Monday, January 30, 2023

Carthage man charged with manslaughter in connection with crash that killed Marshfield woman


The Greene County Prosecuting Attorney's office filed manslaughter charges Monday against a Carthage man who was allegedly driving 98 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone when his car struck another vehicle and killed the driver.

In addition to manslaughter, Alan Gray Jones, 22, is charged with assault and tampering with physical evidence.







The accident that killed Rita Deckard, 57, Marshfield, is described in the probable cause affidavit:

On December 3, 2022, at approximately 1518 hours a two-vehicle crash was reported at N. Glenstone Avenue and the eastbound ramps of I-44 in the city of Springfield, Missouri. The crash was called in by multiple 911 callers. N. Glenstone at this location is posted 40 miles per hour. The intersection is controlled by a traffic signal which at the time of the crash was green for traffic on N. Glenstone Avenue and a flashing yellow arrow for traffic turning left from southbound on N. Glenstone Avenue to the eastbound ramp of I-44.

Alan G. Jones was driving a Tesla Model 3 northbound on N. Glenstone Avenue and passed a 40 MPH speed limit sign 0.58 miles prior to the crash.

R. D. was making a left turn from southbound on N. Glenstone Avenue to eastbound on I-44. R. D. sustained fatal injuries as a result of crash and was pronounced dead on scene.

It was determined through investigation the Tesla attained a speed of as much as 98 miles per hour in the five seconds prior to the crash and was traveling at 94 miles per hour at the time of the crash event. The first recorded braking was at 0.6 seconds prior to the crash event.

Prior to the crash Jones had been northbound in the left lane. Jones then changed lanes to the right lane and passed a non-contact vehicle. Jones then began to change back to the left lane before swerving back to the right lane and colliding with R. D.'s vehicle.







Both vehicles ran off the right side of the roadway before coming to a stop.

The passenger in the Tesla, H. R. sustained the following injuries as a result of the crash:

-Broken right collar bone

-Broken left radius and ulna

-Compression fracture of L3

-Chance fracture at L1

H. R. underwent two surgeries to stabilize her left forearm and one to stabilize her lumbar spine.

The crash occurred during daytime hours with moderate traffic and pedestrians walking in the immediate vicinity of the crash.

After the crash and while still on scene but prior to Jones and H. R. being transported to the hospital a media drive was removed from the Tesla's glove box. The media drive is where Tesla vehicles store video from the dash camera and sentry system for users to access.

According to the probable cause affidavit, the media drive was not turned over to the Springfield Police Department until December 12 until the department requested it from Jones' attorney.

A $10,000 open court only bond has been set for Jones with conditions that he be placed on home supervision with the use of a GPS monitoring device and can only leave to travel directly to and from meetings with his attorney, medical appointments and to the grocery store nearest his home.

***

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Irving Elementary teacher charged with DWI following post-midnight crash after leaving party


The initial appearance for Irving Elementary teacher Katryn "Katy" James on a charge of driving while intoxicated was postponed today due to the closing of the Newton County Courthouse.

James was also scheduled to have a pre-trial hearing on a charge of careless and imprudent driving. Both charges were in connection with a rollover crash that occurred November 6 on Iris Road east of Otter Drive after James left a party.

The allegations against James, 31, Neosho, were detailed in the probable cause statement written by the Highway Patrol trooper who investigated the accident.







On November 6, 2022, at approximately 0030 hours, Troop D Radio Communications personnel advised me of a single vehicle, non-injury, rollover crash on Iris Road east of Otter Drive in Newton County. I responded to the scene. 

Upon arriving on-scene, I observed a silver Chevrolet Equinox at rest in the roadway, on the driver's side, facing northwest. 

Evidence at the scene indicated the Equinox had traveled off the left side of the road, collided with a barbed wire fence, collided with a tree and overturned. I made contact with the driver and obtained preliminary crash information and made a wrecker request for the driver. I asked the driver for her driver license and proof of insurance for the Equinox. 

She stated her driver license was somewhere inside the Equinox. Her husband, who was on-scene, provided current proof of insurance. I identified the driver as Katryn L. James, via her name and date of birth which she provided verbally to me. 

