Serving in the Missouri General Assembly since 2007
Legislative Column for the Week of May 16, 2015

Senator Curls' Biography
Senator Shalonn "Kiki" Curls, a Democrat, represents part of Jackson County (District 9) in the Missouri Senate. She won a special election to the Missouri Senate in February 2011, and won re-election to the Senate in 2012 after having served in the Missouri House since 2007. <<more

Capitol Office:
201 W. Capitol Ave.
Room 434
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-3158

District Office:
4609 Paseo Blvd.
Suite 102
Kansas City, MO 64110
(816) 923-6000

Affordable Care Act
The federal Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA, puts you in charge of your health care. Under this law, passed in 2010, you have the stability and flexibility you need to make informed choices about your health. <<more

If you or someone you know are at-risk of suicide, there is help available, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or the website

Kansas City Transportation Tax - Senate Bill 190

Senate Bill 190, legislation I sponsored was truly agreed to and finally passed, May 7.

Senate Bill 190 extends the one-half cent sales tax, indefinitely. The Kansas City Transportation tax - a tax that provides much needed funding for the public transit system in Kansas City - was due to expire at the end of this year.

This is great news for Kansas City, its residents and visitors who use the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA). With the sales tax no longer facing an expiration date, this is one less worry for KCATA, and overall for Kansas City residents because they have this funding source on which to depend.

The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed.

I am glad to have gained the support of lawmakers in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle to ensure this vital funding for KCATA.


There is no denying that Right-to-Work was one of the biggest issues this session, and the last week of session. House Bill 116, would bar employers and unions from requiring all workers to pay dues.

In a 21-13 vote the bill was passed but not before almost nine hours of filibuster on the Senate Floor. A vote was forced after a bold move - called the previous question was brought up.

Since 1970 the motion to call a previous question - or PQ has only been used 14 times. When a PQ is called, debate ends and a vote must be taken. this motion is rarely used, as it tends to disrupt the possibility of compromise, especially late in the session.

Right-to-work did not get my vote or the votes of any minority party member. Simply because we know this legislation takes money out of Missouri. It takes money out of the pockets of dedicated employees who give their all. this bill takes money from families. This bill just is not good for Missouri.

Use of Deadly Force by Law Enforcement

In early May, the Senate approved a measure that could change how law enforcement operates in the state of Missouri. Senate Bill 199 would modify certain provisions that specify when police officers are justified in using force and create a cause of action for citizens who have been deprived of certain rights. The intent of the bill is to bring Missouri’s statutes in line with federal guidelines  in regards to several U.S. Supreme Court opinions on the use of deadly force by police. Under federal law, lethal force may only be used on escaping felons if there is a clear threat to the officer or the public, as held in Tennessee v. Garner (1985). Current Missouri law only requires the commitment of a felony.

Senate Bill 199 allows a law enforcement officer to use deadly force when effecting an arrest or preventing an escape from custody if the officer reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to make the arrest or prevent the escape and reasonably believes the person has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury, is attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon, or may otherwise pose a threat of serious physical injury to the officer or others.

This legislation also states that any person acting under the color of law who deprives a person of any right or privilege granted by the Missouri Constitution or laws of this state, or interferes by threats, intimidation or coercion with a person's enjoyment of their rights under Article I of the Missouri Constitution shall be liable to the party injured. Under the act, an injured party may bring a private civil action to enforce their rights and the attorney general is authorized to bring a civil action on behalf of the injured party.

The bill now moves to the House.

Legislation to Protect Our Children

There are many factors involved in keeping our children safe. Protecting them from physical injury, alone, isn't enough — we must also look out for their mental and emotional health and well-being. Navigating the road to becoming an adult has never been easy. However, as technology grows and social media’s reach expands, today’s youth face situations that you and I never imagined. Some of them are very troubling, and are entirely unique to their generation. Parents and teachers, alike, must have the knowledge and resources to respond.

