|Week of May 2, 2022|
Lawmakers Finalize State Operating Budget
On May 6, lawmakers granted final approval to the appropriations bills comprising the state operating budget for the 2023 state fiscal year, completing the process just hours ahead of a constitutional deadline. Lawmakers also signed off on a separate bill allocating $3.4 billion in federal pandemic relief funds, along with a plan to provide $500 million in tax rebates to certain Missouri taxpayers.
The final budget is expected to have a big impact on the state’s education system by raising teacher pay and addressing school transportation funding. The budget fully funds the governor’s recommendation to increase the baseline teacher salary from $25,000 to $38,000 through a matching grant program. The state will provide local school districts with funds to support 70% of the salary costs associated with the program; local school districts would provide the remaining 30%. There’s also funding of just over $37 million to restart the Career Ladder program currently in state law, which allows teachers with at least five years of experience to earn extra money for participating in additional school activities. Additionally, the budget provides a one-time increase of $214 million to support transportation in public schools, fully funding the maximum 75% of reimbursable costs for the first time since 1991.
The budget also fully funds the state’s Medicaid program, including the constitutionally mandated eligibility expansion Missouri voters approved in 2020.
In addition to the normal operating budget, lawmakers approved a bill to spend $3.4 billion in federal relief funds, with significant amounts going for a wide range of infrastructure improvements, including broadband expansion and the removal of lead pipes from water systems.
Lawmakers also endorsed a plan to set aside $500 million in general revenue for income tax rebates to individuals earning less than $150,000 a year, or $300,000 annually for married couples.
The governor is expected to sign the various appropriations bills into law sometime before the FY 2023 state fiscal year begins on July 1. However, the state constitution empowers him to veto individual line items he doesn’t want from budget bills while otherwise approving them.
Senate Ties Photo Voter ID to No-Excuse Absentee Voting
The Senate is poised to approve legislation imposing a photo voter identification requirement, overcoming opposition by agreeing to also create a no-excuse absentee voting period two weeks prior to an election. Once the Senate takes a final vote, the bill will return to the House of Representatives, which can either accept the Senate changes or seek to negotiate a compromise version.
As originally approved by the lower chamber, House Bill 1878 was largely centered on requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot. The Missouri Supreme Court has twice ruled such laws violate the constitutional rights of legal voters who do not possess and cannot easily obtain a photo ID. On May 4, the Senate, however, added numerous amendments to the bill, including a controversial provision that would grant the secretary of state the unprecedented power to withhold funding from local election authorities who, in the secretary’s opinion, aren’t satisfactorily maintaining their voter rolls. The power of the purse traditionally is reserved for the Legislature and governor through the state budget process.
House Bill 1878 also includes an amendment establishing a two-week period prior to an election in which voters can cast an absentee ballot without offering a reason. Under existing law, voters must have a statutorily authorized excuse for voting absentee, such as they will be absent from their home county or otherwise unable to vote in person on Election Day. However, a provision was added stating that if the bill’s photo voter ID requirement is struck down, which seems likely given state Supreme Court precedent, then the absentee ballot provision would not be implemented.
Voters to Decide Whether to Create New State Department
Missouri voters will decide later this year whether to create a Missouri Department of the National Guard after the Senate voted on May 5 to put the question on the statewide ballot. The House of Representatives had previously approved the measure, House Joint Resolution 116, a month ago.
Currently, the Guard is part of the Department of Public Safety, but by law it operates independently of that agency and the adjutant general already reports directly to the governor. The proposed constitutional amendment will go on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, although the governor could exercise his authority to put the measure on the Aug. 2 primary ballot. Missouri currently has 16 state departments.
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 Informal Calendar for Senate Bills for Third Reading|
|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”||Voted Do Pass by 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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