Dear Citizens: Members of the MO House and Senate convened on January 11th for a joint session on the steps of the Missouri State Capitol building to attend the inauguration of Missouri’s governor and other statewide officials. Lawmakers were present as Governor Mike Parson was sworn in to a full term as the 57th governor of the state.
Also sworn into office during the ceremony were Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft, and Attorney General Eric Schmitt. The ceremony concluded with a special salute to Missouri signifying its entry as the 24th state in the United States 200 years ago. The ceremony also included a number of COVID-19 precautions to ensure the safety of all those in attendance. The traditional inaugural ball that coincides with the event was postponed until a time when guests can attend safely.
Committee Approves House Priorities to Support Foster Parents and Encourage Adoptions (HB 429 and HB 430)
The House Committee on Children and Families met January 12th to discuss and approve two pieces of legislation that would reduce the financial burden for foster parents and families interested in adopting. The two bills are priorities for House Speaker Rob Vescovo, who called for the policy changes in his Opening Day address.
HB 429 would authorize an income tax deduction for the expenses related to providing care as a foster parent. The bill would authorize a deduction of $2,500 for an individual and $5,000 for a married couple if foster care is provided for at least six months. HB 430 would expand the state’s existing $10,000 tax credit to any adoption. Currently the credit applies only to those who adopt special needs children. The bills would continue to give priority to special needs adoptions.
The sponsor of the bill, who has been a foster parent and who adopted one of the children she fostered, said the state can make a wise investment in young people with the tax breaks for families.
Speaker Vescovo added, “As a caucus and as a party we believe in fighting to protect the lives of the unborn and to promote the health and well-being of all children in our state. We want every child who is born in Missouri to have the support they need to lead happy, healthy, productive lives that will allow them to make good on their vast potential.”
Missouri House Approves Historic Censure Motion (HC 1)
For the first time in its history the Missouri House of Representatives has voted to censure one of its members. With a bipartisan vote of 140-3, the members of the House voted to censure MO Rep. Wiley Price for ethical misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a state legislator.
Price had been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for an alleged inappropriate relationship with a House intern and for intimidating his assistant for performing her duties as a mandated reporter. During the course of the investigation the committee also found that Price had worked to obstruct the committee’s investigation by attempting to coerce a witness and by committing perjury.
The Ethics Committee concluded that Price’s actions compromised the ability of the House to provide a respectful, professional work environment. The committee found his actions to constitute ethical misconduct unbecoming of a state legislator of sufficient severity to warrant censure. Censure is, in effect, a formal statement of disapproval from the body.
With the censure, Price will also have no supervisory authority over any intern during his time as a member, and any employee assigned to him will be under the direct supervision of the chief clerk. Price will receive no committee assignments and will not be allowed to hold any leadership position. He will also pay a fine of $22,492.25 to reimburse the House for costs related to the investigation of the complaint.