Healthy Futures Missouri
For the third consecutive year, I have held a series of assemblies at high schools throughout Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District to combat the rising drug crisis and counter the disastrous impact drugs are having on people’s lives.
I truly believe our young people are the key to overcoming this scourge. The vast majority are not using drugs and are making healthy decisions. If they choose to be the generation that chooses to be drug-free, our country can reverse the problem that is robbing lives throughout our nation. I wanted to encourage them in their wise choices and empower them with facts and tools to help them lead the way. This year’s Drug Free Missouri Initiative assemblies - now known as Healthy Futures MO - were held at high schools in Harrisonville, Creighton, Holden, Climax Springs, Richland, and Crocker. In addition to drug use and abuse, we exposed the dangers of cigarette smoking, vaping, and other addictive behaviors.
We hosted our initial Healthy Futures MO assembly at Harrisonville High School, encouraging students to be substance free.
The first part of each assembly involved students being partnered with a teacher, coach, or faculty member to participate in a quiz show contest with questions related to addictive substances. The next portion featured speakers who have had personal experience with substance abuse or have close family or friends who have suffered from addiction.
Thank you to Sherwood Cass High School for letting me host my second Healthy Futures MO assembly there to promote a substance free life.
Our speaker for the assemblies in Harrisonville, Creighton, and Holden was Emily McConnell. Emily’s addiction began with an eating disorder, which led to her using meth and other dangerous drugs to cope with the personal pain in her life. After becoming homeless and suffering for several years, Emily sought help and got clean, but, then unfortunately relapsed after a painful break up and time in jail. Eventually, though, she learned about Recovery Lighthouse in Warrensburg. Through the Lighthouse, Emily was able to get back on track and turn her life around through faith in God and support from others. She now counsels others on avoiding the path she walked. I am appreciative of Emily sharing her story and the hope she brings by being a positive example of how to regain hope and a future after drugs.
We finished our first day of Healthy Futures MO assemblies at Holden High School. A special thanks to all our speakers and schools for helping make it a great day and encouraging our kids to live substance free.
For the assemblies I held in Climax Springs, Richland, and Crocker, our speaker was Christine McDonald. Due to family problems at home, Christine ran away from home at the age of 15. Unfortunately, a man “befriended” by giving her food and shelter and then took advantage of her, giving her drugs and forcing her into sex trafficking. Christine became hooked on cocaine, developing a $1000 a day habit and entered prostitution to survive. It was a dark 17 years of her life lived out by too many others in similar circumstances. The good news is, finally, after 103 arrests and seven prison sentences, Christine got clean and now speaks to young people about the dangers of drug use and how certain decisions can alter the rest of one’s life.
I kicked off day two of my Healthy Futures MO assemblies at Climax Springs.
We also had a law enforcement speaker address each of our six assemblies. Captain Kip Bartlett of the Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force shared stories of how he sees the destructive force of drugs up-close while serving as an officer. He has seen tragedies, such as people who were so high they killed their own babies. The focus of his message about drug use was, first - don’t ever start. Second, he encouraged students that are using drugs or know someone who is using drugs to get help.
Our fourth Healthy Futures MO assembly was at Richland High school. I am so encouraged that a majority of our students are choosing to live a substance-free life.
I encourage all parents to have a conversation with their children about substance abuse. Also, if your child (or someone you know) has started down this dangerous road, there is help available. We must remain hopeful and do our part to stamp out the scourge of drug abuse.
We wrapped up our Healthy Futures MO assemblies at Crocker High School. A very special thanks to all the speakers, schools, and students who helped make these assemblies so great. Together we can encourage our communities to promote living substance-free!
Expanding Veterans’ Access to Federal Jobs
Last week I was excited to introduce a bill to ensure veterans receive equal treatment in federal hiring practices. Our current rules unfairly deny some servicemembers this important opportunity. For example, the current rules require “more than 180 consecutive days” of active duty time for service members to qualify for employment preference. However, many National Guard Reserve members serve 180 days a year - just not consecutively. My bill, the Veterans Preference Parity Act, corrects this disparity as well as allows more servicemembers to participate so that those who retire in the rank of Major or higher can receive veterans preference. Currently, they are excluded. I am pleased my bipartisan bill is endorsed by (among others) the Reserve Officer Association, Enlisted Association of the National Guard, National Guard Association, Fleet Reserve Association, Jewish War Veterans, American Veterans, and Association of the United States Navy.
Unfair Paris Accord
Because of serious inequities with the Paris Climate Accord signed by President Obama in 2016, last week I voted against H.R. 9, legislation that would prevent the current President the flexibility to withdraw from the agreement. The Paris Agreement, which President Obama signed without the consent or support of Congress, creates a highly unfair playing field for the United States setting emission requirements far above those of other nations including some of the worst offenders such as China and India.
