Open Letter to the President of the United States

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quill

President Obama,

As a former university lecturer on the subject of the U.S. Constitution, you know the Federal Constitution is fundamental law which cannot be changed by legislation.

You also know that the Amendments to the Constitution cannot be changed by legislation because they are also fundamental law.

You know through your studies, the Second Amendment was not written to protect hunting rights.  Nor was it written to allow citizens to protect themselves from criminal attack.

The Second Amendment was written as a means by which citizens (and States) could protect themselves from the federal government taking from them what does not belong to the federal government.

If the Federal Executive is intent on proposing changes to the Second Amendment, it may not be done by legislation.  However, there is a process for making changes to the Constitution which is described in Article 5 of the Constitution.

To make a change to the Constitution (or a previously enacted Amendment) all you need is a “Yes” vote from two-thirds of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives, two-thirds of the members of the U.S. Senate, and a “Yes” vote from three-quarters of the State Legislatures and you can have it your way.  Until then, the Constitution stands as fundamental law.

Lee A. Presser

[email protected]

Our New National Anthem? Teach THIS Song to Students.




Instead of the soaring Star Spangled Banner as America's national anthem, I suggest the sad and poignant song Our Town better reflects our country and its slide from exceptionalism to a European model of government.  









How sad Americans now want more federal government intrusion in their lives while losing their individual freedoms in the process.  Here is Our Town performed by Iris Dement and Emmylou Harris expressing sorrow of what once was:


And you know the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
Goodnight.

Up the street beside that red neon light,

That's where I met my baby on one hot summer night.
He was the tender and I ordered a beer,
It's been forty years and I'm still sitting here.

But you know the sun's settin' fast,

And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
Goodnight.

It's here I had my babies and I had my first kiss.

I've walked down Main Street in the cold morning mist.
Over there is where I bought my first car.
It turned over once but then it never went far.

And I can see the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
Goodnight.

I buried my Mama and I buried my Pa.

They sleep up the street beside that pretty brick wall.
I bring them flowers about every day,
But I just gotta cry when I think what they'd say.

If they could see how the sun's settin' fast,

And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
Goodnight.

Now I sit on the porch and watch the lightning-bugs fly.

But I can't see too good, I got tears in my eyes.
I'm leaving tomorrow but I don't wanna go.
I love you, my town, you'll always live in my soul.

But I can see the sun's settin' fast,

And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on, I gotta kiss you goodbye,
But I'll hold to my lover,
'Cause my heart's 'bout to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to my town, to my town.
I can see the sun has gone down on my town, on my town,
Goodnight.
Goodnight.


Update: Feds call property leasing data ‘misleading’

news

Is the federal government spending millions of dollars for property in Missouri it barely uses?

The data online that shows the occupancy rate for hundreds of thousands of square feet of property across the country is “misleading,” a spokesperson told the Washington Examiner Wednesday.

The statistics are actually meant to show how much space in each building the federal government leases, the spokesperson said, adding that the agency is now looking at how to change the database.

It it not clear, therefore, what the actual occupancy rates are for Missouri.  It is still safe to conclude, however, that the federal government spends millions of dollars for property across the state. The original story by Missouri Journal from earlier on Wednesday continues below:

Walnut Building in Kansas City

The federal government shells out millions of dollars for property across Missouri, leaving 90 percent of it unused.

The U.S. General Services Administration spends $600 million a year to lease at least 2,000 properties located throughout the country that are less than 10 percent full, according to a report by the Washington Examiner.

In Missouri, there are 26 properties on the list, totaling 316,000 square feet and costing taxpayers $4 million.

The most expensive location is is nearly 32,000 square feet in the St. Louis Place Building located in downtown St. Louis, costing taxpayers more than $900,000 a year for space.

In second place, the federal government pays nearly $730,000 a year for more than 38,000 square feet across the state in the Walnut Building in downtown Kansas City.

The third most expensive location in the state is in southwest Missouri.  The federal government spends around $470,000 a year to lease almost 75,000 square feet in Neosho, near Joplin.

By Brian R. Hook[email protected], (314) 482-7944

For news updates, sign up for a newsletter and follow Missouri Journal on Twitter and Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Missouri Journal. All rights reserved.

Missouri tops nation in weekly jobless claims

jobs_pic

Initial unemployment claims in the state surpassed New York, Pennsylvania, California and Texas.

U.S. Department of Labor on Twitter

Missouri Department of Economic Development on Twitter

Missouri reported the largest increase in the nation, with weekly unemployment claims climbing 2,569, according to data by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Claims climbed by 2,276 in New York, 1,647 in Pennsylvania, 1,613 in California, and 1,229 in Texas. Nationally, claims were stable at 370,000.

The latest unemployment data released Thursday is in stark contrast to reports from earlier in the week.

As reported by Missouri Journal on Wednesday, the number of initial unemployment claims across the state dropped 71 percent to 1,588 in the first quarter, compared to 5,508 in the fourth quarter, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

On Tuesday, the state reported a drop in the unemployment rate in April.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 6,000 during the month, pushing the rate down from 7.4 percent to 7.3 percent, according to the report from the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Meanwhile, the labor force in the state dropped by 2,301 last month.

