Legislators and guests were treated to a unique version of the National Anthem during the Opening Plenary Session of SLC’s 72nd Annual Meeting. Patriotic performance artist Joe Everson sang the anthem while painting an inspiring scene of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima.
The session featured inspirational speaker and national bestselling author John O’Leary. O’Leary’s book, “On Fire,” tells his incredible account of triumph over tragedy. When he was nine, he caused an explosion in his home’s garage while playing with fire and gasoline, and experienced burns covering his entire body. He was given a one percent chance to live, but overcame the odds and now uses his story to inspire audiences around the country. O’Leary challenged conference attendees to ask “What more can I do?” as they continue their public service.
Current SLC Chair and Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard joined Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, House Speaker Todd Richardson, House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo, and lawmakers and staff from the member states of the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) to package more than 50,000 meals for the St. Louis Area Foodbank. The meal packaging effort was part of SLC’s annual Campaign Against Hunger event that was started in 2011.
SLC sponsors food-packaging events at each of its annual meetings in an effort to provide food to the hungry, and to bring legislators from its member states together with members of the local communities. The event is organized in conjunction with The Outreach Program, a non-profit 501(c)(3) based in Iowa that organizes similar events around the country, and has helped to package more than 354 million meals to date.
President Pro Tem Richard spearheaded this year’s event that also made donations on behalf of SLC to Outreach, Inc.; St. Louis Area Food Bank, the Emergency Assistance Ministry Pantry; and the Harvey Kornblum Food Pantry.
St. Louis, Mo. — Lawmakers and policy experts from across the South gathered to discuss numerous policy issues during Sunday morning’s committee sessions. Three committees met to discuss a variety of issues.
The Agriculture and Rural Development Committee discussed the effects of herbicides on numerous crops. In 2017, newly registered Dicamba formulations were approved for application on cotton and soybean crops resistant to herbicides. Of the 22 million acres of soybeans treated with Dicamba, more than 3.4 million acres suffered damage as a result of Dicamba exposure. During their session, committee members discussed the economic challenges posed by affected crops; explored the changes mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and examined ways to improve application safety.
The Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee discussed ways to expand apprenticeship programs in order to promote workforce development. During the session, lawmakers discussed legislative ideas intended to incentivize apprenticeship programs and explored ways to promote economic development and job creation.
The Education Committee discussed the Whole Child Initiative. Developed by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, this approach to education looks at different ways to move away from the traditional focus placed on academic development. The initiative focuses on five essential tenets — keeping a child healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged — to promote long-term student success. During the committee meeting, lawmakers and policy experts discussed the approach and how it can be implemented in their states.
All three committee sessions included a legislative round table were participants from across the region discussed legislative proposals and different ways to move their states forward.