3 Mid-Missouri lawmakers talk about some of the pending issues

The 2012 General Assembly session begins at noon today.

Its first-day action includes leaders’ speeches pronouncing this year’s leadership priorities — and the introduction of bills for lawmakers to

consider.

State Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, wants fellow lawmakers to authorize Missouri’s circuit courts to establish special treatment programs for veterans, similar to the drug courts and DWI courts already operating around the state.

“Missouri is a national leader in alternative courts for persons who have a problem that leads to crime, but who are good people underneath it all,”

Barnes explained. “With military veterans, we know that — even though some of them come home and commit crimes — they might be for reasons other than that they’re a bad person.

“They might be dealing with the after-effects of service, and some of them might not know or be willing to admit that they have a problem. My bill would create an avenue for veterans to get help for problems that are caused by service to our country.”

Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, wants lawmakers to extend until 2022 a tax credit for donations to food banks that expired Aug. 28.

And Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, prefiled seven bills for this year’s General Assembly, including an additional $1,500 fine for failing to drive in the right-hand lane on multi-lane highways; requiring all dogs and cats to be vaccinated against rabies; making some labor unions get members’ permission to use dues and fees for making political contributions, while also prohibiting those unions from withholding earnings from paychecks; and adding veterinarians to the statute of limitations for filing medical malpractice cases.

Other Mid-Missouri lawmakers still are working on proposals they want colleagues to debate and pass before the 2012 session ends May 18.

“We’ve got a number of things that we’re working on,” state Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, said Tuesday afternoon.

“Obviously, anything that puts Missourians back to work — or for us (in government) to get out of the way so small business owners can do what they do best” will be major bills for discussion this session, she said.

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