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Upholding the Oath to Protect the Constitution

Lawmakers returned from mid-session break on Monday and immediately began to tackle top priorities for the 2013 session. This week, one of those priorities was debating SJR 14, which received first-round approval on Tuesday. With one more affirmative vote from the Senate, the joint resolution will be on its way to the House for consideration. This initiative is not only important to most senators, but is a vital issue on Missourians’ radar. If approved by voters, SJR 14 would modify constitutional provisions regarding the right to keep and bear arms.

More specifically, the amendment states that a citizen has the right to keep and bear arms in defense of his or her family, in addition to that person’s current rights to defend themselves, and his or her home and property. Also, the amendment provides that the rights guaranteed under this provision of the Missouri Constitution are unalienable. Missouri is obligated to uphold these rights and, under no circumstances, decline to protect against their infringement. As the federal government continues to intrude upon our state’s private business and disrespect our state sovereignty — particularly with proposals of increased gun control — action must be taken to uphold our rights as American citizens. In the Senate, discussion was held about the oaths that lawmakers took when sworn into office to uphold and defend the state constitution. The biggest perpetrator in breaching constitutional rights is the federal government, and it’s our job to make sure our liberties remain as strong as they were when our great country was established.

A bill that received final approval this week was SB 116, which would create a new system for allowing military members stationed overseas to vote and ensure their voices are heard regarding their government, even if they are far away from the polls. Members of our Armed Forces make immeasurable sacrifices for our country, and we need to ensure they can take part in their right to vote, for which they fight and protect while in service. Among other provisions, the bill would allow servicemen and women to go online and request an absentee ballot to cast their vote. The Missouri Secretary of State would be required to establish an electronic transmission system that would allow a covered voter — a uniformed service voter who is registered to vote in Missouri, has a voting residence in the state, and who satisfies Missouri’s voter eligibility requirements, as well as overseas voters who are otherwise eligible to vote in Missouri — to apply and receive voter registration material and military-overseas ballots.

My sponsored SB 432 also received attention in the Senate this week with a hearing in the Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee on Tuesday (3-26). My bill will promote the good work of charities and volunteers by allowing a non-profit organization to prepare food, in a private home or other area, for distribution at a fundraising event for a charitable purpose. Consumers must be clearly informed that the food was prepared in a kitchen that is not subject to regulation and inspection by the regulatory authority. A delicious snack or meal is a great way to bring crowds to a charitable event or cause, and this bill will strengthen the efforts of our non-profit organizations.

In my last legislative column, I discussed allegations that the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) is sharing Missourians’ personal information retrieved during the process of obtaining certain licenses with federal government entities. On Monday (3-25), the Senate issued a subpoena demanding that DOR provide emails, grant applications, and other written communication between DOR and federal agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, regarding changes in procedure for issuing driver’s licenses and the federal Real ID Act. The subpoena seeks records dating back to January 2009 and requires that they be supplied to the Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman by 4 p.m. on April 2.

As session continues until May 17, the Senate will work to get important bills across the legislative finish line, including the state’s FY 2014 budget, which is due by Friday, May 10. If you have any questions about bills making their way through the Legislature, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office. Thank you for your interest in state government and have a great Easter weekend.

Welcoming Capitol Guests

I am always happy to welcome guests who come to visit me in Jefferson City. This week, I was delighted to meet Amber Carr, MSU Citizen Scholar Award recipient; Katelyn Smith, who represented the state of Missouri and was awarded the title of Princess for the National American Miss Pageant; numerous FFA students; and recipients of the Missouri Arts Awards, including Molly Davis and Nolan Stillwell, who received the “Governor’s Best” Award from Missouri’s First Lady Georganne Wheeler Nixon for his artwork titled “Trophy.”

If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.

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