Give Liberty a Chance!

God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies…

And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgement of faith in God and His works.

- Frederic Bastiat, The Law, 1850

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Committees at Work

This time of year in the Missouri House one finds most of the work being accomplished in committees. It during this time that bills are heard by a small group legislators who review the bill in detail, discuss it’s merits, make amendments, and hear testimony from the public. The hearing process is the time when the public has the opportunity to be on record “for” or “against” any bill before the House or Senate. Hearing schedules can be grueling with most legislators sitting on three to five committees that meet at least once a week for hours at a time.

Once a bill has been vetted in committee and voted “DO PASS” it may advance to the House calendar for debate before the entire body. At this time, few bills sit on the House calendar. That number will increase significantly over the next two to three weeks, when the time demands will shift from committee work to floor debate.

This past week the House Committee on Homeland Security passed a concurrent resolution that aims to protect Missourians from the dangers associated with the closing of Guantonamo Bay as ordered by President Obama. The destination of these suspected terrorists is still in question. This resolution would oppose the use of Missouri’s airports, highways, railways, and waterways for the transportation of these terror suspects. It also would express opposition to the sheltering of these terror suspects in our state as they are being transported to detention centers. Additionally, the resolution opposes granting these prisoners asylum in Missouri. The Missouri House is committed to keeping terror suspects out of our state.

Once again this session, the House passed the Teacher Protection Act, to change the laws regarding school employee liability, safety practices, and reporting acts of violence. It gives teachers the ability to maintain order as long as they follow established school policy. Most importantly, the bill allows school employees to focus on teaching without worrying about litigation.

In addition, the bill makes aware to all teachers and administrators of acts of violence throughout the school. Suspended students would not be allowed on school property without specific permission and would be prohibited from attending off campus, school sponsored activities. It requires a notice of reportable offenses to be attached to an offending student's record and transcript.

The Teacher Protect Act exempts unqualified employees who refuse to administer medication or medical services from disciplinary action and exempts qualified employees from any civil liability for administering medication or medical services. Teachers should be able to take the necessary steps to protect their student’s health.

All of these provisions are aimed at ensuring a safe learning environment for Missouri students.

Also, this week the Real ID and Personal Privacy Committee passed the concurrent resolution that claims sovereignty for the states under the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution for all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government under the Constitution.

In other news, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the controversial federal dependency package. This $787 billion dollar package is the largest amount of tax dollars ever spent at one time by Washington. It is unfortunate that we have elected leadership in Washington that has decided to play on America’s financial insecurity to create evermore dependence on the federal government.

From what little that has been communicated to the state, a quick look at, as Senator Chuck Schumer described, the “porky” bill shows us that out of the $787 billion dollar package, $509 billion of our money will be used to expand and grow federal and state welfare programs, create temporary government project jobs that will not receive the same funding in future years, and gives tax cuts to people who don’t pay income taxes, in other words, it redistributes wealth.

Now that the bill has passed, Governor Nixon and the Missouri General Assembly have significant decisions to make. Missouri is expected to receive about $4.3 billion from this package. Our total state budget is about $22 billion, so this federal give-away is equivalent to increasing our spending by nearly 20%. Washington’s ways cannot be Missouri’s ways. The Missouri House is committed to using one-time dollars for one-time expenditures. We refuse to put ourselves in a position to spend money today that we will likely not have in the future.

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