Friday, December 30, 2022

Billy Long: I'm proud of what I've accomplished in Washington

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

Let's start at the beginning. The beginning in this case was when my wife Barbara and I stepped off the members-elect bus on the plaza where you enter our nation's beautiful Capitol building in Washington, DC. 

It was a dark and stormy night, the wind was howling through the... no not really but it was dark that November night in 2010. 

As we stepped off the bus at the base of the Capitol directly under the dome and looked up at Old Glory waving and at the sight of that magnificent dome lit up from every angle, I was left utterly speechless and overcome by emotion. Speechless that is other than muttering to my wife "Look at that!" 

From there we were ushered inside to an astonishing array of murals, frescos, marble floors and right into Statuary Hall where soon to be Speaker of the House John Boehner was to host a fancy dinner with cloth table clothes for all incoming freshmen Republicans and their spouses. Speaker of the House of Representatives is a thankless job I would not wish on my worst enemy but Speaker Boehner and his wife Debbie became dear friends to Barbara and me. 

During my freshman term the Washingtonian Magazine did a 'Best and Worst' analysis of several different categories. The nicest person in Congress that year went to one of my best friends on Capitol Hill, Representative Brett Guthrie of Kentucky which surprised no one. However the top two finishers in "The funniest person in Congress" surprised everyone. The funniest person award went to the afore mentioned Speaker Boehner and finishing a close second was yours truly.

I was a 55 year old freshman Congressman with no political experience - you see I had never run for any elected office before because I was always afraid that I might get elected! They say we need to elect normal everyday people off the street to go to Washington and serve in Congress and not career politicians. Well that year we had done it on steroids. Two auctioneers, two car dealers, farmers, the owner of a pest control company, a pizza parlor owner, a roofing contractor, lawyers, doctors, nurses, radio personalities, members of the military, veterans and small business owners. We had it all, just like Bogey and McCall.

Outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hosted a reception in the conference room adjacent to her office and had invited all members-elect to attend. I don’t remember any other Republican members-elect joining besides myself and Barbara because the Speaker was a Democrat of all things. 

When we met Madam Speaker herself I asked if we could take a picture with her and she immediately obliged. I handed my iPhone to someone who took the picture which I immediately texted to a reporter at our local paper in Springfield, Missouri who printed it the next day. Man 'o man did that set off a firestorm, one comment I remember was "can you believe how dumb Long is, he let someone take a picture of him and Pelosi together." My thought was 'yeah, I'm so dumb I asked for it to be taken on my personal iPhone and texted it to a reporter at my local paper.’ 

Many speculated that such an unforced rookie error would definitely end my tenure in Congress after only one term. It turned out that photo wasn’t such a dumb move after all. as I was elected to Congress five more times after that,.

I came to Congress after a 32 year career as a real estate broker, 31 years as an auctioneer and 6 years as a radio talk show host. To be successful in those fields you have to be U.F.O. as I call it, Upbeat, Friendly and Open. As I reflect on the end of a 12 year career in Congress I probably have as many friends on the Democrat side of the aisle as I do the Republican side. I have one of the most conservative voting records of anyone in Congress so I don't hardly ever vote the same as my Democrat friends but just because we don't agree politically doesn't mean we can't be friends personally.

I am proud of what I was able to accomplish in Washington such as working to protect Table Rock Lake homeowners from bureaucratic red tape and unnecessary restrictions, helping provide financing for American manufacturers to sell their products to international buyers, working across the aisle with my friend Congresswoman Doris Matsui to reauthorize the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, preventing harassing robocalls, strengthening broadband internet access to close the digital divide in rural and underserved areas, working with my colleague Congressman Emanuel Cleaver from Missouri on suicide prevention, combatting our nation’s opioid epidemic, modernizing our nation’s energy infrastructure for the 21st century, ensuring children get the care they need by closing the treatment gap for newborns, keeping in place protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions, stopping the military vaccine mandate, strengthening bilateral ties with Japan in my seven years as Co-Chair of the Congressional Study Group on Japan, supporting the important H-2B visa seasonal worker program that is so critical to small business’ in my district, and most recently expanding the boundaries of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield to include acres that are relevant to the Newtonia Battlefield site.

