|Week of April 11, 2022|
Sickle Cell Awareness Week Advances to House
On April 14, the Missouri Senate passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 35. This legislation, which I sponsored, establishes the third full week in September as “Sickle Cell Awareness Week.”
For those unfamiliar with sickle cell disease (SCD), it is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells. Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone who has SCD, however, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look C-shaped or like a sickle. More than 90,000 people in the United States have sickle cell disease, affecting mostly persons of African heritage according to the National Institute of Health, and there are an estimated 2,052 sickle cell disease patients in Missouri alone.
While currently there is no cure for sickle cell disease, treatment is available to help manage some of the disease’s effects. That said, sickle cell disease patients face notable health disparities that impact their care and quality of life. For instance, patients with sickle cell disease often have a higher rate of returning to the hospital within 30 days of discharge compared to other health conditions. Since the disease and its symptoms are often poorly understood, many sickle cell disease patients experience longer wait times to see a doctor and to receive needed pain medication as well.
With SCR 35, I hope we can raise awareness for this disease, encourage early screening as well as increase public awareness of the health disparities impacting sickle cell disease patients. The legislation now heads to the Missouri House of Representatives for further consideration.
Senate Panel Advances Proposal to Undo Medicaid Expansion
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 8-5 on April 13 to advance House Joint Resolution 117, a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at making Medicaid expansion subject to state appropriations. The committee’s action puts the measure as close as one Senate vote away from going on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot for voter consideration.
Voters amended the state constitution in 2020 to expand Medicaid coverage to more Missourians, but some lawmakers tried to block its implementation the following year by refusing to provide sufficient funding in the state budget to cover the additional recipients. The Missouri Supreme Court later ruled the constitution still requires the state to provide services to the expanded population, and the Legislature later appropriated the necessary funding. House Joint Resolution 117, meanwhile, would allow lawmakers to block services to the expanded population by withholding funding.
House Gives Approval to Wide-Ranging Elections Bill
On April 13, the House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to a wide-ranging elections bill. House Bill 2140 states that the Missouri Legislature, rather than Congress, has the authority to regulate both voter qualifications and the time, place and manner for state and local elections. In addition, the bill states that accepting federal election funding without approval from the General Assembly could result in a $1,000 fine, plus the amount of funding received. The bill also seeks to impose a photo voter ID requirement, which the Missouri Supreme Court has twice struck down as unconstitutional. While the bill was on the House floor, an amendment was added which would allow public school districts to put a measure on the local ballot that, if approved by voters, would ban transgender girls from participating in school-sponsored girls’ sports.
House Bill 2140 won initial passage on a voice vote. A second vote is necessary to advance it to the Senate.
House Approves Limits on Teaching about Racism in Schools
On April 12, the House of Representatives granted first-round approval to legislation restricting how race and racism is taught in public schools, as well as creating a “parents’ bill of rights,” granting parents’ access to certain information about their child’s education.
House Bill 1858 sparked extensive debate over the rights of parents to direct their children’s education versus the practical reality that in a classroom of two dozen or more kids, a teacher can’t customize lessons for each child based on what their parents want or don’t want taught. Some have criticized the bill for minimizing the teaching about the country’s racist past and continuing racial injustice as well. A second vote is required to advance the bill to the Senate.
Bill Cutting Unemployment Benefits Advances to Senate
On April 14, the House voted to send legislation to the Senate cutting the maximum number of weeks of unemployment benefits from the current 20 weeks to as low as eight weeks depending on the state’s unemployment rate. House Bill 1860 would allow for 20 weeks of unemployment benefits if the state’s unemployment rate is higher than 9% and scales down to eight weeks if the unemployment rate is at or below 3.5%.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Special License Plate
During the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 189, which I was proud to sponsor. This legislation creates a special license plate for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Anyone interested in supporting this Kansas City gem can apply for the license plate by following these steps:
- Make a $10 donation to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
- Donations can be made directly to the museum or by sending the museum a check upon submitting your application. Be sure to get a receipt for your contribution.
- Complete the 1716 form to apply for the specialty license plate. This form can be found at mo.gov/motor-vehicle/plates/personalized-specialty.html.
- When completing the form, select “other” and fill in that you are applying for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum plate.
- Send your application, along with your $10 museum donation (or the receipt for your donation), and your $15 standard plate application fee to the museum at 1616 E. 18th St., KCMO 64108.
As of April 9, 2021, anyone age 5 and up is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Please contact your local pharmacy or health care provider for information on how best to receive one of the available vaccines. For more information about the vaccine in Missouri, please visit covidvaccine.mo.gov.
