Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Parson headed to Australia for trade mission

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Governor Mike Parson will depart for Australia Thursday for a second international Trade Mission. Australia is Missouri’s ninth largest international market with over $308 million in exports in 2018.

The Governor will make several stops in Melbourne and Sydney to engage with infrastructure leaders, meet with worldwide business executives, and promote Missouri as an ideal location for business.

Building on Governor Parson’s infrastructure and workforce development priorities, one of the primary goals of the Trade Mission is to examine the feasibility of using an infrastructure asset recycling program in Missouri to raise revenue and strengthen the state’s infrastructure.

“Since day one, we’ve been focused on building Missouri’s future by improving infrastructure and workforce development,” Governor Parson said. “One of the ways we can do this is by looking at practices that are being successfully implemented in places like Australia, a leader in the infrastructure asset recycling industry, and bringing those best practices back to Missouri.”

In 2014, the Australian government launched an infrastructure asset recycling model in which state governments are incentivized to leverage public assets in sale and lease transactions.

Governments in Australia are currently being incentivized to sell off or lease public infrastructure assets such as ports, wharves, electric grid segments, and housing developments. Revenue raised through those transactions is then reinvested into infrastructure projects.

In addition to learning about different infrastructure strategies and best practices, Governor Parson will meet with several worldwide business leaders and Australian CEOs to highlight Missouri’s strong economy and business climate.

Melbourne Highlights

Governor Parson will participate in two roundtable discussions with international business leaders to discuss investment and workforce development opportunities in Missouri.

Governor Parson will also participate in a panel discussion with agriculture industry officials to discuss ag-tech trends and investments in the U.S. and the important role Missouri plays in the U.S. economy.

Sydney Highlights

Governor Parson will meet with company executives with existing relationships in Missouri to thank them for their investment in the state and companies without a presence in Missouri to encourage them to consider Missouri for future investment plans.

Meetings scheduled include the Macquarie Group, Boeing Defense Australia, Western City and Aerotropolis Authority, and Infrastructure Australia.

Additionally, Governor Parson will visit with several dignitaries to learn about infrastructure asset recycling, including the Deputy Secretary of Infrastructure and Structured Finance with the New South Wales Treasury, the Premier and Deputy Premier of New South Wales, and the U.S. Consul General.

Governor Parson will also participate in a roundtable with CEOs and directors to highlight how the administration’s objectives are being achieved through a strong focus on workforce development and infrastructure.

The Trade Mission is funded by the Hawthorn Foundation, a Missouri non-profit organization.

For updates on the trip, follow @GovMikeParson on Facebook and @GovParsonMO on Twitter.

Graves: Step one to dealing with emergency on southern borner- Build the wall

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

There is a national security crisis at our southern border. Illegal immigrants, human traffickers, drug smugglers, and gangs are abusing our open border and American citizens are paying the price. It’s time we put an end to this crisis—and step one is building a wall.

This didn’t used to be a partisan issue. This used to be something both Republicans and Democrats could agree on—that we need a real, physical barrier on the southern border to keep America safe and secure. It's something I've supported all along.

Yet today we hear a lot of folks on the other side of the aisle say that building the wall will be too expensive, inhumane, and immoral. Yet, it hasn't stopped us from spending billions of dollars building thousands of miles of wall all over this country. We call them noise abatement walls and they’re designed to cut down on road noise along our highways. There are more than 3,000 miles of these walls all across America—20, even 30 feet high in places.

In comparison, our southern border only runs about 2,000 miles and we’ve already got real physical barriers that run along about half of that. Maybe there’s something I’m missing, but I guess I don’t understand why building a wall to keep our country safe and secure is immoral and inhumane, while it’s fine and dandy to spend billions on walls that line our highways to cut down on noise. It just doesn’t make sense. Unless, this has more to do with the person proposing it now.

The obstructionists have been at this for months. When President Trump declared a national emergency in February to secure our border, they tried everything they could to stop him. I was proud to lead the charge in the House to support President Trump’s effort to build the wall. Fortunately, Americans got another victory last week in our efforts to get this done. The Supreme Court finally gave the green-light to build the wall and secure our border after months of legal wrangling.

This pivotal decision affirms what we knew all along—that this crisis is a national emergency and we must deal with it now. Step one—build the wall.

Sen. Bill White's Weekly Update

What the hell is the matter with KZRG?

Last week's Mueller hearings brought out the worst in both those who have counted on the report as a pathway to the removal of President Donald Trump and those who want to do anything to tear it apart no matter what the cost.

For some that led to irresponsible musings that Robert Mueller had lost several steps since the day he left his position as FBI director and some went even further saying he showed clear signs of dementia.

Others used Mueller's testimony as "proof" he had nothing to do with the writing of his report and that it was all done by those "angry Democrats" the president has been whining about for months.

In the first place, the only legitimate criticism of Mueller's testimony is that he apparently did not spend enough time familiarizing himself with every page on the second half of his report.

Of course, he did not write a 448-page report. He directed an investigation that included people whose job it was to compile the information and put it into the report.

There was also a reason why the obstruction part of the report was the second part.

Those who were on the attack and claiming Mueller showed signs of dementia conveniently neglected to mention that Mueller showed during the afternoon session he clearly knew his stuff when it came to the first half of the report- the part it was obvious he considered to be the most important part.

Let's not forget what the subject of that first half was- a sweeping effort by Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

He was not addle-brained and let's not forget- no Republican questioned any of the facts that were in the report ... and none of them except for Will Hurd from Texas, a former CIA agent, appeared to be concerned about the more than 100 documented instances of people in the Trump campaign or connected to the Trump campaign meeting with people in or connected to the Russian government or Mueller's warning that the Russians were hard at work with efforts to influence the 2020 election.

The expected attacks were swift from Trump supporters.

A favored weapon was memes- the go-to attack device for those who are not clever or original enough to put their own thoughts into words.

I banned those on my Facebook page and the Inside Joplin Facebook page, though every once in a while someone still posts one that I have to delete because the person was not aware of my rule.

As I have written before, memes cheapen the public discourse, which definitely does not need any more cheapening in this day and age.

If the only way you can speak is through memes, you are better off keeping your mouth shut.

And that brings me to KZRG.

Anyone who has had the courage to sift through the comments on KZRG's Facebook page knows that memes are spread throughout them with the same consistency with which one would spread fertilizer on a yard- with the same result and with the same odor.

