One thing missing from Gov. Jay Nixon’s special session call was anything related to disaster recovery. And for House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, that’s OK. Schoeller - the chairman of a committee looking into disaster recovery options - sent out the following letter yesterday to members of the Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery: I just finished a call with the Governor’s office and he has decided to not include accessing the Budget Reserve Fund in the up and coming special session. Members of the legislature have considered tapping into the so-called “Rainy Day Fund” to pay for recovery efforts in, among other places, Joplin, southeast Missouri and Sedalia.
As our committee had previously discussed during our last hearing in July, it is premature to think we may know the extent of the costs related to the disasters that have affected, and continue to affect, the State of Missouri and the Governor has adopted our concern. Including accessing the Budget Reserve Fund in the call to special session was made in good faith that a firmer number would be available from the Governor closer to veto session. I am pleased the process is slowing down until more information is known. I firmly believe it is vitally important to include accountability in the process through a joint committee between the House and Senate and by gathering better information that will help ensure every precaution is made to be fiscally responsible with every taxpayer dollar.
Not including disaster recovery in the current call to special session does not remove the possibility that we still may be called at a later date this year or that we will not seek to make a response when regular session begins in January. We will continue to work with our communities as they implement their recovery plans. It is imperative that we stand ready to offer what assistance is necessary during their rebuilding process as related costs and requirements are confirmed.
We will also keep an open dialogue as we look into allowing assessors of occupancy counties to provide property tax abatements for commercial properties as is already allowed to residential properties, as well as looking into a streamlined method of credentialing medical professionals that travel from other states, out of kindness, to assist us if we are afflicted with such a tragedy in the future.
I look forward to continuing to work with you as we prepare our final recommendations of necessary legislative changes. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the Governor’s decision or the work we have yet to complete.
One thing missing from Gov. Jay Nixon’s special session call was anything related to disaster recovery.
And for House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, that’s OK. Schoeller - the chairman of a committee looking into disaster recovery options - sent out the following letter yesterday to members of the Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery:
I just finished a call with the Governor’s office and he has decided to not include accessing the Budget Reserve Fund in the up and coming special session.
Members of the legislature have considered tapping into the so-called “Rainy Day Fund” to pay for recovery efforts in, among other places, Joplin, southeast Missouri and Sedalia.
House Speaker Steven Tilley created an interim committee aimed assisting regions of the state hit hard by natural disasters.
Tilley, R-Perryville, announced Tuesday the creation of the House Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery. The committee will look at ways to assist places such as Joplin and southeast Missouri recover from recent natural disasters.
“With the flooding in southeast Missouri and the massive tornado that hit Joplin, the tornado in St. Louis … we need to know where we stand and what needs to be done to get Missourians back on their feet,” Tilley said in a statement. “This committee will be tasked with creating a plan and seeing what we in the legislature can do to help.”
The committee - which will be chaired by Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-Willard - will look at whether a special session is needed to assist Joplin and southeast Missouri. It also will develop a strategy on how the state can be ready for future disasters.
“While we do our best to have plans in place for the moments when tragedy strikes, the devastation in Joplin is one such event that could not have been foreseen in its impact and overall enormity,” said Schoeller in a statement. “As we begin to help rebuild this community we need to look thoroughly into the effects this tragedy will have on the families, businesses, faith and civic organizations who call Joplin home. We also must ensure the state has a plan in place to help rather than hinder the process for any Missouri community that is trying to rebuild after suffering the effects of a natural disaster.”
The committee must send a report to Tilley by July 31 on whether a special session is needed.
The controversy over whether to flood Missouri farmland to save Cairo, Illinois was showcased Monday on CNN.
Ted Rowlands’ report features my video of House Speaker Steve Tilley’s controversial statements about the southern Illinois town. Tilley, R-Perryville, later apologized for the remarks.
Click on the video to see Rowlands’ report.
My apologies for the lack of updates today, I’ve been busy juggling a number of different proverbial balls in the air.
But one thing I did want to point out was the Columbia Daily Tribune Rudi Keller’s blog post of House Speaker Steve Tilley’s comments about Cairo, Illinois. Keller was the reporter who asked Tilley whether he would rather see Missouri farmland or Cairo flooded. The answer sparked an Internet firestorm.
