Legislative Column for the Week Ending May 1, 2015
Legislative Update

JEFFERSON CITY — As the first Regular Session of the 98th Missouri General Assembly nears its conclusion, legislative action on both sides of the building began to heat up this week. With the budget sitting on the governor’s desk and just two weeks left in session, the attention shifted this week to the most controversial issues on the legislative calendar.

Speculation began Monday morning that the majority party in the Senate would take up two particularly controversial bills: so-called Right-to-Work and Voter ID. Senator Nasheed (D-St. Louis) voiced her opposition to both issues: “If the Republicans think we are going to take a walk on this one, they are in for a surprise. I am prepared to fight. If they think they’re going to catch me sleeping on either of these issues, they’re wrong.”

“Right-to-Work is nothing more or less than an attack on the middle class, Voter ID is an attack on democracy,” she continued. “Republicans want to drive people into poverty, and then when they’re vulnerable, they want to ensure that they are silenced by taking away their vote.”

Neither issue made it to floor by the end of the week, which for many, signals that at least one of the two will be on the schedule for Monday.


Senate Bill 334, a bill that would put Harris-Stowe State University on the same level playing field with every other state university, was heard and voted out of the House Higher Education Committee on Tuesday morning, April 28, 2015. Newly installed University President Dr. Dwaun Warmack was present during the hearing and thoroughly answered every question from the committee.

The bill was then sent to the House Select Committee on Education for further review. Early Thursday morning, Senate Bill 334 then passed the House Select Committee on Education following their discussion. The bill will now be reported to the House floor for debate and final passage. This is one of the few bills this session that had no witnesses in opposition on either side.

“The fact that both parties can come together to realize the significance of this legislation is great,” Sen. Nasheed declared. “Senate Bill 334 is an extremely important bill for me. When it passes, the City of St. Louis will have the foundation in place for an institution that will continue to improve for decades. I’m just proud to be a part of this new era for Harris-Stowe State University.”

Sen. Nasheed’s Charter School Retirement Board bill has now been passed by both chambers. Senate Bill 270 now has two versions, one from the House and the other from the Senate. The differing versions will need to be reconciled by a conference committee next week.

On Tuesday, April 28, 2015, Sen. Nasheed’s Neighborhood Watch bill (Senate Bill 155) also received a positive reception in the House Local Government Committee. The bill now needs to be voted on by that committee and taken up by a select committee before it is reported to the House floor.

Both of Sen. Nasheed’s transportations bills, SB 156 and SB 166 are waiting on the House Calendar to be taken up on the floor for debate and final passage. Senate Bill 156 renames a section of Highway 115 in St. Louis in honor of former Missouri State Sen. Theodore McNeal who was Missouri’s first African-American State Senator and the first African-American Appropriations Committee Chair nationwide. Senate Bill 166 will establish the “Dare to Dream” license plate in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 2, sponsored by Sen. Nasheed, would establish November as PICA Awareness Month in Missouri and was voted out by the House and declared Truly Agreed to and Finally Passed. This bill will now go to the governor’s desk for his signature.


Sen. Nasheed took to the Senate floor to discuss two of her own bills this week. Senate Bill 199, et al…, is a deadly force bill that combines legislation filed by several Senators, including Sen. Nasheed. “Right now, our statute on police use of deadly force is clearly unconstitutional,” said Sen. Nasheed.

Sen. Nasheed’s version of the bill, SB 42, would require police officers to have probable cause that a suspect poses an immediate risk of serious injury before they can use deadly force. However, during debate on the Senate floor, members of the majority party significantly watered down Sen. Nasheed’s probable cause standard. Parts of SB 42 were eventually included in SB 199.

The probable cause standard aligns with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Tennessee v. Garner, the Missouri Attorney General’s recommendations following a Roundtable on Representative Policing, and with the Missouri Approved Jury Instructions. “The use of deadly force is the most intrusive form of seizure. Therefore, the higher standard of probable cause makes sense,” said Sen. Nasheed.

In order to bring state law into compliance with the 1985 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the Senate on April 29 voted 32-2 in favor of legislation that would somewhat limit when police are authorized to use deadly force. Missouri’s outdated use-of-force statute became an issue when St. Louis County prosecutors presented the grand jury conflicting information regarding the applicable legal standard following last summer’s fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white Ferguson police officer.

Ultimately, Sen. Nasheed voted no on the bill saying, “I simply refuse to vote for a weak bill on such an important issue. It is ridiculous that one day after the unrest in Baltimore, one session after Ferguson, the Senate cannot pass a strong deadly force bill. Simply put, this bill is weak and deserves to be in the trash,” Sen. Nasheed declared.

On Wednesday, the full Senate also took up SB 44, “Ban the Box.” The bill would prohibit state employers from inquiring about criminal records before granting an interview to an applicant. The bill was ultimately laid over by the body and should be taken up again next week. “I worked out a good, bi-partisan compromise on Ban the Box. Some of my colleagues still have some problems with it, but that’s what the Senate is all about,” said Sen. Nasheed. “I look forward to meeting with my colleagues individually about their concerns.”

