Sen. Jamilah Nasheed’s Legislative Update for the Week of March 7, 2016

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The ninth week of the 2016 Missouri legislative session proved to be a historically long one for legislators, staff and media as Senate Joint Resolution 39 made its way to the Senate floor. Senate Joint Resolution 39 is legislation, which would allow for discrimination against same-sex couples. All eight Democratic senators took part in the filibuster. The debate started on Monday at 4 p.m. and ended early Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. The 40 hours of continuous debate appears to be a record for the state of Missouri.

Senator Jamilah Nasheed took an active role in the filibuster, standing for more than 10 hours over the course of the marathon session. “This isn’t about one bill or one group of people. This is about fighting discrimination and hate wherever it shows its ugly face,” Sen. Nasheed said after the debate.

Despite the opposition, the resolution was finally pushed through by the Senate. The majority party employed a rarely used procedural mechanism to cut off the debate and push the legislation forward.  The procedure, referred to as “moving the previous question” (or PQ) has only been used a handful of times in the Missouri Senate since the Civil War.  The PQ is usually associated with the more chaotic and hierarchical style of the Missouri House of Representatives.

“It’s truly shameful that after being lectured about the decorum of the Senate and the importance of its traditions last week, we had to see majority party leadership cut off discussion. The Missouri Senate is all about free and fair debate. That is engraved on the wall in the chamber. This move by the majority party flies in the face of that proud tradition,” Sen. Nasheed said.

If passed by the House, the resolution will be placed on the ballot as a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution.

Outside the Senate chamber, business at the Capitol carried on as usual. The Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates held their lobby day on Wednesday, March 9. Senator Nasheed met with several constituents from the organization, which is a key supporter of her Senate Bill 976—the Fair and Impartial Policing Act.

On the Floor

Following the historic filibuster, the Senate resumed business on Thursday morning. Democrats again took to the floor, arguing that procedural inaccuracies and loose interpretation of the Senate rules from the previous day should be reflected in the Senate Journal. After another unusually long day, the legislative week finally ended just before 8 p.m. on Thursday.

“This was a taxing week. But there will be more just like it, and it is my pleasure to stand up and fight for the people who elected me,” Sen. Nasheed said.

Moving forward, the decision about whether or not the Senate should resume business as usual this Session will play out over the next few days. Many are speculating that Democrats will completely shut down the legislative process as a result of the PQ.

Bills and Committees

Four pieces of legislation filed by Sen. Nasheed will be heard in committee in the coming weeks. They include:

  • Senate Bill 1146 — This act would increase the cost-of-living allowances within retirement plans from the Public School Retirement System of the City of St. Louis. If the cost-of-living increases by at least 2 percent, the retirement allowance shall be increased by 2 percent. This bill was scheduled to be heard this week by the General Laws and Pensions Committee, but the hearing was canceled due to the filibuster. News on the rescheduled hearing is expected in the coming days.
  • Senate Bill 724 — Ban the Box — This act makes it an unlawful employment practice for certain employers to inquire into the criminal record of an applicant before the applicant has received a conditional offer of employment. Once the position has been offered, the employer may inquire into whether the applicant has been found guilty of a felony or misdemeanor. Senate Bill 724 will be heard by the Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee once a hearing date can be rescheduled.
  • Senate Bill 725—Minimum Wage — This piece of legislation would gradually raise the minimum wage in the state of Missouri from $7.65 to $12 an hour over the next five years. The first increase would occur at the beginning of next year, raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour.
    “Workers in Missouri, despite putting in regular hours, are struggling each and every day to provide basic necessities for themselves and their families. That’s unacceptable,” Sen. Nasheed stated. Senate Bill 725 will also be heard by the Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee pending a rescheduled hearing date.


While Democrats fought discrimination on the floor of the Senate, it was also a busy week for the state budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee held hearings on the Attorney General and Department of Social Services budgets, while the House of Representatives amended and passed the state budget bills.

The bills now come to the Senate with the Senate Appropriations Committee mark-up (amending) process beginning as early as next week.

The hearing on the Attorney General’s budget revealed that the Medicaid fraud unit had generated $271 million in recovered fraud funds over a seven-year period, while the Attorney General’s budget over that time was $98 million.

The hearing on the Department of Social Services’ budget was carried out over two days. The most important point noted by the chairman was the increase of $750 million in one year to Medicaid costs. The $750 million figure adds amounts from the regular and supplemental budgets.

