Sen. Barbara Anne Washington’s Legislative Column for Aug. 15, 2022

Petition to Legalize Recreational Cannabis Cleared for Nov. 8 Ballot

This fall, Missouri voters will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana use after the secretary of state certified an initiative petition on Aug. 9, placing the measure on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot as Amendment 3. In addition to legalizing marijuana use for those age 21 and older, it also would provide for the regulation and licensing of marijuana producers and retailers, authorize the expungement of records of those convicted of certain marijuana offenses and impose a 6% tax on marijuana sales.

In 2018, 65.6% of Missouri voters amended the state constitution to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. Amendment 3 is backed by the same group responsible for the prior amendment and would grant those holding licenses to produce or sell medical marijuana preference in receiving licenses for recreational production and sales.

To qualify for the ballot, an initiative petition proposing a constitutional amendment must have valid signatures from approximately 172,000 registered Missouri voters, as well as hit minimum signature marks in at least six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. Amendment 3 had 214,535 valid signatures and reached the necessary mark in six districts.

Ranked-Choice Voting Petition Fails to Qualify for Ballot

The elections measure that sought to establish “ranked-choice voting” when electing candidates for the state Legislature, statewide executive branch offices or Congress, failed to collect enough signatures to appear on the November ballot. Such a system would allow Missourians to vote for multiple candidates for a particular office, ranked in order of preference. If no candidate earned a majority on the initial count, the votes of the lowest performing candidates would be redistributed to the remaining candidates until a winner emerged. The secretary of state’s verification process concluded supporters only submitted 159,560 valid signatures and also failed to achieve the minimum mark in any congressional district.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Tax Exemption for Solar Energy

On Aug. 9, the Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled a state law that purported to exempt certain solar energy systems from state, county or local taxes unconstitutional.

The case arose from a tax dispute between the Greene County assessor and Springfield Solar 1, a solar energy company. The assessor began assessing the equipment owned by the company for property taxes in 2017. The company challenged the assessment, citing a state law that exempts “solar energy systems not held for resale” from taxation “for state, county or local purposes.”

The assessor countered that the Missouri Constitution only empowers the Legislature to grant tax exemptions for categories of property specifically enumerated in the constitution and expressly states that exemptions for unremunerated property “shall be void.” Although a Greene County judge sided with the company, the Supreme Court overruled his decision on appeal.

“Because the Missouri Constitution does not grant the Legislature the power to exempt ‘solar energy systems not held for resale’ from taxation, (the law) is unconstitutional,” Judge Mary Rhodes Russell wrote for the court.

The case is Greene County Assessor Brent Johnson v. Springfield Solar 1, LLC.

Feds Intervene to Reduce Medicaid Application Wait Times

The federal government has intervened to help reduce wait times for applicants seeking health care coverage under Missouri’s Medicaid program, MO HealthNet, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Aug. 10. Under federal guidelines, wait times shouldn’t exceed 45 days, but wait times have surpassed 100 days in Missouri.

On July 11, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved a plan to assist Missouri in lowering application wait times, with a goal of achieving the federal standards by Sept. 30. Missouri could face federal sanctions if it misses the deadline, according to the report.

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 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.

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 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 Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed
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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