Legislation is beginning to pick up in preparation for next year's session. U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement announcement is already having a great effect on the political atmosphere at the Capitol. With so many people in high-level positions, specifically seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, leaving their positions behind to run for U.S. Senate, there is an unusually large number of Missouri House and Senate members running for new positions. Unfortunately, this creates a great incentive to become overly political in the hopes of personal gain rather than a benefit to the state.
On the district level, I visited Lincoln University's Hemp Research Program and I am proud to say that from outside sources I have been told they have the best research going in the State of Missouri for trying to modify hemp seed to meet the Missouri soil and weather conditions. This is not hemp for marijuana. This is the hemp for oils and numerous manufactured products. Missouri was the leading hemp producer at one time in the United States and hemp was used for many things such as making rope. It can now be used in clothing, plastics, concrete and other materials. It has great potential for farmers to have access to a crop that produces a high dollar amount per acre, but also the opportunity to grow the manufacturing industry here in Missouri.
I attended a meeting for the Recreational Services Committee of the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation. It highlighted the ongoing need for sponsors, coaches for sports teams and referees. This was a problem when I was on the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Commission and continues to be a problem. These programs are so important for the development of our children and keeping our children active. In addition, they make for great family unity and participation. I know we are all busy with our own children and grandchildren but if we want to have these activities and not have paid coaches, we are going to need more people to step up. It is a perfect opportunity. You do not need to be trained. They will train you. If you are willing to be a head coach for a team, you will have a direct impact on the growth and development of kids in the community and assistant coaches are easier to find.
In addition to the bills that we're able to pass the House and the House and Senate reconciliation committee, but died because of last-minute filibusters, I am exploring other bills.
I had several organizations request meetings to discuss the problems of access to nursing homes or hospitals when we have a family member or friend who is dying or on hospice with no means for anyone to be present with them. I recognize the needs of the hospitals to protect the safety of the hospital and nursing homes, however, times are different from when the pandemic began. We now have many more tools to fight the pandemic, including a vaccine, than we had at the beginning. I have met with them and agreed to meeting with these groups to try to arrive at a common-sense approach so that our citizens at the most vulnerable time of their lives are not alone, but also that those people sharing that facility be protected. I would have hoped this could have been resolved without any legislative action but I am still receiving calls from people whose family members are dying in homes and the facilities are locked down. I made no commitments as to what I would offer, but I promised I would keep an open mind. I understand the gravity of the situation and recognize times are different now than when the pandemic first started.
I have met groups who are trying to improve our probation and parole system so that they are more efficient and result in lower recidivism rates. The goal of these programs is to try to place individuals on probation and parole back into society as successful citizens.
We are looking at ways to incentivize parolees and probationers to be successful in the workforce and take additional training. One simple solution is while they are on probation and parole if they maintain steady employment, their time frame for parole could be cut shorter. I am always in favor of making changes that reduce crime in our communities, but it has been shown time and time again that throwing money at problems without well-defined goals will not solve them. I am investigating real changes that can be made that will improve parole and probation outcomes in the long term as opposed to a fluff bill that does not actually accomplish anything. I believe with the shortage of workforce right now, these individuals have a better opportunity than ever before for probationers and parolees to get a job if we work with them to get adequate training and specialty training for certain fields. If we can effectively get people on probation and parole into good, steady jobs, then they will stay out of crime and can reintegrate as productive and valuable members of society.
As always, your input is vital to my ability to represent you effectively. Please call and email with your questions, thoughts and concerns.
State Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Jefferson City, represents the 59th District and shares his perspective on statehouse issues twice a month.