Rep. Jeff Coleman, Missouri House of Representatives District 32
This is an editorial: An editorial, like news reporting, is based on objective facts, but shares an opinion. The conclusions and opinions here have been derived by the guest contributor and are not associated with the news staff.
This week my HB 456 which eliminates income tax for those receiving social security benefits had a public hearing in Special Committee on Tax Reform. With inflation rates on the rise, the likes we haven’t seen since 1980s, it is essential to help ensure that many Missourians will be able to afford the basic necessities of life.
This week was full of House Committee hearings. It was my honor to serve as Chairman of Professional Registration and Licensing first hearing this session. We heard HB 115 sponsored by Representative Brenda Shields and HB 99 sponsored by Representative Davidson, both regarding access to physical therapy.
House Committee Advances Initiative Petition Reform Legislation (HJR 43)
Legislation designed to protect the sanctity of the Missouri Constitution is moving quickly through the legislative process and is now on track for discussion on the House floor. House Speaker Dean Plocher and Speaker Pro Tem Mike Henderson said as early as next week the House will consider a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to change the initiative petition process.
This week HJR 43 was approved by the House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials. If approved by the legislature and voters, the proposed constitutional amendment would change the threshold required to approve changes to the state constitution. Currently, changes to the constitution require only a simple majority for approval. HJR 43 would raise the threshold to 60 percent voter approval for passage.
Henderson noted Missouri is currently one of only 18 states to allow initiative petitions for a constitutional change and has one of the easier processes in the country for amending the constitution.
HJR 43 was approved by the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee by a vote of 11-5. It now moves to a House Rules Committee, which must approve the bill before it moves to the floor for discussion. The committee also passed three other proposed constitutional amendments (HJR 30, HJR 24, and HJR 25) that would modify the requirements to approve constitutional amendments.
House Committees Focus on Suicide Prevention Efforts (HB 132)
Two House committees met this week to discuss ways to reduce suicide in Missouri, particularly among its veterans.
The House Veterans Committee took testimony on HB 132, which would task the Missouri Veterans Commission with expanding its efforts to prevent veteran suicide. The House Health and Mental Health Policy Committee received a report issued by the Interim Committee on Veterans’ Mental Health and Suicide and discussed suicide prevention methods with a focus on the importance of the 988 hotline.
The sponsor of HB 132, who also chairs the House Veterans Committee and chaired the interim committee, spoke to both committees about the importance of his bill, which would give guidance to the Missouri Veterans Commission about how to use the data it collects on veteran suicides. The bill would also require the commission to report annually to the legislature on that data and what it’s doing to reduce the number of those incidents.
Legislation similar to HB 132 passed out of the House unanimously last year but didn’t reach Governor Parson. The Veterans Committee will likely vote on it soon.
Governor Parson Establishes Master Plan on Aging
Governor Mike Parson recently signed an executive order to establish a Master Plan on Aging. The plan is designed to help reduce age and disability discrimination, eliminate barriers to safe and healthy aging, and help Missourians to age with dignity.
The governor’s office noted there are currently more than 1.1 million Missouri citizens over the age of 60. Estimates suggest that older adults will outnumber minors for the first time by 2030 and older adults will greatly outnumber minors by 2060.
The Executive Order calls on the Department of Health and Senior Services, with the assistance of a new Advisory Council, to develop a Master Plan on Aging for the State of Missouri that addresses the needs and health outcomes for older adults and individuals with disabilities. The department is tasked with finalizing the Master Plan on Aging by December 31, 2025, and releasing a public report.
Please let me know If you have other concerns and suggestions. If you would like to schedule a specific time to meet locally, please call my office at 573-751-1487, or email my office at email@example.com.
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