Don't weaken Missouri's motorcycle helmet law

I was amazed to learn that the Missouri Legislature passed a law (Senate Bill 147) that allows motorcyclists older than 18 not to wear a helmet if they can prove they carry medical insurance. Thankfully, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson vetoed the bill for an unrelated reason, but the General Assembly might take up the bill again during the veto session this month.

Have our lawmakers lost their minds?

How would this law have been enforced? Would our already stretched police officers need to stop every motorcyclist not wearing a helmet and ask to see their ID and medical insurance card? How would they know the insurance is valid and covers helmet-related motorcycle accidents?

Medical insurance premiums are linked to the costs to treat sick people in the insurance pool. If a motorcyclist has a head injury as a result of an accident while not wearing a helmet, his or her medical insurance provider would need to pick up the costs, which could be astronomical. These costs would in turn be passed on to other medical insurance customers through higher premiums.

Worse, if the motorcyclist can no longer work as a result of his or her injury, he or she could become a burden on our state through the provision of long-term disability and other benefits not covered by typical medical insurance policies.

Missouri lawmakers need to pass laws that benefit the majority of Missourians and not bad laws that pander to special interest groups.

Stephanie Clarke

Joplin

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Lawmakers should address gun control

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson recently noted that September’s special legislative session will not address gun violence, stating that it should be saved for regular session that begins in January. Rather, lawmakers will focus on an issue relating to vehicle trade-ins, which Parson says will affect 2,000-3,000 Missourians.

I’m shocked that the governor believes a special session must be called for a tax issue affecting a small number of people, but gun violence, which affects thousands, must wait several months. In St. Louis alone, 128 people have been shot and killed this year, and another 1,600 people have survived gunshot wounds in the St. Louis area. In fact, Missouri is the only state with three cities in the top 12 for gun violence (St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield).

Clearly, this cannot wait. Gun violence is certainly a complex issue, but we elect our officials to deal with tough issues. We can take steps to make our communities safer while still supporting the Second Amendment.

Our state Legislature should act, but in the meantime (and in its silence) we can act. I encourage my fellow citizens to contact U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley about supporting HR8 to close background check loopholes. I have also contacted my local representatives and Gov. Parson to express my dismay about the lack of action.

I plan to keep contacting them until this is addressed in January. They might get tired of hearing from me in the next four months, but I’m tired of senseless gun tragedies affecting Missourians.

Jessica Fletcher-Fierro

Webb City

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Open carry doesn't lead to problems

Has there ever been a time where a person with an open-carry firearm caused a problem anywhere in this great country?

They will tell you that they are armed for the protection of everyone. It is not something that all should consider doing because not everyone is willing to defend in that way. A lot of responsibility goes along with it.

Police officers should be looked up to and shown respect for what they do every day.

Lowell Siglin

Stark City

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Congress targeting small businesses

We’ve all heard the saying that the devil is in the details, but Congress could use a reminder. Our lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are preparing to vote on a feel-good bill that will inflict a world of pain on thousands of Missouri small businesses.

The bill, The Corporate Transparency Act, is meant to stop criminals from exploiting our economy. Who could possibly oppose such a thing?

Missouri’s small businesses, for one. At least 80% say it’s a bad idea, and they’re right. Companies with 20 or fewer employees would be required to report to the federal government — including sensitive personal information — on a regular basis. If they mess it up in any way, they have to pay up to $10,000 and/or go to prison for three years.

That’s reason enough for Congress to drop this bill. But here’s another one: While the bill promises “transparency,” small businesses are concerned it means “violation of privacy.”

This is a well-justified fear. The federal government would collect and keep personal information on every small business owner for years, even if the business shuts down. Law enforcement — from Washington, D.C., to Jefferson City — could access the info with relative ease.

That’s a recipe for disaster. We live in a time where hackers are looking for all the personal information they can find, and small business owners are a ripe target to steal from.

Small businesses know what’s lurking there, and the message couldn’t be more clear: Drop this bad bill, now.

Brad Jones

Missouri director, National Federation of Independent Business

Jefferson City

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Join the campaign to lower drug prices

In a conversation with a medical doctor, he told me about a patient who had been diagnosed with diabetes. The doctor, of course, prescribed insulin. The man asked what the cost would be for the drug. The doctor told him it would be about $6,000 for six months. Shocked, the man told him that was roughly the amount of his savings. He said, “So my choice is to take the drug for six months and then die, or spend my savings on my family and myself and die sooner? Those are my choices?”

More and more Americans are facing that choice. Due to monopolies by drug companies, we pay the highest brand-name drug prices in the world. It’s important for Congress and the Trump administration to take action to lower prescription drug prices.

That’s why AARP (I am a volunteer) has launched a national campaign urging federal and state policymakers to Stop Rx Greed by cracking down on price-gouging drug companies. AARP’s goal is to lower drug prices for all Americans.

In 2017, the average annual cost for one brand-name of medication used on a chronic basis was almost $6,800. For the average older American taking 4.5 prescription drugs per month, the average annual cost of therapy would have totaled more than $30,000.

In 2016, 28% of Kansans stopped taking a prescription drug as prescribed because of cost.

No American should be forced to choose between paying for the medicines he or she needs and paying for food, rent or other necessities. I urge Congress to protect older Americans and pass bipartisan, commonsense legislation to lower prescription drug prices.

Robert J. Roberts

Pittsburg, Kan.

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