Rep. Rusty Black's Capitol Report

By Rusty Black

Hello 7th District;

A few weeks ago I had the honor of presenting a courtesy resolution to another outstanding constituent of the 7th district. Claire Shipp, a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, has distinguished herself as a 2021 Truman Scholar. Claire was one of 62 college students from 51 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the Truman Scholarship. Ms. Shipp is very active on campus, as she is the youngest executive director of the Associated Students of the University Of Missouri (ASUM). She is a bright young lady and I feel privileged just to know her.

Second Amendment Preservation Act Signed into Law (HBs 85 & 310)

Lawmakers took action during the 2021 legislative session to protect the Second Amendment rights of Missourians against an overreaching federal government. This week Gov. Parson signed the legislation approved by the General Assembly to create the Second Amendment Preservation Act.

The act is meant to protect law-abiding gun owners from potential gun control legislation that could be passed in Washington, D.C. It states that laws and other actions that prohibit the manufacture, ownership, and use of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition within Missouri exceed the powers granted to the federal government. It also declares that all federal laws, acts, and orders that infringe on Missourians’ second amendment rights are invalid in the state.

Gov. Parson said the bill “draws a line in the sand and demonstrates our commitment to reject any attempt by the federal government to circumvent the fundamental right Missourians have to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their property.”

The bill prohibits state and local cooperation with federal officials that attempt to enforce any laws, rules, orders, or actions that violate the Second Amendment rights of Missourians. Additionally, the bill is an acknowledgment that the right to keep and bear arms is fundamental and inalienable, and that the nation's federalist constitutional structure limits the federal government's authority over states.

Under the bill, any person or entity who knowingly deprives Missouri citizens of their right to bear arms - as protected by state and federal constitutions - will be liable for redress and monetary damages of $50,000 per occurrence. Local law enforcement’s ability to assist federal officials in other instances remains unchanged under the new law.

Parson said the bill “puts those in Washington D.C. on notice that here in Missouri we support responsible, law-abiding gun owners, and that we oppose government overreach and any unlawful efforts to limit our access to firearms.”

New House Committee Launches Effort to Improve Broadband Access

A newly-formed committee is taking on the challenge of finding ways to improve access to broadband internet in Missouri. Formed by House Speaker Rob Vescovo, the Interim Committee on Broadband Development will spend the next several months gathering data and testimony as it works toward policy recommendations that will make high speed internet more available and affordable.

The chair of the committee said, “As we are all well aware, the recent pandemic demonstrated that high-speed, broadband internet can no longer be considered a luxury, it has become a necessity, a necessity that far too many Missourians have done, and continue to do, without. “

He added that the committee will “study where we are as a state in 2021, where we need to be, and what steps we will need to take as policy makers and appropriators to ensure that broadband internet is readily available to every Missourian who wants it.” He said the committee plans to examine three core areas: access, speed, and affordability.

During its first hearing on June 10, committee members heard from the director of the Office of Broadband Development, which works to expand and accelerate broadband deployment in Missouri. The director noted there are 392,000 Missourians who lack high-speed internet, either because it’s not available or they can’t afford it. Right now Missouri ranks in the bottom five for access to low-cost internet with only 55 percent of Missourians having access to a low-cost internet plan.

The committee will continue to meet each month throughout the interim to gather information from subject matter experts, Federal officials, statewide associations, internet providers, and from the general public. The committee will take written testimony, live testimony and remote testimony between now and December 1. Based on the information gathered, the committee will prepare a report and generate policy options and appropriations requests before the end of 2021.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at the following: 573-751-2917, rusty.black@house.mo.gov, Twitter: @rep_rusty, Facebook: Rusty Black. 

My legislative assistant, Ashley Wright, or I will be happy to assist in any way that we can. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve the 7th District of the Missouri House of Representatives.