But I'm really proud of what I accomplished for my constituents back home in the district. With my work on the subcommittee on Telecommunications when I learned how inaccurate our broadband maps were which rendered them useless, I went to work on a mapping bill to correct the situation. 

I did not work alone as I needed a partner on the Democrat side of the aisle to help me. There was only one man for the job - one A. Donald McEachin the Democrat Congressman from Virginia's 4th Congressional District. Don and I got 'er done and our bill was eventually signed into law by President Trump. It's times like this that it's good to have friends to work with across the aisle. 

Speaking of bipartisanship earlier this month on December 7th I did something else in a bipartisan fashion. What I did was to join some of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle at Joint Base Andrews for a flight to Richmond, Virginia to attend Don's 2 hour and 40 minute funeral although it seemed like it lasted only 40 minutes. It was an incredible service. He was taken too soon but I was sure glad we had been able to get to know each other by working on our broadband mapping bill together.

Another thing I don't like about Congress is that when you first get elected you're told never to talk about your staff, don't mention them or praise them. When I queried "What do you mean, why would that be?" I was told "You want the people back home to think you're doing all the work - don't ever mention your staff." That may not be the dumbest thing I've ever heard but it ranks right up there in the top two or three. 

When I first ran for Congress I was attacked for having no political experience – ‘Long knows nothing about politics, he has no experience and won't even know how to hire staff’. My reply was "There's enough experience in Washington, DC to choke a horse,” and if you were with my auction company 20 years or less you were one of the newer people there. You see it's like Teddy Roosevelt said, “I always hired good people and had the sense to stay out of their way and let them do their job." 

You always run the risk of leaving someone out when you go to naming names but I've narrowed my list of Missouri District 7 All-Stars to two categories. The first is the dedicated folks that were with me on the third day of January 2011 and will be with me until high noon on January 3, 2023. The second is a group that didn't start the race with me but will be with me in their official capacity serving the Constituents of Missouri's 7th Congressional District until noon on January 3, 2023.

The longest tenured on a personal basis with me is my Director of Farm Services Bob Kollmeier, you see Bob and I have been together since the sixth grade when we met and he has been working in my District Office helping local farmers since I came into Congress. Next to Bob in time of service to me is my District Scheduler one Karen Meads. Karen joined me in the auction business and then in the Congressional office, in total she has worked for me for over 32 years. 

Then there is my Chief of Staff Joe Lillis who will retire from federal service after 27 years, four serving in the US Army and 23 on the Hill, he has worked for a United States Senator, and three Congressmen including myself. That brings us to Mike Ussery my District Director back home. Mike also started with me on January 3, 2011 and plays the part of me when I'm not home by representing me at any meeting he could attend in the district and has done an outstanding job of it. Mike's not going far but he is moving across town to go to work for U.S. Senator-elect Eric Schmitt. 

Last but not least is our longest serving staffer in the 7th District who boasts 16 years of service because she worked for then Congressman Roy Blunt for 4 years before starting with me on the day I started and she just won't leave. You'll still be able to find Kim Mackney behind her desk in our Joplin office working for my successor Congressman-elect Eric Burlison beginning January 3, 2023.

Now for those that didn't start in 2011 but have vowed to stay by my side until they change the locks on our doors. Batting leadoff is Ben Elleson who is fairly new in my office, as he's only been with me for 11 of my 12 years. I've heard it numerous times over the years, Ben Elleson is the best staffer on the hill and I won't disagree. I believe their thinking is it that takes a lot to make me look good and Ben does it every time without fail. 

Next up is Jeremy Pruett who's been a huge asset handling any issue or problem that is given to him. Hitting third is Lisa Saylor who all of the veterans in our district think hung the moon. She's my veterans specialist but she's more of a magician than anything when it comes to getting veterans their just desserts. 

Luckily for the veterans of Missouri’s 7th District, Lisa will also be staying on with Congressman-elect Burlison. Batting clean-up is Sydney Ingram Johnson who handles a myriad of constituent issues including assisting Lisa with our hero veterans and helping out with our annual 'Fishing Dreams' event for veterans. 

Next to step to the plate is Dylan Maddox who not only handles legislative issues but also makes sure the trains or in my case Suburbans run on time. Next we have my Communications Director Michael Appelbaum whose middle name is 'Loyal' he has been with me since 2017. 