Here is a list of legislation that was discussed this week, in regards to protecting our children:

  • House Bill 152, provides our state and local prosecutors with one more tool to use in the fight against human trafficking.
  • House Bill 458, strengthens laws regarding bullying in schools and establishes specific components that a district must include in its anti-bullying policy.
  • House Bill 501, requires sexual education course materials to contain information regarding sexual predators, online predators and the consequences of inappropriate text messaging.

Senate Takes Action on Legislation

With only days remaining in the 2015 regular legislative session, time spent on the floor of the Missouri Senate grows a little longer, and more House bills are debated in the upper chamber. The First Regular Session of the 98th General Assembly will conclude work on Friday, May 15, 2015, at 6 p.m.


Over the last year there has been a lot of talk about education. Talk about failing school districts, charter schools, virtual schools, school funding, you name it. Education really is a top priority for lawmakers and Missourians alike. One thing not all of us can agree on is how “good” House Bill 42 may or may not be for schools across the state.

I know the people of my district, do not want more charter schools in the area. Not here.

House Bill 42 was written to help address the issue of students attending unaccredited schools. However, the bill was amended to include charter and virtual school expansion in St. Louis County, St. Louis City and Jackson County. However, with an influx of charter schools, funds are going to be pulled from each district, growing districts, like ours.

A House proposal now carrying Senate amendments is House Bill 458, legislation that would change the laws regarding bullying in schools and establish specific components that a district must include in its anti-bullying policy.

This bill would change the laws regarding bullying in schools. In its main provisions, the measure would add substantial interference with the educational process or disruption of school operations to the definition of "bullying," and prohibit bullying on school property, at any school function and on a school bus.

“Cyberbullying” would be defined as transmitting a bullying communication including — but not limited to — a message, text, sound, or image by means of an electronic device. The measure would also require a school district’s anti-bullying policy to be printed in the student handbook. This document would include: A statement prohibiting bullying; a statement requiring district employees to report any instance of bullying of which they have first-hand knowledge or reasonable cause to believe occurred; a procedure for the reporting and prompt investigation of an act of bullying; a description of the ways in which a school will respond once an incident of bullying is confirmed; a statement prohibiting reprisal or retaliation against a person reporting an act of bullying and the consequence and action for a person who engages in reprisal or retaliation; and a statement of how the policy will be publicized and a process for discussing the policy with students and training employees and volunteers in the requirements of the policy.

House Bill 458 was voted do pass by a Missouri Senate-House conference committee.

Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence

Extensive debate was given on Senate Bill 199, 417 & 42, a measure that would modify a provision specifying when law enforcement officers are justified in using deadly force. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City; and Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis.

Current law states that the use of physical force when making an arrest is not justified, unless the arrest is lawful or the officer reasonably believes the arrest is lawful. This proposal would add a provision stating that the use of force when making an arrest is also not justified, unless the amount of force used was objectively reasonable in light of all of the facts and circumstances confronting the officer, regardless of the officer's intent or motivation.

Under current law, a law enforcement officer may use deadly force when he or she reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to effect an arrest and reasonably believes the suspect has committed or attempted to commit a felony, is attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon or may otherwise endanger life or seriously injure another person.

This bill would allow a law enforcement officer to use deadly force when making an arrest or preventing an escape from custody, if the officer reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to make the arrest or prevent the escape and has probable cause to believe the person has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury, is attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon, or may otherwise pose a threat of serious physical injury to the officer or others unless arrested without delay.

Senate Bill 199, 417 & 42 moves to the Missouri House for its consideration.

Another measure relating to criminal law is Senate Bill 200, legislation that would modify provisions related to first degree murder. The proposal is also sponsored by Sen. Dixon.

Under current Missouri law, offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time they committed first-degree murder must be sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility for probation, parole or conditional release. In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court — in Miller v. Alabama — held that mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile criminal offenders are unconstitutional. As a result, there is no punishment for first-degree murder under current law in Missouri that is enforceable against those who committed murder before they turned 18.

This bill would repeal the mandatory life sentence found to be unconstitutional in Miller v. Alabama. Under Senate Bill 200, a person who was 16 or 17 years old at the time of the crime may be sentenced to either imprisonment for at least 50 years or life imprisonment without parole. A person who was under the age of 16 may be sentenced to imprisonment for at least 35 years or life without parole.

