May 24

Renewable Energy: Are Solar Panels Welcome in Your Neighborhood?

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – More Missourians want to put solar panels on their homes to cut costs and to reduce their traditional energy usage. For the most part, everyone is in favor of more renewable energy being used.

So what’s the problem?MWSnap093

In some places, neighborhood associations and local governments have rules that restrict or even ban them. In others, the rules (and covenants) were simply written before renewable energy became mass produced enough to be available to homeowners.

Is access to solar energy a property right that should be protected by the law, even if it runs afoul of agreements like homeowners association rules? Or is it another aspect of home ownership that is subject to the same rules and regulations as everything else, like fences and sheds?MWSnap094

Solar energy advocate Frances Babb, who works with Renew Missouri, has been in that legal battle before. She explains why she doesn’t want homeowners associations – or anyone else – stopping the use of solar energy in Missouri.

Patrick McClanahan and Marvin Nodiff from the Community Associations Institute, which represents homeowners associations throughout Missouri and the nation, say it’s not that simple. While they are in favor of using renewable energy, they say there are other issues involved.

On the web:

Renew Missouri: www.RenewMO.org

Community Associations Institute: www.CAIonline.org

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/renewable-energy-are-solar-panels-welcome-in-your-neighborhood/

May 17

New Ideas For Missouri’s Justice System

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) –  Missouri’s courts, police and the justice system in general have been in the headlines almost constantly for the past nine months. From the violence in Ferguson, MO to “speed traps” some lawmakers call “taxation by citation”, calls for reforms are coming from both sides of the political aisle. Regardless of what happens as of the end of the Legislative Session, these are issues that will stay in the news and will continue to be debated.MWSnap091

This week, State Rep. Paul Curtman (R) discusses some of the reforms being considered by the State Legislature. From limiting how much cities can collect in revenues from speeding tickets to the use of red light cameras to proposed changes to what police officers are allowed to do in cases where force is used, there could be major changes coming to the state.

Also, a special court program being used in central Missouri is already showing results. Judge Michael Bradley explains Boone County’s Veterans Treatment Court, which provides a path for vets who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. It’s a system that could be used throughout the state soon.MWSnap092

The specialized court works with vets who have already pleaded guilty to some crimes but may be dealing with issues that contributed to their choices. These could include PTSD, mental illness or substance abuse. The concept is simple: provide help, mentoring and a structure to address the deeper challenges these men and women carry every day.

Missouri-based Veterans United funded the creation of the court and provides a special video report used in this week’s program.

On the web:

Rep. Paul Curtman: www.PaulCurtman.com

Veterans United Foundation: www.veteransunited.com/about/foundation/

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/new-ideas-for-missouris-justice-system/

May 10

Religious Freedom Or Legalized Discrimination? A Clash Of Values In Missouri

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – The debate isn’t just in Indiana. It isn’t just in Colorado or Alabama. It’s in the Show Me State.

Where does your right to run your business based on your religious values end? Should it end?

Those are among the questions behind the effort to pass Religious Freedom Protection Act laws across the country, including in Missouri.

The viewpoints are based on moral, religious, political, economic and legal reasons and are very personal to Missourians in some way. Lawmakers and judges will decide the state’s official positions on these in the coming months and years and that will likely impact everyone in some way.MWSnap089

Ryan Johnson from the Missouri Alliance For Freedom and Jeffrey Mittman from the ACLU of Missouri offer two very different perspectives on how the law and the courts should prioritize whose rights are protected first when values clash in business, on campus and in society overall.

Johnson and Mittman also discuss a proposal to allow student groups on state college and university campuses to set their own criteria for membership. Specifically, faith-based clubs would be protected by law if they require members to be of the same beliefs.

While supporters of religious freedom protection laws say it’s about the right to live your life in accordance with your personal values and beliefs even if those beliefs require you to decline business with someone, as is the case with the Christian businesses who find themselves in conflict with the law in other states. A bakery in one, a florist in another and a wedding chapel somewhere else turned down business because they did not want to take part in a same-sex wedding.MWSnap090

Opponents of the religious freedom protection laws say that’s discrimination and should not be legal regardless of the business owners’ personal convictions.

On the web:

Missouri Alliance for Freedom: www.MissouriFreedom.com

ACLU of Missouri: www.aclu-mo.org

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/religious-freedom-or-legalized-discrimination-a-clash-of-values-in-missouri/

May 03

Good For Taxpayers or Cruel To The Poor? Welfare Reform In Missouri

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – When is it time to say “you’re on your own”?

