Greetings from the fourth floor of your Missouri Capitol.
Last week was an anomaly in that we had a very short week due to the weather impacting the entire state. However, this past week has been a very productive one with a number of bills being heard and passed out of the House that will move on to the Senate.
To update you on some of my bills, the Honor Flight license plate bill was heard and passed by the Rules Committee and will hopefully be heading to the full House. I am feeling confident this bill will make it across the finish line and give recognition to this wonderful organization and all the great work they have done for countless thousands of veterans across Central Missouri and the state.
My Capitol Complex bill was heard by the Ways and Means Committee, which is the same committee that heard it last year. I had some great witnesses, two of whom sit on the Capitol Commission, who gave some detailed information to the committee to help them make an informed decision. This committee passed last year's bill, and that bill passed out of the House but got stalled on the Senate side. These historic buildings — the Capitol, Governor's Mansion, Supreme Court Building, Old Federal Courthouse and the Highway Building — are treasures to our community, and it is incumbent on each of us to preserve them for generations to come. I want my grandchildren's grandchildren to be able to enjoy these historic buildings, and this fund will help in that preservation.
My HCR60, which is an MIA resolution I filed at the beginning of session, was passed unanimously out of the Veterans Committee and will now move on to the Rules Committee before heading to the floor. We heard testimony from Larry Hasenbeck, whose brother went missing in action in Vietnam in 1967 and whose remains have never been recovered. The sad thing is that artifacts of his brother have been found and are on display in a museum in Hanoi. This resolution will put pressure on the U.S. Congress to ramp up these investigations and use our diplomatic liaisons to help bring closure to so many families that have been denied the right to bury their loved ones. I appreciated Hasenbeck's testimony and his perseverance in trying to find closure for his family. The U.S. Senate has a bill before them entitled "Bring our Heroes Home Act," and perhaps this will bring more light to this heartbreaking situation and spur on further action by Congress.
On Monday, I will be visiting the University of Missouri Veterans Clinic, which is a part of the Missouri Law program. This clinic works with veterans to secure disability benefits and assists veterans in other important matters related to military service. Established in 2014, it has achieved remarkable results including assisting more than 600 veterans, securing more than $4 million in retroactive benefits, educated 100-plus law students in Veterans benefits law and directly represented 130-plus veterans in disability and discharge cases.
The clinic highlights the importance of pro bono work in a lawyer's professional life, while serving the needs of our veterans on behalf of a grateful nation. One other program they are offering that I want to learn more about is Tigers for Troops. This is an outreach program where they are "taking their show on the road" to underserved rural Missouri counties and connecting those veterans with resources they may not be aware of but deserve. The Tigers for Troops lawyers are expanding their capacity by empowering attorneys to take on pro bono cases with the clinics guidance and support. During the hearing, we heard from a veteran who has been directly impacted by their services, and it is truly life changing. This bill passed unanimously out of the Veterans Committee with an amendment added that will lessen the fiscal note and more reflect the true cost of this assistance.
That is all I have for you this week, but I will keep you informed as we move through this session. It truly is an honor to represent you in this building, and I am always open to hearing from you. Remember to shop local and shop Missouri made.
State Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, represents Missouri's 60th House District, and shares his perspective on statehouse issues twice a month.