The Paris agreement unwisely tied the hands of American economic growth while allowing the world’s largest emitters of pollution to continue unabated until at least 2030. The government of China (the world’s largest polluter, accounting for more than half of the planet's carbon pollutants in 2017) would love for the United States to adhere to this agreement which could cost the American economy over $250 billion dollars and a loss of 2.7 million jobs within the next ten years.
The Paris agreement signed by President Obama committed the United States to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below its 2005 level by 2025. Meanwhile other countries like China, which is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, do not pledge to address this issue until 2030. This puts the United States at a severe disadvantage with its largest economic and security competitors in the world.
America is currently a global leader in cutting CO2 emissions, representing the largest decline among all countries since 2000. In fact, from 2000 and 2014 the United States reduced emissions more than 18 percent while leading the world in reductions. Emission levels in the U.S. have retracted to 1990 levels. Our efforts are working, and we should not be penalized by being forced into a treaty that puts us at an unfair disadvantage with our global competitors.
Academy Information Day & Appointee Reception
It was a pleasure to host a reception in April for the U.S. Service Academy appointees who will be attending one of the United States Service Academies as part of the Class of 2023. Each appointee honored at the reception received a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol, a certificate, and a Congressional challenge coin. I’m proud of each one and look forward to the great things they are going to do for our nation. The academy nominees are as follows:
- Joshua Banks (University of Central Missouri), accepted to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
- Grant Bradshaw (Muriel Battle High School), accepted to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
- Briana Chiodini (Harrisonville High School), accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy.
- Daylen Doll (Appleton High School), accepted to the U.S. Military Academy, West Point.
- Andrew Ely (Knob Noster High School), accepted to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
I spoke to students at Warrensburg High School at my first U.S. Service Academy Information Session of the year.
After the reception, I hosted my first Academy Information Day of the year for students considering attending one of the U.S Service Academies. We had more than 100 young people who were interested! We shared with students and their parents the process of applying to each institution and what qualifications are required. Students then had an opportunity to network and talk with officials and alums of the various service schools to get more information about the process and what it’s like to experience the different schools. I was so pleased by the number of young people who showed up to explore this kind of academic experience and whether military service to America would be a good fit for them. I hope that many of them ultimately decide to apply.
Photos to Share
Tiffany and I had fun cooking for Easter! Bunny rolls, chicks on the ranch eggs, & peeps bunny cake toppers. It made for a fun meal after church!
A big thanks President Rodger Best for letting me stop by the University of Central Missouri and discuss ways to support higher education.
A beautiful spring day in our nation’s capital!
I was proud to introduce University of Missouri's Dr. Scott Brown at the Ag Comm Hrg sharing his expertise on dairy policy. Dairy farmers are hurting. The new Dairy Margin Coverage passed with the Farm Bill should be a welcome help to keep milk on our grocery shelves.
A sign of the times in DC: staffers get to work via scooters as much as bicycles!
Growing up on a farm, my family has continuously relied on the Association of Missouri Electric Coops and its member-owners to keep our lights on. Last week, I had the chance to visit with them about rural infrastructure and broadband internet.
It was a pleasure to meet with General O’Shaughnessy to discuss our military’s posture in defending the homeland.
Last week, the House Armed Services Committee conducted a hearing exploring national security challenges in North and South America. Threats are growing. Gen. Shaughnessy said, “It is clear the homeland is no longer a sanctuary.” We must be vigilant & purposeful in addressing these threats.
At the same hearing, SOUTHCOM Comm Faller sent a message to the Venezuela military to do the right thing and support the people. Acting Asst SecDef Wheelberger also called on Cuba & Russia to cease their support of the illegitimate dictatorship of Maduro.
I was honored to speak at the Americans United For Life’s Women Speak Symposium about what life in America could look like without abortion, and how our country could once again be a place of hope and opportunity for families seeking to flourish through adoption.
I enjoyed meeting with Mike and Reid Oyster to discuss how we can get our kids to and from school safely each day.
Last week the House Armed Services Committee Republicans Tactical Air and Land subcommittee held a hearing regarding the Air Force Acquisition and Modernization Programs for the Next Fiscal Year. As Ranking Member I was eager to hear updates on the F-35 program and interested to learn how the Air force plans to cut operation and sustainment costs.
Weekly Dose of Good News
Congratulations to Jazzmine Jones, who was chosen as the Boys & Girls Club Missouri State Youth of the Year! Jazzmine is 17 years old, serves as a junior staff member at her hometown Boys & Girls Club Site in Cole Camp, and was named Youth of the Year after a two-day event in Jefferson City. Youth of the Year recognizes outstanding contributions that a Boys & Girls Club member has made to his or her family, school, community, and the club itself. The award also takes into consideration personal challenges and obstacles the winner has had to overcome. Because she won this prestigious award, Jazzmine will receive scholarship funding and mentorship opportunities. Congratulations, Jazzmine. You are an inspiration to the young people of our district and state.