Any person who was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for a crime committed before the person turned 18, whose case is not final for purposes of appeal may — within six months of the effective date of the act — file a motion with the sentencing court for a review of the person's sentence. This measure specifies that the new procedures for juvenile first-degree murderers do not apply to cases that are final for purposes of appeal.

The offense of murder in the first degree was added to the definition of "dangerous felony."

This bill also seeks to repeal obsolete provisions stating that certain trials are to proceed in a single stage. Other technical changes were made in this proposal to make the provisions align with amendments to the criminal code in Senate Bill 491 from 2014.

Senate Bill 200 is also now in the Missouri House for its consideration.

Executive Branch Vetoes Senate Legislation

Last week, the governor vetoed Senate Bill 24. The measure would modify provisions of law relating to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Under the "Strengthening Missouri Families Act," which would be created by Senate Bill 24, the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) could conduct an investigation and determine if a person is cooperating with a work activity requirement under the TANF program. If the person is non-compliant, a representative of the department could conduct a face-to-face meeting and explain the potential sanction of TANF benefits, as well as the requirements to cure such a sanction. The TANF recipient would then have six weeks to comply with the work activity requirement. Failure to do so would result in a sanction consisting of a 50 percent reduction of benefits, for a maximum of 10 weeks. During that period of sanctions, the person would remain on the caseload in sanction status and the department would attempt to meet face-to-face to explain the sanction and the requirements to cure the sanction. To cure a sanction, the person could perform work activities for a minimum average of 30 hours per week for one month. If the person does not cure the sanction, the case would be closed. This bill would allow for the person to reapply for benefits by completing work activities for a minimum average of 30 hours per week within one month of the eligibility interview.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2016: The lifetime limit for TANF would be 45 months. This limit would not apply to minors and those families qualifying for a hardship exemption. The department would implement a cash diversion program that would grant eligible TANF benefits recipients lump-sum cash grants for short-term needs, as well as job referrals or referrals to career centers, in lieu of signing up for the long-term monthly cash assistance program upon a showing of good cause. This lump sum benefit would not apply toward the lifetime TANF benefits limit. Good cause may include loss of employment, excluding a voluntary quit or dismissal due to poor job performance; catastrophic illness; domestic violence; or other emergencies rendering a family member unable to care for the basic needs of the family. The lump-sum maximum limit would be set at three times the family size allowance and for use once in a 12-month period and for only five instances in a lifetime. The department would develop a standardized program orientation for TANF applicants that inform applicants of the program's rules and work requirements, as well as the consequences if the work requirements are not met. The department could not issue a case without receiving confirmation that TANF applicants have signed a participation agreement; a new spouse's income and assets would be disregarded for six consecutive months. This disregard would be applied once in a recipient's lifetime. Those seeking benefits would be required to engage in work activities before becoming eligible.

The department would set aside a minimum of 2 percent of TANF funds, consistent with federal law and subject to appropriations, to fund alternative to abortion services and awareness programs, as well as a minimum of 2 percent of TANF funds for healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood promotion. These funds would be used to supplement and not supplant existing funding for these programs.

SNAP allows states with a certain level of unemployment to seek a waiver of the work requirement for assistance. Missouri currently has such a waiver. Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, this measure would remove the waiver and reinstate the work requirements.

Any savings resulting from the changes to TANF and SNAP would be used to provide child care assistance for single parents, education assistance, transportation assistance and job training for individuals receiving benefits under the programs as allowable under law.

DSS would make an annual report to the Joint Committee on Government Accountability on the progress of implementation and include specified data. The committee would meet at least once a year to review the report and make recommendations to the president pro tem of the Missouri Senate and the speaker of the Missouri House.

On May 4, the Senate voted 25-9 to override the governor's veto of Senate Bill 24, and on May 5, the House also voted to override.


Several weeks ago the General Assembly sent the budget to the governor's desk. This was long before the constitutional requirement that he has a budget on his desk before this Friday, May 8. Instead, since we gave it to him 15 days ago and he only has 15 days to sign or release his line-item vetoes of the budget, he sign or report his line-item vetoes to the Legislature by 6 p.m. on May 8.

