Representative goes to bat for family rights, volunteer fire fighters, pool safety

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Of the number of bills she’s had a hand in this session, Rep. Marilyn Ruestman (R-Joplin) said she’s concentrated on four.

When she took office she’d planned to stay away from family issues to concentrate on small business legislation, however some of her primary bills focus on family rights and swimming pool liability.

House Bill 1341 establishes Ethan’s Law and requires the owners of for-profit private swimming pools to carry sufficient liability insurance. The bill is name in remembrance of Ethan Cory, who drowned at a Joplin-area water park that didn’t have sufficient insurance. Ruestman said the governor has indicated he intends to sign the bill if it makes it to vote clean.

“The trick is to get it through with no amendments,” she said.

HB 1367 authorizes tax credit for certain volunteer firefighters. In District 151 many of the fire departments are staffed by volunteers who answer calls when available.

“It affects their families, it affects their jobs,” she said. “Sometimes, if they’re out on a prairie fire they’ll take all weekend away from their families.”

Grandparents rights are also being considered with HB 2508, which requires the state to make a “good faith” effort to the locate the grandparents and give them the option of being foster parents for their grandchildren.

“I want the family to have the first word,” she said.

However, she believes that her loyalty should not be to one specific group but to the working constituents of her district.

“My very first priority is to the taxpayer,” she said. “Our responsibility is to budget the money that is given to us in trust, we must think of that as our families money.”