Senator Ben Brown's Capitol Report for Jan. 24, 2023
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
A Week of Firsts
A Week of Firsts
If I was asked to summarize last week in the Senate, I would say it was filled with “firsts.” On Jan. 18, I presented my first bill as a state senator to the members of the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee. Senate Bill 89 creates the Missouri Education Transparency and Accountability Portal in addition to the Parents’ Bill of Rights Act of 2023. This measure is one of my top priorities, and as a concerned parent who is actively involved in the education of my children, I believe its passage will help restore the trust between parents and their child’s school that has continued to erode over the last few years.
The web-based Missouri Education Transparency and Accountability portal will allow citizens to access every school district’s curriculum, source materials and teachers’ professional development coursework to ensure compliance with state guidelines and eliminate the teaching of divisive topics, such as Critical Race Theory, in our public schools. The portal will be instrumental in reestablishing trust, but I believe cementing a parents’ bill of rights in our state’s statutes will give parents the confidence and knowledge they need to ensure their child’s educational success. Under my proposal, parents will be able to fully review school records, curricula, books and educational materials; access information on teachers, lecturers and other presenters; visit their child during school hours; vocalize their opinions at school board meetings; receive notification when a child’s safety is jeopardized; and object to any material they deem inappropriate to their child’s well-being. I want to thank the advocates who testified in support of this measure, and I hope the Education Committee will pass this important bill in the coming weeks.
Another first this week was the public hearing conducted by the Senate Governmental Accountability Committee. As vice chair, I was honored to lead the discussion while the chair presented her bill. To me, hearings are the “meat and potatoes” of the legislative process because they offer an opportunity for the general public to weigh in on bills and share their stories. If you are interested in testifying at a hearing but haven’t done so in the past, my team would be happy to assist you.
Finally, I attended my first State of the State address in the House chamber on Jan. 18. In his annual speech, the governor outlines his priorities for the year and provides an update on Missouri’s fiscal well-being. I was pleased to hear him boast about Missouri having the lowest cost of living in the nation and our third place rank in apprenticeship opportunities. The governor has prioritized major investments to infrastructure, including broadband expansion and widening and rebuilding Interstate 70, increasing funding for teacher pay and workforce development and more funding for law enforcement officers. Click here to view more of the 2023 State of the State address.
It is an honor serving those who call the 26th Senatorial District home. If you need assistance with navigating state government or the legislative process, please reach out by calling 573-751-3678 or emailing Ben.Brown@senate.mo.gov.