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Health & Mental Health Policy
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Giving Thanks for All We Have
As your family celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you can take a moment to appreciate how truly blessed we are to live in the greatest nation in the world. It’s a land built on the principles of freedom, democracy, opportunity, and equality. It’s a country where we can achieve our dreams and raise our families while having peace of mind that we will remain safe and secure. And, it’s a nation that stands as a shining beacon of hope in a world that is too often plagued by chaos and violence.
That was never more apparent than a few days ago when the cowardly actions of terrorists took the lives of at least 129 people, and sent ripples of fear throughout the world. As a nation, we were reminded that we have much to be thankful for as our own security efforts have thwarted numerous terrorist attempts in the wake of 9/11. At the same time our hearts went out to all those who were so tragically impacted by these despicable acts of cowardice, and our country immediately offered its assistance to all those in need.
For Immediate Release:
The Community & Children’s Resource Board (CCRB) recognized and honored Representative Anne Zerr (R-65) for her leadership and long standing advocacy for mental health funding for children and adults at its September Board meeting. Representative Zerr has served in the Missouri House since 2008 and has fought hard to retain and expand mental health funding when reduced state revenues threatened to cut the Department of Mental Health’s budget. In 2015, she sponsored HB1045, a bill designed to protect the integrity of the State Statute that allows counties to tax themselves for the purpose of creating a Community Children’s Services Fund. Eight counties have passed this measure since 2004, and these local funds have provided mental health and substance abuse treatment services to hundreds of thousands of children and youth under the age of 19. Over the past three years, there have been numerous legislative attempts to divert funds for purposes not approved by the voters of these communities. Zerr’s bill, which eventually became part of SB42, was signed by the Governor and became law in late August, honors the voice of the voters and the local boards that have provided stewardship over these funds.
“If the voters want to add additional items for funding consideration, they can put the issue before the voters. SB42 provides them with a mechanism to do so while honoring what voters have approved”, shared Rep. Zerr. “In a democracy, it is vital to protect the voice of the people while maintaining transparency in how tax dollars are spent. Local funding and control are crucial to addressing the mental health needs of our youth and they are making a remarkable difference in the St. Charles County community.”
St. Charles County passed a 1/8 cent tax in 2004 and the fund is administered by the CCRB. The Board distributes approximately $6.5 million annually supporting 27 agencies and partially funding 42 programs that range from school-based prevention programming, to counseling, to very intensive services for youth with serious emotional disorders. Since these programs have been expanded, St. Charles County has experienced significant reductions in child abuse, child and adolescent mortality, teenage pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, school dropouts, truancy crimes, and runaway youth.
Every year on the first Monday in September, we pause as a nation to take pride in the determination and spirit of the American worker. Labor Day is a celebration of what American workers have achieved, not for a single group, but instead for all Americans. First commemorated in 1882, Labor Day was started to officially recognize the social and economic achievements of American workers. Matthew McGuire, while serving as secretary for the Central Labor Union in New York, first suggested the holiday and aided the CLU in hosting a demonstration and picnic on the first Monday of September. The CLU encouraged other organizations to follow suit and by 1885, Labor Day was being celebrated in industrial centers across the nation. However, it wasn’t until 1894 that Congress passed a bill making Labor Day a legal holiday. Labor Day not only shows our appreciation for the efforts of workers in the past, but it gives honor to the efforts that American labor continues to put forth. This Labor Day, take a moment to reflect upon the benefits that American labor bought for all of us with their efforts, and the brighter days they will help us achieve with their continued diligence.
Independence Day Parade in St. Charles City.
July 1, 2015
Celebrating Our Independence
From my family to yours, I wish you a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday. I know for many this is a time for friends, food, fun and fireworks, but I urge you to also keep in mind the significance of our Independence Day that commemorates the moment in time when our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. It has now been more than two centuries that the American people have enjoyed the freedoms and rights that are unique to our great nation, and we are truly blessed to live in it.
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!
Commemorating the Capitol Cornerstone Anniversary
The day before our nation celebrates its independence, a large group of Missouri’s public officials and citizens will gather in Jefferson City to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the laying of the Missouri State Capitol Cornerstone. The governor and members of the legislature are urging all Missourians to make plans to attend the event that is scheduled for July 3 in Jefferson City. The celebration will give visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of the state and the Capitol, and to participate in the dedication of a new time capsule that will remain sealed for the next century. The event will be held on the south side of the Capitol steps at 1 p.m. on Friday, July 3.
May 15, 2015
House members crossed the legislative finish line Friday evening with a long list of accomplishments meant to move Missouri toward a brighter tomorrow. However, the immensely productive session came to a grinding halt during what is normally a frantic final week as the Senate became bogged down in a filibuster. The shutdown of the legislative process left many bills in limbo but didn’t diminish from the fact the House and Senate had already sent most of their legislative priorities to the governor’s desk.
The quiet final week also took on a somber tone in the House as the Speaker stepped down from his position. The difficult moment brought members together to offer support to one another; and to regroup and refocus on the business of representing the best interests of their constituents. Members moved quickly to elect Floor Leader Todd Richardson as the new Speaker. As he then said to his colleagues and the members of the media, “It is time to get back to the important business we were sent here by Missourians to accomplish.”
As the gavel dropped for the final time at 6 p.m. the House and Senate had a significant list of legislative accomplishments to be proud of, including:
Fiscal Year 2016 State Operating Budget (HBs 1-13) – The legislature approved a $26.1 billion state operating budget that increases funding for K-12 education by $84 million to take total funding for public schools to the highest level in state history. The spending plan also increases higher education funding by $12 million and reins in the unsustainable growth of the state’s public assistance programs, including expanding use of managed care in the state Medicaid system. The budget bills have already been signed by the governor. The Senate Budget Chair proposed that the Health, Mental Health and Social Services budgets in HB 10 and HB11 be put into “block grant” form, and made a cut across the board. The House disagreed feeling that we would be abdicating our responsibility as legislators to give appropriation authority to the bureaucracy. Fortunately the House position prevailed and cuts were not made in those funds.