DOR Scandal and Your Private Information (HB787 & HB818):
Have you ever started a task or project that ended up becoming more complex, more involved, and extending farther than originally expected? This is exactly the case with the scandal that contiues to unfold surrounding the acquisition, storage and unlawful distribution of law-abiding Missourian’s personal data by the Department of Revenue (DOR), Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP), and the Nixon administration. Throughout this process, mis-information has been rampant with a number of blatantly deceptive statements being made by administration officials prior to arrival at portions of the truth; the extent of which has yet to be fully determined. It should also be mentioned that the License/Fee office employees (who are independently contracted, and are not employees of DOR) nor our local Highway Patrol Troopers/Patrolmen the cause of this problem; the decisions to disregard laws which were passed in 2009 in implementing the REAL ID Act of 2005 and to provide the private information of 163,000 Missourians were made at the upper levels of DOR and the MSHP.
Representative Ross was honored this week and selected to serve as the House Floor Leader, while Representative Jason Smith was away from the Capitol.
As mentioned in previous reports, we have been attacking this situation from multiple directions including budgetary and statutory changes. House Bill 787 was brought to the floor this week, and several amendments were offered. Most notably, I offered the language from my HB818 which prohibits the State from creating, developing, or maintaining, or enabling the Federal government to create, or develop a database related to the number or type of firearms, amount of ammunition, or firearm accessories that an individual may possess; and an “Emergency Clause”, which causes the bill to become effective IMMEDIATELY, after passing the Senate and signature of the Governor. The adoption of my amendment overwhelmingly carried 123-31. As amended, HB787 passed by a vote of 141-14. As approved, this bill will prevent the department from scanning and storing personal documents of Missourians who seek a driver’s license or state identification card. It also requires that the department destroy all documents that have already been scanned.
One of the most troubling aspects of this situation is that law-abiding Missourians were the target of this attack, who were not under criminal investigation. At the end of the day, we want to make certain our private information remains private. At this point, it is not a question of “if” administration officials will be fired, but rather “how many,” and also “how many” will face criminal charges for their actions. This Representative has and will continue advocating for those responsible in this colossal breech of public trust to be held accountable for their disregard of the public’s interest. Stay tuned; there will likely be further developments as others begin to tell the truth.
House Approves Welfare to Work Reform Bill (HB 343):
While many Missourians may not realize it, the White House essentially nullified the bipartisan welfare to work reform legislation passed by Congress in 1996 that reformed our welfare system. Now, the requirements that have worked for more than 15 years to put people back on the road to gainful employment are out the window. The door is wide open for rampant abuse and for welfare to become a true entitlement program – a handout rather than a hand up.
This week in the Missouri House we gave first-round approval to legislation to make sure our welfare system continues to serve its originally intended purpose of helping Missourians during times of need to get back on their feet. The bill would make a number of changes designed to bring some much-needed accountability, and an emphasis on personal responsibility, to the system. One of the most important provisions would put welfare-to-work requirements to ensure recipients are actively seeking gainful employment. Other provisions would require recipients to have a high school diploma or GED, and enact new fraud investigation standards that would ensure welfare fraud investigators are doing their jobs properly (i.e. Drug Testing).
The goal with this bill is to protect your tax dollars from rampant abuse and misuse. Those that truly need help should be able to receive it. This bill institutes several necessary safeguards to protect our generous nature, and financial viability, from those who would take advantage of that.