Then we have Gwen Delano, who has worked in my Joplin office since 2019, after working in the Missouri State Legislature since 1984. 

Rounding out our stellar All-Star lineup is our DC scheduler Sean Manzelli who needed to be a world class juggler to handle all of the requests for my time. I hope all of the remaining Congressmen are blessed with staffs half as talented and dedicated as mine has been.

And finally I'd like to say a few words about my family. Being a Congressman is tough but being the family of a Congressman is a lot tougher. It ain't easy and they didn't sign up for it. You could not ask for a more ideal Congressional spouse than my wife Barbara. 

If you ever want to find her at an event look in one of the four corners of the room. You see she always wants to make sure others are served first but she's ready to jump in and help out at a moment’s notice. She just plugs in and helps out wherever needed. Everyone asks where we met and the answer is at the E. Tolerton School of Dance in Cheyenne, Wyoming she in her tutu and me in my four-four. 

Our oldest daughter Kaleen made it to DC before I did as she completed a two year post baccalaureate Pre-Med program at Georgetown and left town six months before I was sworn in. And when our youngest Kelle called one year after graduating from Pepperdine to say she had been offered a job at NBC in Tenleytown outside of DC I said come on out! 

Kelle's husband Dan joined our family a few years ago. Next in time of service with the family is 'Tex' the toy poodle or 'Sir Texcellent’ as I call him. And last but certainly not least is one Walker Bill Rathe who turned one month old yesterday making him the most junior member of our family. Everyone asks what my title will be once I leave Congress and thanks to Walker for the first time you can call me Grandpa Long. Grandpa out!

PSC sets deadline for Spire's surcharge increase request

(From the Missouri Public Service Commission)

Spire Missouri, Inc. (Spire) has filed an application with the Missouri Public Service Commission seeking to adjust the infrastructure system replacement surcharge (ISRS) on the bills of its Spire East and Spire West natural gas customers. The surcharge first appeared on Spire East and Spire West customer bills in 2004.

Spire seeks the adjustment to reflect infrastructure replacement investments made by the natural gas company since October 1, 2022. These costs for natural gas pipeline replacements and relocations are not currently included in Spire’s rates.

In Spire’s most recently completed general rate case (GR-2022-0179), ISRS rates were reset to zero effective December 26, 2022. In this case, the proposed monthly ISRS for a residential customer in Spire East is $0.40 a month. The proposed monthly ISRS for a residential customer in Spire West is $0.69.

Applications to intervene and participate in this case must be filed no later than January 26, 2023, with the Secretary of the Missouri Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 360, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102, or by using the Commission’s Electronic Filing and Information System (EFIS) at

Individual citizens wishing to comment should contact either the Office of the Public Counsel (Governor Office Building, 200 Madison Street, Suite 650, P.O. Box 2230, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102-2230, telephone 1-866-922-2959, email or the Public Service Commission Staff (P.O. Box 360, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102, telephone 1-800-392-4211, email The Office of the Public Counsel is a separate state agency that represents the general public in matters before the Commission.

Spire Missouri East provides natural gas service to approximately 658,260 customers in the City of St. Louis as well as the Missouri counties of St. Louis, St. Charles, Butler, Iron, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Crawford, St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve. Spire Missouri West provides natural gas service to approximately 527,200 customers in Andrew, Barry, Barton, Bates, Buchanan, Carroll, Cass, Cedar, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Cooper, Dade, DeKalb, Greene, Henry, Howard, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Lafayette, Lawrence, McDonald, Moniteau, Newton, Pettis, Platte, Ray, Saline, Stone and Vernon counties.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Nine candidates file for Joplin R-8 Board of Education

Nine candidates filed for three three-year positions on the Joplin R-8 Board of Education before the deadline.

Two of the three incumbents, Board President Jeff Koch and Derek Gander filed. The third, Brent Jordan, did not seek re-election.

The other candidates are former board member Mike Landis, Marda Schroeder, Matthew Robertson, Frank Thompson, Veronica Gatz Scheurich, Michelle Steverson and Nathan Keizer.

Agenda posted for Joplin City Council meeting

6:00 P.M.