It appears that whoever is handling the KZRG Facebook page has decided to play to his or her baser instincts and join in on the "fun."

It angered me when I saw the one KZRG posted on the Mueller hearings.

The meme showed Mueller shuffling through the pages of his report while looking for something that one of the Congress members asked.

It read, "When your mom writes your book report and you are asked questions about it in class."

I am not above a cheap joke and may have even sprinkled one or two in this post, but who is this KZRG Facebook poster to take such a cheap shot at Robert Mueller?

-Robert Mueller volunteered to serve this country in Vietnam and was wounded in action, choosing to serve despite the fact that he came from a well-to-do family and would have had no problem finding a way to avoid service as other people with money often did.

-Robert Mueller was director of the FBI for 12 years and guided the agency in the dark days fellowing September 11, 2001.

-Robert Mueller returned to the public service at a time when his country needed him to conduct an investigation into what was clearly a Russian attack on our democracy.

Perhaps the person who apparently had no trouble at all posting the meme is someone who served his or her country in the military. That would surprise me since I have a hard time believing someone who served this country would make fun of someone who was doing what he thought was his civic and patriotic responsibility.

I am not saying Robert Mueller is above criticism. He is not.

What I am saying, however, is that he deserves far better than having a juvenile joke posted about him by whoever is doing the Facebook posts at KZRG.

KZRG's Facebook page has always been a repository for comments of those who regularly follow their programming, which includes daily doses of talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin and feel it is a sign of intellectual prowess to parrot their talking points.

Lately, KZRG has also been parroting those talking points in its Facebook posts and not waiting for the readers to post them on their own.

It is sad.

It is even sadder when someone whose name is never affixed to these comments belittles an American hero.

What the hell is the matter with KZRG?

Nancy Hughes: Inconvenience or opportunity?

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,
especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Galatians 6:10 (NIV)

I learned an important lesson while sitting in my car at railroad tracks, waiting for a train to go by. And no, it wasn’t a lesson about looking both ways before crossing. It was more important than that. Let me explain.

A student at the school where I worked as health services director had become ill and needed to go home. However, his mother could not come get him because their car battery was dead so I decided to take him.

He thanked me several times for the ride and I told him that I was glad to help out. “Any time,” I told him. But my actions said something entirely different than my words.

As we waited on the train – and waited and waited – I mentally began to picture the list of everything I needed to get done that day. Waiting on a train was not on my list. As my impatience increased, my irritation tagged right along.

I began to tap on the steering wheel of my car, faster and faster. I had not even realized I was doing it until I glanced at the student and found him gazing at the frustrated beating of my fingers.

Before I could say a thing, he quietly responded “I’m really sorry that you have to take me home. I’m sure you have a lot more important things to do.” Oh, my heart. Ouch.

And before I could answer him, my Spirit whispered “Nothing is more important than a great opportunity to listen to this child of mine and to share Truth.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I think the Lord is trying to teach me patience with this long train!” I smiled and he smiled back.

Paul could not have known that I would be sitting at train tracks and almost missing an opportunity to share Jesus when he wrote Galatians 6.

My actions had spoken loudly to this young man. I had sent him the message that he was of little or no importance to me in comparison with everything that I thought I needed to get done that day. In other words, I was letting him know that his value to me was, well, of no value.

Would you believe I began to wish that the long train would be longer? I did. Because when I switched my focus from me to my student, I found out his college preference and why; what choices his friends were making and his opinion; how things were at home, and – most importantly – that he had several questions about the Bible.

There are always going to be long lines at grocery stores and yes, long trains at railroad crossings. But rather than sigh and tap my fingers impatiently, I need to look at each and every “inconvenience” as an opportunity to listen and to encourage those around me.

Father, please help me to see every “long train” as an opportunity to stop and focus on those around me who need to know you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .


Can you remember a time when you had an opportunity to be an example of a Christ-follower but were more focused on the inconvenience of your schedule being interrupted?

Is there anything on your schedule that is more important than taking the time to simply listen with your ears and your heart to someone?


When your day is interrupted by a long line or long train, look around you at those in line with you.

Take your focus off the immediate situation and turn it to those around you as you encourage and listen.


Galatians 6:10 (NIV) “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Philippians 2:4 (NIV) “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Colossians 3:12 (NIV) “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience . . .”

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

State audit finds former Department of Public Safety director involved in awarding of questionable contract

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released a report raising concerns about the process used by the Missouri Department of Public Safety (DPS) under the agency's former director when awarding and managing a contract for the coordination of fingerprint technology at local law enforcement agencies.

"Missourians should have confidence their tax dollars are being used appropriately and that contracts are awarded in a way that gets the very best return on their investment. No one should think they are above those rules," Auditor Galloway said. "That's why it's so troubling that this audit uncovered deliberate actions to try to sidestep these policies."

The audit examining the administrative practices of the Office of the Director of the DPS was conducted at the request of Gov. Mike Parson after an internal review raised concerns about questionable use of taxpayer dollars. Based on concerns outlined by DPS, the audit covered the period of January 2017 through August 2018, during which the director was Charles "Drew" Juden. The cost of the audit is being paid from the Gov. Parson's office budget.

Under Juden, the DPS changed the way the department managed the coordination and installation of fingerprint technology at local law enforcement agencies. Previously, those services were provided by the Missouri State Highway Patrol at no cost to the state. When renewing the contract, the Office of the Director did not contact the Patrol about providing these services.

Instead, the DPS awarded a contract to the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation for these services for approximately $58,000.

In order to get the contract approved through the state's procurement process, DPS provided false information to the Office of Administration about the nature of the funding and past work of the foundation.

In June 2018, DPS paid approximately $1.25 million to the foundation for payment to the fingerprint technology vendor, but the equipment was not delivered to local law enforcement agencies for another five to six months. It's believed the early payment was designed to prevent the appropriation from going unspent during the 2018 fiscal year. However, the payment was made without a written contract in place and violated other existing contracts.

The audit also highlighted concerns that the former DPS director's annual leave and state vehicle use. During his time as director, Juden did not claim any annual leave despite the appearance of taking multiple vacations, including working days he was apparently in Florida

Both former director Juden and former deputy director were assigned full-time department vehicles. Neither maintained vehicle usage logs, as required by DPS policy. Vehicle usage by Juden averaged 2,956 miles a month, approximately 44% higher than DPS directors both prior to and after his administration.

