Let's reimagine rural health in our state

 By Ann Schlueter
    As the chief operating officer of a small rural hospital in Fairfax, Mo., I see the difficulty rural Missourians have in accessing health care daily. Our hospital, Community Hospital—Fairfax, is fortunate to have strong local support and a solid financial foundation. Despite the challenges rural hospitals experience, our hospital has been able to make the investments needed to remain an essential community asset in Fairfax, an important health care resource for communities throughout far-northwest Missouri. Increasingly, stories like ours are the exception and not the rule.

Keep public notices in local newspapers

    Again this year, bills in the Missouri Legislature would effectively hide public notices from the public. Public notices, also called legal notices, are required by law to be published in newspapers.
    The idea always has been to provide transparency in government, and the practice long has been required under state law. The notices inform Missourians about advertisements for bids, contracts, unclaimed property, school/government finances, court proceedings, foreclosures and assessments, among other things.
    House Bill 686, sponsored by Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, would drop the requirement for property foreclosure notices to be printed in newspapers, and allow them instead be posted on the foreclosure trustee’s website.
    But here’s the problem: Most people would never see those websites. There are hundreds—possibly thousands—of trustees doing business in Missouri. So it would be incredibly difficult for people to track down upcoming foreclosure auctions on all those obscure websites. Plus, not everyone has a computer or Internet access.
    If a foreclosed property is being sold on the courthouse steps, for instance, only the select people who can find the public notice for the sale will be able to bid. The few bidders who do know about the sale, then, would have an advantage—perhaps an opportunity to buy properties for far less than their value.
    Just to be clear, this newspaper does have a dog in the fight. Trustees would benefit by saving the cost of paying newspapers to print the notices. Newspapers, on the other hand, would lose that revenue.
    Newspapers remain the best avenue to inform the public about public notices. Newspapers still are read by the majority of the public, and they expect to find public notices in their paper.
    A hearing for HB686 by the House General Laws Committee was held Feb. 20, and a similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.
    If you, like us, believe that public notices should be open to the public, not hidden on obscure websites, we encourage you to attend the hearing and speak out or contact your elected state officials to let them know how you feel.
— Jefferson City News Tribune

Transit funding—the deficit vs. the need

By Denny Ward
    As one of the nation’s largest rural public transportation providers, and the second largest rural provider in the state of Missouri, Southeast Missouri Transportation Service (SMTS) began serving Missourians in 1973 with one vehicle and one driver in one county. Today, SMTS operates a fleet of 200 vehicles, employs 200+ individuals and covers 21 counties. In the last fiscal year, SMTS vehicles traveled nearly 5 million miles, providing over 315,000 one-way trips within the state.

Drugs, cops, politics and some compromise

By Phill Brooks
    Ever since the first narcotic monitoring bill was introduced into Missouri's legislature 14 years ago, I've wondered about the real motivations and forces behind the bill. Has the primary purpose been to protect patients from addiction, as some supporters argue or has it been to empower cops and prosecutors to go after drug abusers, doctors and pharmacists.

No to campus carry

    I remember…Uncle Frank and his .22 and terrier Mitzi with a mess of squirrels that they had hunted. My brothers’ excitement about deer season. I remember a deer hanging in the back yard in town prior to going to the processers. Wild game in a roaster with a special gravy fed a group of friends “back in the day.” My husband attended wild game dinners. There are still pistols and rifles passed down from generation to generation in my family.

Close our primaries

    Recently you printed a letter warning your readers about the closed primary legislation currently under consideration in our general assembly (“Beware of proposed voting change”, April 4, 2019 opinion page). The authors suggest that closing the primaries as HB 26 proposes to do would restrict voting rights.