April was the first month this year the number of new jobs surpassed the drop in the labor force.

To be counted as unemployed by the government, a person must be actively searching for a job.

The federal government will release its version of the state unemployment report on Friday.

By Brian R. Hook[email protected], (314) 482-7944

For news updates, sign up for a newsletter and follow Missouri Journal on Twitter and Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Missouri Journal. All rights reserved.

Show-Me State unemployment, payroll data

jobs_pic

The state’s economic development department claims payrolls increased by 21,100 in January.

However, the Missouri Department of Economic Development has not yet released any data regarding unemployment or nonfarm payrolls.

The department sent out a short press release Tuesday, but did not respond to questions from Missouri Journal regarding the payroll data.

According to the release by the department, “nonfarm payroll employment increased by 21,100 jobs in January.”  Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon also said the state “added more than 21,000 new jobs” in January, in a prepared statement.

The state also reported the unemployment rate dropped to 7.5 percent. However, it is possible for both the rate and payroll numbers to drop as people become discouraged and leave the workforce.

Therefore, is the payroll comparison to January 2010 or December 2010?

If it is December, are the payroll numbers higher than in January of last year?

The economic development department did not respond to questions again on Wednesday.

Therefore, Missouri Journal filed a state Sunshine Law request for the data.

This is not the first time the department has not responded to questions or requests.

Earlier this month, the department would not say whether a search is underway for a new director, after the director resigned when the Missouri Senate delayed voting to approve the appointment.

Nixon then promptly named Jason Hall, who briefly served as director while waiting for confirmation by state lawmakers, as deputy director without any kind of announcement.

Plus, late last year, Nixon touted the headline-grabbing total of 10,900 jobs created in the manufacturing sector.  Turns out, though, the total dropped to 1,400 when including every sector.

And unsurprisingly, the department did not promote the number-one ranking of Missouri in January by the federal government. Only three states lost a significant number of jobs in December and Missouri topped the list. Employment dropped by 11,800 jobs compared to November.

To track down the latest data, Missouri Journal also contacted the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A spokesperson said Wednesday that the agency works with states to gather the information.

However, she said states sometimes release the information before the national release.

The average unemployment rate in Missouri for 2011 dropped .8  percent from 9.4 percent in 2010 to 8.6 percent last year, according to research released Wednesday by the federal statistical agency.

The agency is set to release the state unemployment and payroll data for January on March 13.

Will the state release the data before the federal government? Will the data match?

Missouri Journal will be sure to check the data and report the results.

By Brian R. Hook[email protected], (314) 482-7944

For news updates, sign up for a newsletter and follow Missouri Journal on Twitter and Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Missouri Journal. All rights reserved.

Back in Capitol for busy legislative session

Stressed Schoolboy with Head in Hands

I am excited to return to work in the Capitol as the 2012 legislative session opened on Wednesday. I look forward to a busy legislative season, knowing that we face many challenges in making decisions governing the state and continuing to make Missouri a great place for people to live and work.

Missouri Sen. Will Kraus

As usual, Senate Leader Robert Mayer, a Republican from Dexter, set out our legislative priorities for the session in his opening speech.  As with last year, passing a balanced budget without a tax increase and putting Missourians back to work are top priorities.

Missouri Senate District Eight

With a possible $500 million budget shortfall for fiscal 2013, once again the budget will be difficult, but I know that we will accomplish our goal.

Education issues present another challenge, both in keeping funding adequate for our schools and facing the difficulties that occur when two major school districts in the state — Kansas City and St. Louis school districts — have lost accreditation.

Throughout December and into January, I filed several pieces of legislation. Some were bills that did not move through the legislature last year for various reasons. Others are ideas brought to me by constituents or ideas I have been pursuing to make government work better.

Missouri Senate

Senate Bill 589 requires local jurisdictions that use red light cameras to direct proceeds to the local school district where the offense occurs. This allows red light cameras, but removes the incentive for local governments to use them purely for profit.  If safety is truly the main concern, then the profits can go to education.

Senate Bill 590 tightens Missouri’s immigration laws. Based on parts of the recent Alabama law, this legislation does three different things. First, it allows law enforcement officers to check immigration status on all stops when they have reasonable cause for suspicion. Currently, they can only check when an arrest is made. Second, the bill requires school districts to keep track of undocumented students so the state has a more clear understanding of the cost of illegal immigration. Third, it creates a state misdemeanor for not carrying proper documentation. This allows Missouri to enforce laws the federal government does not always enforce.

Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City

Senate Joint Resolution 40 would make two changes to the constitution to allow easier prosecution and monitoring of sex offenders. The first part removes the phrase “retrospective in operations” from the Missouri Constitution. Because of that phrase, any changes the legislature makes to sex offender registry rules does not apply to people already on the registry. The second change allows prosecutors to use propensity evidence when that evidence shows a pattern of behavior and does not prejudice the case.

 

By Missouri Sen. Will Kraus[email protected]

Kraus, a Republican from Lee’s Summit, serves the eighth district.

For news update, sign up for a newsletter and follow Missouri Journal on Twitter and Facebook.