The $26.1 billion spending plan that will take effect on July 1 of this year does include record levels of funding for elementary and secondary education. In total the state is now spending just under $5.8 billion on public K-12 schools, which represents more than 22.2 percent of total state spending.

The budget also includes significant boosts to several important education programs, and sizable funding increases to the state’s public colleges and universities.

Some of the funding highlights contained in the FY 2016 budget include:

  • An additional $84 million for the School Foundation Formula for K-12 public education;
  • An increase of more than $2.4 million to the Parents as Teachers Program;
  • Full funding for virtual education;
  • A $12 million increase for performance funding for public institutions of higher education;
  • More than $5 million in new equity funding for Missouri’s two-year colleges;
  • A three percent funding increase to providers who care for elderly and developmentally disabled Missourians.

Unemployment Legislation

On May 5, just hours after the General Assembly overrode a veto that will cut certain benefits from the neediest of Missouri's citizens, the governor also vetoed House Bill 150, legislation that would reduce the amount of time unemployment benefits could be collected from 20 weeks to 13 weeks. Ultimately, the bill links the amount of time unemployment can be drawn based off of the state's current unemployment rate. This measure states if the unemployment rate falls below 6 percent, the laid off employee could only get 13 weeks of coverage. The longest amount of time anyone could draw unemployment is 20 weeks, and that is only if the unemployment rate is higher than 9 percent.

On May 13, the House voted to override the governor's veto of the bill. I am not sure if the Senate will have a chance to vote on an override.

While there are areas of the state that have a low unemployment rate, others areas are plagued by a much higher unemployment rate. This is why the governor vetoed a similar bill last year.

City’s Home Repair & Paint Programs Helps Residents Make Home Improvements

Spring is a time for renewal—and the perfect time to make home improvements. On May 1, City of Kansas City opened home repair applications for three Neighborhood and Housing Services programs to serve residents.

The Paint Program provides free paint and supplies to qualifying homeowners who live in Kansas City, Missouri. The City Home Repair Program & Federal Home Loan Bank Home Repair Program assists Kansas City, Missouri homeowners who cannot afford to make urgent home repairs. The Targeted Minor Home Repair, Special Northeast and Marlborough Targeted Programs assist homeowners who live in targeted areas within neighborhood strategy areas identified in the 2012-2016 Consolidated Housing and Community Development Plan.

This year, Kansas City is offering another resource for homeowners—the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) Home Repair Program. The program is funded by two grants that the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines presented to the City and Central Bank of Kansas City to support minor home repair assistance – such as roof replacement, siding, painting and electrical repairs –  to about 150 single family homeowners who live in targeted neighborhoods. Homeowners must also meet the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Very Low Income (50 percent) guidelines.

This is the third time this area has received housing improvement grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines. Through its “Strong Communities” program, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines annually returns 10 percent of its net income to support housing projects in communities throughout its district.

Applications for the programs are available online at To request an application please call the City’s Housing Section at 816-513-3025.

Mayor's Nights Are Back!

The always fun and popular KC Mayor's Nights are back. This summer there have been new events and new locations added to the event for youths aged 11-18.

Those attending the events must be per-registered. There are three ways to register for these events.

  • A Mayor’s Nights Registration Frenzy, including entertainment, snacks and prizes, will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 16, at Brush Creek Community Center, 3801 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd. Youth and adults interested in participating in Club KC and Mayor’s Nights are invited.
  • Visit On that site, registration can be completed using an online form or by downloading and printing a paper form that can be completed and turned in at any participating Kansas City Parks & Recreation community center. Must pick up Mayor's VIP Card from participating community center; or
  • Visit any participating Kansas City Parks & Recreation community center to get registered.

Join area youth for a variety of sporting programs. More information can be found at

MoDot Job Openings

The Missouri Department of Transportation has 30 seasonal job openings in the Kansas City area. Those applying are asked to have a passing grade on your CDL permit before you can be hired. Please visit for more information.

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