Sunday, April 02, 2017
Ed Emery explains legislation changing foster care in Missouri
This week was a busy week for the Senate. While the House works to send us their version of the budget, we took time on the floor debating issues that will move Missouri in the right direction.
One measure passed by the Senate works to push back on the previous administration’s aggressive land grabs. The Department of Natural Resources, a few years ago, purchased land in Oregon County without notifying or getting input from anyone in that community. Not only was no one notified, but the county experienced a major loss in property tax revenue because they could no longer collect revenue on that land now that it was publicly owned.
In order to prevent such secret land grabs, this week the Senate advanced Senate Bill 35. The measure deals with public notice requirements when the commissioner of the Office of Administration is wanting to purchase land. It will require the commissioner’s office to provide a public notice not only on its website, but also displayed in newspapers, and discussed in public hearings. That way, the community directly affected by any private land purchased by the state will first be given the opportunity to participate in the discussion and give their feedback.
The Senate also approved Senate Bill 195, which establishes the Supporting and Strengthening Families Act. The measure allows existing civic groups the ability to take care of kids when their parents are going through a difficult time. This program will allow kids to stay for just 44 days instead of the two years usually required by foster care. Estimates show this could save the state nearly $40 million. But, most importantly this allows families to stay united during those difficult times. Other states have seen success with programs like this, and we hope Missouri will experience the same.
We also passed a bill that better prepares foster care parents to serve the needs of a foster child.Senate Bill 160 ensures that every school-aged foster child and foster parent receives an age-appropriate orientation and a full explanation of their rights. When a foster parent takes on the responsibility of making a child’s temporary home comfortable and stable, certain care and safety measures are necessary. Having a clear set of guidelines readily available will help foster parents create a quality home life for those children.
There are but six weeks of session left, and a number of initiatives remain, including some important pro-life bills. There are also some issues I hope to help prevent from becoming law. Please pray that my colleagues and I will have the wisdom of Solomon in determining the outcome of each bill.