JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Earlier this summer, Gov. Jay Nixon signed House Bill 196, which requires the Department of Economic Development to design and implement new standards for providing funds to companies looking to retrain or develop workers throughout the state.

The bill sponsor, Rep. Jeanie Lauer, R-Blue Springs, tweeted earlier today that she was named to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee created by the bill to oversee the DED program and its subsequent funding of job retraining and workforce development.

Rep. Jeanie Lauer
Rep. Jeanie Lauer

“Basically, this creates an umbrella for all state monies that goes into funding workforce development or job training or retraining,” Lauer told The Missouri Times. “Our job on the committee will be to make sure we’re spending that money well and it’s going to the best use.”

Lauer said that states all over the country had a “skill gap” with jobs in high-skilled areas like biomedical research or information technology widely available, but a shortage of qualified workers. Lauer said better training and workforce development could re-train older Missourians to work new jobs or prepare younger Missourians for the skills they will need in the new workforce.

“Workers with these new skills will have a much easier time finding and keeping employment,” Lauer said, who also indicated that such jobs typically provide better salaries and benefits. “We just want a central, one-stop place where a company can go in this state if they are saying they need new training methods for their workers, or future workers.”

Lauer said the Joint Committee would meet on a need-only basis, and because it was so new and all members had not yet been named, she is unsure when the first meeting would be.

According to the House website, Republican Reps. Tom Hurst and Shelley Keeney also were added to the Committee late Friday afternoon, as well as Republican Sens. Jay Wasson and Floor Leader Ron Richard. The Missouri Times will update as more members are announced and the Committee further establishes future plans.

Collin Reischman is the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. To contact Collin, email or via Twitter at @CMReischman