Missouri Senate News: Punitive Damages Bill Spurs Legal Debate in the Government Reform Committee Hearing

Jefferson City, MO (STL.News) Although we have just completed our first full week, the momentum is building for another successful and eventful session filled with office meetings, district visitors and committee hearings.  Last Wednesday, the governor gave his annual State of the State Address to both chambers, state officials, honored guests and others.  He outlined some of his priorities for 2020 which include continued workforce development, infrastructure improvements, violent crime prevention and early childhood education.

One of my priority bills, Senate Bill 591, was heard by the Government Reform Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 14.  The bill is designed to increase sovereign immunity and prevent the state from paying exorbitant costs in punitive damages.  Much legalese was exchanged between senators and witnesses, and a parade of supporters and opponents weighed in.

The Veterans and Military Affairs Committee also held its first hearing last Tuesday, and I was pleased to share the Department of Defense’s news about the expansion of access to commissary; exchange; and morale, welfare and recreation retail eligibility to more veterans and caregivers.  The Purple Heart and Disabled Veteran Equal Access Act of 2018 went into effect on Jan. 1.

The committee also discussed Senate Bill 560.  The bill is designed to help nonresident military spouses expedite employment in Missouri by forgoing the rigorous licensure requirements.  This has been named a priority issue by the governor, and six other states have enacted similar legislation.

I was pleased to welcome two optometrists from the 32nd district to my office during their annual advocacy day at the Capitol on Jan. 13.  Mike Roberts, O.D. from Monett, and Dr. Lorry Lazenby, from Lazenby Eyecare in Joplin, shared some of their insights on legislation potentially impacting their field.

Later that evening, Toby Teeter, President of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, and I joined members of the Missouri Economic Development Council during a reception at the Governor’s Mansion.

I am pleased to announce that the Senate and House Veterans Committees will host a joint hearing in honor of Missouri Military Appreciation Day on Feb. 5.  I will share more information about this important observance in the coming weeks.

Jan. 20 is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and communities in Missouri and across the nation will hold events to honor his heroic activism and leadership in advancing civil rights.  Please consider celebrating his vast accomplishments and legacy at one our area’s celebrations.

If you plan on coming to Jefferson City to visit the Capitol, I would love to meet with you.  Simply call or email my office at bill.white@senate.mo.gov to schedule an appointment.  It is an honor and a privilege serving the people of Dade, Jasper and Newton counties, and I value your input on issues that affect District 32.