Sen. Barbara Anne Washington’s Legislative Column for the Week of Aug. 26

Governor Calls Extra Session to Enact Income Tax Cut

On Aug. 22, the governor called an extra legislative session asking lawmakers to enact what he dubbed “the largest tax cut in state history” and pass a new version of a bill he vetoed in June, which provided special tax credits for the agricultural industry. The extra session is slated to begin Sept. 6.

A permanent tax cut wasn’t considered during this year’s regular legislative session. However, the Legislature did pass a one-time tax rebate program that was also vetoed by the governor, who cited flaws in the bill. I believe the governor’s large-scale tax cut is a response to criticism he received after implementing our state’s abortion trigger law, which bans abortion in nearly all circumstances, including those involving rape or incest. I also feel this is clearly an attempt to take the focus off women’s reproductive rights and distract voters ahead of the upcoming General Election.

The governor’s plan calls for immediately cutting the state income tax rate from 5.3 percent to 4.8 percent, increasing the standard income tax deduction by $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families, excluding the first $16,000 in income for individuals and $32,000 for married couples from taxation and eliminating the lowest tax bracket. Although the governor says his plan would cost the state approximately $700 million a year in lost revenue, an analysis by the nonpartisan Missouri Budget Project (MBP) puts the price tag closer to $1.1 billion annually.

Income tax cuts disproportionately benefit the wealthy. While people with an annual income between $22,000 and $40,000 would save an average of $84, those earning more than $552,000 a year would save an average of $6,030, according to MBP. Missourians whose incomes are below the threshold to pay income tax, yet pay significant portions of their earnings in sales and property taxes, would get nothing.

The governor’s call also asks lawmakers to renew several special tax breaks for farmers and ranchers, most of which were included in the bipartisan legislation lawmakers passed, House Bill 1720. He vetoed HB 1720 in June, stating he wanted to extend the credits for at least six years, instead of the two-year extension stated in the original bill.

Lawsuits Challenge Constitutionality of New Election Law

Voting rights advocates have filed a pair of lawsuits seeking to block key portions of a new law they contend imposes unconstitutional barriers to voting, House Bill 1878. Both suits were filed in the Cole County Circuit Court on behalf of the Missouri chapters of the League of Women Voters and the NAACP.

This legislation was strongly opposed by members of the minority party and will now undergo the courts’ scrutiny. The first lawsuit alleges the provision that restricts someone from helping more than 10 people register to vote violates free speech because it requires them to register with the state, be a Missouri resident and not accept compensation. The suit also challenges the provision that bans trying to solicit others to obtain an absentee ballot.

The second case takes aim at HB 1878’s provision requiring Missourians to present a government-issued photo identification in order to vote. The Missouri Supreme Court has twice struck down previous photo voter ID laws for unconstitutionally interfering with Missourians voting rights. The law will take effect on Aug. 28, well before the election, unless the courts intervene.

Advocates Seek to Block Law Criminalizing Homelessness

A Springfield nonprofit that helps secure housing for those experiencing homelessness filed a lawsuit on Aug. 19 seeking to block a new law, House Bill 1606, claiming it violates the constitution’s requirement for legislation to be single-subject, relate to the title and adhere to its original purpose. The group purports HB 1606 is counterproductive to their efforts because it criminalizes sleeping on public property and mandates cities to fund temporary camps, instead of permanent housing programs.

House Bill 1606 changes the laws regarding political subdivisions, however, a couple of provisions were added relating to the homeless, including one that potentially strips funding from cities with high rates of homelessness. The director of the Department of Mental Health sent a letter to the governor, sternly warning that imposing criminal offenses for sleeping on public property, punishable by up to 15 days in jail and a $750 fine, will further exasperate and perpetuate problems for homeless people.

The law will take effect on Aug. 28. The case, The Gathering Tree v. State of Missouri, is pending in Cole County Circuit Court.

Apply for a 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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