help them out whenever we can. All of our communities have elderly and disabled living in them, and the vast majority could use a helping hand from time to time. Keep this in mind when you head out to the grocery store or have some free time that you could help assist with some chores around their house. These individuals will greatly appreciate you reaching out to them.

Legislation was approved this week that would create stiffer penalties for poaching certain animals. The bill will address an issue that currently exists where it’s cheaper for a non-Missourian to come into the state, poach an animal, and pay the fine than it is to buy an out-of-state hunting tag. The bill would increase the fines for poaching wild turkeys, deer, elk, black bears, or paddlefish in Missouri.

In 2011 Missouri brought elk to our local area with an aim of reestablishing the population of the animal here, and eventually having an elk hunting season. The Department of Conservation says elk hunting could begin as early as next year. As many of you probably saw in the newspaper recently, someone killed one of these elk and left it lay.

The poaching of paddlefish has been very lucrative because paddlefish roe is often sold on the black market as caviar. This means one fish can be worth thousands of dollars. MDC often tells me that the reason they do not like night vision or thermal imaging for hog hunting is because they believe that people are using these tools to poach deer instead of hog hunting. I hope the new poaching penalties will help us with this issue too. The school district in which the poaching incident occurred will receive the money that is collected from the fine.

House Budget Committee unveiled a spending plan this week that makes a significant investment in state transportation infrastructure without raising taxes or incurring new debt for the state. The committee substitute includes a $100 million appropriation to pay for road and bridge improvements.

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I believe in the importance of crafting a plan that provides adequate funding for Missouri’s transportation needs without having the state go further into debt. The $100 million in general revenue will be dedicated to the State Road Fund for bridge projects in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which sets the transportation projects the Missouri Department of Transportation will undertake. All of our county commissions are a part of a Regional Planning Commission that meets to decide which area projects are most needed.

Those convicted of child molestation are considered dangerous sex offenders and when changing residence will be required to turn over his or her driver license to the law enforcement official with whom the offender was last registered. The offender would then have 3 days to register with the law enforcement official in the new area of residence, which would result in the driver license being returned. Failure to re-register would result in a felony offense, driver license suspended, and the individual would be required to be electronically monitored for 2 years. The state loses track of offenders when they move, so this is just a mechanism to keep track of them while they are relocating and hopefully it incentivizes them to re-register.

Missourians received good news this week as the Missouri Department of Revenue announced that it is on schedule to offer REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and non-driver identification on March 25. The REAL ID-compliant forms of identification will be necessary effective Oct. 1, 2020 for residents to fly domestically, to access federal facilities, including military bases and federal courthouses, and to enter nuclear power plants.

In 2017, the Missouri General Assembly approved legislation to give residents the option to obtain a photo ID that is compliant with the federal REAL ID Act. The current version of the Missouri driver license is not compliant. The federal government has granted multiple extensions to give Missourians additional months to utilize their existing licenses.

Visit dor.mo.gov/drivers/real-id-information/ for a complete listing of acceptable documents for REAL ID-compliant license and ID card processing, as well as other important information regarding REAL ID. For more information about the REAL ID Act, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website at dhs.gov/real-id

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.

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