After having now served a year in the Legislature, I am continuing to get a better understanding of my job duties. They are not just to show up at the Legislature and vote. My job is also to help run the government so it has a positive effect on all citizens in their everyday lives.
It is no different than owning a business. You cannot properly run a business unless you are involved in the business, know your employees, know your clients, and have a dedication to make your business successful and be willing to take the extra steps to do so. In the same way, it is my responsibility to go to public events, meet with constituents, to meet with various state agencies, to meet with individuals, businesses and lobbyists, and to listen to and understand people's concerns.
My job during the offseason is as important as it is when I am in the Legislature. This is when I am gathering the information that I will use to guide me as to what my constituents need and what needs to be done to make the government more efficient.
Veterans Day is upon us again. To me, Veterans Day is not just a time to say thank you to our veterans, but it is also a time when we as a Legislature need to take time to go out and meet with veterans, to meet with different organizations that work to improve the lives of our veterans and to take action to do so. As a member of the Legislature, it would be disingenuous to simply say thank you to veterans without taking some time to try to help them with the physical and mental problems they now have as a result of risking everything for our country.
Further, since we rely on a voluntary and not a compulsory military, it is important we show the value of service and our veterans to our youth. One of the events I will be at is the Veterans Day assembly at Eugene High School. This will entail a breakfast for veterans and also an assembly for the students to understand important roles that veterans and service members play in our daily lives and to show our respect for what they have done.
My job is not to just say thank you. My job is to continue working with the veterans to improve their lives and address their needs. This is not done just at the Legislature. It is done by working on a daily basis to help support veterans and veteran organizations who help them.
Workforce development is another area Gov. Mike Parson, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and the Legislature are working hard to improve in this state. However, that entails we, as legislators, go out into the community and see what programs are needed and what programs have the greatest potential for workforce development.
I went to the Lincoln University Nursing Program's 50-year anniversary celebration. We should all be proud of what this program has accomplished in having one of the top ranked nursing schools in Missouri. Lincoln University Nursing Program is critical to our workforce development. It provides our hospitals with quality and much needed nurses to staff our hospitals and other medical care facilities. Workforce development is not only creating new ways of developing the workforce, but it is also developing the resources we already have.
This week, I met with a group of freshman legislators from across the state to discuss various issues so we can share with each other the most important issues in our own districts and discuss how we can work together to make progress. Some of the issues that we have here in Cole County are the same as every county in the state: pre-trial release, funding for law enforcement and educational needs. The most effective solutions for these problems will only be possible if we can work together.
There are many issues that will be voted on this year, and I need your help. As I said above, my job is to try to help you — not to do what I want. The best guidance I can receive on the issues is the advice of those who I represent. There will be many issues that will be dealt with in this next legislative session.
One issue is initiative petitions. How many petitions should be on our ballot, and how easy or how hard should it be to change our state's Constitution? I personally believe our Constitution is a document that should be very short and to the point. It should not be an operating manual for everyone to change every time the wind blows in a different direction.
Medicaid expansion most likely will be on the ballot, and the general feeling is it has a great chance of passing. How should we address that ahead of time so, if it is going to pass, we can properly handle Medicaid expansion, instead of having some document that is put on the ballot that has been drafted by the few who have a specific financial interest?
Cigarette tax and vaping will also be at issue. Is the purpose of the tax to decrease smoking or is it just to raise money? With vaping, we have seen many cases of horrendous injuries as a result of vaping, but is that because vaping is naturally harmful, or if properly used, is it less harmful than smoking?
The bottom line is, there are many questions. There are no absolute answers, and to make the best decisions for you, I need your input.
State Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Jefferson City, represents Missouri's 59th District, and shares his perspective on statehouse issues twice a month.