Call To Order

Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America

Roll Call




Building Permits Online Transition Update


Finalization Of Consent Agenda


Reports And Communications


News From The Public Information Office


Citizen Requests And Petitions


Public Hearings


Public Hearing Procedures



AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2022-274, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, August 1, 2022, by removing from District R-1 (Single-Family Residential) and including in District R-2 (Two-Family Residential) property as described below and located at 2310 W. 2nd St, City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.



AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2022-274, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, August 1, 2022, by removing from District R-1 (Single-Family Residential) and including in District R-4 (Mixed-Density Neighborhood) property as described below and located at 2627 & 2629 S Oliver St, City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.



AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2022-274, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, August 1, 2022, by removing from District R-1 (Single-Family Residential) and including in District C-3 (Commercial) property as described below and located at 5850 E. 20th St, City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.


Consent Agenda


Minutes Of The December 19, 2022, City Council Meeting



AN ORDINANCE approving a Memorandum of Understanding by and between the City of Joplin and Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) to provide One Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars and No Cents ($1,500,000.00) from the City’s allocation of State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) as a part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the construction of a new Health Science Innovation Center.

  1. CB2022-543.PDF



Ordinances - Emergency



AN ORDINANCE     approving the 2023 Labor Agreement by and between the City of Joplin, Missouri, and the Joplin Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 59, and authorizing the City Manager to execute the same by and on behalf of the City; and, containing an emergency clause.



AN ORDINANCE Authorizing the City of Joplin to enter into a work authorization with Allgeier, Martin and Associates, Inc. for engineering consulting services not to exceed the amount of Ninety-Five Thousand and no/100 Dollars (95,000.00) for a Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) for the Turkey Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) and the Shoal Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF), authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin, and containing an emergency clause.     



AN ORDINANCE Authorizing the City of Joplin to enter into a work authorization with Allgeier, Martin and Associates, Inc. for engineering consulting services not to exceed the amount of Three Hundred Fifty Thousand and no/100 Dollars ($350,000.00) for Shoal Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) Nova Filter Replacement, authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin, and containing an emergency clause.   



AN ORDINANCE Authorizing a work authorization with Allgeier, Martin and Associates, Inc. for engineering consulting services in the not to exceed amount of Two Hundred Fifty-Four Thousand and 00/100 Dollars ($254,000.00) for design of the Filmore Bridge and Tin Cup Lift Station Improvements project, authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin, and containing an emergency clause.     



AN ORDINANCE    amending the Annual Budget of the City of Joplin for the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 as adopted by Ordinance 2022-161 on October 17, 2022, to adjust appropriations and containing an emergency clause.


Ordinances - First Reading


Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading



AN ORDINANCE approving the City of Joplin to enter into a construction agreement with Joplin Industrial Electric Inc. in the amount of Seventy-Eight Thousand, Five Hundred Fifty-Seven and 00/100 Dollars, ($78,557.00) for the 1st Floor Remodel project; and authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin.

  1. CB2022-158.PDF


AN ORDINANCE approving an Agreement between the City of Joplin, Missouri, and the Homeless Coalition that pertains to 2022 CDBG public service grant funds; authorizing the City Manager to execute same on behalf of the City.

  1. CB2022-403.PDF


AN ORDINANCE approving an Agreement between the City of Joplin, Missouri, and the Economic Security Corporation that pertains to 2022 CDBG public service grant funds; authorizing the City Manager to execute same on behalf of the City.

  1. CB2022-404.PDF

Unfinished Business


New Business


CASE NO. 068-22

Rezoning – 634 N Main St – A request to review the Site Plan for future development – Gus Properties, LLC

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Mike Landis, seven years after arranging golden parachute for C. J. Huff, files for Joplin R-8 Board

Mike Landis, who resigned from the Joplin R-8 Board of Education seven years ago is attempting a comeback.

Landis has filed for a three-year seat on the Board, offering his reasons in a post on his campaign Facebook page:

After stepping away from his previous elected role in Joplin Schools, Mike has remained an active participant in aiding the Joplin School District. He has led fundraising efforts to benefit the Joplin Football program, Girls Basketball program, capital improvements to district facilities, and the Bright Futures program.

