Greetings from your Missouri Capitol on this sunny, brisk spring day. I hope you have been able to get out and enjoy one of our great seasons in Missouri. It has been a very busy two weeks since I last wrote you, and I hope to catch you up on just a portion of what I have been involved or participated in. While I will not be able to go into a great deal of detail because of space limitations, I do want to hit the highlights.
A little over two weeks ago, I was invited by my colleague from Jackson County to visit the Kansas City Veterans Community Project located on Troost Avenue in Kansas City. This project is better known as the “Tiny Homes” project for homeless veterans in the Kansas City area. I had heard a great deal about this very important project both good and bad, and I wanted to see for myself what it looked like and how it was run. I will tell you this is one of the finest programs I have seen to date, and this model in Kansas City is being adopted in the St. Louis area headed by the same group of dedicated veteran leaders.
This is an innovative community of 49 tiny houses for homeless veterans. The homes range in size from 240-320 square feet, meet all local city code requirements and connect to city utility services.
Many veterans arrive at VCP Village with little more than the pain, uncertainty and loneliness of life on the streets. A tiny house provides everything they need to live with dignity and safety — new furniture, appliances, housewares, bedding, food and utilities — free of charge.
More importantly, VCP Village provides sanctuary and the emotional space needed for the Veteran and VCP’s Veteran Support Services team to thoroughly address the underlying causes of his or her homelessness.
Together, the Veteran and VCP’s specially trained case managers work to achieve incremental, lasting results in the areas of health and wellness, education, employment, financial literacy and the development of a personal support network.
Once their desired goals are met, VCP assists the veteran in securing a permanent housing solution. The veteran is allowed to take the entire contents of the tiny home as they transition to a new life.
A replica of this veterans community project is currently underway in the St. Louis area with a portion of the medical marijuana money is being allocated to this project, and I now believe it is money well spent. If you are in the KC area, I would encourage you to stop by and take a look for yourself.
This past two weeks has seemed to have been my “service club tour.” I have had the opportunity to speak to our local Host Lions Club and give them a legislative update as well as present a resolution recognizing their 95th anniversary of service to the City of Jefferson. That following Friday, I spoke with the Kansas City Rotary Club about our Gold Star Families Memorial Monument project. There is a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument located in Olathe, Kansas, and I encouraged those Rotarians to visit that monument. Additionally, I invited them to our dedication ceremony and to contribute to our project as many other Rotary clubs across the state have done. Finally, I spoke this past week with my Breakfast Rotary and gave them a brief legislative update and answered any questions they had concerning the process and status of the bills I have sponsored.
This past week, we took part in what has become a tradition in the Capitol: the annual Legislative Softball Tournament. This year, the proceeds benefited our local Samaritan Center. Teams from the House of Representatives, the Senate and some state agencies met at Binder Park for an evening of fun and relaxation amidst a time of busy days spent discussing policy and legislation. When the dust settled the Missouri Highway Patrol/legislative partners team came out victorious, and it was fitting my good friend Elijah Mayfield was holding the winning trophy. Congratulations to the winners and all who participated to help a great organization in our community.
This past Friday, I had a meeting with some stakeholders of our airport for an informational meeting presented by Chief Matt Schofield concerning an aging firefighting apparatus located on the airport grounds that would be used in case of an emergency. The current piece of equipment is 30 years old and was old when we bought it back in 2006. With the stimulus money available to cities, counties and our state, a plea was made to fund a new firefighting apparatus. Members of the city, Callaway County Commission, MoDOT, Missouri Department of Conservation and airport staff attended and listened to a compelling argument for supporting the purchase of this piece of equipment. Thursday was the first meeting of what I hope will be a series of meetings to help us move forward in the future. There is a great deal available in stimulus money from the federal government, and it is incumbent on all of us to spend this money wisely.
This past Thursday, I had the honor of presenting a resolution to the president of Lincoln University celebrating the 100th anniversary of Lincoln University being named a university. The first African American legislator, Walthall Moore, presented HB 539 on April 15, 1921, changing the name from the Lincoln Institute to Lincoln University. We can all take pride in this wonderful institution of higher learning and should join together in congratulating them on their success and wish them the best in the days and years that lie ahead.
Finally, I do want to give you an update on my legislation. HB 391 is a bill I pre-filed in November designating the National Guard as state employees for the purpose of driving state vehicles in the performance of our state’s COVID-19 response.
This is a cost-saving measure while helping the National Guard in their assistance to all Missourians. Additionally, my HB 849, the Capitol Complex Tax Credit bill, was perfected and printed so the next step will be to have it third read and then move to the Senate.
As always, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve you in this historic building and welcome your thoughts and concerns on any legislation being considered on the floor of the House. As we move into the final weeks of session, the pace will pick up, and we will begin adding a number of amendments to bills in an effort to get our bills across the finish line. This is the time of the year when casting my vote becomes more difficult, but I want to assure you I do so with a great deal of thought.
State Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, represents the 60th District and shares his perspective on statehouse issues twice a month.