The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 3, 2013

Susan Redden: Disaster aid pits tornado vs. hurricane

By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — After pushing for federal funding to help the Joplin area after the 2011 tornado, Missouri lawmakers in Washington weren’t so generous to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Among the delegation, only U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, both Democrats, voted in favor of the $50.5 billion disaster aid package recently passed by Congress.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt voted “no,” as did U.S. Rep. Billy Long, along with Reps. Vicky Hartzler, Sam Graves and Blaine Luetkemeyer. They are Republicans.

Blunt said the bill “rewrites the Stafford Act,” which governs how disaster aid is allocated.

His statement: “When a disaster exceeds the ability of communities and states, I believe the federal government has a responsibility to help people rebuild. Federal aid is an important tool to help get people back on their feet by restoring the infrastructure that was in place before a disaster — not a chance for Congress to attach stimulus-type spending or fundamentally alter the way we respond to future tragedies.”

Blunt cited recent disasters in Missouri, including the Joplin tornado, and said that after those events, Congress provided “targeted disaster funding through a regular appropriations process.

“Unfortunately, we did not follow the same process after Superstorm Sandy. I voted against this bill because it rewrites the Stafford Act and moves us farther away from a viable, long-term solution for funding natural disasters.”

The dissenting votes brought criticism from Southwest Missouri Democrats.

Bill Lant’s work

In Missouri, state Rep. Bill Lant, who originally called for a review of the state’s child abuse reporting system, has been named to head a subcommittee on the matter.

Lant, R-Pineville, will be chairman of the subcommittee on child abuse reporting and investigating, which is a part of the larger Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.

“The subcommittee that I am on is charged with investigating the hot line reporting system, the emergency removal of a child from a home, determining if changes in the system need to be made and possibly offering legislation to make those changes,” Lant said.

The joint committee, composed of senators and representatives from both parties, was named last session at Lant’s urging. He has said he took up the cause after conversations with schoolteachers and administrators in his district.

Lincoln Days

Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich and Ed Martin, the newly elected chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, will be featured speakers at the annual Newton-Jasper County Lincoln Days dinner.

The event is set for Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Butcher’s Block Banquet Center, 499 W. Fountain Road.

State Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, will speak on plans for the current legislative session. Jim Jackson, associate commissioner in Newton County and former KSNF-TV anchorman, will serve as master of ceremonies. Other speakers may be added later, depending on whether Congress is in session, said Nick Myers, chairman of the Newton County Republican Central Committee.

Tickets are $35 each. Tables may be reserved at $280 for a table of eight and $350 for a table of 10.

In Newton County, tickets may be purchased from Myers at 5031 S. Range Line Road or by calling 417-623-2214, or by calling Gina Rodriguez, Neosho, at 417-825-4825.

In Jasper County, tickets are available at the Software Center, 2604 E. Seventh St., or by calling Duane Eberhardt, 417-624-2973.

Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at sredden@joplinglobe.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.