Legislative Column for the Week Ending Feb. 13, 2015
Legislative Update

JEFFERSON CITY—This week saw many pieces of legislation heard before their respective committees and on the Senate floor.

Debated on the Floor

Senate Bill 24: Senator Nasheed and other members of the Minority Caucus worked this week to block the perfection of this bill.  This legislation attempts to cut TANF and SNAP benefits for families. Although the proposal was framed by its supporters as a way to help low-income citizens, it would actually establish harsh limitations on the ability of citizens who have fallen on hard times to get assistance.

The Majority Caucus continually pushes so-called “reform” measures on safety net programs that are, in reality, thinly disguised attempts to gut services that support the neediest citizens in our state. “If other legislators were serious about ending the cycle of poverty, they would focus their efforts on creating job opportunities, providing a quality education to all children and reforming a criminal justice system that is systematically balanced against the poor,” stated Sen. Nasheed.

It’s a travesty that in the face of public cries for assistance, conservative legislators push measures that devastate the only safety-net many families have, all in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” These are the same lawmakers, by the way, who aggressively fast-tracked an irresponsible tax-cut bill last year that primarily benefits the wealthiest individuals and will hamper our state’s ability to fund education, public services, transportation, and other priorities.

“We should be considering measures that can rebuild a rapidly shrinking middle-class and invest in programs that lift people up,” she declared. “Instead, we get legislation, year after year, that seeks to deprive the most vulnerable families of the few benefits they need to stay barely afloat. Senate Bill 24 is just the latest example, and I was proud to stand up for
Missourians in-need to stop this measure,” stated Sen. Nasheed.

She also joined her Democratic colleagues in proposing amendments to SB 24 to make it more reasonable. The amendment proposed by Sen. Nasheed would make the state’s jobs search website (jobs.mo.gov) available those who are facing the elimination of their TANF benefits and are looking to find work.  “Hopefully, the amendment will make a bad bill better,” said Sen. Nasheed.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 2: which would designate the month of November as Pica Awareness Month in Missouri, was passed out of the Senate on Thursday. Pica is an eating disorder which is characterized by the compulsive ingestion of nonfood items.

This resolution will take effect upon its adoption by the full General Assembly.


Senator Nasheed’s bill Senate Bill 42 will be heard in the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 1:00pm.  This legislation provides that a law enforcement officer may use deadly force only when all other means of apprehension have been exhausted or are unavailable and the officer reasonably believes the suspect possesses a deadly weapon.

Senate Bill 269 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. This legislation would prohibit the use of restraints, including handcuffs, chains, irons and straightjackets, on children under the age of 17 during court proceedings, unless the court determines it is absolutely necessary. Treating children as adult prisoners is excessive, and only contributes to that youth’s view that the court system is punitive, and not rehabilitative.

Senate Bill 270, which adds a charter school teacher or administrator as an additional member on the board of trustees of both the Kansas City and St. Louis Public Retirement Systems, was sent to the General Laws and Pensions Committee. The legislation gives charter school educators representation on a board that oversees their future retirement benefits. SB 270 will be heard in committee next week.

In Appropriations Committee this week we reviewed budgets for the Departments of Economic Development, MOHELA (Higher Education), Labor and Industrial Relations, and Insurance.  Among the witnesses who testified, Tim Wolfe, President of the UM System was the standout. He testified for more almost an hour about several system-wide issues facing state colleges and the higher education system in Missouri generally. 

The Joint Committee on Government Accountability met this week, in which inquiries were made into the Governor’s handling of the protests in Fergusson. “During the hearing I pointed out that the Governor’s declaration of a “precautionary” state of emergency seemed unconstitutional and may have unnecessarily exacerbated the situation further,” Sen. Nasheed declared.


“I was happy to receive a visit from the Arts Alliance this week. Creativity is one of the most valuable skills a person can possess, and I’ve always been a staunch advocate of programs that support the arts. It was wonderful to listen to the thoughts and ideas of the Alliance members,” she stated.

Furthermore, just this week, the House perfected legislation known as Right to Work.

Historically, our nation’s best times have been defined by a robust middle-class, and a system that provided opportunities for the working poor to improve their own lives. If you work hard for 40 hours a week, you deserve to be paid a living wage, one you can raise a family on. For many families, unions played a critical role in bring that about. They have ensured that workers have a collective voice, and can demand certain rights and benefits from employers. Over the past century, unions have been at the very foundation of our country’s emergence as the most prosperous the world has ever seen.

The “Right to Work” bill would exempt certain employees from paying dues to a union, allowing many to sit back and reap the benefits of union membership. This creates what economists call a “free-rider” problem, and has resulted in lower wages in many of the states where it has been adopted. Ultimately, it’s an effort to completely eradicate unions in Missouri, removing one of the few means employees have to bargain for fair wages, benefits, and treatment. “I will fight to kill this measure, as I have with past Right to Work bills,” Sen. Nasheed declared.