Mike has one motivation for running for a term on the school board. His goal as a board member will be to educate every single child to their fullest ability every single day.
Nowhere on his page does Landis mention the circumstances of his 2015 departure from the board, which was covered in the Turner Report and reviewed when Landis announced his unsuccessful bid for Jasper County presiding commissioner in 2018.

Landis resigned from the Joplin R-8 Board of Education in May 2015 with almost a year left on his term, when things were not going his way, but not before arranging a golden parachute package for former Superintendent C. J. Huff and providing a poison pill to remaining board members by coordinating his resignation with Randy Steele's and the position left vacant by the election of former Joplin Police Chief Lane Roberts to force the use of an arcane law that allowed the County Commission to appoint three board members.

A Turner Report investigation revealed that Landis and Huff worked with Bartosh, Commissioner Darieus Adams and Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney (now judge) Dean Dankelson to coordinate the maneuver.

Documents obtained through a Sunshine Law request to the Commission show that on May 27, one day after Randy Steele resigned, Superintendent C. J. Huff, obviously aware that Landis was planning on resigning as well, called the Missouri School Boards Association (MSBA) to find out what was necessary to get the Jasper County Commission to appoint replacement board members.

Susan Goldammer, senior director, employment and labor relations for the MSBA, e-mailed the information to Huff, "Any vacancy occurring in the board shall be filled by the remaining members of the board, except that if there are more than two vacancies at any one time, the county commission, upon receiving written notice of the vacancies shall fill the vacancies by appointment."

Goldammer was unaware that anything was in the works.

"As you can see, it takes three or more vacancies for the county commission to get involved. That has only happened once since I have been at MSBA. The Board will need to fill these two," she said, referring to Randy Steele and Lane Roberts.

Huff forwarded Goldammer's e-mail to Landis at 12:36 p.m. May 27. At 9:38 p.m., Landis forwarded the e-mail to Commissioner Darieus Adams.

Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Dean Dankelson's recommendation that the Jasper County Commission appoint three replacements to the Joplin R-8 Board of Education appears to have been an unnecessary dog and pony show put on for the public's benefit.

Documents the Turner Report received following a Sunshine Law request, indicate board member Mike Landis was working with Dankelson and Commissioners Darieus Adams and John Bartosh.

In a June 3 e-mail from Landis to Bartosh and Dankelson, the former board member writes, "We voted in April to accept Lane Roberts' resignation from the Joplin BOE. Thanks, Michael D. Landis." 

From that e-mail, it appears that Landis had sent Dankelson word that he, Randy Steele, and Roberts had resigned and that he wanted the County Commission to appoint replacements and that the prosecuting attorney had questions about Roberts' resignation.

Dankleson responded the following day in a message that is headed "Subject: Document May 28, 2015," and was sent to Bartosh, as well as Landis:

"Would you be able to provide an affidavit to the commission confirming your intent to resign from the Joplin School Board effective May 28 and that you have no intent to withdraw that resignation? I am assuming from this e-mail you have no intent to withdraw it."

Since the Sunshine Law request pertained only to documents received or sent by the three county commissioners, it did not include Landis' original e-mail to Dankelson.

That same day, the Commission received petitions containing 65 signatures asking it to appoint new board members, with the signers including Landis, board member Lynda Banwart, and numerous contributors to the Joplin Progress Committee.

Before his departure from the board, when it became apparent that Huff was not going to remain as superintendent, Landis, Steele and fellow board member Anne Sharp, who was soundly defeated in her bid for re-election, padded Huff's contract adding an extra year even though it was apparent by that time that he would not be around until the end of that contract.

By a 3-2 vote with Landis, Steele and current Board President Jeff Koch voting in favor and Debbie Fort and Jennifer Martucci voting no, the board approved Huff's "retirement" providing him with a package that included $262,000 in pay, a $50,000 consulting contract (to help with the lawsuits Huff had helped cause for the district), and a glowing letter of recommendation, which praised Huff's "heroism' after the May 22, 2011 Joplin Tornado and referred to Joplin as an "unengaged, apathetic community" before Huff arrived and changed that.

(Note: I imagine most Turner Report readers are aware that Landis was one of the seven R-8 Board members who fired me in June 2013, but since more than nine years have passed and because it should be mentioned in every post I make about Mike Landis, I am mentioning it.)