The increases were shown to be the result of an additional 100,000 Missouri citizens, having enrolled in Medicaid, bringing total enrollment to approximately 970,000 Missourians. The total population of Missouri is roughly 6 million. The other main increase was due to increasing pharmacy costs. While enrollment grew, 70 percent of all Medicaid spending is for the elderly and disabled. That means almost three-fourths of Medicaid money goes to a population that is already among the neediest and least able to help themselves.

It is important to note that Missouri already has lowered its qualifications for Medicaid to the furthest allowed under federal law while still participating in the federal Medicaid match program. However, the committee requested information on how much would be saved by cutting the Medicaid pharmacy program. Even though participation in the pharmacy program is optional, every state in the union currently offers one. If carried through, the ending of the program would be a first in the nation.

While much of the discussion surrounding Medicaid focuses on the increased costs, which are true, framing the issue as “expanding Medicaid” or “out-of-control costs” is misleading. The system is set up to pay for the necessary drugs and treatment, which that patient qualify. The cost is the cost. It is not legally possible to make it harder to qualify. The state can only stop supplying pharmacy benefits, or stop participating in the federal Medicaid program altogether. Either option will leave 1 million Missourians without their insulin, among other prescriptions. Or they will simply have no coverage and take all issues to an emergency room, which the state reimburses. These are our neighbors, our friends, our family. One out of six.

The bills that make up the state budget, HB 2001-2013, also were taken up for debate on the House floor this week also. All details, budgets and mark-up sheets are available here:

Several dozen amendments were offered during the debate, including several to replace some, or all, of the approximately $8 million cut from the University of Missouri System administration budget. All proposed amendments failed. Only two Mizzou-related amendments passed. The first to remove $1 million of their Agriculture program funding and gives it to Lincoln University. The second removes $500,000 from their “performance outcome” funding and gives it to Harris-Stowe University.

Another amendment of interest was from House Budget Vice Chairman Fitzpatrick to fund an audit of the St. Louis Sports Authority, purportedly to discover how they had the $16 million spent on retaining the Rams football team.

One unfortunate amendment passed by the majority removes $2 million from day care inspections in order to increase the budget of the state fire marshal. And a final amendment of note removes $139,000 from the Governor’s budget and moves it to the Parents As Teachers program.

Other News


The Youth Opportunities Program Tax Credits are designed to promote community growth and social investment by providing additional funding for non-profit organizations. This week, two such organizations in St. Louis City were awarded YOP credits: Guardian Angel Settlement has been awarded $250,000 and Provident, Inc. has been awarded $138,718.


 Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is seeking nominations for the Lieutenant Governor’s Senior Service Award, given each year to seniors who volunteer in their communities. Winners will selected from across the state, and the winners will be recognized at a banquet in the Capitol. Kinder created the award to promote and highlight service Missouri’s senior citizens provide their communities.  Nomination forms are available at the Lieutenant Governor’s website: under the “Senior Service Awards” tab, or can be obtained through the lieutenant governor’s office by calling 573-751-4727. Nominees should be at least 60 years of age and volunteer a minimum of 25 hours per year. The deadline for nominations is March 15.


With so many important dates coming up, no one can afford to miss a single one. Everyone’s voice should be heard!

  • March 14: Last day (5 p.m.) for voting an absentee ballot in person at the Election Board office for the March 15 Presidential Preference Primary Election.
  • March 15: Presidential Preference Primary Election—Polls open: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • March 30: Last day (5 p.m.) absentee applications will be accepted through the mail or in person from a guardian or relative of the applicant for the April 5 General Municipal Election.
  • April 4: Last day (5 p.m.) for voting an absentee ballot in person at the Election Board Office for the April 5 General Municipal Election.
  • April 5: General Municipal Election—Polls open: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The April 5th election will decide the school board proposal for a property tax increase for salaries; expansion of education options; early childhood education; and safety and security personnel. The City of St. Louis is also voting to continue the 1 percent earnings tax on all residents and workers. And MSD Propositions S & Y will also be on the ballot.

Missouri Elections Resources:

League of Women Voters Metro St. Louis:

Missouri Secretary of State:

Official Missouri State:

Political Parties




St. Louis Voter Information:

St. Louis County Voter Information:

St. Louis County Municipal League: