For the past three years, the Senate has worked on measures that would address one of the most important problems facing our state, the imperative to provide children equal access to a quality education. Unfortunately, for the last three years we had a governor who disagreed with each approach and vetoed vital legislation.
This year is different; we have a governor who believes in the power of learning and is putting our children first. Having educational choices will strengthen our school system and save children from failing. This week the Senate perfected Senate Bill 313, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester. The bill creates the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program. The program will provide scholarships to children with disabilities, foster care children and children who have parents in active military service while alleviating the financial burden on Missouri taxpayers. Parents can then use the funds in a manner that meets their child’s individual educational needs rather than limiting them to an education agenda dictated by the state. The bill also contains provisions that address transfer options for students assigned to unaccredited school buildings and includes support systems for students in those failing districts
Every child’s story is different and unique. It is important to prioritize student learning even above institutional stability. In states that have introduced education choices, both public and private schools have shown improvement. Engaged parents need to have access to every tool available for pointing their children toward success. We want Missouri children to be equipped to fully develop their God-given potential. Then, upon graduation, they are ready to succeed personally and professionally in the world.
Also advanced by the Senate this week was a job-creating bill, House Bill 130, handled by Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis. The measure creates framework for the regulatory treatment of transportation network companies (TNCs), like Uber and Lyft. The measure brings Missouri in line with the other 39 states that have statewide ridesharing laws, including all states neighboring Missouri, and it ensures that high safety standards are in place for both riders and drivers. Current Missouri regulations are so burdensome that many TNCs can’t operate in the state which decreases competition. TNCs encourage innovation, provide economic opportunities, and increase transportation access. By deregulating the current system, we can free up innovation, allow the market to find solutions to environmental and infrastructure issues, and lessen the need for governmental solutions. TNCs estimate they could create 10,000 new driver partner jobs.