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May 30, 2012

Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2012, at 2:18 PM

In honor of Memorial Day, please take time to reflect on all of those who gave their lives for the freedom that we enjoy today. Some may take it for granted, but many battles and wars were fought to allow us such a precious privilege. All of those who perished to make sure the United States of American stayed true to its constitutional rights, did not die in vain.

In Arlington, a flag is placed, on every soldier's grave. In cemeteries nationwide, the stars and stripes are displayed. The blood-stained earth still echoes, the final anguished cries, of men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice. With selfless honor, they bravely paid freedom's deadly price.

Thousands of souls have earned their nation's thanks throughout the years. While back at home, their families wept a thousand bitter tears. And now, as spring edges into summer, we come together across the land, to honor that brave number as we have for many years.

The bugles sound, the flags all fly, the old soldiers lift a glass, to the buddies that they loved, that are never coming back. Mothers cry as they remember the sons and daughters who went to war. Children try to picture a parent dead and buried when they were born.

All across the nation, their comrades reminisce. And in churches and town halls, names are read from a list. Now soldiers, be at ease. Your compatriots have the watch. And they'll serve and die until that final day of peace.

You can always accomplish more if you have a plan. It gives you a sense of direction and a distinct goal to work toward as you move forward. And, when we started this session, we laid out our plan for Missouri. Now, as this year's session comes to a close, I am pleased to say we've accomplished several of the things we set out to do.

We have worked to protect you, the taxpayer, from the onset of this year's session. Our initial pledge was to balance the budget without raising taxes by a single penny. This is a glaring contrast to those on the other side of the aisle who pushed for higher taxes all session to fill the $500 million budget shortfall.

But we fought hard to keep that money where it belonged, in your pocket. The economic downturn has made it difficult for you to make ends meet, and the rising cost of life's basic necessities have made it particularly tough. The last thing you need in these tough times is higher taxes.

Jobs were once again a top priority this session. One of the best ways we can help businesses create jobs is to improve the business climate. Currently, Missouri's businesses are faced with a burdensome regulatory scheme that is crippling their ability to grow and expand. And, until this problem is fixed, our economy will continue to sputter.

Here in the House, we worked hard and reduced regulations on small businesses by passing HB 1135. Under current law, rules can stay on the books of a state agency indefinitely. This legislation terminates all rules after five years unless the department re-promulgates the rule. By requiring these rules to be reviewed periodically, we can ensure that all agency rules are efficient, effective and not a burden to businesses.

HB 1135 also gives businesses more say in the rule making process. By terminating a rule every five years, all rules will have to venture through the public comment process periodically, giving citizens a say in how our executive departments run. This gives you the opportunity to tell the department how a rule affects your business and could keep a rule from being re-implemented.

We also improved the business climate by passing HB 1540 which reforms our co-employee liability laws under workers compensation. Due to a recent court ruling, injured workers now have the ability to sue their co-workers as part of their workers compensation case. This puts our workers in a difficult situation by making them choose between losing their jobs and being sued. And it penalizes workers who are acting in their official capacity.

HB 1540 alleviates this burden on employers and their workers by raising the standard for suing an employee to gross negligence. By toughening the standard, we protect workers who are out there trying to make a living. Here in the House, we think that employees shouldn't be sued for simply doing their job.

Finally, we worked very hard to protect your values by passing a bill that cares for our veterans. Our veterans are true patriots, and they sacrifice a lot to ensure we live in liberty. I was proud to vote for a dedicated funding stream that ensures our veterans will get the care they deserve, year after year.

HB 1731 provides that stream they originally received prior to 1998. Under this legislation, our veterans will receive an additional $30 million which is enough money to keep our homes open and viable for years to come.

We are currently operating seven homes that serve 1,350 servicemen and women, and there is a waiting list of around 1,700 who are desperately in need of care. HB 1731 not only provides the operating funds for our current homes, but also provides enough funding to start replenishing the Veterans Commission Capital Improvement Trust Fund so we can fill the needs of those on the waiting list.

I am proud of our accomplishments this session. We started with a plan for Missouri plan, and we achieved something in every issue area. When these bills officially become law, Missouri will definitely be moving in the right direction again. These bills now go to the governor for his approval and signature.

The Holcomb fourth graders visited the Capitol on Wednesday, May 16th. A great time was had by all. We so enjoy having visitor's from the district.

As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House. If you would like to discuss any issue, please call 573-751-3629. You can also email me at Kent.Hampton@house.mo.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.

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