Feb 22

Cell Phones, Tablets and Thieves: Does Missouri Need New Laws To Keep Up?

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – It can happen to you. In fact, in 2013, it happened about 3.2 million times in the United States. The target of the crime is likely in your hand right now or is within a few feet of you.

Theft of mobile devices including cell phones and tablets is on the rise. According to one state lawmaker, that means Missouri needs to change at least one law regarding wireless products.MWSnap057

Rep. Mary Nichols (D) is working to require a so-called “kill switch” on all mobile devices sold in the state. That would allow you and your wireless provider to shut down the device and wipe it clean, erasing any personal information stored within it. Increasingly, financial information is stored on phones or on Cloud accounts linked to them.

For many products and services, kill switch applications or programs similar to them are available through your app store.

AT&T Missouri* President John Sondag is not on board with the proposal and believes the other technology companies working in the state also oppose it even though they all share the overall goal.MWSnap058

Sondag says there is already a program being developed and will be launched this year that is similar to a “kill switch” approach but gives consumers more freedom to use it how they see fit. The program, he says, will be offered by most major wireless providers.

He also expressed concern about adding a law because of how fast technology products – and tech savvy criminals – change and adapt. A new mandate, he fears, could slow down implementation of future upgrades to apps and other programs designed to protect consumers.

* AT&T Missouri is a sponsor of “Missouri Viewpoints”

On the web:

House Bill 144

AT&T

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/cell-phones-tablets-and-thieves-does-missouri-need-new-laws-to-keep-up/

Feb 15

Public Education In Missouri: 2015 and Beyond

By Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – Changes in technology. Changes in the needs of employers. Changes in the economy. Changes in politics. Uncertainty in funding from the state government. These all affect Missouri families and taxpayers regardless of whether they have children in public schools or not.MWSnap056

This week, Missouri’s new State Education Commissioner, Dr. Margie Vandeven, addresses the challenges facing the state’s public education system right now. Those include the political battle between Republican state legislators and Gov. Jay Nixon over funding withholds, access to technology that’s changing how students learn and missed opportunities for early learning that affect children for years, even after they begin formal education.

Vandeven also explains the goals she has for public education during her tenure. Among them is to put Missouri in the top ten when it comes to academic performance in the nation by 2020.

She also addresses controversies in education, including the continuing debate over national Common Core standards, which are being used in Missouri.

On the web: www.DESE.MO.gov

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/public-education-in-missouri-2015-and-beyond/

Feb 08

MO Money, MO Priorities

By Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – As the tax deadline approaches, many Missourians tend to take a closer look at how government spends the money it takes from us.

In fact, deciding how to spend public money is the largest part of our state lawmakers’ job at the Capitol. Most issues are somehow related to the state budget, spending, tax credits, economic incentives and related parts of money management.MWSnap053

This week, Patrick Werner from Missouri’s branch of the conservative Americans For Prosperity and State Representative Tracy McCreery (D) offer two perspectives on what the guiding priorities should be when it comes time to pass a budget and send it to Governor Nixon’s desk.

This year, that discussion includes education (as always), the proposed expansion of Medicaid, tax credit reform and even what the state government should – or should not – do regarding the St. Louis Rams’ quest for a new football stadium.

While it may all sound like just accounting and numbers crunching, McCreery has a different take, saying she views the budget as a “moral document” because it reflects the state government’s priorities.MWSnap055

Listen to both viewpoints and then let us know what you think – leave your comments on the Missouri Viewpoints Facebook page.

On the web:

Americans For Prosperity – Missouri: http://americansforprosperity.org/missouri/

State Rep. Tracy McCreery – www.TracyMcCreery.com

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/mo-money-mo-priorities/

Feb 01

The Cost of Politics or Pay to Play? Is It Time For Ethics Reform In Missouri?

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – Right now, in Missouri, you are free to donate as much money to your favorite candidate as you want.

For most people, that doesn’t mean much since most of us can’t afford to make thousands of dollars in donations. For a select few individuals, several Political Action Committees and many labor unions, that freedom means big bucks going into the campaign coffers of those running for office.MWSnap049

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) is among those wanting the state to reinstate limits on how much donors can contribute to campaigns. There is also an effort to crack down on the common practice of lobbyists and special interest groups giving gifts to those in office.

Those gifts are sometimes as mundane as a cup of coffee or a couple drinks after work. They can also be things like trips to vacation destinations or expensive goods.

Generally, there’s not much in the way of limits there, either. In the cases of both campaign contributions and gifts, Missouri law requires full disclosure of who gave what and when.

