Legislative Column
— Week of April 22, 2013 —

Dear Friends:

In an effort to keep you informed about the activities at your state Capitol and how those activities might impact your lives, I am offering a regular electronic newsletter. I will send you information about bills making their way through the legislative process, especially bills that directly impact the lives of Kansas Citians. I welcome your feedback and encourage you to contact my office with any questions or concerns you may have.

Thank you.



Senate Approves Short-Sighted
State Operating Budget

Higher Education Funding Model Advances to House

The Missouri Senate passed one of the most punitive budgets in recent memory this week, using dozens of state employees and entire agencies as pawns in a battle between various members of the Legislature and administration with the Department of Revenue. The Senate majority party approved the 13 House budget bills in a marathon session Monday night, eliminating funding for many state employees and reducing funding for several state agencies in order to "send a message" to state bureaucrats.

For example, the Senate budget eliminates 37 full-time positions in the Drivers License Division and cuts $7 million from DOR's administration, plus $9 million from the Computer Technology Division and $20 million from the Department of Public Safety. The cuts were in response to reports that DOR had made electronic copies of personal documents when people applied for driver's licenses, and the possibility that information may have been shared with the federal government.

During debate on the budget, talk focused on the cut in funding for the Department of Natural Resources in order to try and force reform of regional solid waste management districts, which ensure solid waste is managed in such a way that protects both public health and the environment. A number of senators raised their concerns about the cuts, saying they were too broad in nature, while others stated that the punitive cuts might actually become law and prevent Missourians from obtaining driver's licenses or vehicle titles. The possibility of this happening was acknowledged on the floor.

The majority caucus also showed indifference to the plight of tens of thousands of Missourians by refusing to approve a proposed amendment to the state's budget that would have expanded Medicaid in Missouri under the Affordable Care Act. Just a handful of senators from the majority caucus even bothered to remain in the chamber while my caucus' leader, Senate Minority Floor Leader Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, made an impassioned plea to help 300,000 working poor in Missouri obtain affordable health insurance. The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress, signed by the president and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. With nearly $900 million in federal funding to expand Medicaid, we would be able to create valuable jobs and positively impact our state. However, the amendment failed by a vote of 9-22, with all Senate minority caucus members who were present voting in support of the expansion.

Our state budget also includes $700,000 in House Bill 5, which funds the Office of Administration and employee benefits, for a disparity study. During debate, I explained to my colleagues that this study would ensure minority- and women-owned businesses can compete fairly for state contracts. We want to make sure that minority- and women-owned businesses have a fair shot at securing state contracts for infrastructure projects, but we need new information before we can determine how to allocate those dollars. This new information will help us determine whether or not everyone is receiving equal access to state contracts.

A disparity study compares the actual number of minority- and women-owned businesses in the state against the actual number of minority- and women-owned businesses receiving state government contracts. A disparity exists when minority- and women-owned businesses are underutilized in the state contracting system. The last disparity study conducted on Missouri was commissioned in 1994 and completed in 1998.

A conference committee of House and Senate budget negotiators will try to work out the differences between the two chambers' budget bills. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I look forward to finalizing our state's budget and providing much-needed funds to the citizens of our state. The budget must be finalized by the constitutional deadline of May 10.

Senators this week also advanced a new funding formula for higher education after debating the proposal for several hours. Senate Bill 437 creates a new model for funding higher education institutions in Missouri based on both costs and outcomes. Ten percent of each institution's state funding would be set aside as performance funding, with the college or university receiving that 10 percent if it meets performance measures established by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education. Another 10 percent of state funding for colleges and universities would be allocated based on each institution's job placement record. The Joint Committee on Education would be required to review the new funding model every five years to determine its effectiveness. The bill received first-round approval and needs another affirmative vote before moving to the House.

Also this week, the Senate Governmental Accountability & Fiscal Oversight Committee voted "do pass" legislation I'm sponsoring this year that would change the eligibility requirements for food stamp assistance. Pursuant to the option granted under the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996, Senate Bill 346 would allow an individual who has a felony conviction under federal or state law involving possession or use of a controlled substance to be eligible for food stamps under certain conditions. These individuals eligible for the program would have to successfully participate in, be accepted for treatment and are on a waiting list for, or have satisfactorily completed a substance abuse treatment program approved by the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse; be determined by a division-certified treatment provider to not need substance abuse treatment; or comply with all obligations imposed by the court, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse and the Division of Probation and Parole. In addition, these individuals would have to meet all other factors for food stamp eligibility.

There are three weeks remaining in the First Regular Session of the 97th Missouri General Assembly, which ends at 6 p.m. on May 17.