The DPS responded to the audit findings by agreeing with the recommendations and committing to continued improvement.

"I am encouraged that the current Public Safety Director agrees with the audit's recommendations and has said her department is taking steps to implement them," Auditor Galloway said.

The complete audit can be found here.

Paul Richardson: The Name of the Game Is ...

(Paul Richardson's column, The Horse I Rode In On is published weekly in the Neosho Daily News, Seneca News-Dispatch and on the Turner Report.)

Growing up in a house without a television encouraged one to find other types of entertainment. This time of year, a good portion of the evening was spent in the garden, a labor that my parents honestly believed would directly translate into enjoyment.

During the cool season of the year, my first task was to gather the fuel for the next twenty-four hours and after the preparation of splitting it, haul it to the house and put it in the wood box. This task didn’t take long and was always finished well before suppertime. No matter the season there always remained hours each day that would be filled with some type of entertainment.

Board games were common, but my favorite was to engage in some type of card game. The only cards in my parents’ home was a deck of Rook cards. Later on, Uno showed up, but for years the game was Rook. 

When I went to college, I quickly was introduced to and became proficient at several card games. The first game and always a college student favorite was Spades. The game was so similar to Rook, that I quickly became quite competent and soon found the game to be less of a challenge than desired. 

Spades was soon followed by Hearts and then Bridge. Since I was in college, I even paid for some education in a range of poker games. It was not totally disappointing, but some of the folks involved were way too serious about the outcome.

Rummy and Gin Rummy were both favorites of mine and upon meeting the good wife, I discovered that she was a Rummy aficionado. Her roots in the game of Rummy began with her Granny Palmer, who was quite the Rummy hustler. Over the years a variety of Pitch games have been played as well as Euchre and Cribbage. 

A plethora of other card games have been tried and then dropped by the wayside as their entertainment value did not meet the social requirements of the group.

The social requirements of the group were always of great importance. Therefore, the game must be of a nature that it is competitive but does not require so much concentration as to impede the conversation and especially the “trash” talk. There remain some couples, as there has been many over the years, that we continue to engage in games of Pitch on a regular frequency. It has been requested that I not reveal at least one of the couples so identifying factors may have been changed in order to appease the not so innocent. 

During any game, the good wife and I can never be partners. It just doesn’t work. Because of this condition, I always have Pitch partners consisting of one of the members of the other household. 

Partners are always the same and have been for years, so we are well versed in playing styles and methods. The good wife would probably refer to this as our skill at cheating, which we never do! 

During our most recent engagement, my partner and I won quite decisively. Upon seeing them the next day at another event, it was church, I suggested that we begin the practice of awarding a jacket much like the ones given at golf championships. Our jacket, however, would be worn by those being shamed so they could share their demise with the world. This would help them solicit pity. 

What seemed like a novel idea to me was met with great opposition. The good wife just ignored me as usual, but her partner seemed a little put off. I guess we won’t be getting jackets!

My partners and I don’t always win, but when we do, we rub it in. Before you get to critical, our opposition has been known to make some pretty bold displays of plumage! They also take drastic steps to destroy the evidence when the winds blow in the opposite direction. My partners and I have never been permitted to display the scores on the refrigerator door. It is my belief that the rejection of this small request is what led to the desire to begin the practice of awarding the jacket of shame.

With the current nature of the programing I have seen on the television, this just might be a good time to take up the skill required for card games. It’s a great pastime and seems to be coupled with great conversation. Since our card partners escaped with their secret identities intact, they can continue on their superhero quest.

Who knows, maybe some new card playing teams will emerge from this rant. So, pull up a chair and let me give this deck a shuffle. The name of the game is……..I win!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Judge approves bond reduction for reputed Joplin Honkies member facing felony weapons, assaulting a police animal charges

Judge John Nicholas granted a bond reduction for reputed Joplin Honkies member Jared Prier today during a hearing today in Jasper County Circuit Court and reduced it all the way to nothing.

Online court records indicate Nicholas agreed to reduce Prier's bond from $1,000 cash only and said he could be released on his own recognizance.

Prier was also being held without bond for a probation violation on February 2016 convictions for assault and abandoning a corpse.

Prier's latest charge, the weapons count, came following a July 14 traffic stop in which Joplin police officers found a handgun and marijuana in his vehicle.

At the time of the arrest, Prier was free on $3,000 bond on felony charges of resisting arrest, driving while revoked and assaulting a police animal following a June 22 police pursuit.

At the time of his alleged crimes Prier was on probation after being handed a seven-year prison sentence in February 2015 by Newton County Circuit Court Judge Tim Perigo for assault and abandonment of a corpse in connection with an incident in which Prier shot one man twice in the stomach, shot at a woman and abandoned the body of a third person, a crime that became evident when Prier and his co-defendant posted a photo on Facebook of themselves with the corpse.

During the investigation of that case, Newton County law enforcement noted Prier was a member of the Joplin Honkies gang, as was the dead man.

Prier's seven-year sentence came just 26 months after Perigo sentenced him to seven years in prison after Prier pleaded guilty to felony assault, then suspended the sentence and placed him on probation for five years.

Prier's next hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. September 3.

Jasper man who raped 8-year-old pleads guilty to statutory sodomy charge

An October 21 sentencing hearing is scheduled for a Jasper man who pleaded guilty Monday in Laclede County Circuit Court to a reduced charge of statutory sodomy in connection with the July 23, 2018, rape of an eight-year-old girl in Eldridge.

Judge Peggy Richardson ordered a pre-sentencing hearing for Iain Knotts, 20, Jasper, who was arrested by the Laclede County Sheriff's Office and charged with first degree rape after a witness saw him sexually assaulting the child in a travel-trailer.

Knotts had been on local police radar, according to a post this morning on the Jasper Police Deparrtment Facebook page:

This man was in our back yard for a couple of years. We kept as close of an eye as we could on him as I think we all agreed there were signs of very bad news on the horizon, mainly predator type behavior.  
This is a sad story for the 8 year old girl who was Ian Knott’s victim. Her life will never be the same. 
Sadly these predators must offend first in order for them to be taken off the streets, and a lot of times they are released back into the public. There isn’t an easy answer. 
Please be vigilant in protecting your kids and know who they are hanging out with and where they are. There are predators out there... They just have not offended or got caught yet.
Jasper County Circuit Court records indicate Knotts may have targeted a child acquintance locally as Judge Stephen Carlton issued a child protection order against Knotts on September 28, 2016.

