Hello Friends, I hope all had the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful Easter with family and friends. This year our family visited First Baptist Church in Gainesville for Easter Service as our friend and fellow Eslinger, Mason Eslinger led the service as Pastor of First Baptist Church. Mason delivered a wonderful sermon and it was so nice to visit with friends and family.
This past week the Capitol was filled with students from local Future Farmers of America clubs as they participated in the Missouri Farm Bureau Youth Leadership Day. I met with students from Gainesville and Ava. Sadly, I missed the opportunity to chat with the Lutie School students. During their visit, all students learned about the agricultural and rural issues impacting our state. Through visiting with their legislators and listening to speakers I believe the students may gain an awareness of how important it is to be an engaged and informed citizen. I appreciate the Youth Leadership sponsors from all three schools for taking the time to bring the students to the Capitol.
The following are a few summaries of legislation passed to the Senate this week. My report is not a complete list of legislation. For more details regarding the bills I summarize or to access all bills moving through the process please go to house.mo.gov (legislation).
Legislation to Protect Land Owners from Eminent Domain Abuse (HB 1062)
Hundreds of concerned land owners gathered in the State Capitol this week to rally in support of their property rights. The Missouri House of Representatives took action to prevent the misuse of the state’s eminent domain law by approving a bill that would specify that a private entity cannot use the power of eminent domain for the purposes of constructing above-ground power lines. It is important to note that the concern was not about the use of wind energy but about land owner rights.
The bill comes in response to the proposed Grain Belt Express transmission line that would carry power generated by wind turbines in Kansas across Missouri to other states in the Midwest and neighboring states. The 750-mile line would run across eight northern Missouri counties – Buchanan, Clinton, Caldwell, Carroll, Chariton, Randolph, Monroe and Ralls.
In March, the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a request made by Grain Belt Express to construct the high-voltage transmission line. As a result of the decision made by the PSC, developers would have the authority to utilize the power of eminent domain to obtain easement rights from landowners who are unwilling to sell.
The legislation approved by the House would prevent the use of eminent domain for the purpose of constructing the Grain Belt Express transmission line. Supporters of the bill said it is important to prohibit private companies from using eminent domain to maximize their profits for a project that will provide little benefit for Missouri consumers. They say less than 12 percent of the electricity carried by the transmission line would be sold to Missouri consumers.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Crack Down on Carjackers (HB 966)
Approval was given this week to legislation that would create and define the crime of carjacking. Supporters say the bill would give consistency and clarity to Missouri law.
Proponents of the bill say it is necessary because Missouri does not currently have a law for prosecutors to charge vehicle hijacking under. Instead, prosecutors have to charge under a similar offense, such as robbery or theft. Supporters say carjacking has become an epidemic that needs to be addressed. They note that St. Louis had 350 carjackings in 2018.
The bill creates the offense of “vehicle hijacking.” It would be considered a “dangerous felony,” and would carry a penalty between 5 and 15 years. If the crime is committed with the use of a weapon, if a victim is seriously injured, or if one of the victims is a child or “special victim,” the crime would be a class A felony with a penalty of 10 to 30 years, or life. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Additional bills were presented.
As always, I appreciate the privilege to be of service to the great folks who live in the 155th District.