Legislative Column for the Week Ending March 20, 2015
Legislative Update

JEFFERSON CITY — On the last day of the long legislative work week, a large contingent of Missouri citizens entered the Capitol to make their voices heard on the important topic of Medicaid expansion. This demonstration provided the Legislators with a burst of energy at the end of a long work week. Many of the demonstrators were wearing red shirts to show their dedication to remaining a cohesive unit, held signs, including a number of them asking the General Assembly to “Have the Debate.” Demonstrators pushed the need for discussion. The stated purpose of the march was to draw attention to the issue.  Sen. Nasheed joined the demonstration, stating, “demonstrations and protests are the backbone of politics, and played an important role in my own political career.” After many elected officials closed their office doors, to avoid most of the demonstrators, they could still be heard, delaying the start time of session for one hour.


This week, Senate Bill 44, which prohibits employers from inquiring into, or considering the criminal records of applicants before offering a conditional offer of employment, was reconsidered. The reconsideration motion came after a senator, who previously voted “no”, realized the significance of this bill and the effect it can have on continuing to move Missouri forward. Senate Bill 44 was voted “do pass” from the Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee.

Senate Bill 155 was reported to the Senate floor out of the Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee. This bill will create a fund for neighborhood watch organizations, giving communities an opportunity to deter crime by increasing civilian involvement. Senate Bill 155 would establish the Neighborhood Watch Fund. “It is so important that citizens have resources available to take responsibility for the safety of their own neighborhoods,” Sen. Nasheed said. “I am looking forward to speaking on Senate Bill 155 on the floor, and I am confident it will be well-received by my colleagues.”

Senate Bill 161 was unanimously voted out of the Senate Education Committee. This measure focuses on the issues of anti-bullying and eroding the culture of social promotion in our schools, it garnered support from the entire committee with little hesitation. Senator Nasheed stated, “This is an important step in helping our kids get the education that they deserve by creating a safe and positive learning environment.”

Senate Bill 165, a bill that creates a petition process for the expungement of certain criminal records, was heard by the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee this week. When asked to clarify the bill, Sen. Nasheed stated, “This bill is about recognizing when people have paid their debt to society so that they can once again contribute to their communities.”

Senate Bill 334 was also heard in the Education Committee this week. This legislation will establish a wider selection of degree programs for students at Harris-Stowe University. When asked about this bill, Sen. Nasheed said, “It’s one of my top priorities to make as many opportunities in education for the young men and women in my district, and the city of St. Louis.”


Committee discussions on the FY16 budget began on Tuesday. The Appropriations Committee heard 8 House Budget Bills extending sunsets of the Federal Reimbursement Act payments (FRA) which will reimburse hospitals for services provided to indigent clientele.  All of the chairman’s bills extend the sunset for one year, whereas Senator Schaaf’s original bill would extend it 2 years.  It was last extended four years ago, for a four year time limit.  There were no opponents as all 8 House Budget Bills were passed unanimously, only discussion of the advantages/disadvantages of one year instead of multiple years.

House Bill 1 (public debt) was closed with no changes. 

House Bill 2 (DESE) had 13 changes, and several line items left open which means the committee can come back and amend the line later. For the 2016 fiscal year, Sen. Nasheed was able to secure $400,000 in funding for math and science tutoring.

Lastly, the Senate Appropriations Committee heard and passed the tax amnesty bill, House Bill 384 - This act grants amnesty for payment of all penalties, additions to tax, and interest accrued on state tax liability due but unpaid as of December 31, 2014. The House had included the estimated $60m in tax revenue generated from the bill as part of their budget, meaning the budget is now at least $60m out of balance. The Committee amended the bill to direct the proceeds to adult dental care only. The last two tax amnesty bills to pass were 2002 and 2003.  There are 377,000 individuals eligible, but the Department did not provide a total amount outstanding.


The House of Representatives on March 19 voted 114-38-2 in favor of legislation that would prohibit Missouri cities from restricting merchants from using paper or plastic bags for customer purchases or from imposing a tax or fee for providing such bags. The bill, HB 722, now advances to the Senate.

The bill was filed in response to a proposed Columbia city ordinance that would have prohibited grocery stores and other retailers from using plastic bags and required merchants to charge a fee for providing paper bags. The ordinance, which the Columbia City Council ultimately decided not to pursue, was intended to reduce landfill waste and encourage customers to use reusable sacks.

The House of Representatives on March 18 voted 115-44 to slash the maximum lifetime benefits a TANF recipient could receive from the existing 60 months to 30 months. Under the House version of the bill, SB 24, roughly 18,000 of the Missouri’s poorest residents, about two-thirds of whom are children, would lose their cash benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

As originally passed by the Senate, SB 24 would cut lifetime benefits to a maximum of 48 months. The House and Senate must negotiate the differences between their versions before a final vote can be taken to send the bill to the governor. “If the other legislators are serious about ending the cycle of poverty, they will 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.

Senator Nasheed would like to remind citizens of the 5th Senatorial District that the Believe in Missouri Scholarship, will be awarded to a constituent going back to college to pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree with WGU Missouri.

A college degree is a necessity now more than ever, and Sen. Nasheed is working to boost college completion in our region. The Believe in Missouri scholarships are valued at up to $2,000 and are being provided by WGU, Missouri-based, on legislative districts throughout the state. They are designed to help working adults reach their dreams of a degree in a format that fits their lives.

Senator Nasheed will help select the local scholarship recipient, based on academic record, financial need and readiness for study at WGU Missouri.

WGU Missouri is Missouri’s online university, providing bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that are respected and accredited. Residents can earn a degree in business, information technology, teacher education, or healthcare, including nursing. Tuition is only approximately $6,000 annually, and students may take as many courses as they can complete within each term.

To be eligible for a Believe in Missouri scholarship, an applicant must be a new WGU student, and be officially admitted to WGU. Applications are being accepted at missouri.wgu.edu/believe.