Although there is some debate about who said it, most of us have at least heard the famous quote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
By Blake Hurst
Bacon is popular, but living near a hog farm is not. Bacon isn’t possible without hogs, so if we want bacon, we’re going to have to raise pigs. Missouri Senate Bill 391 is opposed by people who either don’t like bacon or don’t realize how it’s made. The bill would require that county regulations aimed at livestock production ought not be “inconsistent with or more stringent than” state regulations. Senate Bill 391 would simply mean that farmers would face consistent rules across the 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.
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
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.