March 3, 2017

Rep. Rick Francisí Capitol Report

JEFFERSON CITY -- Please note the bills mentioned in my Capitol Report have been approved by the Missouri House but now have to be passed by the Missouri Senate and then signed by the Governor.

Helping Missouri Small Businesses Grow (HB 93)

The Missouri House recently approved legislation that would provide a boost to the stateís small businesses, including many in rural areas. House members voted in favor of a bill that would expand the Missouri Works program so that more of the stateís small businesses would be eligible for workforce training benefits.

The sponsor of the bill noted that in many areas of the state there are small businesses that do not qualify to obtain the benefits provided through Missouri Works. These businesses fall short of the programís qualification criteria such as number of workers employed, or health insurance benefits provided. The bill approved this week would allow these businesses to pool together with businesses that do meet all of the programís criteria in order to receive benefits.

The Missouri Works program, which was created by the legislature in 2013, is the stateís number one incentive tool for expansion and retention. It works to assist companies with the training of employees in new jobs and the retraining or upgrading of the skills of full-time employees in retained jobs.

Preparing Students for the Workforce (HB 94)

The members of the Missouri House approved legislation this week to give students a more direct path to the workforce. The bill approved by the House would provide students with the option to obtain ACT National Career Readiness Certification. The certification is meant to demonstrate the individual has essential, verifiable workplace skills.

I co-sponsored this bill because I know that many students take the traditional ACT test and then end up not going to college. By making the National Career Readiness Certification an option, legislators hope to give Missourians the ability to document their essential job skills, while also giving employers a helping hand in identifying capable workers.

Right now Missouri has 84 counties that participate in the Certified Work Ready Communities program that is designed to attract, retain, and develop a workforce with the education and fundamental skills to succeed in the 21st century, Perry and Madison counties are both certified and Bollinger county has obtained 95% of the goals required to become certified. More than 3,300 businesses across the state participate in the program and are ready to hire employees with National Career Readiness Certification.

House Members Urge the United States Senate to Confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch as United States Supreme Court Justice (HR 403)

Members of the Missouri House took action this week to urge the United States Senate to confirm Judge Neil M. Gorsuch as a United States Supreme Court Justice. The resolution notes that Gorsuch is an outstanding jurist with a commitment to upholding the United States Constitution and the rule of law. It also points out that he respects the role state government has and he consistently defends the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religion and the right to bear arms. Gorsuchís confirmation hearing in the Senate is scheduled for March 20.

Perryville Tornado

While in Jefferson City, Tuesday night, I heard of the tragic news in Perryville from my wife and son. My thoughts after a quick prayer was what can I do. After a conversation with Representative Engler we agreed to meet at the Governorís office to help coordinate efforts for our districts. What we found when we got to the capitol was a Governor that was already organizing relief efforts.

A strike team was deployed which included the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the Department of Public Safety, Canine Search and Rescue teams and of course, the Missouri Highway Patrol. I cannot describe how quickly and sincerely Governor Greitens moved to address our community needs. I was asked by Governor Greitens to fly with him to Perryville on Wednesday to see firsthand the destruction and to ask what else the state can do.

I will continue to work closely with the Governorís office to assist with the needs of our community. Let me know if there is a need in our recovery efforts. It is an honor to serve with a Governor that truly cares for Missouri citizens.