COVID-19 Information for the Week of May 11, 2020
|Legislative Session Update
This week marked the end of the Second Regular Session of the 100th General Assembly.
In the final days of the 2020 legislative session, the General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 38. This proposed constitutional amendment, if implemented, would undo some of the changes made by Amendment 1, passed by the voters in 2018, to Missouri’s legislative redistricting process. Commonly known as “Clean Missouri,” the voter-approved constitutional amendment created the nonpartisan position of state demographer. This individual is responsible for drawing the House and Senate legislative district maps. Senate Joint Resolution 38 seeks to eliminate the state demographer position and put bipartisan, citizen-led commissions in charge of the redistricting process. Senator Nasheed opposed this legislation when it was in the Senate, believing it undoes the will of the voters without ever giving the state demographer a chance to do their job. While SJR 38 passed out of the General Assembly, it must be approved by voters before becoming a part of the Missouri Constitution.
Another piece of legislation Sen. Nasheed opposed was House Bill 1450, an omnibus crime bill. This bill stiffens penalties for various crimes, as well as creates several new crimes. Senator Nasheed believes the state should not be pursuing failed, tough-on-crime policies, but rather enact policies that address the root cause of crime.
On May 14, the Senate took up and passed Senate Bill 782, a transportation omnibus bill. After passing the bill, however, a provision from a House amendment attached to SB 782 was discovered that raised concerns. The language, attached to an amendment regarding abandoned aircraft, dealt with broadening the ability to designate historic farm property. Senator Nasheed believes the language was likely meant to drive up construction costs for the Grain Belt Express, but she was also concerned about the amendment’s unintended consequences for other utilities as well. Senate Bill 782 was ultimately reconsidered and did not pass during the final hours of the legislative session.
In the coming weeks, be on the lookout for Sen. Nasheed’s final End of Session report, recapping the 2020 legislative session.
Update on Coronavirus in Missouri
As of May 14:
· The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) reported more than 10,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Missouri.
· The City of St. Louis Department of Health reported 1,596 total cases in the City of St. Louis.
St. Louis County Update
In coordination with the City of St. Louis and the Economic Development Partnership, business operating guidelines for the St. Louis Region have been released and posted online. These protocols can be found at stlcorona.com.
As residents in St. Louis County move toward the reopening of businesses and other functions, individuals may be required to wear masks. This does include children, especially in places where they may not be able to avoid staying 6 feet away from others. Children under the ages of 2 should not wear cloth face coverings. That said, the following circumstances may require you to reconsider the use of cloth face coverings for a child:
· The face covering could potentially be a choking hazard for your child.
· Wearing the cloth face covering causes your child to touch their face more frequently than not wearing it.
Senator Nasheed believes staying home and physical distancing is still the best way to protect your family from COVID-19. Especially for younger children who may not understand why they can’t run up toward other people or touch things they shouldn’t, it’s best to keep them home. Children who are sick (fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, diarrhea or vomiting) should not leave home.
Department of Labor Update
As Missouri re-opens, workers should expect to be recalled to work by employers in the coming weeks. Missourians who have been placed on a temporary layoff related to COVID-19, but refuse to return to work when recalled by their employer will lose unemployment benefits and have to repay any benefits received after they refused to return to work. Exceptions to returning to work under the law can be found on the Department of Labor’s website at labor.mo.gov/coronavirus, under question No. 2. Individuals called back to their jobs are strongly encouraged to work with their employers to make the process as smooth as possible. For example, consideration should be given to opportunities to work remotely.
As an additional program to help businesses transition employees safely back to work while observing social distancing and flexible scheduling, the Division of Employment Security notes that many employers have been taking advantage of the Missouri Shared Work program. The program gives an employer the flexibility to temporarily reduce its workforce, as a precautionary health measure, in an attempt to continuing operating in a reduced fashion. It not only allows an employer to retain employees and keep employees’ skillsets sharp, but allows an employer the flexibility to ramp up and scale down its workforce based on business needs and health concerns. Missouri Shared Work employers report hours, not earnings, for their employees on a weekly basis in order for the employees to receive partial unemployment benefits. Additionally, through July 25, 2020, any eligible Missouri Shared Work employee that receives at least one dollar in unemployment benefits during a week, will receive an additional weekly federal supplement of $600.
Missouri State Parks Update
On May 14, Missouri State Parks announced the phased reopening of campgrounds as a part of its continued efforts to return to normal operations in conjunction with the governor’s “Show Me Strong” Recovery Plan. Missouri State Parks campgrounds will reopen to accommodate existing campground reservations at 3 p.m., Monday, May 18. In addition, new reservations will be accepted on Monday, May 18, for arrival dates beginning Tuesday, May 26.
Missouri State Parks will also be instituting a number of changes related to campground operations to better facilitate appropriate social distancing and improve the safety of operations for Missouri State Parks’ guests and staff including:
For up-to-date information about the spread of the coronavirus in Missouri, please visit the Department of Health and Senior Services’ website at health.mo.gov or contact the department’s 24-hour hotline at 877-435-8411.