While speaking with James I smelled a moderate odor of intoxicants on her breath. I also noticed her eyes were bloodshot and glassy. I asked James to seat herself in the front passenger seat of my patrol vehicle, which she did. 

While inside my patrol vehicle, I obtained additional crash information from James. I asked James what happened and she said, "I was driving home. I never drive this road. I was taking it because there was a semi on the road and I was trying to, you know, cut time I guess. And I saw a deer and I tried to get away from the deer and I knew I f - - - ed up the second I saw the deer and I tried to swerve." 

I asked James how much alcohol she had, and she said, "I've had like five drinks." 

I asked James what she had been drinking and she said, "Um, I had White Claws and I had two beers."
I asked James how long ago she finished drinking and she said, "Um, probably two hours from my last time I had from my last beer that I had before I left the party." 

Upon my request, James submitted to the following field sobriety tests: horizontal gaze nystagmus, recite the alphabet from C to Y, count backwards from 47 to 32, and a preliminary breath test. 

While administering the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, I noted James' eyes tracked equally, her pupils were of equal size, and did not exhibit resting nystagmus. Both of James' eyes exhibited a lack of smooth pursuit. Both of James' eyes exhibited distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation. The preliminary breath test was positive for alcohol and revealed a result of O.151 %. 

At approximately 0106 hours, based on the totality of the circumstances, I determined James was intoxicated and placed her under arrest for driving while intoxicated and for operated a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner - involving an accident. I transported James to the Newton County Jail. 








After arriving at the Newton County Jail I inspected James' mouth to ensure there was no foreign material inside. Satisfied, I began the 15-minute observation period at approximately 0128 hours. I advised James of Missouri Implied Consent at approximately 0131 hours. 

At approximately 0144 hours James submitted to a chemical test of her breath. Her blood alcohol content was measured to be 0.128. 

James was fingerprinted, photographed, and issued citations for driving while intoxicated and for operated a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner - involving an accident. James was released from the jail on citations.

James is represented by Joplin attorney Phil Glades.

***



The Joplin Globe charges $200 a year for subscriptions and offers little investigative reporting. The Neosho Daily News charges more than $100 a year for subscriptions and offers none.

Neither newspaper offers free obituaries.

There is no pay wall for the Turner Report, Inside Joplin or Inside Joplin Obituaries and there never will be. 

Investigative reporting, commentary, free obituaries and much, much more. 

If you think more people should be reading the Turner Report, Inside Joplin and Inside Joplin Obituaries, spread the word to your friends and relatives. Share the stories that interest you and keep the news tips coming. They don't always make it into the blog, but they often do.

And if you appreciate this locally owned news operation, consider taking a voluntary subscription or making a contribution of any amount, large or small at the PayPal buttons below or by mailing your contribution to Randy Turner, 2306 E. 8th, Apt. A, Joplin, MO 64801. Thanks!

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Afton man pleads guilty to sexually abusing child and filming the abuse


(From the U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma)

An Afton man pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court for filming himself sexually abusing a young child that he had handcuffed and gagged, announced US Attorney Clint Johnson.

Glenn David Nickols, 40, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual abuse of a minor under 12 years of age in Indian Country and sexual exploitation of a child.








In March of 2021, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) received a CyberTipline report regarding an email account used by Nickols to transmit more than 100 videos and images of child sexual abuse. However, agents noticed that several files were not of previously identified victims of child sexual abuse material. Those images and videos showed multiple instances of a man wearing a hat with the name “Buckster” sexually abusing a child with tape over her mouth and whose arms and legs had been restrained with handcuffs and shackles.

After identifying Nickols and his address, OSBI conducted a search warrant on his home where they seized evidence of the abuse. Agents were also able to identify the young Native American victim and ensure she was safe from any future harm.








Nickols was arrested and interviewed by OSBI agents. During the interview, he identified himself as the adult male seen in the videos, that his nickname was “Buck,” and that he was the owner of the account. He told agents the abuse took place at his home in Afton, within the bounds of the Cherokee Nation.

The OSBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Nassar is prosecuting the case.