Monday, July 29, 2019

FEMA approves request for flood recovery money for governments, not-for-profits in Jasper, Newton, Barton, McDonald counties

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Today, Governor Mike Parson announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has agreed to the state’s request to provide federal assistance to local governments and nonprofits in 68 counties recovering from flooding and severe storms between April 29 and July 5.

The approval of Missouri’s July 16 request means FEMA will assist with the cost of repairs to damaged roads, bridges, and other public infrastructure, along with emergency response costs associated with the storms and flooding.

The counties approved for Public Assistance by FEMA are the following: Adair, Andrew, Atchison, Barry, Barton, Bates, Bollinger, Buchanan, Caldwell, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Clark, Cole, Dade, Dallas, Daviess, Douglas, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Henry, Hickory, Holt, Howell, Jackson, Jasper, Knox, Laclede, Lewis, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Maries, Marion, McDonald, Mercer, Miller, Mississippi, Monroe, Montgomery, New Madrid, Newton, Nodaway, Ozark, Pemiscot, Perry, Pike, Putnam, Ralls, Randolph, Ray, Ste. Genevieve, Saline, Schuyler, Scotland, Shannon, Shelby, Stoddard, Sullivan, Taney, Texas, Vernon, Wayne, Webster, and Wright.

“This is important news for local governments in these 68 Missouri counties because it means they’ll be receiving very substantial assistance in recovering from high disaster repair and response costs,” Governor Parson said. “I’m proud of the way Missourians are pulling together to recover from flooding and severe storms. This federal assistance will greatly assist in those efforts and speed the pace of recovery.”

FEMA’s decision also makes available assistance through its Hazard Mitigation Program to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property due to natural hazards.

Governor Parson said the state expects to request the Public Assistance disaster declaration to be expanded to include additional counties as joint teams can fully assess damage in other counties.

FEMA continues to review the state’s July 16 request to expand assistance to individual residents in the 25 counties of Adair, Barton, Callaway, Cape Girardeau, Christian, Clark, Cooper, Dallas, Douglas, Gasconade, Grundy, Harrison, Hickory, Howard, Jefferson, Laclede, Lewis, Macon, Marion, McDonald, Newton, Polk, Saline, St. Louis, and Ste. Genevieve.

President Trump’s July 9 disaster declaration was for flooding and severe storms and made the federal Individual Assistance program available to eligible residents in Andrew, Atchison, Boone, Buchanan,Carroll, Chariton, Cole, Greene, Holt, Jackson, Jasper, Lafayette, Lincoln, Livingston, Miller, Osage,Pike, Platte, Pulaski, and St. Charles counties. 

Through July 29, FEMA has approved more than 910 households for Individual Assistance grants and provided more than $4.2 million directly to Missouri flooding and storm survivors to assist with their recovery. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved more than $1.7 million in low-interest loans for Missourians.

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program has paid more than $22 million to Missouri policyholders for flood claims filed since March. More than 1,524 claims have been filed.

To register for FEMA assistance, go to or register by phone by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362). Telephone registration is available 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. (local time), seven days a week.

State auditor to Parson: Help Missourians who are still waiting for tax refunds

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

State Auditor Nicole Galloway today again called on Gov. Mike Parson to take action to help Missourians who are still waiting for their 2018 state tax refunds. The request comes in response to a letter from the Governor's Office that failed to offer a plan for getting thousands of Missourians the money they are owed after months of delay.

"My role as State Auditor is to act as the independent watchdog on behalf of citizens," Auditor Galloway said in a letter delivered today to the Governor's Office.

"While Missourians rely on their elected legislators to pass legislation to protect and help them, they depend on the state's Chief Executive to implement those laws. 

"Taxpayers who have been waiting for months for their refunds have come to my office seeking both answers and help. I am committed to and serious about providing Missourians with a solution."

Since May, the State Auditor's Office has received an increasing number of contacts from taxpayers concerned about delays in receiving their refunds. The State Auditor's Office started communicating directly with the department to try to get answers for taxpayers.

"The responses from the department to my earlier letters have been unsatisfactory and taxpayers are continuing to contact my office," Auditor Galloway said. "Even more concerning, communication from the department to these waiting taxpayers -- when they have been able to get responses at all -- has been inadequate."

In a July 11 letter to the Governor, Auditor Galloway asked for immediate action to address the delays. The response from the Governor's Officedid not include a plan for addressing delayed refunds. The department recently reported to the media that they are still processing tens of thousands of refunds.

Previous work by Auditor Galloway related to the timeliness of tax refunds includes an audit released in January 2018. During the audit process, the State Auditor's Office had to subpoena information from the department related to fiscal years 2012 to 2016. In part because of the delays caused by the department, the audit report examined the timeliness of tax refunds during fiscal years 2016 and 2017, during the administrations of Gov. Nixon and Gov. Greitens. The audit found that state income tax refunds to individual taxpayers had become increasingly and deliberately delayed. While an audit released in early 2019 showed an improvement in the timeliness of refunds for fiscal year 2018, media reports and complaints from taxpayers indicate there are again issues that need to be addressed.

To date, the State Auditor's Office has contacted the Department of Revenue on behalf of 1,400 taxpayers in an effort to get answers. These individuals asked for the office's help in getting their tax refunds and, with their explicit permission, the State Auditor's Office passed along contact information and some details about their refund.

Auditor Galloway said her office will continue to work on behalf of citizens to process their complaints and get answers. Taxpayers whose tax refunds have been delayed can contact the State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline at 800-347-8597 or at

The letter to the Governor can be found here.

Appellate court upholds Barton County jury conviction, 30-year sentence for Nevada man who swindled $1.2 million from elderly woman

In a unanimous decision, the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals today upheld the Barton County jury conviction and 30-year sentence for a Nevada man for his involvement in swindling $1.2 million from an elderly woman.

The jury found Christopher Buller, 42, guilty in May 2018 in a case that was heard in Barton County Circuit Court on a change of venue from Vernon County.

