Sen. Jamilah Nasheed’s Legislative Update for April 8

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An extremely eventful week in Jefferson City began in the midst of a hotly contested municipal election campaign that took place on Tuesday. Municipalities throughout the state weighed ballot measures, bond issues and the election of local officials.

In the City of St. Louis, the voters decided five ballot questions. Most notable of the measures on the ballot was Proposition E, a reauthorization of the city earnings tax, responsible for funding about one-third of the city’s budget. Proposition E was approved by the voters with 72 percent voting in favor of the earnings tax.

“The reauthorization of the E-Tax is a huge step forward for the City of St. Louis,” said Sen. Jamilah Nasheed. “Not only will this vote prove to be an investment in our future, it is also a loud and clear message from the people of the St. Louis that they have the right to spend their own money and govern their own city.”

After weeks of anticipation, on Tuesday afternoon, the Senate majority party brought up the controversial Voter ID bill. Senator Nasheed led the charge in opposition to the bill, arguing that the legislation would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Missourians. “Voting is not a privilege, it is a fundamental right,” Sen. Nasheed said during the debate.

After a nearly three-hour filibuster by Sen. Nasheed, the sponsor of the bill laid the bill over putting off debate until a later date.

Wednesday was an exciting day for criminal justice reform. Among the issues debated and perfected by the Senate were Juvenile life without parole sentencing, police use of deadly force, juvenile and pregnancy shackling and expungement.

On the Floor

As mentioned, the controversial voter ID bill, House Bill 1631 was debated on the Senate floor on Wednesday. The bill would require photo ID for all individuals to cast a vote, including for voters who are currently registered and do not have a current photo ID. The bill was debated for approximately three hours on Tuesday before it was placed on the informal calendar to be taken up at a later date.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the Senate debated Senate Bill 590, which began as an adjustment to Missouri law that would align the statutes with a U.S. Supreme Court opinion holding that juvenile defendants could not be sentenced to life in prison without parole in most situations. After several amendments were added, the bill became a crime omnibus bill, dealing with a number of provisions in the criminal code. Senator Nasheed added an amendment that would ban the use of shackles on juvenile defendants during court appearances and on pregnant prisoners during labor unless deemed absolutely necessary.

Bills and Committees

On Wednesday, Senate Bills 661, 726  and 741 were perfected by the Senate. The combined bill was a bipartisan effort to align Missouri’s law governing the use of deadly force with the U.S. Supreme Court case, Tennessee v. Garner. “Tennessee v. Garner is very clear: police cannot shoot an unarmed, fleeing suspect,” Sen. Nasheed said of her bill. Senate Bills 661, 726 and 741 will now go to the House for its consideration.

Also on Wednesday, Senate Bills 588, 603 and 942 were perfected by the Senate. This combined legislation, which includes SBs 588, 603 and 942, allows certain individuals with a past criminal record to apply for expungement of nonviolent offenses. The bill was a collaboration among Sen. Nasheed, her colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and a special committee assembled by the Missouri Bar. “If we are to give our communities a chance to move forward, we must allow individuals to move past their mistakes once they have paid their debt to society. Expungement of nonviolent criminal records will be an economic boost for the state of Missouri,” Sen. Nasheed said of her bill.

Two of Senator Nasheed’s bills were heard on the House floor this week:

  • Senate Bill 627 – Suicide Prevention – would require public colleges and universities to develop and implement policies to advise students and staff on suicide prevention programs available on campus or in the community. “Senate Bill 627 will ensure that suicide prevention is a top priority for our state’s colleges and universities,” Sen. Nasheed said. Senate Bill 627 was introduced on the House floor on Monday, April 4.
  • Senate Bill 833 – Missouri Savings Promotion Act – would authorize banks and credit unions to incentivize savings by automatically entering their customers into a raffle when they deposit a certain amount of money into their savings accounts. Senate Bill 833 is notable for garnering support from banks and credit unions, a rarity when it comes to finance legislation in Jefferson City. “I was happy to see my Senate colleagues step up to the plate and recognize the importance of saving for the future,” Sen. Nasheed said. Senate Bill 833 was introduced on the House floor on Monday, April 4.



This week was a whirlwind of activity for the state budget, with the week concluding by the Senate passage of the Fiscal Year 2017 (FY 2017) budget.

The earlier days of the week were the wrap-up hearings of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Testimony from a department on ways they are saving taxpayer money led to the final language changes and minutiae.

