Closing in on two months into the Missouri legislative session, the Courier-Post asked Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Frankford) five questions about the progress he's seen so far in the session.

Closing in on two months into the Missouri legislative session, the Courier-Post asked Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Frankford) five questions about the progress he's seen so far in the session.


What has been accomplished by the Legislature that you believe is important for Missourians thus far in the session?


Several important pieces of legislation have been voted out of the Missouri House of Representatives this session. These bills will go a long way in improving ethics, education, the state’s workforce, law enforcement, and more. Specific examples include HB 1303, which would ban gifts from lobbyists to legislators and other statewide elected officials, HB 1415, which would allow a teacher to count hours spent in a local business externship as contact hours of professional development, HB 1465, which would give institutions greater flexibility to offer degrees that meet the needs of their local communities and businesses, and HB 1859, which would allow law enforcement agencies to assist other law enforcement agencies.

HB 1465 was voted out of the Committee on Workforce Development, a committee of which I am a member. I have particularly enjoyed the discussions I have had with my colleagues in Workforce Development, because I view the issue of equipping Missouri workers as so important. More needs to be done to improve the education and training of our citizens – particularly young people – to ensure they are prepared to join the workforce. I am looking forward to continuing to work on this matter and find solutions that benefit all Missourians.

2. What priorities do you see shaping up for the remainder of the session?

For the Missouri House in general, transportation and infrastructure are shaping up to be our top priorities. Our state’s roads and bridges need improvement. More needs to be done to ensure that they remain safe and well-maintained for future generations. Many differing views exist on how to achieve that goal. I look forward to contributing to that discussion.

Personally, I have several priorities. I have filed three pieces of legislation this session: HB 1744, HB 1745, and HB 2499.

HB 1744 would ensure that more students are able to participate in the A+ Schools Program.

HB 1745 would extend the current partial ban on texting and driving to all drivers.

HB 2499 would remove the option for prisoners to have in-person probation hearings and would allow for videoconferencing in their place.

I have another bill, regarding the Department of Corrections and telecommunication devices, currently in the works.

I have also resumed work with the Subcommittee on Corrections Workforce Environment and Conduct, which I chair. The goal of the Subcommittee is to promote a safe and professional work environment for all employees of the Department of Corrections. I look forward to continuing to work with my fellow members to ensure that happens.

3. Please give an update on one piece of legislation you’ve filed, as well as your outlook for that piece of legislation.

As previously mentioned, one of my bills, HB 1744, would ensure that more students are able to participate in the A+ Schools Program.

Many students, such as those belonging to foster or military families or foreign exchange programs, are excluded from the A+ Schools Program due to a statute technicality. Currently, in order to take advantage of this crucial program, students must attend high school in the three years immediately prior to graduation. My bill aims to close that loophole. The result would be more student participation in A+ and higher rates of college attendance, which is advantageous for Missouri’s workforce.

Last month, HB 1744 was voted due pass by the Higher Education committee in the House by a vote of 10-0. It was then referred to Rules – Administrative Oversight where it was passed by a vote of 12-0. Next, the bill was referred to Fiscal Review, where it again was voted out unanimously. This month, HB 1744 was third read and passed in the House by a vote of 150-1. It was also given approval for an emergency clause, 130-14, so that it will take affect sooner.

HB 1744 is currently in the Senate, where it will hopefully be referred to committee and heard so that it may be taken up on the floor for a vote.

4. There seems to be a disconnect between the Governor and Legislature, particularly in terms of the budget. What is your outlook on the relationship between the executive branch and the legislative branch in Missouri?

I don’t see a disconnect between the Governor’s office and the Legislature. Just as I’ve seen in each prior year that I’ve served, the Governor proposed his budget and the House and Senate are working on their budgets. After a negotiating process that will require give and take by all parties, an agreement will be reached and a final budget will be created. We all may disagree some on the specifics of the appropriation of Missouri’s tax dollars, but that is bound to happen with a finite amount of resources.

One specific budget appropriation that I am looking forward to seeing is a $1 million allocation for the City of Clarksville, which is in need of a portable flood wall. I have advocated for this particular appropriation in the budget for the last several years and have been in talks with both the Governor’s office and the House Budget office to see that it happens. Clarksville is truly a gem of northeast Missouri. Its residents deserve to live and work without the burdensome costs that annual flooding brings. A flood wall would essentially pay for itself in just a few years.

5. What is one thing most Missourians don’t know about work during the session so far that you want them to know?

One thing many may not know is that I spend many hours behind the scenes and off the floor working on many different issues. One of those is the Department of Corrections and its work environment. I have spent a lot of time with Director Anne Precythe and other Department officials and staff. We meet often to review policy changes our Subcommittee recommended and to monitor the progress of those changes to the state’s corrections institutions.

One example of a policy change is the 24-hour hotline that was implemented last year. This hotline is available for Corrections employees to report instances of harassment, retaliation, and other conduct violations and was put in place as a result of a recommendation made by my colleagues and I who serve on the Subcommittee on Corrections Workforce Environment and Conduct. This change, along with several others, has gone a long way in improving the workplaces of Corrections employees.

All state employees deserve a safe and professional work environment. Their efforts should not go unnoticed. I appreciate our Corrections employees and the work they do each and every day to keep Missourians safe. I would also like to acknowledge the excellent job that Director Anne Precythe has done. Thanks to her leadership, major changes and progress are being made. The Missouri Department of Corrections still has a long way to go, but it is encouraging to have leadership that is right on target.