It’s a debate you hear about in the halls of Congress, in State Legislatures across America and at the proverbial water cooler in communities everywhere: how much should government pay for those who aren’t earning enough to pay their own bills?

This year, the Missouri Legislature approved some changes to one of those welfare programs. The plan is to reduce the total length of time someone can receive benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Currently, a Missourian can receive TANF benefits for up to five years. The proposal would cut that to three years and nine months (45 months total).MWSnap087

The bill passed both chambers of the Legislature with an overwhelming number of votes, making a veto override likely if Gov. Nixon chooses to reject the bill.*

State Rep. Tracy McCreery (D) is against the plan, saying it’s bad for the poorest Missourians and their children. Former State Rep. Carl Bearden (R) was once the chair of the House Budget Committee and now runs the conservative United For Missouri.

He believes the changes will be good for Missouri – including for those on the welfare rolls now.

The proposal includes requirements that recipients spend some time each week in work-related activities. This could include looking for work, getting an education and volunteering.MWSnap088

On the web:

Rep. Tracy McCreery: www.TracyMcCreery.com

United For Missouri: www.UnitedForMissouri.org

* As of the recording of this program, Gov. Jay Nixon has not taken any action on the changes passed by the Legislature, nor has he announced his plans regarding the bill.

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/good-for-taxpayers-or-cruel-to-the-poor-welfare-reform-in-missouri/

Apr 26

A Missouri Tragedy: Learning from Tom Schweich’s Death

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – It’s a tragedy that still has Missourians – especially those who knew him – in disbelief: the apparent suicide of State Auditor Tom Schweich. The investigation into his death concludes that Schweich took his own life after a long history of dealing with both mental and physical challenges.

Our political process has moved forward, as it’s designed to do in times like this, but there are still more questions than answers regarding why someone with a history of personal, professional and political success would end his own life, even with the aforementioned struggles.MWSnap084

This week, we hear from Dr. Liz Sale, a mental health researcher with both the Missouri Institute of Mental Health and the University of Missouri-Columbia and from former US Senate candidate John Brunner (R). Sale discusses the myths and realities of suicide and how we can all help someone in need. Mental health challenges affect more people than many realize and it’s likely you know someone who struggles with a mental health challenge.

Brunner gives us a first-hand look at the pressures of the campaign trail on people; both the candidate and their family. Are our politics becoming too personal and too destructive? Brunner answers that question as he considers a run for governor in 2016.

MWSnap085

We also hear thoughts on Tom Schweich from former Speaker of the House Tim Jones, St. Louis media personality Jaime Allman, State Rep. Caleb Rowden and Congresswoman Ann Wagner, all of whom knew Tom Schweich.

For more information on learning Mental Health First Aid through the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, visit the MIMH link on the right side of this page.

For immediate help, call 1.800.273.TALK.

* this week’s program was recorded prior to the completion of the investigation into Auditor Schweich’s death.

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/a-missouri-tragedy-learning-from-tom-schweichs-death/

Apr 19

Decision 2016. Meet The Candidates: Bradshaw and Asbury

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – This week, we begin our series of interviews with those who want your vote for statewide office in 2016.

Dr. Brad Bradshaw is a medical doctor and an attorney with multiple offices around the state. He’s also a Democrat running for Lt. Governor. He addresses some of the top issues likely to be in the spotlight in 2016 including “Right To Work” and the debate over Medicaid expansion.MWSnap081

Bradshaw also promotes his idea to reduce the size of the State Legislature by reducing the number of State Representatives. It’s a plan he hopes to see on the statewide ballot at some point and believes it will both save money and reduce partisanship in an atmosphere he says is polarized.

Randy Asbury is a former Republican State Representative who wants to return to the Capital City. This time, though, he wants to come back as the state’s top executive: Governor.

He doesn’t see the “Right To Work” and Medicaid issues the same way Bradshaw does. Asbury also takes issue with the role money has come to play in Missouri’s elections and politics. He says he wants to see a review of that and of the trend of legislators jumping from making laws to lobbying for (or against) them.MWSnap082

So far, Bradshaw is the only Democrat to be involved in the race for Lt. Governor. Asbury is in an already crowded, and possibly growing, field of GOP hopefuls for Governor.

We will have more candidates for statewide office on “Missouri Viewpoints” in the coming months.

On the web:

Dr. Bradshaw for Lt. Governor: www.BradshawForMissouri.com.

Asbury for Governor:  www.AsburyForGovernor.com

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/decision-2016-meet-the-candidates-bradshaw-and-asbury/

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