Kansas City Democrat: Republicans seeking to eliminate corporate taxes, drag shows and initiative petitions


(From Rep. Ingrid Burnett, D-Kansas City)

As I was headed into the building on Thursday morning, I rode the elevator with another building employee – perhaps an LA or staff member for another rep. 

As our conversation morphed from weather to building security and accessibility, she began to explain to me that the real threat we face is the coming of the anti-Christ who is coming to destroy Christians and make them subservient to his will. 







Once we made it inside, I excused myself and went into the cafĂ© to purchase a cup of coffee. They stream a music service that plays classic hits from the 60s & ’70s and I often get my ideas for my music reference from this encounter. This day, the song that was playing was The Eve of Destruction, by Barry McGuire. It was a weird way to start the day.

Widgets and Wedges Dominate the Week


For the most part, it’s been budget appropriation committees that have dominated the calendar. Speaker Plocher has introduced a different approach to the way the budget will be developed by giving more authority to budget subcommittees. 

Each subcommittee will amend the budget bills in their possession before sending them to the larger “Big Budget” committee. 

While some subcommittee members are also members of Big Budget, not all are. Thus, subcommittees are larger than before with more assembly members investing in the process. I am a member of Big Budget, and I also sit on the Education Approps committee and am the Ranking Member on the Agriculture, Conservation, Natural Resources and EcoDevo Approps Committee. We are through the lion’s share of the department requests and Governor recommendations and will start our amending process probably by the second week of February.

As you heard in his State of the State address, Governor Parson outlined his spending priorities for the upcoming fiscal year including:

· $859 million to expand and rebuild portions of Interstate 70;

· $275 million for capital improvement projects at Missouri's public higher education institutions;

· $250 million to continue broadband internet expansion efforts;

· $233 million to help public schools meet their transportation needs;








· $78 million to increase childcare subsidy rates and to establish three new childcare tax credit programs;

· $56 million to expand pre-kindergarten options for all four-year-old-children eligible for free and reduced lunch;

· $50 million for school safety grants;

· $38 million for MoExcels workforce development projects on college campuses;

· $35 million to update railway crossings throughout the state; and

· fully fund the school foundation formula.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee endorsed gutting the initiative process and voted to advance four proposed constitutional amendments that either seek to effectively gut the initiative petition process, make it more difficult to amend the Missouri Constitution, or both. 

Majority Republicans supported the measures, while minority Democrats opposed them. The initiative petition process empowers Missourians to propose and enact legislation independently of the legislature. 

In recent years, it successfully has been used to enact several issues the Republican-controlled General Assembly had long blocked, including Medicaid expansion, legislative ethics reform and legalizing medical and adult recreational marijuana use.

As a result of being bypassed on these and other issues they oppose, Republicans have prioritized making it virtually impossible to enact laws or constitutional changes through the initiative. While some measures would raise the minimum number of signatures required for an initiative to qualify for the ballot, most would impose some kind of supermajority requirement for ratifying constitutional amendments, thus allowing a minority of voters to thwart the will of the majority.

The more straightforward of the proposals would require a two-thirds supermajority of votes cast for ratification. Others are more creative, with one requiring the support of both a simple majority of the statewide vote and majority approval in at least 82 of Missouri’s 163 House Districts to effectively create a rural veto. 

Two proposals would require amendments to receive support from a simple majority of registered voters, rather than of votes cast, which would set such a high ratification threshold that nearly all ballot measures would fail – even those that somehow managed to achieve 100 percent voter support.

Most of the supermajority requirements would apply only to amendments proposed by the initiative process, while those the legislature put on the ballot could still pass with a simple majority of votes cast. Any of the measures that clear the legislature automatically would go on the November 2024 ballot for voter ratification using the existing simple-majority threshold.

Because restricting or eliminating the initiative process likely isn’t popular, the proposals include deceptive ballot language falsely telling voters they would allow only U.S. citizens to vote on ballot measures. However, the Missouri Constitution already restricts voting to citizens.

Republican bills target transgender children, drag shows

During a 10-hour hearing that stretched into the early morning hours of Jan. 25, the House General Laws Committee considered six Republican bills tightly restricting medical care for transgender children and limiting their participation in youth sports, along with two bills to criminalize drag performances. The bills are part of a national GOP push against LGBTQ rights. 

In an attempt to reduce public participation, the hearing was announced with just barely more than the 24-hour minimum public notice required by law. As has happened in previous years, however, the tactic didn’t work and transgender children, along with their parents and supporters, still flooded the Capitol to oppose the bills, far outnumbering the handful of bill proponents who showed up to testify.








Three of the bills seek to ban transgender children from participating in girls’ sports, while another three would prohibit transgender children from receiving gender-affirming medical care. 

While the bill’s sponsors said they are necessary to protect children, opponents said they would interfere with the ability of transgender children to live their lives as who they are, jeopardizing both their physical and mental well-being. 

The remaining two bills would make it a crime for someone to perform in front of children dressed as a member of the opposite sex – legislation that seems to ignore the long tradition of drag performances in the mainstream, all-ages entertainment that includes several Shakespeare plays, comedian Milton Berle’s 1950s variety show, the long-running TV series M*A*S*H in the 1970s and the hit films Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire in the 1980s and 1990s, respectively.

The committee took no immediate action on any of the bills but is expected to advance at least some of the eight measures at a later hearing. A link to the archived video of the hearing can be found here.

Because of a new policy enacted by the Speaker, except for the Budget Committee, each committee will only be allowed to advance two bills for floor debate prior to Spring Break in March. Therefore, we should expect bills that touch on the same subject to be combined into one.

Meanwhile, the Senate Considers Corporate Income Tax Elimination and Curriculum Bans

On the heels of a $2-billion-a-year individual income tax cut primarily benefiting the wealthy that’s expected to put the Missouri government on shaky financial ground within the next couple of years, the Senate Economic Development and Tax Policy Committee on Jan. 24 heard legislation to completely eliminate the state’s corporate income tax, estimated to cost the state another $712.14 million a year in lost revenue.

Missouri first enacted its corporate income tax, along with the state’s individual income tax, in 1917. The corporate rate topped out at 6.25 percent in 1993 and remained at that level until a series of reductions over the last decade dropped it to the current rate of 4 percent. Starting in 2024, Senate Bill 93 would reduce the corporate rate by one percentage point each year until the tax was completely eliminated in 2027.

The committee also considered a proposed constitutional amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 3, to authorize the legislature to levy sales taxes on digital services, licenses, and subscriptions. Such taxes currently are prohibited under an earlier constitutional amendment Missouri voters ratified in 2016 with 57 percent support. The committee took no immediate action on either SJR 3 or SB 93, both of which are sponsored by Republicans

Committee advances prohibition on teaching about racism


The Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee on Nov. 24 voted for a bill that would prohibit public schools from teaching about the past and present impact of racism on society and require them to teach “the principles of American civics and patriotism.”

Senate Bill 4 would ban K-12 schools from teaching “critical race theory,” a concept taught in some law schools that examines racism’s impact on institutions but that is not taught in Missouri elementary or secondary schools. However, many Republican lawmakers here and elsewhere commonly mischaracterize CRT as part of an effort to prohibit any discussion of race or racism in public schools.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Webb City superintendent to interview for Fayetteville job


Webb City R-7 Superintendent Anthony Rossetti is one of six candidates who will interview for superintendent of the Fayetteville, Arkansas school district, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The six were selected from among 31 who applied for the position, which became open due to the impending retirement of Superintendent John L. Colbert.

Rossetti, who was formerly superintendent of the Miller R-2 School District, has been Webb City's superintendent since 2010 when he replaced longtime superintendent Ron Lankford.







The other finalists for the Fayetteville post are Marie Feagins, assistant superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, Keith McGee, superintendent of the Helena-West Helena School District; Jonathan Mulford, deputy superintendent-operations- Springfield Public Schools; Jeannine Porter, chief of marketing, communications and strategic initiatives, Irving Independent School District, Irving, Texas; and Brad Swofford, superintendent, Branson R-4 School District.

