Sen. Jamilah Nasheed’s Legislative Update for the Week Ending April 22, 2016

Nasheed - Banner - Legis Update - Updated - 012113 low res

As the 2016 Legislative Session draws to a close, both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly are predominantly occupied with bills from the opposite side of the building. However, the week began on a sad note as the General Assembly mourned the passing of two of its own: former Rep. Juanita Head Walton and former Sen. Carl Vogel.

Representative Walton served for eight years in the Missouri General Assembly. She held several leadership roles and passed many substantial pieces of legislation. Her funeral was on Monday. Jefferson City’s own former Sen. Carl Vogel also passed away from cancer last week. Vogel served eight years as a state senator. The funeral was held Wednesday.

On Thursday, Sen. Jamilah Nasheed was invited to participate in a national conference call with the White House concerning criminal justice reform. “It was an honor to receive the invitation from the White House and I look forward to sharing my experiences on these issues,” Sen. Nasheed said.

Senator Nasheed will discuss two of her bills during the call: Senate Bill 976, the Fair and Impartial Policing Act, and Senate Bill 724, better known as ‘Ban the Box.’ As for SB 724, Sen. Nasheed and the governor announced last week that many of the provisions in the bill would be enacted by way of Executive Order 16-04.

On the Floor

On Wednesday evening, two ethics bills were approved by the Senate and are on their way to the Governor’s desk. The first, House Bill 1979, institutes a ‘cooling off’ period of six months for legislators before becoming lobbyists after leaving the General Assembly. The second bill will require those who register as lobbyists to dissolve any campaign accounts they have before becoming a registered lobbyist.

On Thursday, lawmakers put their final stamp of approval on the state’s $27 billion spending plan. The 13 appropriations bills now head to the governor’s desk for his consideration.

Bills and Committees

Three of Senator Nasheed’s bills were voted out of the House this week, including:

  • Senate Bill 833 – Missouri Savings Promotion Act – Authorizes 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 both banks and credit unions, a rarity when it comes to finance legislation in Jefferson City. Senate Bill 833 will be considered by the House Select Committee on General Laws on Monday where it needs just one more vote to move to the House floor for approval.
  • Senate Bill 627 – Suicide Prevention – Requires 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 needs to clear one more hurdle before consideration by the Missouri House of Represetatives. The House Select Committee on Social Services will vote on the bill early next week.
  • Senate Bill 618 – Shackling – Prohibits the shackling of children and pregnant women during court appearances and during labor. Senator Nasheed’s Bill, Senate Bill 977 was added as an amendment, adding language that would specifically prohibit the use of shackles for pregnant women during labor and post-partum. Senate Bill 618 is expected to be submitted to the House floor next week.


This week saw the hearing, committee vote, and floor vote of the Fiscal Year 2017 (FY 2017) Supplemental Budget, which ultimately passed without much controversy.

After working on ethics legislation until midnight the night before, the final version of the FY 2017 budget was passed in a marathon all-day session on Thursday.

The conference committee was delayed after the House Chairman came down with the flu. When the House and Senate committee members finally met on Wednesday, it was controlled chaos. Besides a chairman out sick, the location of the hearing also became a challenge.

Most legislative conference committees involve 10 legislators – five from the House and five from the Senate. The budget is divided among 14 different bills, and legislators with particular expertise are assigned to different bills within the budget. Instead of 10 legislators sitting to hash out the differences, there were up to several dozen in the room, waiting their turn to rotate to the negotiating table.

In addition to the several dozen legislators, this hearing also had twice the usual staff in attendance. Because it was the final hearing, there was a packed press table too. Every seat was taken by concerned citizens and an overflow area had to be set up. This was the Senate’s year to host the rotating conference committee location. It’s hearing room is half the size of the House’s because the Senate has 34 members compared to the House’s 163.

So began the quick process of parsing budget differences – sometimes choosing the House position, sometimes the Senate position and sometimes splitting the difference. All while legislators and staff rotated chairs.

There was some controversy this year regarding HB 2003, involving funding for Harris-Stowe State University. “We need to recognize all of the higher education assets in this state, especially the most accessible. I will continue to advocate for increase in higher education funding as we move into next year’s appropriations process,” Sen. Nasheed said. Programs are generally funded or have a slight increase, and economic prospects look good. The debate on the floors of the House and Senate reflected this relatively routine process. Legislators rose to advocate or admonish, but the votes moved forward. At the end of the day, the budget was signed and delivered to the governor. The governor now has until May 6 to sign the budget into law or veto portions, or all of it.