State auditor issues report on use of highway funds

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released an audit of the use of highway funds by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, a division of the Missouri Department of Public Safety. 

The audit, required by state law, includes a review of the Highway Patrol's management of its appropriations from the State Highways and Transportation Fund.

During fiscal year 2022, which ended on June 30, the Missouri State Highway Patrol spent approximately $233.1 million from the fund. The audit found the Highway Patrol to be in compliance with legal provisions related to the use of the highway funds.

Use of the State Highways and Transportation Fund by the Highway Patrol is limited by the Missouri Constitution to administering and enforcing state motor vehicle laws and traffic regulations.

The complete audit can be found here.


Ben Baker bill takes aim at drag queen story hours

Did you hear about the drag queen story hour at the Newton County Library in Neosho?

Neither did I.

That's because there are no such events scheduled and there are not going to be any such events scheduled.

Two years ago, Rep. Ben Baker, R-Neosho, filed a bill that would have taken control of the library and other public libraries away from their elected directors and put it in the hands of review boards whose decisions on removing materials (or scheduling programs) would be final.

When I first read that bill, I assumed it was going to be a case of removing books that did not meet the approval of Baker and his friends and followers.

And perhaps that was a secondary consideration.

Turns out Baker's main deal was his fear of drag queen story hours.

In the two years since Baker filed his bill (which went nowhere), there have been no drag queen story hours in Baker's district or any neighboring district. 

No one has even broached the topic as far as I can tell.

But as they say, you can't keep a good man down, and for some reason Baker thinks that old saying applies to him.

On December 20, Baker pre-filed HB 494, which would outlaw such events, referred to as "adult cabaret performances' from taking place anywhere that children might be found. 

"Adult cabaret performance", a performance in a location other than an adult cabaret that features topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, or similar entertainers, regardless of whether performed for consideration;

While I personally have no problem with a go-go dancer story hour (and have a hard time remembering the last time anyone mentioned a go-go dancer) it is not that type of entertainment that Baker is targeting.

Apparently when he thinks of hairy men dressing as women, it invokes his "prurient interest." Whether he feels the same way about hairy women dressed as men is anyone's guess.

Baker has taken to Twitter to defend his bill.

Many“Drag queen”events that are inviting “all ages” are currently illegal in MO. HB 494 I filed today will extend the statutory definition of adult cabarets to include other locations as well. Like libraries, restaurants, bars etc. Promoting obscenity to minors is illegal.
And is a class E felony. The offense of sexual exploitation of a minor is a class B felony. If the minor is a child it is a class A felony. Just because you call it a “drag brunch” or “story hour” shouldn’t allow people to circumvent the law on obscene entertainment.

 I was unaware that men dressing as women and reading stories was illegal in Missouri. I don't understand the appeal of it, but how in the world is it obscene?

Now if these men dressed in drag happened to stand in front of a bunch to six to eight years and shake their rear ends suggestively, that's a different matter.

Perhaps that is what scares Ben Baker, but there is no reason for him to fear such an occurrence.

Last I looked, Missouri is not a right-to-twerk state.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Joplin man pleads guilty to federal meth, weapons charges

Travis Hurlbert, 32, Joplin, pleaded guilty today in U. S. District Court in Springfield to methamphetamine trafficking and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

The Joplin Police Department arrested Hurlbert July 21, according to the plea agreement.

Judge David P. Rush ordered a pre-sentence investigation. No date is set for sentencing.

Emanuel Cleaver: The successes of the 117th Congress

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

It is the privilege of a lifetime to advocate for you and the Fifth Congressional District of Missouri in the People's House. As 2022 and the 117th Congress rapidly come to a close, I truly believe that, while there are certainly still challenges that lie ahead, we are better positioned today than we were when the year began.

As we look forward to the possibilities and potential of 2023, I want to take this opportunity to underscore some of the work I’m most proud of from the past twelve months. 

Whether it was assisting constituents with government services and ensuring Missourians get the benefits to which they are entitled or passing landmark legislation and bringing federal dollars back to our congressional district, I believe the past year has been one of the most successful during my time in Congress.