Nationwide, 15 states have adopted some form of Ban the Box including the District of Columbia and several other major cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Sante Fe. Statistics show that white with criminal records, are called back for an interview 17 percent of the time, while African-Americans with the same criminal records are less likely to get a callback, at just 5 percent of the time.

On the floor, Sen. Nasheed offered statistics in support of her bill: “It costs more $20,000 per year to incarcerate an individual in Missouri, but we only spend $10,000-$12,000 a year on our public school students. Large companies have taken it upon themselves to Ban the Box. Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, and the Koch Brothers.”

She continued with an impassioned plea to her colleagues, saying that “one of the first requirements that is needed upon release from prison is to obtain a job. Having employment for the men and women that have paid their debt to society increases opportunities for them to obtain housing and healthcare. When people are unemployed they are angry, they are frustrated, and they commit crimes. The state of Missouri must Ban the Box.”


At the end of last week, the agreed upon budget was sent to the governor’s desk. It now awaits final decisions from that office. In accordance with the Missouri State Constitution, the budget must be finalized by midnight on May 8, which is 15 days since it was sent to the governor.


Governor Signs $250 million Supplemental Spending Bill

On April 27, the governor signed into law legislation authorizing $250.4 million in supplemental spending for the 2015 fiscal year, which ends June 30. The bill, HB 14, includes $120 million in additional general revenue spending authority, much of which will replace spending authority from other sources the Republican-controlled General Assembly included in the budget but which didn’t materialize.

The most significant item in the bill is $147.77 million, including $82.27 in general revenue, for increasing prescription drug costs under Missouri’s Medicaid program. The measure also includes $41.52 million, with $8 million in general revenue, for various services for the elderly and disabled.

On April 30, the House of Representatives voted 140-9 to pass legislation that would ask Missouri voters to determine if state and local officials should be prohibited from operating automated traffic enforcement systems. If also approved by the Senate, the measure, HB 207, would appear on the August 2016 statewide ballot.

House Approves Statewide Ban on Traffic Cameras

Most Missouri cities suspended the use of red-light and speeding enforcement cameras after the Missouri Court of Appeals issued a string of decisions in 2013 declaring local traffic camera ordinances “void and unenforceable” because they conflict with state law. The state Supreme Court heard arguments in the appeals of three of those cases last December and could rule at any time.

Bill to Cut Welfare for 6,300 Children Vetoed

On April 30, the governor vetoed legislation that would strip more than 6,300 Missouri children of their welfare benefits. His action likely sets up a showdown the Republican-controlled General Assembly, which passed the bill with veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers.

Under existing law, benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program carry a lifetime cap of 60 months. Senate Bill 24 would lower that cap to 45 months. Nearly 9,500 current recipients – two-thirds of whom are children – will have already been on the program for more than 45 months by the time SB 24 takes effect, meaning they would immediately lose their benefits.

“Missouri law should not mandate such meanness toward innocent children,” the governor, said in his veto message. Nixon noted the average TANF family benefit of $228 a month is not especially generous and that to qualify for that sum a family of three can have a monthly income from other sources of no more than $292 a month.

Some supporters of SB 24 say reducing TANF benefits would encourage recipients to take more personal responsibility for their situations. Many question how children, who make up the bulk of TANF beneficiaries, are supposed to take personal responsibility for their parents being poor.

“Simply put, Senate Bill 24 is a bad bill. The lifetime limit extends to all recipients, even children in families that receive the benefits. Imposing a family sanction on these low-income Missouri families is a harsh penalty that will harm the poorest kids in our state. We’re punishing children who have no control over their situation.” Sen. Nasheed declared.

Senator Nasheed she will be promoting National Foundation for Women Legislators – National Rifle Association Bill of Rights Essay contest. The contest is open to college-bound, female, high school juniors and seniors who are available for the September 11-15 Annual NFWL Conference in Oklahoma City. Six winners will receive a $3,000 college scholarship and an all-expense paid trip to the conference.

Application Requirements:

The following materials should be EMAILED as separate documents, to meghan@womenlegislators.org by the deadline.

1. Completed Essay Contest Application Form

2. Final Essay

3. One (1) Letter of Recommendation from a teacher, advisor, employer, etc.

4. One (1) Letter of Recommendation from an elected woman official in your state.



Applicants must be:

• College-bound female high school juniors or seniors (Class of 2015 or Class of 2016)

• Available to attend the NFWL Annual conference, September 11-15 in Oklahoma City, OK, where they will be presented with the award.

Deadline: Essays are due no later than 5 p.m., Friday, June 12, 2015. Essays received after this date will not be considered for the contest.

Questions may be directed to the NFWL office at (703) 518-7931 or meghan@womenlegislators.org.