Status of Sen. Curls' Sponsored Legislation

The following are measures I have filed this session (notes last legislative action):

  • Senate Bill 151 - Changes the notice requirement to a tenant in a foreclosure action from 10 to 90 days (assigned to the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee)
  • Senate Bill 152 - Allows judges to suspend the imposition of an adult criminal sentence for juvenile offenders (assigned to the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee)
  • Senate Bill 153 - Requires a non-custodial parent to pay child support until the child reaches 22 instead of 21 years of age (assigned to the Senate Seniors, Families and Pensions Committee)
  • Senate Bill 223 - Modifies provisions of the Public School Retirement System of Kansas City (voted out of the Senate Seniors, Families and Pensions Committee)
  • Senate Bill 224 - Increases the maximum salaries that may be paid to the members of the Kansas City Police Department and provides that actions taken against the police chief are subject to review (assigned to House Rules Committee)
  • Senate Bill 225 - Modifies laws regarding educational parental support for higher education (assigned to the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee)
  • Senate Bill 262 - Prohibits heath carriers from denying coverage for a health care service on the basis that the service was provided through telemedicine if the same service would be covered when delivered in person (assigned to House Rules Committee)
  • Senate Bill 263 - Creates the crimes of assault of an employee of a mass transit system while in the scope of his or her duties in the first, second and their degree (assigned to the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee)
  • Senate Bill 346 - Modifies the eligibility requirements for food stamp assistance (voted "do pass" by the Senate Governmental Accountability & Fiscal Oversight Committee)
  • Senate Bill 388 - Regulates certain contracts for the sale of residential real estate (assigned to the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee)
  • Senate Bill 389 - Provides a process for the Parole Board to review the case histories of offenders serving more than 15 years in prison and recommend clemency or allow release on parole (assigned to the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee)
  • Senate Bill 422 - Designates a portion of Interstate 70 in Independence as the "Clinton J. Scott Memorial Highway" (hearing conducted in the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • Senate Joint Resolution 11 - Upon voter approval, increases the amount of time for repaying the Budget Reserve Fund when monies from this fund are appropriated due to a disaster or the governor's reduction of the state's expenditures (assigned to Senate Ways and Means Committee)
  • Senate Joint Resolution 20 - Upon voter approval, authorizes the creation of Show-Me Small Business Districts (assigned to the Senate Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee)

To read more about my legislative actions in the Missouri Senate, visit my Senate website at www.senate.mo.gov/curls and click on the various informative links, which include my news releases, under my Media tab.


About Sen. Curls:

Senator Shalonn "Kiki" Curls, a Democrat, represents part of Jackson County (District 9) in the Missouri Senate. She won a special election to the Missouri Senate in February 2011, and won re-election to the Senate in 2012 after having served in the Missouri House since 2007.

In addition to her legislative duties, Sen. Curls works in real estate development, and currently serves as the 14th Ward Democratic Committeewoman in Kansas City. She is also a member of St. Monica's Catholic Church.

Senator Curls received her education from St. Teresa's Academy in Kansas City and the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Senator Curls was born on Dec. 7, 1968, in Los Angeles, and is the mother of twins, James and Michaela.

Capitol Office:

201 W. Capitol Ave.
Room 434
Jefferson City, MO
(573) 751-3158

District Office:

4609 Paseo Blvd.,
Suite 102

Kansas City, MO


(816) 923-6000

Helpful District Services

Stay up to date with the KC Streetcar project by visiting www.kcstreetcar.org, where you'll be able to get the latest detour information, full maps of the route, access to project and construction updates, as well as other beneficial information regarding this modern and exciting transportation project in downtown Kansas City — scheduled to open Summer 2015.


I have received calls from constituents wanting to know how they can properly dispose of their plastic bottles, aluminum cans, old paint and yard waste. RecycleSpot.org is your one-stop location for information about recycling these and other products. You can also learn more about reusing certain items and waste reduction in the greater Kansas City area.

The Mattie Rhodes Art Center, located in the heart of the 9th Senate District, provides creative and educational opportunities for Kansas City children through art camps. Youth who participate in these camps celebrate diversity through the arts and explore the traditions of other cultures. This program gives children in the Kansas City area the ability to cultivate creative expression, boost their confidence, experience self-discovery and gain the respect for others.

The following are upcoming events at the art center:

  • Children's Exhibition
    May 5-26
  • Itty Bitty Art Camp:
    June 18-21
    Teen Art Camp:
    June 25-28
  • Summer Art Camp
    Session1: July 9-12
    Session 2: July 16-19
    Session 3: July 30-
    Aug. 2
    Session 4: Aug. 6-9

To learn more about the Mattie Rhodes Art Center & Gallery, visit www.mattierhodes.org or call (816) 221-2349.