The board is expected to make its selection in mid-February.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Nancy Hughes: If you could read my mind

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Matthew 15:8 (NIV)

Glasses that allow you to read minds? Sounds great, doesn’t it, and what a novel idea! Or maybe not. 

That was the concept for a television show several years ago. An elderly lady found a pair of reading glasses in the back of a dresser drawer in her home. 

She discovered that when she put them on, she could hear what people were actually thinking while they were speaking to her. She was totally confused at first.






 

For example, when she put the glasses on, she heard her grandson say “Man, I hope the old gal falls down those stairs. Can’t wait to get my inheritance!” She was shocked and quickly pulled the glasses off and asked “What did you say?” Her grandson replied, “I said to please be careful coming down the stairs so you don’t fall.”

Thinking she had simply misunderstood, she put the glasses back on and glanced at her grandson’s girlfriend, only to hear her say “You old goat! Wish you would die already!” In shock, she pulled off the glasses and said “Excuse me?” and heard the young lady say “I said that I want you to be careful, too.”

The elderly lady suddenly realized the value of the glasses: when she was wearing them, they had the ability to show her what a person was really thinking, no matter what they were saying.

It isn’t a big leap to apply that scenario to our lives today, is it. We are all guilty of saying one thing while totally thinking the opposite. No? What about telling a friend how much we love her new dress and how we would like to have one just like it but inside we are thinking “I would n-e-v-e-r buy something that ugly!” Or perhaps we tell someone we will be praying for them concerning a situation but inside we think “You know, you really got what you deserved. You should have made better choices.”








Jesus dealt with people who said one thing but only gave “lip service” to Him. He called them hypocrites. Ouch. In Matthew 15:8 He said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” He knew that what we think in our minds comes directly from our hearts.

Please understand: Allowing critical thoughts and judgmental opinions space in our hearts will give them permission to reside in our minds. In the same way, if kindness and compassion occupy our hearts, they will be a part of our lives. There is nothing wrong with saying “That dress is beautiful on you.” or “You are facing a tough situation. I will pray for you” But we need to learn NOT to add both a critique and critical thoughts, which may simply be an opinion.

I cringe as I consider those times when I said one thing and thought something totally different. What if the person could hear what I was actually thinking? How embarrassed and ashamed I would be! In addition, I would be dishonoring God with my comments, as well, because He sees my heart and my intentions. We all need to allow the Lord to create pure hearts in each of us (Psalm 51:10) and to make sure that the words we speak AND think will be pleasing to Him.

Father, I do not always serve you with my thoughts and my words. Please forgive me and help me to honor you with everything in me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .

Reflect


Can you think of a time that you spoke one thing but were thinking something totally different?

Would you have been embarrassed if the person you were thinking about could actually hear those thoughts?

Apply


Memorize Matthew 15:8.

Stop and consider comments before you make them to make sure you are not saying one thing but thinking another.

Power

Matthew 15:8 (NIV) “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

Psalm 51:10 (NIV) “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Psalm 19:14 (NIV) “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

(For more of Nancy Hughes' writing, check out her blog, Encouragement from the War Room.)

Friday, January 27, 2023

Sunshine Law violations by AG’s office under Josh Hawley could cost Missouri $300K


By Jason Hancock
Missouri Independent

Following a Missouri judge’s determination that the attorney general’s office “knowingly and purposefully” violated the state’s open records law while it was being run by now-U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, plaintiffs in the case say they are owed more than $300,000 in legal fees.

In November, Cole County Judge Jon Beetem determined the attorney general’s office violated the Sunshine Law by taking steps to conceal emails between Hawley’s taxpayer-funded staff and his political consultants during his 2018 campaign for U.S. Senate.






 

The motivation for breaking the law, the judge concluded, was concern that releasing the records could harm Hawley’s campaign.

Beetem ordered the attorney general’s office to pay $12,000 in civil penalties — the maximum allowed under state law — plus attorney’s fees.

The plaintiffs in the case, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, filed a motion for attorneys fees earlier this month asking the judge to award $306,000. Hourly rates for the attorneys involved in the litigation ranged from $550 an hour up to $1,200 an hour.

