Sen. Barbara Anne Washington’s Legislative Column for the Week of Feb. 14, 2022

Week of Feb. 14, 2022

Senate Panel Restores Governor’s Pay Plan to Spending Bill

On Feb. 16, the Senate Appropriations Committee restored funding for a $15-an-hour state worker base wage that the governor requested be included in a nearly $4.6 billion supplemental budget known as House Bill 3014. The governor’s minimum wage request previously received opposition in the Missouri House, where it was cut to $12 an hour for workers in all but four state agencies that have roles in directly caring for people.

In addition to setting a state worker base pay, HB 3014 would also distribute billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief funds to local public school districts, provide a 5.5% pay raise to all state workers and fully fund Missouri’s Medicaid program for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends June 1. House Bill 3014 now heads to the full Senate for further consideration. If the Senate approves the bill, the two chambers will have to negotiate on the differences before granting it final passage.

Filing To Start Without State Senate, Congressional Districts Yet Finalized

Candidate filing for the August primary elections is set to open Feb. 22, even though new congressional and state Senate districts that reflect population shifts under the 2020 U.S. Census haven’t yet been finalized. The filing period will run through March 29.

Lawmakers had hoped to have passed a bill redrawing Missouri’s eight congressional districts by now, but the process has stalled in the Missouri Senate. If the stalemate persists, federal law authorizes any Missouri resident to file a petition in federal court requesting a three-judge panel be appointed to draw Missouri’s new congressional districts instead of the Legislature. Such a petition could be filed at any time. Federal panels drew Missouri’s congressional districts in both 1971 and 1981 after the Legislature failed to do so.

The process of drawing Missouri’s 34 state Senate districts also continues to be worked on by the Appellate Redistricting Commission, which was appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court after a different commission couldn’t agree on new districts by a constitutional deadline. The appellate commission hasn’t publicly indicated when it expects to complete its work. Meanwhile, new districts for the 163-member Missouri House of Representatives were finalized in January by a bipartisan commission and are ready for the start of candidate filing.

House Advances Proposal to Alter Medicaid Expansion

On Feb. 15, the Missouri House of Representatives granted first-round approval to a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at preventing the state from funding voter-approved Medicaid expansion. House Joint Resolution 117 would empower the Legislature to block services to the expanded population by withholding funding. A second vote is necessary to advance it to the Senate. If the proposal clears both chambers of the Legislature, it would go on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot for voter ratification.

Missouri House moves to Raise Ballot Initiatives Thresholds

On Feb. 16, the Missouri House gave initial approval to a proposed constitutional amendment raising the requirements for an initiative petition to go into effect.

Currently in Missouri, a ballot measure must earn a simple majority of votes cast to in order to pass. House Joint Resolution 70, however, would require initiative petitions be approved by a majority of all registered voters, even those who didn’t participate in the election. Opponents to HJR 70 say this high threshold would make it effectively impossible for initiative petitions to go into effect, except in elections with unusually high turnout.

A second vote is required to send HJR 70 to the Senate. If the measure is approved by both the House and Senate, it would go on Nov. 8 statewide ballot.

Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Public Funds for Campaigning

On Feb. 15, the Missouri Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of a 34-year-old state law that prohibits spending taxpayer money to campaign for ballot measures or candidates. In doing so, the high court reversed a circuit judge’s finding that the law violates the free speech rights of government officials.

The law in question was first enacted in 1988. While prohibiting public funds from being used for campaigning, the law specifically allows public officials to make public comments or issue press releases regarding ballot measures. Several local governments in St. Louis County sued over the law in 2019. Although a Cole County circuit judge ruled in favor of the local governments, the Supreme Court said the law doesn’t restrict the free speech rights of government officials but instead prohibits the use of public funds to subsidize officials’ speech.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. Established 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.

Senator Washington’s Sponsored Legislation for 2022

Bill Number Description Status
Senate Bill 717 Authorizes a tax credit for urban farms located in a food desert Hearing Scheduled with Senate Economic Development Committee
Senate Bill 718 Designates the third week of September as “Historically Black College and University Week” in Missouri Motion to Pass Bill as Consent Taken and Adopted by Senate Progress and Development 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 Second Read and Referred to 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 First read in the Senate
Senate Bill 995 Modifies provisions relating to parole eligibility First read in the Senate
Senate Bill 1094 Modifies provisions relating to wrongful convictions First read in the Senate
Senate Bill 1130 Modifies provisions relating to earned compliance credits for probation First read in the Senate
Senate Bill 1145 Establishes the third full week in September as “Sickle Cell Awareness Week” in Missouri First read in the Senate
Senate Bill 1146 Modifies provisions relating to organ donation First read in the Senate
Senate Bill 1147 Requires the MO HealthNet Division to conduct an annual review of services available for enrollees with sickle cell disease First read in the Senate
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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