Sen. Dave Schatz’s Legislative Column for Nov. 12, 2020

Providing Additional Resources in Missouri’s Fight Against COVID-19

On Nov. 5, lawmakers returned to the State Capitol for the start of this year’s second extra legislative session. Called by the governor, this extra session will focus on appropriating additional funding to help our state continue to recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extra session spending bill, House Bill 14, appropriates more than $1.27 billion in funding. Approximately $1.17 billion of the bill’s price tag comes from federal funds associated with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, commonly known as the CARES Act. Since the General Assembly passed the FY 2021 state budget in May, the state has received additional funding and new guidance from the federal government on how to spend the relief funds. House Bill 14 gives the state the ability to spend all available CARES Act funding before the end of the year. This additional spending authority will ensure the state can repurpose any unused funds to help in its fight against the virus. Under HB 14, the Department of Elementary and Secondary will receive more than $75 million in federal funding to feed students through the School Nutrition Services Program. In addition, HB 14 appropriates an additional $134 million in federal funding to help the state with testing, contact tracing and other services designed to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The extra session spending bill also appropriates $2 million to the state’s Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund. This fund, established during the year’s first extra legislative session, will allocate additional resources to law enforcement to allow them to provide security for witnesses, potential witnesses and their immediate families during criminal proceedings or investigations. Overall, the extra session bill provides additional resources to several state departments as they continue to assist Missourians grappling with COVID-19. While my colleagues in the Missouri Senate still need to put their stamp of approval on the legislation, I am hopeful that the funding outlined in this spending bill will ensure our state has the resources it needs to continue providing vital services to all Missourians.

Finally, I am proud to report that my colleagues in the Missouri Senate’s Majority Caucus reelected me to serve a second term as the Senate’s president pro tem. While my second term as president pro tem will not officially begin until I am reelected by the full Senate in January, I am humbled by the honor and support given to me by colleagues. Their trust to continue serving in this role is something I do not take lightly. As I look forward to continue serving as the Senate’s president pro tem during my final two years in the General Assembly’s upper chamber, I am committed to supporting commonsense, conservative policies that aim to move our state forward and make Missouri a better place to live, work and raise a family.

As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri Senate. If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-3678 or by email at — we are honored to serve you.