The full amount should be awarded, the plaintiffs argue, because “DSCC obtained complete success on all of its claims, an outcome that reflects the high quality of the services rendered by counsel in this case.”

Additionally, the attorney general’s office “vigorously defended this matter, forcing DSCC to incur significant fees.”

The judge recognized how important the case was, the plaintiffs argue, when he levied the maximum possible fine.

“This case is particularly important given both the (attorney general’s office’s) role as the entity charged with enforcing the Sunshine Law, and the practical results of the (office’s) decision to withhold these documents from then-Attorney General Hawley’s political opponent,” they wrote in their court filing.

Eric Schmitt became attorney general in 2019, after Hawley was sworn into the U.S. Senate. Andrew Bailey took over as attorney general earlier this month after Schmitt also joined the U.S. Senate.






 

A spokeswoman for Bailey said the previous administration under Schmitt “elected not to appeal the ruling.”

“As stewards of taxpayer dollars,” she said, “our office will always work to protect Missourians’ hard-earned money from exorbitant attorney’s fees.”

The emails in question were requested by the DSCC in late 2017. Hawley’s office told the DSCC at the time that it had “searched our records and found no responsive records.”

But a year after the request was denied, The Kansas City Star revealed Hawley and his staff had used private email rather than their government accounts to communicate with out-of-state political consultants who would go on to run Hawley’s U.S. Senate campaign.

Among those included in the private email discussions was Daniel Hartman, who at the time was the attorney general’s office’s custodian of records.

The DSCC filed a lawsuit in 2019.

In his November order, Beetem agreed that Hartman was aware communications responsive to the DSCC request existed and should have turned them over. It appears he didn’t, Beetem concluded, because it could have been politically damaging to Hawley.








“Then-Attorney General Hawley was actively running for U.S. Senate at the time of these requests, which were submitted by a national party committee supporting his opponent,” Beetem wrote in his ruling. “The requested documents showed — at a minimum — questionable use of government resources.”

Further, Beetem wrote, the fact that public business was being conducted on private email accounts — in violation of the attorney general’s office’s own policy — is “itself evidence of a conscious design, intent or plan to conceal these potentially controversial records from public view.”

Walmart reducing pharmacy hours beginning in March


Walmart pharmacies will close two hours earlier beginning in March.

Walmart officials confirmed the change to Axios. Weekend hours will remain the same.

The changes are being made, officials from both companies said, due to the difficulty of filling open positions.


Noel Republican's bill would cut corporate income taxes in half, reduce sales tax


(From Rep. Dirk Deaton, R-Noel)

The Special Committee on Tax Reform, for which I serve as Vice-Chairman of the committee, will soon be holding a hearing on my House Bill (HB) 816. HB 816 as introduced would cut Missouri’s corporate income tax from its current rate of 4% to 2% beginning January 1, 2024. 

If in a subsequent year corporate income tax grew by $50 million or more there would be an additional 1% cut which would take the rate from 2% to 1%. 

This would give us the lowest corporate tax rate in the U.S., below North Carolina which currently has a 2.5% corporate tax rate. Cutting this tax would bring more business investment into our state. Furthermore, it would allow Missouri businesses to cut prices for their customers, pay their employees more, and invest more in their local communities.






 

HB 816 would also cut the state sales tax from 4.225% to 3.8%. This would help Missouri consumers pay less on thousands of items purchased every day, allowing you to keep more money in your pocket and less in Jefferson City.

The first step in the process is a public hearing where people can testify for or against the legislation. This step will be completed in the coming days. At this step in the process non-partisan legislative staff will issue a “fiscal note” to report how much state revenue might decrease under this proposal. I will report that to you and other things learned from the public hearing very soon in a future issue of The Deaton Report.

HOUSE COMMITTEE ADVANCES INITIATIVE PETITION REFORM LEGISLATION

Legislation designed to protect the sanctity of the Missouri Constitution is moving quickly through the legislative process and is now on track for discussion on the House floor. House Speaker Dean Plocher and Speaker Pro Tem Mike Henderson said as early as next week the House will consider a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to change the initiative petition process.

“It’s important that we protect the right of Missouri citizens to make their voices heard while also preventing our initiative petition process from being abused by out-of-state money that has no ties to our state and no interest in working on behalf of Missouri families,” said Plocher.

He added, “Our constitution is a sacred document that should be treated with respect and amended only when absolutely necessary. By implementing commonsense reforms we can continue to give Missourians a voice but minimize the influence of special interests from outside our state.”








This week HJR 43 was approved by the House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials. If approved by the legislature and voters, the proposed constitutional amendment would change the threshold required to approve changes to the state constitution. Currently, changes to the constitution require only a simple majority for approval. HJR 43 would raise the threshold to 60 percent voter approval for passage.

Henderson, who sponsors the legislation, said, “I see the constitution as a living document but not an ever-expanding document. We have one of the largest state constitutions in the country and that’s because we keep adding and adding to it.”








He added, “Since our current constitution was written in 1945 it has changed more than 60 times. In comparison, the United States Constitution has been amended 17 times since 1791. It takes 38 states to ratify an amendment to the constitution.”

Henderson noted Missouri is currently one of only 18 states to allow initiative petitions for a constitutional change and has one of the easier processes in the country for amending the constitution.

HJR 43 was approved by the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee by a vote of 11-5. It now moves to a House Rules Committee, which must approve the bill before it moves to the floor for discussion. The committee also passed three other proposed constitutional amendments (HJR 30, HJR 24, and HJR 25) that would modify the requirements to approve constitutional amendments.

Carthage, Neosho FFA chapters receive state grants


(From the Missouri Department of Agriculture)

Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn announced that 22 youth groups from across Missouri were awarded grants from the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s 2023 Building Our American Communities grant program. Eleven local chapters of the National FFA Organization and 11 Missouri 4-H clubs statewide have been awarded funds for their community service projects this year.

“Missouri FFA and 4-H programs continue to enrich and cultivate a strong passion for agriculture and service in our youth,” said Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. “These groups demonstrate leadership, generosity, and personal growth through their projects. Their hard work inspires me and does not go unnoticed. I applaud each FFA chapter for ‘Living to Serve’ and each 4-H club for devoting their ‘hands to larger service’ every day.”








Each of the 2023 awardees will receive $500 toward their projects, which may include upgrades or additions to existing facilities, grounds or buildings, such as fairgrounds, parks or community centers used by local organizations. The 2023 grant recipients are:

FFA Chapters

Ste. Genevieve FFA, Ste. Genevieve (Ste. Genevieve County)
Fredericktown FFA, Fredericktown (Madison County)
Chilhowee FFA, Chilhowee (Johnson County)
Tipton FFA, Tipton (Moniteau County)
West Platte FFA, Weston (Platte County)
Ashland FFA, Ashland (Boone County)
Centralia FFA, Centralia (Boone County)
Steelville FFA, Steelville (Crawford County)
Cuba FFA, Cuba (Crawford County)
Neosho FFA, Neosho (Newton County)
Carthage FFA, Carthage (Jasper County)

4-H Clubs

Country Kids 4H Horse Club, Lebanon (Laclede County)
Hickory Grove 4H Club, Pleasant Hill (Cass County)
Nobles 4H Club, Tuscumbia (Miller County)
Pocahontas 4H Club, Jackson (Cape Girardeau County)
Iron County 4H Arcadia Valley, Arcadia (Iron County)
Home Pioneer 4H Club, Atlanta (Macon County)
Azen Jolly Timers 4H Club, Downing (Scotland County)







Final Drive 4H Club, Cuba (Crawford County)
Blue Ribbon Kids 4H Club, Leasburg (Crawford County)
Guys & Gals 4H Club, Richmond (Ray County)
Dale Patton 4H Club, Richmond (Ray County)

The Building Our American Communities program has been supporting youth projects since the 1970s. Each year, youth organizations throughout Missouri submit proposals for consideration for the grants that support specific projects within each community. The grants are funded through Missouri’s Agriculture Development Fund under an agreement with the USDA.

4-H clubs and FFA chapters awarded grants this year must complete their projects no later than Aug. 1, 2023.

For more information on the department and its programs, visit agriculture.mo.gov.