From the blog post:
With the video, Tilley became the target of every politician in Illinois and many of the town’s residents and defenders. At Cairo City Hall on Saturday, stacks of news releases from Illinois state lawmakers denouncing Tilley stood beside notices on evacuation plans to make sure visiting reporters knew about the controversy.
And townspeople were quick to offer their opinions as well. “I can’t believe a politician would make a statement like that. I can’t see it…it is pathetic,” Ronnie Garrett, a lifelong resident told me.
But one Illinois politician didn’t weigh in – President Barack Obama. He hasn’t said anything about Cairo or the flood that has already set a historic record there and seems poised to be the biggest on record along the Lower Mississippi. Obama has also been silent on the decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to blast open the levee in Missouri.
Gov. Jay Nixon’s office issued a statement regarding the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to breach Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri.
Here is Nixon’s full statement:
“One week ago, I activated the Missouri National Guard to protect lives and property in southern and southeast Missouri because of forecasts of historic flooding in that region. In recent days, rainfall has exceeded those initial forecasts, and Missourians are coping with record river levels along parts of the Mississippi. Today, more than 760 Citizen-Soldiers of the Missouri National Guard are on the ground in southeast Missouri. In cooperation with state, county and local law enforcement, they have evacuated the Birds Point-New Madrid floodway and continue to provide protection for the property families have left behind. I appreciate the tireless and professional efforts of all men and women of the Missouri National Guard, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and local agencies who are working long hours to complete their missions.
Earlier this evening, Major Gen. Michael Walsh of the Corps of Engineers informed me of his decision to proceed with plans to blow a hole in the levee at Birds Point as soon as possible. This explosion will send a tremendous amount of water through approximately 130,000 acres of farmland in southeast Missouri. The General’s hope is that this action will relieve pressure on other parts of the levee system and save lives.
As we have throughout this historic flooding, the State of Missouri will continue to provide resources and personnel to protect the people of the Bootheel. We have boots on the ground. We are prepared. And southeast Missouri will move forward again I urge Missourians to continue to cooperate fully with state, county and local law enforcement, as they have at every stage of this process. Together, we will ensure that Missouri families stay safe in the coming days. And together, we will recover and rebuild.”
House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, apologized on Thursday for remarks he made regarding southeast Missouri flooding.
There’s been a raging debate over whether to blow up a levee in southeast Missouri in response to heavy rains in the area. Such action could flood Missouri farmland, while failure to do so could flood places such as Cairo, Illinois.
Two days ago, I filmed and posted to the Web these remarks from Tilley. Tilley was asked by a reporter he would rather see Missouri farmland or Cairo flooded. Tilley immediately said, “Cairo.”
"I’ve been there, Cairo," Tilley said. "Have you been to Cairo? Then you know what I’m saying then."
Those comments were picked up by a number of popular Internet sites, including Illinois-based Capitol Fax and the Huffington Post. As of 10:03 p.m., it’s been viewed over 3,500 and sparked over 118 comments. The statement even prompted Illinois lawmakers - including U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville - to condemn Tilley.
Tilley told me earlier this afternoon that he’d received roughly 20 to 30 e-mails about the remarks. A police officer was stationed near his office.
He said he was sorry for making the comments.
“I want to apologize for them,” he added. “And I think politicians who say something stupid or say something incorrect should admit that they said something dumb… I certainly wish no ill will to Cairo. I will continue to fight for the people of southeast Missouri and the residents there. But it shouldn’t have lead to any inappropriate comments from me about Cairo and for that I regret it.”
Gov. Jay Nixon’s office just announced that the governor activated the National Guard to combat flooding in southern and southeast Missouri.
“I have directed Maj. General Danner to immediately move Guard units into place where they can best help in protecting health and property,” Nixon said in a statement. “The Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen of the Missouri National Guard have demonstrated their ability to help with natural disasters numerous times over the years, most recently in the work they did before, during, and after the blizzard and record snowstorm this winter. I have full confidence in the Guard to assist local emergency officials around the state.”
According to the press release, the Guard “will be deployed immediately to support local emergency agencies.” That includes "assisting local emergency responders with threats to levees near Poplar Bluff and other communities."