Other News

FY 2017 Budget Sent to Governor, Higher Education Gets Increase

In exchange for a 4 percent funding increase for Missouri’s four-year public colleges and universities, the leaders of those schools have agreed to keep tuition for the 2016-2017 school year at current levels. The schools initially had agreed to freeze tuition if the state provided a 6 percent increase, but agreed to the lower amount during final budget negotiations.

The $37.2 million higher education funding bump is included in the $27.26 billion state operating budget for the 2017 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Lawmakers granted final approval to the various appropriations bills that make up the budget on April 21.

Because the legislature granted final passage to the bills relatively early in session, the governor, a Democrat, will have just 15 days to review the measures and must take final action on them no later than May 6. That will give the Republican-controlled General Assembly the opportunity to override any line-item budget vetoes, which the governor might make during the regular legislative session instead of waiting until the September veto session.

In addition to increasing overall higher education funding, the final budget largely backed off efforts pushed by House Republicans to impose massive punitive spending cuts on the University of Missouri System in retaliation for administrators not cracking down on last year’s student protests regarding racism and other issues at Mizzou.

The House’s plan to exclude all four UM campuses from sharing in the overall funding hike for public colleges and universities was scrapped entirely, as was a $1 million hit to Mizzou. And in the end, funding for the UM System’s administrative budget was cut by $3.8 million instead of the $7.67 million sought by the House.

Another budget highlight includes $30 million to revive a Missouri Department of Transportation cost-sharing program under which the department and local governments jointly fund certain road and bridge projects. Since the passage of a bipartisan Senate proposal to ask Missouri voters for an increase in the state fuel tax to generate another $240 million a year for state and local transportation projects is being stalled by House Republicans. Medicaid Expansion cost-sharing funding will likely be the only action this year to address Missouri’s looming transportation funding crisis.

The budget also cuts $56 million in general revenue spending for prescription drugs under Medicaid. And for the fourth straight year, majority Republicans refused to include federal funding in the budget to allow Missouri to expand Medicaid eligibility under the federal Affordable Care Act, which would pump billions of dollars in federal health care spending into the state.

House Rejects Limited Medical Marijuana Legislation

On April 21, the House of Representatives defeated legislation that sought to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana only by terminally ill patients who are in hospice. The 66-87 vote to reject House Bill 2213 came just two days after the House voted 91-59 to grant the measure first-round approval.

The bill originally sought to allow marijuana use with a doctor’s prescription by people suffering from a variety of diseases and chronic conditions. During first-round debate on April 19, opponents added amendments that severely restricted the bill’s scope, including allowing marijuana use only for end-of-life care.

Many supporters of the more expansive version of the bill reluctantly voted for the scald-back version on the first round but shifted to opposition by the time it came up for a final vote. If HB 2213 had cleared the legislature, it would have gone on the November ballot for voter approval.

Bill Lowering Bar On Education Funding Faces Veto Bill

A bill to significantly lower the bar on what’s considered “full funding” of local public schools under state law faces a likely veto after winning final legislative approval on April 19. Four days earlier, the governor announced his opposition to the measure, Senate Bill 586.

The majority enacted the existing statutory formula for distributing state funding to local school districts in 2005 but have never fully funded it. As a result, full funding the formula during the upcoming 2017 fiscal year would require $509 million dollars.

Under SB 586, only $140 million – about a quarter of what the current law requires – would be necessary to declare full funding in FY 2017. But even with the lower mark, the state still wouldn’t hit full funding next year since lawmakers have only increased funding by $71 million for K-12 in the upcoming budget.

The governor must act on the bill no later than May 4 or it automatically becomes law. Both chambers approved SB 586 with veto-proof, two-thirds majorities. The measure passed 32-0 in the Senate and 116-38 in the House of Representatives.

Harriet Tubman on $20 Bill

Harriet Tubman has been confirmed as the new face of the $20 bill. After months of deliberation, the U.S. Treasury Secretary decided to keep Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill and moved Jackson to the back of the $20.

The selection of Tubman is a victory for both the African-American and feminist communities. Most know about her heroic journeys in and out of the antebellum south to save slaves, but she is lesser-known for her role in the women’s suffrage movement. “Her whole life was dedicated to freeing the oppressed and it is hard to think of another American more deserving than Tubman. She is a role model for us all,” Sen.Nasheed Said.