A Great Start to Session
It’s January, and the Legislature is back at work in Jefferson City. It’s only the second week of session and already more than 450 bills and resolutions have been filed in the Senate. Many of those measures have been assigned to committees, and we’ve started taking testimony from citizens and interested groups who either support or oppose the various legislative proposals. There will be plenty of time to get into all that over the next 18 weeks, but for now, I’d like to tell you about a couple of exciting things that happened at the start of session. If these two events are any indication, we’re definitely off to a great start.
At the end of December, a special committee I was involved with over the interim finished its work and issued a report to the governor. The Missouri Rights of Victims of Sexual Assault Task Force was created by legislation passed in 2020. The 13-member committee collected information from survivors of sexual assault, victims’ services professionals, law enforcement, health care experts and others to develop guidelines and best practices for the treatment and care of survivors. I was honored to be one of four legislators (two from the Senate and two from the House of Representatives) to serve on the task force.
After hearing hours and hours of testimony, the task force issued a unanimous report with recommendations on ways to promote healing for survivors, increase community awareness, improve access to forensic examinations and reduce backlogs of evidence processing, among other topics. It was rewarding work that I believe will produce positive benefits for survivors of sexual assault in years to come.
Another exciting thing that happened early in session was the release of “You Can, Too!” a book produced by the 11 women currently serving in the Senate – the largest group of women ever to serve together in the Missouri’s upper legislative chamber. The book tells the stories of all 36 women who ever served in the Missouri Senate. It’s written with young readers in mind, and it’s full of inspiring stories about women who exceeded expectations, challenged conventional thinking and rose to levels far beyond the limits that others would have placed on them.
I was honored to be featured in the book, but I was even more thrilled to get to meet some of the impressive women who came before me. We held a reception to roll out the book on the first day of session and eight women who previously served in the Senate attended. Among those was the very first woman ever elected to the Missouri Senate, Mary Gant Newquist, who held office from 1973 until 1981. We’re going to be sending copies of the book around to fourth grade classes, but if you’d like to buy the book, they’re available through Missouri Life magazine. You can also call my office and we’ll tell you how to get a copy.
Legislative activity is just now gearing up in the Senate, so I’ll wait for future reports to bring you up to speed on committee hearings, floor discussions and the like. The 2022 legislative session continues through mid-May. I encourage everyone to visit the Senate’s website at senate.mo.gov to review the legislation being considered this year or to listen in as we discuss these proposals. If you feel strongly about any of the bills before the Senate, please send us an email expressing your views. You’re also invited to appear before committees and put your position on the record. Call my office if you need more information about doing that. Finally, if you’re able to visit our beautiful Capitol, please stop by the District 27 office in room 433 and say hello. We are here to serve you.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Holly Thompson Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101, send an email to Holly.Rehder@senate.mo.gov or visit www.senate.mo.gov/Rehder.