Legislative Column for the Week Ending May 15, 2015
Legislative Update

Special Note:

This year has been a great year for the 5th Senatorial District.  In my office, this year has come with new challenges and new obstacles, but it has also brought together a new team.  My Chief of Staff, Jason Groce, has been my anchor this year in developing relationships, running the office and pushing through legislation. My new Chief Counsel, Blake Lawrence, has been a valuable asset in counseling on legislation in the Capitol and co-piloting appearances in the district. My intern this year, Matthew Smith, has been extremely impressive in Jefferson City and I am happy to say that he will be coming on board as a full-time addition to my team in the district.I truly have an all-star team, and I simply could not do my job without them.


-Senator Jamilah Nasheed     

JEFFERSON CITY— The last week of the 2015 Regular Session was one of the most eventful weeks in the history of the Missouri General Assembly. Everyone in the building arrived on Monday prepared for the Senate to take up two contentious issues: so-called Right-to-Work and Voter ID.  On Tuesday, Senate Republicans did as expected and took up the “Right-to-Work” bill. Democrats including Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis City), stood up on the floor to fight against so-called Right-to-Work.

“This isn’t about Democrats and Republicans. It’s not urban and rural. This is about the middle class! This is about jobs and wages for hard-working Missourians,” said Sen. Nasheed.  “It is extremely important that those listening understand what is really at stake here.”

Bills and Committees

With just 30 minutes left in the 2015 Regular Session, Senate Bill 166 passed through the House of Representatives (124-9), and will be sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature.  Senate Bill 166 honors the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a specialty license plate.

On the Floor


In arguably the most impactful debate of the 98th General Assembly, Right-to-Work Legislation was battle-tested on the floor of the Missouri Senate on Tuesday. With so many different suggested approaches to help alleviate the ill-effects of the recession on Missouri employment rates, Right-to-Work legislation is one of the suggested fixes.

As many people know, Right-to-Work legislation does not guarantee more jobs for Missourians, and on average it has decreased the overall wages of employees in states that have passed this piece of legislation.

With overwhelming support by the majority party in the Senate and the House of Representatives, the plan of the minority party was to filibuster the bill in hopes of killing it by occupying valuable time on the floor.

This plan would have the Senate in session all the way until 6:00 p.m. on Friday if it would have been successful. But in order to pass Right-to-Work legislation – despite the numerous opposition by many Senators, labor groups and concerned citizens that came to the Capitol to voice their opposition to Right-to-Work – the majority moved the previous question (P.Q.) and voted to end the filibuster and vote Right-to-Work through the Missouri Senate and onto the governor’s desk.

Hundreds of letters and postcards in opposition to the Right-to-Work legislation were received by Sen. Nasheed alone. These letters and phone calls fueled her speech in opposition to the bill during the filibuster. Senator Nasheed passionately voiced concern for the consequences of passing the legislation.

Senator Nasheed stated, “The total cost of Right-to-Work in Missouri would be about $2,000 per family each year. In addition to generating less money for the working class, the gender-pay gap will widen due to Right-to-Work legislation from a 5 percent difference to a 32 percent difference. These are not the steps that we need to be making in a post-recession Missouri.”

Dr. Michael Kelsay, an economics professor at UMKC, was quoted as demonstrating that Missouri would also lose between $4.8 billion and $6.3 billion annually in wages and tax revenue. Sen. Nasheed stated “This is not the direction that we need to be going in Missouri. We need to be increasing wages not decreasing them! Our citizens have been hit hard enough as it is due to the recession. We shouldn’t be making things worse with Right-to-Work legislation!”

Senate Bill 210

On Wednesday, in retaliation to the majority party’s willingness to pass Right-to-Work legislation, there were extensive discussions on the various parts of Senate Bill 210 – an important healthcare bill. During these debates, Senatorial conduct of the majority party was questioned by many observers.

With the support of her colleagues of the minority party, Sen. Nasheed stated, “If the senatorial process was important to those individuals that moved the previous question and passed the Right-to-Work bill, they would P.Q. this bill and bring it to a vote as well.”

Following a dramatic end to the Right-to-Work debate on Tuesday, Wednesday’s floor action was mostly uneventful. Senator Nasheed took to the floor to again advocate for Medicaid Expansion.  “We’ve spent some time on Medicaid this year but it has been far from enough.  The protesters in the building this week had me fired up and I took that passion to the floor,” Sen. Nasheed said.

After convening at 10:00 am on Thursday, the Senate debated for about an hour and then surprisingly adjourned for the day a little after 11 a.m.. On Friday, the gridlock finally ended as the Senate returned from recess at 3:00 p.m. to pass Senate Bill 210 unanimously.

House News


On May 14, the Missouri Supreme Court established a Municipal Division Work Group to review municipal court operations throughout the state, and recommend potential changes to court operating rules or state law. The work group, which includes two former Supreme Court Chief Justices, is charged with issuing an interim report to the high court by Sept. 1, with a final report due by Dec. 1.

Municipal court practices, especially in St. Louis County, have come under intense scrutiny in recent months. The U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report earlier this year documenting numerous abuses by the Ferguson Municipal Court and police department. Also, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has published an ongoing series of stories outlining how many municipal courts throughout St. Louis County primarily operate to generate revenue for their cities and enrich local attorneys, while routinely violating the constitutional rights of defendants and operating outside of their legal authority.

In a news release, Chief Justice Mary Rhodes Russell said the group’s primary goal will be “to ensure our state’s municipal court divisions are places where defendants can trust they will be treated fairly and with respect, where their rights will be protected, and where the focus will be on due process of law.”

The Supreme Court has made several recent moves toward reforming municipal courts, including taking control of the Ferguson Municipal Court days after the DOJ issued its report. Under the Missouri Constitution, the Supreme Court has “general superintending control over all courts and tribunals.”

The nine-member work group will be co-chaired by former State Supreme Court Chief Justices Ann Covington of Columbia and Chip Robertson Jr. of Jefferson City, along with retired Judge Booker T. Shaw of the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District.

The remaining six members are Kathryn Banks, Legal Services Director for Voices for Children in St. Louis; Kansas City Mayor Sly James; Kimberly Jade Norwood, a Law and African-American Studies Director at Washington University in St. Louis; Chief Springfield Municipal Court Judge Todd Thornhill; Missouri Bar President Reuben Shelton; and Scotland County Associate Circuit Judge Karl DeMarce.


On May 8, Governor Jay Nixon signed into law the 13 appropriations bills that make up the $26.1 billion state operating budget for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2015. In a sharp change from the FY 2015 state budget, when Nixon issued 160 line-item spending vetoes, he made just a single line-item veto this year and that was merely to delete a drafting error.

The FY 2016 budget increases basic state funding for local public school districts by $84 million over the previous year. However, K-12 funding still falls nearly $400 million short of what state law says it should be. The budget provides a $12 million boost in state funding for public colleges and universities.

Other News

Senator Nasheed would like to remind anyone interested in working at the new IKEA location in St. Louis City to attend any of four informational sessions on Monday, May 18th and Tuesday, May 19th at Forest Park Community College. More details on the flyer below.

Look for Senator Nasheed’s End of Session Report next week in the St. Louis American.