However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that there is still much work to do to support Missouri families and the communities within our congressional district. Although the United States has created 10.5 million jobs, including 750,000 manufacturing jobs, since January 2021 and our economy continues to recover from the global pandemic, it is critical that the new Congress continue to pass bipartisan legislation – like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the Honoring our PACT Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act – that focuses on the needs of the American people.

As we look forward to the new year, I remain committed to passing legislation that will lower costs for Missourians, create good-paying jobs for workers, and make our communities safer from the threats of climate change and gun violence. Thank you for taking the time to read about the work I'm doing for our communities in Congress, and if you’d like to stay updated in the new year, please take a moment to sign up for my e-newsletter here.

Now, let’s get to my 2022 End of Year Report!

Passing Landmark Legislation For the People

In 2021, Congress was able to pass historic legislation, like the American Rescue Plan Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, that helped protect and vaccinate our communities from COVID-19, support our economic recovery from the global pandemic, and made critical investments in our national infrastructure. 

These bills continue to provide investments that will enable our communities to grow and thrive in the years ahead. However, we refused to get complacent—instead passing additional legislation that would meet the immediate needs of the American people. Here are a few bills I was most proud to support, including three bills I authored to combat disparities in the home appraisal industry, strengthen Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that are vital to underserved communities, and reauthorize the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area for another fifteen years—two of which were passed by the House of Representatives and one that was signed into law.

The Inflation Reduction Act

Most recently, and perhaps most importantly, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act to lower costs for American families on everything from prescription drugs to health care and energy bills and to combat the existential threat of climate change. This legislation will allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug costs for America’s seniors, cap insulin costs at $35 per month for Medicare beneficiaries, provide tax credits to improve energy efficiency in households, and more—all while reducing the federal deficit.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was the most significant gun safety legislation passed by Congress in nearly three decades, and as communities across Missouri continue to face the horrifying consequences of gun violence, I’m thrilled that Democrats and Republicans were able to come together to take this important step to protect our communities. While this is but one step toward our goal of ending the scourge of gun violence that plagues America, it is an important reminder that reforms are possible on this issue. Moving forward, I’ll keep fighting to enact universal background checks, ban assault weapons, and strengthen Red Flag laws to save lives and keep our schools and communities safe.

The Honoring Our PACT Act

The Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress and extends critical benefits to more than five million American veterans that were exposed to toxic substances while serving our nation. I was proud to cosponsor this long-overdue legislation, which ensures veterans can receive high-quality health care screenings and services related to potential toxic exposure.

The CHIPS and Science Act

This summer, I was proud to vote for the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act, a bill that makes historic investments to bring the manufacturing of semiconductors back to the United States, strengthen our supply chains, lower costs for consumers, and create good-paying jobs for American workers. This legislation will be a boon for American labor, and I will continue to prioritize bringing jobs back home rather than offshoring them so giant corporations can make a bigger profit.

The Respect for Marriage Act

Following a suggestion from the Supreme Court that they should revisit the Obergefell decision after striking down the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade ruling, I immediately joined with other lawmakers to begin working to enshrine protections for marriage equality into federal law. 

I’m happy to let you know that Congress was able to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, with President Biden signing the bill into law this month. The bill codifies protections for interracial and LGBTQ+ marriages, ensuring that these couples will not have to live in fear in the future and demonstrating to the world that the United States remains a beacon of freedom thanks to our commitment to equality and human rights.

The Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act

Last year, I introduced the Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act to promote greater diversity in the appraisal industry, which is approximately 98% White and has acknowledged a history of bias that devalues homes for minority homeowners. My bill establishes a federal grant program to promote diversity and inclusion in the appraisal profession through scholarships, training and education, implicit bias training, and more. In July, I’m proud to say that I was successful in getting the legislation passed by the House of Representatives as an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, and I will continue working to combat disparities in the appraisal industry, ensuring every homeowner receives fair value for their most prized possession.

The CDFI Bond Guarantee Program Improvement Act

As we continue our economic recovery from a global pandemic, I believe it is critical that Congress seek to find ways we can boost support for underserved rural and urban communities. That’s why I introduced the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program Improvement Act, which would strengthen the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program, provide affordable financing for community development projects, and stimulate greater economic development in the most economically distressed communities across the country. I was proud to see the legislation passed by my colleagues in the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support, and I will continue to fight for the development of communities that have been neglected for far too long.

Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act

Just last week, as Congress wrapped up the 117th Congress, I was overjoyed to see the National Heritage Area Act make it across the finish line and signed into law. The legislation includes my bill to reauthorize the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area--one of 55 National Heritage Areas across the country--for another 15 years, something I have been pushing for since September of last year. Not only will this allow Freedom's Frontier to continue to share and preserve the history of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas, but it will also boost tourism and help stimulate local economies as travelers visit museums and historical sites throughout the region.

While I believe these bills were some of the most impactful that were passed in 2022, there are many others for which I was proud to vote, cosponsor, and advocate for through legislative letters—and many more that I will continue to fight for in the year ahead, such as the Women’s Health Protection Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Providing Assistance to Constituents in the Fifth District of Missouri

As your Representative, one of my key responsibilities and highest priority is assisting constituents who may be having difficulty with a federal agency. Whether that is obtaining a tax return that was delayed, expediting the processing of a new passport before a trip abroad, or ensuring seniors get the Medicare and Social Security benefits they need, my staff and I are focused on making government work efficiently and effectively for Missourians.

Here are just a few services we provide for constituents from the Fifth District:

Military Personnel and Veterans:Helping veterans secure appointments with their VA doctors;
Recovering benefits and pension payments;
Helping with claims, survivor benefits, and discharges;
Helping with questions regarding burials; and
Assisting active service members with transfers or pay concerns.

Social Security, Medicare, IRS, and Taxes:Facilitating communication with the IRS via the Taxpayer Advocate Service;
Obtaining status updates on late returns;
Requesting information about eligibility and clarifying matters involving Social Security and Medicare benefits; and
Helping Missourians inquire about pending benefit applications and progress of disability claims filed with Social Security.

Immigration and Naturalization:Expediting qualifying urgent cases;
Helping schedule appointments at embassies;
Working to get status updates on pending petitions; and
Helping update change of address or case information.

Government Employees, Grants, and Postal Service:Helping retired federal employees receive their pensions and other benefits;
Helping federal employees receive timely responses to their EEOC claims;
Helping local organizations with learning about the grant process and highlighting grant opportunities;
Providing letters of support for grant applications; and
Working with communities to replace broken mail boxes and fixing delivery issues.

I want my congressional office to be a resource that can help you cut through red tape and government bureaucracy—something I believe we did effectively over the past year. If you are ever in need of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office via my website or by calling my district office directly at (816)-842-4545.

Bringing Federal Dollars Back to Missouri Communities

Last, but certainly not least, one thing I’m always working to do is bring taxpayer dollars back to the communities I serve. I’m proud to let you know that over the past year, the Fifth Congressional District of Missouri has received more than $323,000,000 in federal grant funding for critical infrastructure projects, mental and public health resources, childcare and public school programs, and so much more. Much of this funding comes from legislation that I helped pass in Congress, including the American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

However, I have also been successful in obtaining tens of millions of dollars in Community Project Funding for critical projects in our congressional district over the past two years. In Fiscal Year 2022, I was able to secure more than $15,000,000 in Community Project Funding to help build a state-of-the-art substance use treatment center at Truman Medical Center; create a Health Professions Building at Missouri Valley College to strengthen their Nursing Program and Missouri’s pipeline of health care workers; construct a pedestrian bridge across Brush Creek to connect communities to MLK Park; and more.

This year, following passage of the Fiscal Year 2023 government spending bill this/last month, I was thrilled to secure nearly $40 million in Community Project Funding. This funding will go toward obtaining new electric buses and support infrastructure for KCATA; creating a new pedestrian plaza in the Historic 18th & Vine District; building a new Minority Chamber of Commerce Development Center; an Urban Neighborhood Housing Initiative to provide affordable homes to families in underserved communities; and other critical developments that will support workers and hardworking families in my congressional district.

As we move into the new. year, I will continue to support Community Project Funding and fight to bring home federal dollars that will help strengthen economic development, increase public health and safety, and support the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy here in Missouri.

What an honor it is to advocate for you in the halls of Congress, and I hope that you are as proud of our 2022 accomplishments as I am. I want to close by wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year. If you are ever in need of assistance with a federal agency, or simply want to voice your opinion on a bill or federal policy, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.