|Week of April 25, 2022|
Senate Passes Budget to Set Up Final Negotiations with House
On April 26, the Senate approved its version of the FY 2023 state operating budget, adding more than $1 billion in additional spending authority over what the House of Representatives had approved. The two chambers must now negotiate a final spending plan with just days to go until the May 6 constitutional deadline for completing the budget.
The Senate version of the operating budget includes $45.1 billion in spending authority – substantially more than the $43.9 billion House version. Key Senate additions to the budget include an additional $214 million to fully fund the state’s share of local public school districts’ student transportation costs for the first time in three decades, plus $27 million to increase minimum pay for public school teachers to $38,000 a year.
While the main appropriations bills are on a path to final passage, a separate $2.58 billion spending measure to allocate federal pandemic relief funds remains to be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee. With a tight timetable to send the main budget bills to the governor, lawmakers still have a lot of work to do to finalize how the pandemic relief funds should be spent before session ends. If the General Assembly does not pass the bill in time, the governor could call an extra legislative session for lawmakers to finish the job after the regular session ends on May 13.
A Week of Long Debates
This week, in addition to the budget, the Senate debated several other pieces of legislation that prompted hours-long debates.
Senate Bill 798 allows seniors, people with disabilities and unhoused Missourians to use food stamps for warm meals, in addition to grocery items. Some criticized the legislation, saying it was an expansion of the food stamps program, while supporters of the bill, including myself, saw the legislation as another way to feed some of our state’s most vulnerable. Despite vocal opposition to SB 798, it was approved by the Senate and sent over to the House of Representatives for further consideration. The Senate also gave approval to House Bill 1606, a local government omnibus bill.
Meanwhile, other pieces of legislation stalled this week. The Senate debated House Bill 2502, a gambling bill on April 27. This bill would allow video lottery terminals (VLTs) to operate in select areas across the state as well as legalize sport wagering. Eventually after several hours of debate, HB 2502 was laid over, and it remains unclear whether senators can find a path forward on the bill. On April 28, the Senate began to debate Senate Bill 781, which would ban transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports. As soon as this legislation came up, it prompted an immediate filibuster in opposition. Several hours into the filibuster, the Senate adjourned for the week.
House Advances Wide-Ranging Elections Bill
On April 28, the House of Representatives voted to advance a wide-ranging elections bill to the Senate. 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 Approves Allowing Workers to Sue Over Vaccinations
On April 25, legislation that would allow workers to sue their employers over required vaccinations passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 84-58, winning just two more “yes” votes than required to advance to the Senate.
House Bill 1692 would create a legal cause of action for workers to sue their employers if they suffer a negative reaction to any vaccine there are required to take as a condition of employment. Although legislation targeting COVID-19 vaccine mandates have been popular among some members of the Missouri General Assembly this year, HB 1692 is unusual because it would allow lawsuits over vaccinations against any disease, including those that have been commonly required for decades.
Supreme Court Revives Challenge to Controversial Gun Law
On April 26, the Missouri Supreme Court revived a lawsuit challenging a controversial state law that purports to declare federal gun laws unenforceable in Missouri and punishes local police departments for assisting federal authorities in criminal investigations.
In its 6-1 ruling, the state’s high court said a Cole County circuit judge erred when he determined the plaintiffs’ legal claims weren’t ripe for consideration. The majority ordered the lower court judge to consider the merits of the plaintiffs’ arguments.
At issue is House Bill 85, often referred to as the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” which the General Assembly passed in 2021. In addition to purporting to nullify federal gun laws, HB 85 allows those who have had their Second Amendment rights violated to sue Missouri police departments for a minimum $50,000 per occurrence, plus attorney fees, for assisting federal authorities. The bill also subjects any local government agency to similar fines merely for hiring a former federal agent who previously enforced gun laws, regardless of whether that person is hired in a law enforcement capacity.
The City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County jointly sued to stop enforcement of the law, claiming it violates the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which prohibits individual states from invalidating federal laws. In an uncommon move, the U.S. Department of Justice later joined the case in support of the plaintiffs, arguing HB 85 has chilled cooperation between state and federal law enforcement officials in criminal investigations.
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 for children ages 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”||Referred to House Rules – Administrative Oversight Committee|
|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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