University Health is now providing Pfizer, Moderna and J & J booster shots for COVID-19. The CDC approved a booster shot for any adult who received their first two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago, or for any adult who received a single dose of the J & J vaccine at least two months ago. If you are eligible, you can schedule an appointment by calling 816-404-CARE or walk in to University Health (2211 Charlotte St., KCMO 64108) or University Health Lakewood Medical Center (7900 Lee’s Summit Road, KCMO 64139). The COVID-19 vaccine is available to children 5-12 at these two locations as well. Patients may make an appointment with their child’s provider at the Med/Ped’s clinic at UHTMC or the Family Medicine Clinic at UHLMC. Additional vaccine information, including free transportation info, is available at www.universityhealthkc.org/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine/.
The Jackson County Health Department also has numerous vaccine and testing clinics available. For more information, please visit jacohd.org.
The Center for COVID Recovery is open to treat patients who experience long-term effects from the virus. For more information, visit universityhealthkc.org/covid-19/center-for-covid-recovery; please share this information with anyone who continues to struggle after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
Thank you for your vote of confidence to serve the people of the 9th District in the Missouri Senate. In an effort to keep you up-to-date with my legislation or other proposed measures, please feel free to visit my website at senate.mo.gov/Washington. I appreciate your active interest in your community and encourage your participation in the legislative process. Should you need assistance with state matters, please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-3158.
|Senate Bill 717||Authorizes a tax credit for urban farms located in a food desert||Voted Do Pass by Senate Economic Development Committee|
|Senate Bill 718||Designates the third week of September as “Historically Black College and University Week” in Missouri||Hearing Conducted by House Higher Education Committee|
|Senate Bill 719||Authorizes a tax credit for the purchase of certain homes||Second Read and Referred to Senate Ways and Means Committee|
|Senate Bill 793||Creates provisions relating to expungement for certain marijuana offenses||Second Read and Referred to Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee|
|Senate Bill 794||Modifies provisions relating to medical marijuana program participants in family court matters||Voted Do Pass by Senate Seniors, Families, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee|
|Senate Bill 795||Modifies provisions relating to law enforcement officer use of force||Second Read and Referred to Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee|
|Senate Bill 854||Modifies provisions relating to reporting requirements of law enforcement agencies||Second Read and Referred to Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee|
|Senate Bill 855||Establishes the “Cronkite New Voices Act” to protect the freedom of press in school-sponsored media||Second Read and Referred to Senate Education Committee|
|Senate Bill 856||Modifies provisions relating to the expungement of records||Second Read and Referred to Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee|
|Senate Bill 896||Modifies provisions relating to probation and parole for certain offenders||Second Read and Referred to Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee|
|Senate Bill 897||Authorizes a sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products||Second Read and Referred to Senate Ways and Means Committee|
|Senate Bill 898||Allows a museum property tax levy to be used for certain museums||Second Read and Referred to Senate Local Government and Elections Committee|
|Senate Bill 994||Creates new provisions prohibiting discrimination based on hairstyles||Formal Calendar for Senate Bills for Perfection|
|Senate Bill 995||Modifies provisions relating to parole eligibility||Second Read and Referred to Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee|
|Senate Bill 1094||Modifies provisions relating to wrongful convictions||Voted Do Pass by Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee|
|Senate Bill 1130||Modifies provisions relating to earned compliance credits for probation||Voted Do Pass by Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee|
|Senate Bill 1145||Establishes the third full week in September as “Sickle Cell Awareness Week” in Missouri||Voted Do Pass by Senate Progress and Development Committee|
|Senate Bill 1146||Modifies provisions relating to organ donation||Voted Do Pass by Senate Progress and Development Committee|
|Senate Bill 1147||Requires the MO HealthNet Division to conduct an annual review of services available for enrollees with sickle cell disease||Voted Do Pass by Senate Health and Pensions Committee|
|Senate Bill 1172||Modifies provisions relating to sales tax revenues for certain transportation authorities||Second Read and Referred to Senate Local Government and Elections Committee|
|Senate Bill 1193||Modifies provisions relating to electric vehicle tax credits||Second Read and Referred to Senate Economic Development Committee|
|Senate Bill 1194||Modifies provisions relating to voter registration||Second Read and Referred to Senate Local Government and Elections Committee|
|Senate Bill 1195||Modifies provisions relating to the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development||Second Read and Referred to Senate Education Committee|
|Senate Bill 1196||Modifies provisions relating to a tax credit for providing services to homeless persons||Second Read and Referred to Senate Economic Development Committee|
|Senate Bill 1205||Modifies provisions relating to the certification of juveniles for trial as an adult||Second Read and Referred to Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee|
|Senate Bill 1230||Modifies provisions relating to expungement of criminal records||Second Read and Referred to Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee|
|Senate Concurrent Resolution 35||Establishes the third full week in September as “Sickle Cell Awareness Week”||First Read in Missouri House|
|Senate Joint Resolution 42||Places limits on increases of the assessment of certain properties||Second Read and Referred to Senate Ways and Means Committee|
|Senate Joint Resolution 43||Places limits on increases of the assessment of certain properties||Second Read and Referred to Senate Ways and Means Committee|
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