Sen. Jamilah Nasheed’s Legislative Update for the Week of March 2, 2020

Legislative Actions and Information for the Week of March 2, 2020

On the Floor

Members of the Missouri Senate managed to move several bills forward through the legislative process this week. In particular, three bills were perfected on the Senate floor:

  • Senate Bill 618 would help gas corporations replace certain old, antiquated types of pipes. Senator Nasheed believes this bill will help many in the 5th Senatorial District receive critical updates to a key part of our state’s infrastructure system.
  • Senate Bill 523 addresses a range of issues relating to controlled substances, including marijuana edibles. Among other provisions, the bill prohibits edible, marijuana-infused products sold in Missouri to be designed, produced or marketed to appeal to children. The legislation also requires individually-wrapped marijuana-infused products to be stamped or for the packaging to be labeled to indicate it contains THC.
  • Senate Bill 594 creates Targeted Industrial Manufacturing Enhancement Zones, which would provide certain tax benefits for infrastructure projects that promote economic development. This bill was debated until midnight on March 4, with the hours-long discussion centering on how best to encourage economic development in the state.

All three of these bills need one more round of approval from the Senate before they proceed to the Missouri House of Representatives.

The Senate also passed several bills out of the chamber this week, including:

  • Senate Bill 587 extending the sunset for fees to support the secretary of state’s technology trust fund.
  • Senate Bill 591 regarding unlawful merchandising practices and punitive damages.
  • Senate Bill 617 requiring the Department of Health and Senior Services to provide epi-pens to fire protection districts in non-metropolitan areas in Missouri.
  • Senate Bill 619 relating to public water fluoridation.
  • Senate Bill 631 allowing certain state employees to run for partisan political office.
  • Senate Bill 644 enacting penalties for knowingly misrepresenting a dog as a service dog.
  • Senate Bill 656 designating the Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial in Kansas City as the official Korean War veterans memorial for the state of Missouri.
  • Senate Bill 664 adding call spoofing to the list of prohibited solicitations under the no-call list.
  • Senate Bill 673 & 560 allowing any resident of Missouri, resident military spouse or nonresident military spouse to apply for licensure in Missouri.

These bills now head to the Missouri House of Representatives for further consideration.

Bills and Committees

This week, the Senate’s Judiciary Committee approved two pieces of Sen. Nasheed’s priority legislation for the 2020 legislative session. Senate Bill 542, also known as the “Missouri Restoration of Voting Rights Act,” would restore voting rights to non-violent felons who are on probation or parole. Senate Joint Resolution 61 is a proposed constitutional amendment which, if approved by voters, would enact similar provisions to SB 542. Both pieces of legislation now head to the Senate floor.

On March 3, Sen. Nasheed presented Senate Joint Resolution 35 to the Senate’s Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee. If approved by Missouri voters, this proposed constitutional amendment would require incarcerated individuals be counted as residents at their last known address before incarceration, for purposes of the census.

Next week, on March 10, Sen. Nasheed will present Senate Bill 626 to the Senate’s Education Committee. This legislation requires public schools in St. Louis City to develop intensive reading instruction programs for students struggling to read. It also allows students not reading at a second grade level to be promoted to the third grade only if certain conditions are met.


The Senate’s Appropriations Committee heard more testimony from state departments and agencies as it prepares its version of the state’s operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year. This week, testimony focused on tax credit programs administered by the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Health & Senior Services; the Department of Commerce and Insurance; the Department of Natural Resources; the Department of Revenue; the Department of Social Services; and the Department of Economic Development.

Other News

House Advances Photo Voter ID Bill To Senate

On March 2, the House of Representatives voted 109-45 in favor of legislation to require a government-issued photo ID for voting in Missouri. House Bill 1600 now advances to the Senate. State lawmakers have been trying to enact a photo voter ID requirement in Missouri since 2006 and twice succeeded, only to have the state Supreme Court strike down both laws as an unconstitutional infringement on the fundamental right to vote.

Medical Marijuana Rollout Already Yields 800 Appeals

According to the state Administrative Hearing Commission, more than 800 appeals have been filed with the commission by applicants who were denied state licenses by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to grow, manufacture or distribute medical marijuana in Missouri. DHSS has faced criticism for its implementation of legalized medical marijuana, prompting the House Special Committee on Government Oversight to hold a series of investigative hearings to question department officials. During the latest hearing on March 4, lawmakers asked department officials about numerous possible conflicts of interest, including that the company DHSS hired to conduct supposedly blind scoring of applications has business ties to some applicants. The House hearings into the matter are expected to continue throughout the legislative session, which ends in May. The department still plans for medical marijuana sales to begin later this year.

Prison Guard Union Running Low on Funds

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the union representing Missouri prison workers could go broke later this month after the state began blocking the automatic collection of dues several months ago. The contract between the Missouri Correctional Officers Association and the Department of Corrections expired in September, but the parties continued to operate under the terms of the old contract while negotiations continued on a new one. Part of that contract required the department to withhold dues from the paychecks of the roughly 5,500 employees represented by the union. However, the Office of Administration, informed the union on Dec. 9 that it would cease withholding dues since it is no longer bound by the previous contract. A union official told the paper only 209 members were currently paying dues since automatic paycheck withholdings stopped. Negotiations over a new contract with prison workers has stalled, the official also said.

Red Cross Information

This week, Sen. Nasheed met with volunteers from the American Red Cross. Overall, members of the American Red Cross in Greater St. Louis said they provided over 92,000 volunteer hours, helped 756 families with disaster relief and collected 177,000 units of blood during the past fiscal year. Part of the work the organization highlighted were their efforts to maintain a diverse blood supply for a variety of patients through the Dr. Charles Drew Blood Drive. Diverse blood donations are incredibly important because of their unique ability to help patients with different illnesses or inherited diseases, such as sickle cell anemia. For instance, red blood cells carry markers that determine blood type, and certain blood types are unique to specific racial and ethnic groups. According to the Red Cross, sickle cell disease affects as many as 100,000 people in the U.S., more than 90 percent of which are of African descent. A sickle cell patient in need is more likely to find a compatible blood match from a donor of the same race or ethnic group.

Ameren Smart Energy Plan Update

Last week, Ameren Missouri filed an updated, five-year Smart Energy Plan with the Missouri Public Service Commission. According to Ameren, this increases the company’s investments to $7.6 billion in grid modernization. Highlights include:

  • Completed more than 900 Smart Energy Plan projects in 2019;
  • Installed 9,000 stronger, more storm-resilient utility poles last year;
  • Upgraded or built 13 substations in 2019 to improve reliability and serve growing communities, including St. Louis;
  • Installed more than 180 smart switches last year to reduce outages;
  • Planned projects for 2020 and beyond include deploying additional smart equipment to benefit customers.
  • Ameren Missouri will also acquire two wind facilities this year, while also adding more solar energy and battery storage on the system to boost reliability.

For more information on Ameren’s Smart Energy Plan, please visit Ameren’s website.

Information on the Coronavirus

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has released information about the recently discovered coronavirus and how to protect yourself from it. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is thought to be spread by coughing and sneezing; close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands; and touching surfaces with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Reported symptoms may appear between 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Reported cases have ranged from mild illness (similar to a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization. So far, deaths have been reported mainly in older adults who had other health conditions.

While DHSS believes the risk to the general public of getting the coronavirus is low, they do recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others; and
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.