The appellate panel rejected Buller's contentions that there was not enough evidence to convict him and Judge David Munton erred when he permitted letters he had written to the woman asking for loans to be admitted as evidence

Buller's crime was detailed in the opinion:

Defendant was charged with a violation of section 570.145 for over a period of time from January 1, 2011, through March 17, 2014, obtaining control of at least $50,000 of Victim’s property through deception. 

Viewed in accordance with our standard of review, supra, the following facts were adduced at Defendant’s trial. 

Victim was born in April of 1928 and, later in life, inherited “a fair amount of wealth from her parents” who had been “very lucky” in the stock market. She was an accountant and, for a time, co-owned an office supply business in Nevada, Missouri, with her late husband. 

Victim had two daughters, one of whom, Katie Pettibon (“Daughter”), helped run the family business. 

Beginning in 2011, Daughter began “hearing things from different people” concerning Victim’s suspicious banking transactions or attempted banking transactions. 

Upon confronting Victim, Victim became angry, said it was none of Daughter’s business, and refused to talk or engage with Daughter further. 

During the summer months of 2014, Daughter sought and acquired conservatorship of Victim, thereby gaining control of her finances. Daughter then discovered Victim’s financial records showed that Victim had cashed out $1,185,500 in Exxon Mobile stock. 

Financial records reflected that in late 2010, Victim opened a checking account into which, over the course of the next year, she deposited the proceeds from her stock sales in approximately $80,000 increments. 

After each deposit, Victim issued checks to herself for cash, which, in the aggregate, exceeded $1,200,000. 

In 2015, Eric Davis turned himself in and confessed to authorities that he, along with Defendant, both of whom were acquaintances of Victim, engaged in a systematic scam to acquire Victim’s money. 

According to Davis’ confession and trial testimony, he and Defendant would concoct false narratives and then call Victim asking for money. 

Defendant had the ability to disguise his voice on the phone and pretend to be another male or a female, which allowed him to deceive Victim. 

Defendant would sometimes portray himself to Victim as a bill collector who needed money from Davis. Victim was tricked into believing that if she did not provide the money, Davis would go to jail. 

Another false narrative involved a fictional Judge Copeland and a fictional attorney named McMillan who needed Victim’s money. 

Davis and Defendant would decide together how much of Victim’s money they wanted, whereupon Davis would set up a meeting with Victim, where she would arrive with a box or bag containing thousands of dollars in cash. 

Davis asked for between $40,000 and $80,000 from Victim at least once a month and would split that money with Defendant. The money was used on gambling, drinking, buying vehicles, and investing.

Former Vernon County Ambulance District director, bookkeeper sentenced for embezzling $270,000+

(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

The former director and the former bookkeeper of the Vernon County Ambulance District have been sentenced in federal court for embezzling more than $270,000 from the district.

Tina L. Werner, 53, and James D. McKenzie, 54, both of Nevada, Mo., were sentenced on Friday, July 26, by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark. Werner was sentenced to three years and 10 months in federal prison without parole. McKenzie was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Werner and McKenzie to pay $260,000 in restitution to the ambulance district, for which they are jointly and severally liable.

In January 2019, Werner pleaded guilty to wire fraud and McKenzie pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony. McKenzie and Werner embezzled a total of $270,902 from the ambulance district from January 2013 to October 2015.

Although Werner pleaded guilty to only one count of wire fraud as a part of her plea agreement, according to court records, she committed numerous fraudulent transactions over a period of nearly three years.

McKenzie willingly turned a blind eye to and concealed the actions of Werner, his employee with whom he was engaged in an adulterous relationship. The ambulance district suffered substantially as a result, to the point of having a lien filed against it for $213,158 for unpaid payroll taxes and taking out two substantial loans after the discovery of the fraud just to maintain its daily caretaking operations and pay outstanding debts.

McKenzie and Werner were employed with the ambulance district until October 2015, McKenzie as the director and Werner as a bookkeeper. McKenzie’s duties as director included managing the daily operations of the district, including the personnel and financial management of the district. McKenzie began his employment with the ambulance district in 1987. Werner’s duties as bookkeeper included managing payroll, conducting financial transactions and managing the accounts receivable. Werner began her employment in 2000.

Werner, utilizing her position as bookkeeper, began electronically transferring money from the ambulance district’s bank accounts into personal bank accounts held by herself and McKenzie in January 2013. Additionally, Werner initiated electronic bill payments from ambulance district bank accounts to pay the personal credit cards held by herself and McKenzie. Werner and McKenzie did not have authorization to conduct such payments and their actions caused the ambulance district to suffer financial loss.

Additionally, from January 2013 until October 2015, Werner and McKenzie issued payments from an ambulance district credit card account for the purpose of paying McKenzie’s personal utility bills and those of a McKenzie family member, resulting in the ambulance district suffering additional financial loss. Werner and McKenzie did not have authorization to conduct such payments.

Werner also falsified electronic payroll records and recorded additional overtime hours worked for herself and McKenzie. As a result, the ambulance district issued electronic payments to Werner and McKenzie for overtime hours that were not actually worked, resulting in the district falsely overpaying Werner and McKenzie, thereby suffering additional financial loss.

The ambulance district office provided opportunities for its employees to save money for the Christmas shopping season and to donate money for an annual toy drive. In addition to stealing money from the district’s operating account and utilizing district credit cards for personal benefit, Werner also embezzled over $95,000 from the employee Christmas account and over $111,000 from the charity toy drive account.

Werner attempted to conceal the embezzlement by entering a false deposit of $130,000 in a QuickBooks application, and by obtaining a $20,000 line of credit from OnDeck without the knowledge or authorization of the ambulance district’s board of directors. McKenzie and Werner destroyed financial and business documents belonging to the ambulance district while they were in the district’s office on Oct. 23, 2015, in an effort to conceal their embezzlement.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven M. Mohlhenrich and Casey Clark. It was investigated by the FBI and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Troy speaks- Miracles continue for the Onstott family

For those parents who wish their children would be quiet for just a minute, imagine if they were quiet all the time.

For the past three and a half weeks, T. J. and Jill Onstott of Lamar have prayed to just to hear their 10-year-old son Troy's voice following an ATV accident that has him recovering at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

As Jill Onstott writes in her latest Facebook update, those prayers have been answered.

Day 26:

Turn up the volume because a little boy has something to say to ALL OF YOU! To everyone praying, believing, and supporting him in any way.....

This morning while brushing his teeth, we worked on sticking his tongue out and saying ‘ehhh’, and he did it...this was the first noise he made for us on command. We thought that was the excitement of our day but little did we know that there was more, much more, where that came come. 

Later that afternoon we were feeding him lunch with Uncle Chris and Papa Tim. He had a mouth full and started mumbling something. 

I quickly had him spit out the food so he could say whatever it was he needed to say. And for the life of us we couldn’t figure it out. He kept saying “- - - real” over and over. Said the exact same thing, this went on for at least 5 minutes. 

We had him try to write it out for us and we just got scribbles. We thought he wanted his fishing reels, so we got them out and yet he still kept saying it. So we got out my phone to see if by chance he could type it out. And he typed “ARE YOU GUYS REAL?” 

Our hearts hit the ground. 

We grabbed him and said “YES!!!! We are REAL, we’re right here with you, and we’re not leaving your side, not for one minute. You are in the hospital because you were in an accident but your getting better every single day and we will be home before you know it! God is taking care of us!” 

He started crying and then we ALL started crying. It was one of the heaviest moments of my life. A moment I never want to forget. My precious boy realizing more and more every day and he can speak about it now. PRAISE JESUS!!! It’s SUNDAY ya’ll so we got to share this moment with a big chunk of our family today and that too, I’m so thankful for.

God- you you you, it’s all YOU! YOU are so faithful to us in every way. We don’t feel weak because of YOU. We don’t feel scared because of YOU. We don’t feel alone because of YOU. We’re overwhelmed by YOU.

And we boldly stand for YOU knowing your love will defend us in this fight that rages on. We praise YOU God for the strength in our souls, and ask that you continue to guide us through this war and trust that it is already won. I ask that YOU wrap your arms tight around my confused Troy and reassure him that YOU will take care him, every step of the way. My hope for him is to feel overwhelmed by YOU. 


"They fired me for it"- Joplin R-8 bus driver says she was forced to resign after suicide prevention post goes viral

When school starts next month in the Joplin R-8 School District, the new bus driver whose private Facebook post about attending suicide prevention training went viral last week will not be among those who will be picking up children.

"They fired me for it," the driver told the Turner Report, "well, forced me to resign on my second day of training."

The Facebook post, which was sent during a break, appeared intended to be humorous and described the woman's frustration that she was having to watch the video in the North Middle School gymnasium instead of being able to watch it at home.

The post also described others at the session who were sleeping and having phone conversations.

At one point, the woman wrote, "How many times can they say suicide in three minutes? Twelve times, that's how many."

"It was all blown entirely out of proportion," the woman said, "and since it continues I'm forced to seek legal aide. How can a person who works hard and who actually cares find a decent job when her name is being slandered?'

The post was originally set to private and could only be seen by the former driver's friends, she said.

Jessica Nugent, whose son Luke, a Carl Junction middle school student, committed suicide in March 2013, did not appreciate what she saw as someone who was not taking suicide prevention training seriously, took a screen shot of the post and shared it on her Facebook page, as well as with R-8 Superintendent Melinda Moss.

The former bus driver said she did not intend to disrespect anyone and she took suicide prevention seriously.

"The post was set to private. It was my first day on the job. Sometime when people get uncomfortable, they make jokes."

The woman said because of experiences she had when she was younger, she fully understood the importance of the suicide prevention training.

"i was appalled when a woman to my right was having a phone conversation with ear phones in and no one said anything to her. Then a man who has worked there two years fell asleep and was snoring behind me.

"All I was saying was that it may have been easier to focus on in a less distracting and more intimate setting. Since the videos were via the internet, I thought this was a good option. In fact, I even asked about it at the end of training before lunch.

"Also, I thought the videos were poorly done. As a writer who has over 68 college credits towards a BS in marketing and a BA in creative writing with a strong emphasis in communication, it seems repeating the word 'suicide'  in a prevention video may be counterproductive.

"The experience was cringey, thus the cringey, uncomfortably joking post."

The reaction to her post caught the former bus driver off guard.

"As soon as I realized how people were taking it, after she made by private post public, I immediately removed it and apologized."

The woman emphasized that the post was only meant for her friends.

"Those who know me and were the only ones meant to see it would find it funny."

The woman provided copies of exchanges she had with Nugent that showed her apologizing several times.

"I stopped responding to her at all because it seemed it was just her intention to attack to get attention for her cause.

"I am in her corner for her cause. I love children and am close with many, including family and friends' children who are both healthy and disabled.'

When she felt her exchanges with Nugent were not productive, the former bus driver took another step.

"I unfriended her after this happened because it seemed she just wanted someone to attack."

The former bus driver said she did not defend herself on Nugent's post "because it seemed she just wanted someone to attack. I didn't even defend myself on her post because people were threatening, saying I deserved to have my ass whooped, to be bitch slapped and be fired and more.

"I work very hard to take care of my children and I wish no ill on anyone ever. I would give the shirt off my back to someone in need and have.

"I don't think it's right to be making things up to fit one's agendaa and it's certainly never ok to bully and do the very thing you're fighting against because you didn't like a poor joke."

The Joplin R-8 School District has made a priority out of suicide prevention following a rash of suicides of JHS students.

All Missouri schools have been required by law to have a suicide prevention program in place since July 1, 2018.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Some thoughts on Joplin R-8, teen suicide and this week's top Turner Report/Inside Joplin posts

Several years ago, I was in my classroom at South Middle School after school grading newspapers with an eighth grade girl stopped by said hi and then stayed in the room while I was grading papers.

She played music on the radio, occasionally talked to me the kinds of things teenagers talk about and stayed about 30 to 45 minutes.

It was not the first time a student had stopped by me to talk with me, nor was it the last and I did not see it as anything special. I wanted my students to always feel welcome in my classroom.

I did not realize at the time how special that conversation really was.

The girl later told me she had been contemplating killing herself and just the fact that I was willing to listen to her made her rethink her situation.

I had no idea.

I had always taken my responsibility as a classroom teacher seriously, but that day really put things into perspective for me.

Anyone who works with children needs to be aware of the incredible pressures they are under, especially in this age of social media and cyberbullying.

That was why the social media blowup over a Joplin R-8 bus driver's Facebook post about the way some R-8 employees were sloughing off a suicide prevention training video earlier this week caught my attention.

We have had a serious problem with teen suicide in this area and at Joplin High School in particular. The R-8 District has made suicide prevention a primary goal and this training video was designed to bring everyone who works with children into being a part of the solution.

I have a hard time believing more than a few of the employees were not taking the training seriously, but when you have something that is this important and we are talking about lives here, there is no room for juvenile Facebook posts. sleeping during a training session or texting.

I really do not think my eighth grade student would have killed herself if I had been in a bad mood and told her I did not have time to talk to her that afternoon.

Thankfully, I will never know.

All I know is she is alive and the world is richer for it.

Showing some kindness and decency may not prevent a child from making a tragic decision, but it never hurts.

And if you are going to work with children, it is not an imposition to watch a video that could help save a life.

This week's most visited Turner Report, Inside Joplin and Inside Joplin Obituaries posts are featured below with links to each of them.

The Turner Report

1. Sarcoxie woman did meth, handed sex offender a condom, watched him rape 13-year-old and she got a plea bargain

2. Despite recent JHS suicides, some R-8 employees mock, sleep during prevention training session

3. Webb City man who beat, choked, threatened to kill man because he served in National Guard pleads guilty

4. Former Joplin/Webb City police officer expected to plead guilty to child pornography charges

5. Opening statement: Fear of Honkies led to shooting of Jasper County deputy

6. The challenges facing Troy Onstott

7. Oklahoma sex offender pleads guilty to raping 13-year-old in Carthage motel

8. Joplin R-8 Board hires five teachers, 22 classified employees, six substitutes, accepts two resignations

9. Reputed Joplin Honkies member in jail without bond after being arrested on weapons charge

10. Fear of Honkies leads to St. Louis area man's acquittal for shooting Jasper County deputty

Inside Joplin

1, Joplin man faces felony meth trafficking, weapons charges, Carterville woman charged with possession following two-county pursuit

2. Joplin woman seriously injured in collision with Freightliner, charged with meth possession

3. JPD; Jopiln man arrested after throwing 29 grams of meth under vehicle while talking to officer

4. Joplin man charged with DWI after causing four-vehicle accident on Kodiak Road

5. Joplin Police Department Weekend Arrests

6. Joplin Police Department Arrests July 25-26

7. Jasper County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

8. U. S. Bankruptcy Court Petitions- Joplin

9. Nevada woman charged with DWI after collision on 43 injures Oronogo woman

10. Webb City man injured in three-vehicle accident on 171

Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Maci Guinn

2. Terah Hallam

3. Erica Calkins

4. David VanGorkom

5. Glenna Terry

6. Jean Lovell

7. Stephen Darnell

8. Katheryn Sitton

9. Emma Poe

10. Jo Baldwin

Ten-year-old Troy Onstott continues putting in hard work during therapy at Children's Mercy Hospital

In her latest update about the recovery process her son Troy Onstott, 10, is going through at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City after an ATV accident, Jill Onstott notes mote improvement from Troy and thanks to the community that has been supporting Troy and the Onstott family as they continue their journey.

Day 24:

I fell asleep last night. I tried to write my update but failed to keep my eyes open. 

Waking up to our prayer warriors already working for Troy before we rise in the morning is how we start our days and I wasn’t about to start this day any different.

Troy had a great day yesterday. His eyes look brighter and he is working even harder than before. 

The pool is my favorite...yesterday he was using his left arm to get his right arm on the side of the pool but today he lifted his right arm all the up on the side without the help of lefty. He couldn’t keep it up there but it’s coming. 

The arm-bike video is so cute; when she says 5 more, he hits 5 and instantly closes his eyes. DONE!

And the struggle of getting that bat up above his head on his right side, he is trying so dang hard. He finds a way and I know he will get there in time.

God- you continue to lift us up daily, putting all the pieces back together again. Troy is healing in ways we can’t explain but we know it’s all YOU! 

I pray that everyone supporting us Lord knows how much we love them and I thank YOU for putting these people in our lives. You have blessed us incredibly and we will never cease to honor your name. 

Lord we love you and trust in you and continue to give this up to you. You have cleared the path of this storm and we will follow it until the end. 

It’s in your good name we pray,


Here’s to a weekend of miracles

Friday, July 26, 2019

Community Writing Conference/Authors Fair Saturday at Joplin VFW Post

I will be at the Community Writing Conference and Authors Fair 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday (tomorrow) at the Joplin VFW Post 110 Veterans Way.

The conference is sponsored by Always Buying Books and the Joplin Writers Guild and will feature guest speakers on different aspects of writing and several authors will have tables and be selling and signing their books.

I will have copies of my most recent books, Lost Angels: The Murders of Rowan Ford and Doug Ringler and Newton County Memories, as well as the Joplin Tornado books, including Spirit of Hope (pictured), as well as Let Teachers Teach, No Child Left Alive and the rest of my books.

The schedule for the conference is as follows:

10 am: check-in, browsing of book tables, refreshments served
10:55 am: Opening remarks by the president, S.V. (Summer) Farnsworth
11:00 am: Workshop by poet Dr. Joey Brown, English Department MSSU
Noon: Open-Mic/Lunch Break, snacks provided
1 pm: Workshop by thriller author Dr. Kent Allen Farnsworth, former president for 20 years at Crowder College
2 pm: Workshop "I wrote a book... Now, what?" by mystery and children's' author Susan Keene.
3 pm: Writing Contests Awards Ceremony

The authors will be there and have their books available throughout the day.

The challenges facing Troy Onstott

The sheer magnitude of the challenges facing Troy Onstott, 10, son of T. J. and Jill Onstott of Lamar comes through in the latest Facebook update from his mother.

Day 23:

“You’re so awesome!”...pretty sure Troy hears this 100 times a day. He definitely gets in trouble somedays too but for the most part, he’s
pretty darn awesome 

Just look at him wanting to run up and down those stairs. Is he doing them right? No. Is he listening to his therapist? Nope. Does mom like his drive to go faster? YES!!!

He was showing off his walking skills in the pool today. 

Holding onto the side with little to no help from his therapist, and no floaty attached. 

Notice when he makes his turn, he grabs his right hand with his lefty to put it on the side. I can’t wait to see the progress he makes with his righty.

And then that wink, along with a smile, along with a high five (that he initiated), along with a hand hold (that once again, he initiated). The only thing that would make this day better would be sharing it with our babies!  And that will happen soon.