After being passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the budget was debated by the full Senate on Thursday.  It ultimately passed overwhelmingly, but not before a few budget items were inspected more closely.

One budget item that raised concerns was the addition of valet parking in the Capitol parking garage, used only by statewide elected officials and legislative leadership.  Budget priorities and job duties were the focus of questioning.  It is not expected that the $50,000 item will survive the conference committee, the next step in the process.

The next step, as mentioned above, is the conference committee.  It is expected that the House of Representatives will not accept most of the Senate changes, and will ask for a conference to work out the differences.  That conference is expected to occur over the next two weeks.  After that, the budget will be approved and sent to the governor.  If a deadline of April 21 is met, the governor will have to veto any budget items during legislative session, allowing for further veto-override input from the legislature.


Other News

Senate Leader Rules Out Repealing Earnings Taxes

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on April 5, that the Senate won’t advance legislation this year to eliminate the local earnings taxes in St. Louis and Kansas City. Richard’s comments came one day after voters in both cities overwhelmingly renewed their earnings taxes for another five years.

Kansas City voters renewed their tax with 77 percent support, while renewal enjoyed 72 percent support in St. Louis. The earnings taxes are paid by Kansas City and St. Louis residents, along with non-residents who work in those cities. The taxes provide more than 40 percent of Kansas City’s annual budget and about one-third of St. Louis’ budget.

An earnings tax repeal measure, Senate Bill 575, is pending on the Senate debate calendar. While it originally sought to eliminate the taxes in both Kansas City and St. Louis, its sponsor, state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, later modified it to target only St. Louis. Repeal bills also are being considered in the House of Representatives.

Senate Moves Against Pay Hike for Health Workers

On April 6, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 24-8 along party lines to override the Democratic governor’s veto of a resolution seeking to block a wage increase for home health care workers employed by companies under contract with the state. The override effort is now pending in the House of Representatives.

Under an administrative rule proposed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, pay for home care workers would increase from the current rate of $7.65 an hour to between $8.50 and $10.15 an hour. If the House also overrides Nixon’s veto, Senate Concurrent Resolution 46 would prevent the rule from being implemented.

Since taking office in January 2009, the governor, has vetoed 138 bills passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. Of those bills, he has been overridden 34 times.

Nixon Releases $2.1 Million in Restricted Spending

Citing 4.2 percent growth in net general revenue through the first three quarters of the 2016 fiscal year, on April 4, the governor released $2.1 million in spending authority he had restricted in October in an effort to keep the state budget in balance. He had restricted $46 million in authorized spending after a court ruled the state would get $50 million less than expected this year from its annual tobacco settlement payment.

The restored spending authority includes $575,000 for the Missouri Scholars and Fine Arts Academies, which serves gifted students, and $350,000 for rehabilitative services for people with brain injuries. Three weeks earlier, the House of Representatives voted to overrule Nixon’s restrictions on both spending items in the first test of a new constitutional power voters granted lawmakers in 2014.

The Missouri Constitution empowers the governor to unilaterally impose midyear spending cuts if needed to maintain a balanced budget, and until recently lawmakers had no say in the matter. Under the 2014 constitutional change, however, lawmakers can overrule budget restrictions with two-thirds support in both chambers.

Although the House voted to overrule the governor on funding for gifted students and brain injury services, the Senate hasn’t yet taken action. The governor’s release of the spending authority should negate the need for the Senate to move forward on the matter.

Other spending authority released includes $400,000 for asthma services, $300,000 for naturally occurring retirement communities, $250,000 for foster children health services and $250,000 for a lake project in Sullivan County.

House Endorses Reducing ‘Full Funding’ for Schools

On April 7, the House of Representatives granted preliminary approval to legislation that seeks to substantially reduce the amount of additional state revenue needed to declare elementary and secondary education “fully funded” under state law. While supporters say the change would set a more realistic funding target, critics contend it merely creates the illusion that the state is closing the education funding gap.

Since the Republican-controlled General Assembly enacted the existing statutory formula for distributing state funding to local public school districts in 2005, it has never provided full funding. Achieving full funding for the upcoming 2017 fiscal year would require $509 million in additional funding.

Under House Bill 1943, the formula would be restructured so that full funding would necessitate about $140 million, roughly one-fourth of what the existing formula calls for. Even with the lower mark, however, lawmakers still won’t hit it since the proposed FY 2017 budget currently working its way through the process includes an increase of only about $70 million.

The bill now advances to the Senate, which has already approved similar legislation, Senate Bill 586, which remains pending in a House committee.