Each year, members of both the Missouri Senate and the Missouri House of Representatives gather to hear two major presentations. On Jan. 15, we learned the governor’s vision for the year via the State of the State Address. Exactly one week later, we heard from the chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court and his annual State of the Judiciary Address.

As we all remember from civics class, there are three equal branches of government, be it federal or state.

The State of the Judiciary gives lawmakers an opportunity to hear about those issues affecting the judicial branch, and what assistance the legislative branch can offer in the new year.

The chief justice spent time talking about Missouri’s bicentennial, which is coming next year, and the changes that have been made in the nearly 200 years we have been a state.

Some of these changes include the members of circuit courts in our state and the process of ensuring everyone in our state has equal justice and equal access to the law.

He also mentioned the success rate of treatment courts, which have proven to be a successful tool in the fight against drug addiction. Where the approach to drugs used to be “lock them up,” we have learned there are other ways to treat those who suffer from addiction.

Public safety and criminal justice reform also rank high on the Missouri Supreme Court’s list, as it does for the governor and the legislature. This is where the three branches work together.

It takes all of us, plus guidance from our constituents, to formulate plans and procedures that help our citizens lead more productive lives.

We have to take the ideas we receive and roll them into sound legislation that is both fair and just for all Missourians.

It is a long journey, but one that has to be taken for the good of our state.

Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, represents District 12 in the Missouri Senate. His constituency includes part of Clay County including Kearney. Hegeman can be reached at (573) 751-1415 or dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov.

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