Ohhh Mighty God- my bad my bad, I just caught myself talking to you while sitting on the toilet and realize that we clearly need to set some boundaries.

God, I see the brightness in Troy’s eyes these last couple of days. He seems more alert. 

This morning I told TJ that although his eyes are brighter, he looks sad. Makes me wonder if he’s becoming more aware of his situation or just me staring at him 24/7 and reading into his expressions too much. Maybe just tired? I don’t know. 

It’s so hard sometimes trying to figure this boy out while he’s unable to communicate with us. Lord I ask that if he is sad, please let him realize that he is safe and help him find a way to feel comfort in knowing that he will be ok. 

Please give him the strength to keep pushing himself, even when he doesn’t enjoy the task at hand. Which can be many some days. I am praying for more power in his right arm. And lord, you already know how much I want to hear his voice. We all want to hear Troy talk again. You never cease to amaze us with the love you show through Troy, so thank you for blessing us all with this kid. He’s something I tell ya! A true miracle. 


Joplin R-8 Board hires five teachers, 22 classified employees, six substitutes, accepts two resignations

During a closed session Tuesday, the Joplin R-8 Board of Education hired five teachers, 22 classified employees, six substitutes and accepted two resignations and a retirement.

Certified Employments: Jessica Davidson, Shelby Koeshall, Camara Kuich, Jerry Savage, and Paul Zerkel.

Resignations: John Juarez Garcia, and Courtney Crandon.

Retirement: Christine Samuel

Classified Employments: Daulton Barnhart, Cassie Bass, Artleesa Brown, Nidia Cox, Anthony Fleming, Jeffrey Garrett, Meggan Hall, Paige Hamilton, Callyn Hinderliter, Cynthia Jenkinson, Robert Jenkinson, Zaid Keithly, Robert Lee, Tereasa Neal, Kimberly Peavler, Mark Rhodes, Robin Root, Al Salas, Katie Schmitt, Judith Smith, Cassie Sofie, and Correa Summersill.

Substitute Employments: Ted Brannon, Lydia Cash, Tiffanie Moore-Crouch, Shamera Moss, Robert Petersen, and Rena Selvey.

Webb City man who beat, choked threatened to kill man because he served in National Guard, pleads guilty

A Webb City man was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for the June 27, 2018, assault of a Joplin man.

Under the terms of a plea bargain agreement with the Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's office, Sergio Zuniga, 25, pleaded guilty to assault and armed criminal action.

Kidnapping and robbery charges were dismissed.

Jasper County Circuit Court Judge David Mouton sentenced Zuniga to seven years for assault and three years for armed criminal action with the terms to be served consecutively.

Zuniga's co-defendant, Moses Ramsey, 27, pleaded guilty January 14 and was sentenced to 10 years for kidnapping, 10 years for assault, and 10 years for stealing with the terms to run concurrently.

Zuniga and Ramsey's crimes were described in the probable cause statement.

On June 27, 2018, between the hours of 0000 and 1400, Sergio Zuniga and Moses Ramsey did assault the victim A. W. Zuniga and Ramsey confronted the victim A. W. and demanded money from his paycheck.

When A. W. refused to give them money, Zuniga and Ramsey beat A. W. by hitting him and kicking him until he became unconscious. They then tied his hands and feet and gagged him.

Once A. W. was tied up, Zuniga and Ramsey continued to punch and kick A. W. They then dragged A. W. into the bathroom where they threw him into the bathtub, wrapped the shower certain around his neck cutting off his airflow and threatened to kill him.

Zuniga and Ramsey also threatened to kill him. Zuniga and Ramsey also threatened A. W. with a with a large fixed blade knife with a blade in excess of six inches.

During this ongoing assault, Zuniga and Ramsey robbed A. W. of his wallet, pants and cell phone.

As the assault occurred over multiple hours, Zuniga and Ramsey kept A. W. at the residence against his will. A. W. was transported to the hospital for injuries from the assault where it was confirmed A. W. suffered from a concussion and a fractured left cheekbone.

A. W. stated that he was in fear Zuniga and Ramsey were going to kill him and assaulted him because he had been in the National Guard, which Zuniga and Ramsey told A. W. was the same as being a police officer.

Billy Long: I will work with my colleagues to end unnecessary, illegal robocalls

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

“Or to be placed on our ‘Do Not Call List,’ press two.” If I’ve heard that message on my voicemail once, I’ve heard it a hundred times. Nothing preceding, nothing following, just those 12 words.

What the scam is or what their angle is, I don’t know and I don’t care. 

All I know is that I’ve never pressed the number two. And since I’m on every “Do Not Call” list known to man, I’m as frustrated as my constituents that we are still getting a multitude of these unsolicited robocalls. 

We in Congress have heard from our fed-up constituents to take action, and now, thankfully, we have.

Illegal robocalls are getting worse and worse over the years. In 2018 alone, there were more than 47 billion unwanted robocalls in the U.S. 

To put that number in perspective, that’s more than 150 calls for every adult. These unwanted robocalls made up 29 percent of phone calls in 2018. That percentage is expected to reach 45 percent in 2019, meaning nearly half the calls in the U.S. will be illegal robocalls.

I am on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology and we have made stopping illegal robocalls one of our top priorities. 

One of our bills, the Stop Bad Robocalls Act, was passed just this week by the full House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority. This bipartisan bill increases resources for consumers to combat this growing problem and requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement additional protections.

Specifically, this bill would require all phone carriers to implement technology that would authenticate incoming robocalls. 

In addition to this, phone carriers would be required to provide call blocking services for illegal robocall while still protecting legitimate calls. The Stop Bad Robocalling Act would also require the FCC to implement additional protections and extend the statute of limitations from one year to four years. Finally, this bill would give the federal government authority to issue more aggressive penalties up to $10,000 per violation.

On top of these efforts, action has also been taken at the local and state level with the help of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In late June, the FTC launched a new initiative called “Operation Call it Quits.” This initiative brings together officials and agencies at all levels to fight this problem by educating consumers with new information and bringing cases against companies responsible for illegal robocalls. So far this year, the FTC has brought more than 100 cases against nearly 500 companies and nearly 400 individuals, and that’s including numbers from Operation Call it Quits.

As the problem of illegal robocalls continues to grow, I will work with my colleagues to take action. It’s time to end these unnecessary and illegal robocalls.