Former Speaker of the State House of Representative, Tim Jones (R), believes that’s enough to demand transparency and allow voters to decide when the gifts and donations are too much.MWSnap050

John Messmer is the founder of Missourians for Government Reform and he disagrees. He wants to see campaign donation limits put back in place and a complete ban on lobbyist gifts to lawmakers.

Hear both sides of the debate and be sure to let us know what you think on our Facebook page.

On the web:

Tim Jones – http://timwjones.com/

Missourians for Government Reform – http://www.moreform.org/

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/the-cost-of-politics-or-pay-to-play-is-it-time-for-ethics-reform-in-missouri/

Jan 25

Toll Roads or Higher Taxes? What’s The Plan For Missouri’s Highways?

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – The Missouri Department of Transportation has been sounding the alarm for years: the money coming in will soon not keep up with the cost of maintaining our 33,000+ miles of highways.

While the tax on gasoline has not gone down, the amount of fuel we buy generally has because cars are more fuel efficient than in years past. That means we’re driving the same amount of miles but are paying fewer taxes to fund the roads’ upkeep.MWSnap051

MODoT Engineer Greg Horn explains why many of our state’s highways will likely start crumbling soon on this week’s “Missouri Viewpoints”. Basically, much of the highway work in recent years has been surface repairs on old highways. Highways are typically expected to last 50 years and many of ours are near, at or even beyond that. Surface repairs don’t address the foundation issues and are more of a band aid on highways.

The Show Me Institute’s Joe Miller, a policy analyst, says the situation is a very serious issue and additional funding is needed.

Even though few people want to pay more, he says taking a user fee approach – like increasing the tax on gasoline and/or the use of toll roads on highways – should at least be part of the discussion.

MODoT has already completed a study on the feasibility of using toll roads. The agency doesn’t have an official position on which approach the state should take but is saying more revenue will be needed within the next few years to maintain the highways and bridges we have now. That’s before there’s any chance to expand existing highways or build new ones.MWSnap052

Without the extra funds, Horn says some bridges couple be closed as safety precautions and speed limits could be reduced in some areas as well. That’s in addition to the department likely prioritizing which highways will be repaired with whatever funds are available and which may be allowed to deteriorate.

Miller says those who use the highways directly should be the ones paying for them.

What do you think? Should we consider higher taxes for drivers and/or toll roads? Let us know what you think on the Missouri Viewpoints Facebook page.

On the web:

Missouri Department of Transportation – www.MODOT.org

Show Me Institute – www.ShowMeInstitute.org

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/toll-roads-or-higher-taxes-whats-the-plan-for-missouris-highways/

Jan 18

Human Trafficking: Destroying Lives In Missouri

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – Slavery ended in America after the Civil War, right?

Wrong. It just has a different form in 2015. We can use a more polite term like “human trafficking” or “forced labor” but we can also call the exploitation what it is: modern day slavery.

It’s happening in Missouri right now. In this week’s “Missouri Viewpoints”, Nanette Ward from the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition explains that it takes many forms. While prostitution is one of the best known ways people are exploited and abused through human trafficking, forced labor is another.MWSnap045

You may have come into contact with a victim right here in the Show Me State.

It could be someone working at a nail salon, at a construction site, in a restaurant, in motels or doing custodial work. While thousands of Missourians do these jobs voluntarily, legally and for full pay, sometimes others are doing them because they or their families are threatened by traffickers.

Christine McDonald tells her story on this week’s program. She survived over 17 years of being trafficked for forced labor and prostitution. She was a 15 year old runaway from a dysfunctional home when she entered the world of human trafficking. She explains how she walked into that life, how she sat at the table when she was literally sold to another person, the horrors she was put through and why it’s so difficult to leave once you are ensnared.

McDonald now uses her experience, her story and her faith to help others escape the world of human trafficking. She recounts her experience and why she says there is hope for every victim in her book “Cry Purple”.MWSnap046

McDonald is currently transitioning into the role of Program Director for Restoration House of Greater Kansas City, which helps women escape lives of sex trafficking. The organization takes an encompassing approach to allowing women to heal from the trauma and the related damage of being a victim of trafficking. That often includes substance abuse, medical needs and mental health needs.MWSnap047

McDonald has also had an impact on the lives of sex trafficking victims through her work with Magdalene St. Louis.

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

On the web:

Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition – StopHumanTraffickingMO.com

Christine McDonald – CryPurple.com

Restoration House of Greater Kansas City – http://restorationhousekc.daretocreo.com/

Magdalene St. Louis – http://www.magdalenestl.org/

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/human-trafficking-destroying-lives-in-missouri/

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