Opinion

Buy Missiouri Week is Oct. 12-19

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Billington

There is a bible verse that says "the love of money is the root of all evil." A lot of people get this wrong - they think it says money itself is evil. But money is not evil, just the love of it. Money is a valuable resource, and like you I'm careful where I spend it. For instance, I would prefer to pay more money and buy goods manufactured in the USA than to buy them from the enemy!

When we purchase American-made products, we help support our economy, and our friends, neighbors, and family members who work at American businesses. Governor Parson, when serving as Lieutenant Governor, expanded this idea closer to home when he started the "Buy Missouri" program. This initiative promotes products manufactured here in the Show-Me-State. His successor, Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, has continued and expanded the program. In addition, in 2018 then-senator Kehoe sponsored and passed a bill creating a "Buy Missouri Week." This year the week runs from today, Oct. 12, through Oct. 19. I encourage everyone to join me in focusing on buying American and Missouri-made products year-round, but especially this week. You can find hundreds of products to choose from at the Buy Missouri website, buymissouri.net.

One bill that is now law in Missouri is meant to provide a helping hand to veterans who want to further their education. During the 2019 session, lawmakers approved a bill that expands an existing program known as the Missouri Returning Heroes' Education Act.

The act has existed since 2008 and has provided tuition assistance to certain combat veterans who attend public colleges in Missouri. The program as it previously existed provided benefits only veterans who were residents of Missouri at the time of their enlistment and who served in armed combat after September 11, 2001. The program also had an eligibility limit of 10 years after the veteran's last discharge.

The changes approved this year greatly expanded the program to allow more veterans to receive tuition assistance. The program now extends eligibility to any American veteran who has served in a combat zone and who is registered to vote in Missouri, or is a current Missouri resident. The new law also ups the eligibility duration to 20 years after the veteran's last discharge.

Low-income Missourians with impaired hearing now have greater access to hearing aids under a new program created by legislation passed during the 2019 legislative session. Lawmakers passed the bill with bipartisan support to create a hearing aid distribution program administered by the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

The program began accepting applications on Aug. 28. State data indicates approximately 600,000 Missourians are deaf or hard of hearing. Supporters of the new program says there are more than 88,000 Missourians who could benefit from the new program. Hearing aid technology can significantly improve the quality of life for those with hearing loss, but many insurance providers consider hearing aids an elective procedure. Because of this, and the fact that hearing aids can cost in excess of $4,000, many Missourians may go without hearing aids.

The new program addresses this problem by providing financial assistance to deaf or hard-of-hearing Missourians who earn less than the federal poverty level. The program requires the assessment for the distribution of hearing aids to be performed by licensed audiologists or hearing instrument specialists or licensed physicians. Those who wish to apply also must provide a quote for their hearing aids, and must verify their total annual income.

Anyone interested in learning more about the program can call 573-526-5205 or email Kristin.Funk@mcdhh.mo.gov.

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Contact Rep. Billington at hardy.billington@house.mo.gov or by calling 573-751-4039.

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