What’s Happening Report: February 11, 2019

If we were having coffee, I would talk with you about sunshine requests. It is important that I, and other governmental officials, retain documents and make them available so that you have access to information about what your government is doing. When there is corruption, the Sunshine law helps that corruption to be discovered.

Nearly 62% of Missourians voted last November to require the Legislature to be subject to the Sunshine law. But the majority in the Legislature voted to pass HB 445, which exempts “Any document or record, including electronic communications, received or prepared by or on behalf of a member of a public governmental body consisting of advice, opinions and recommendations in connection with the deliberative decision-making process of said body” from discovery under the Sunshine law. Voters voted to increase governmental accountability. The legislature voted to reduce it.

Kansas City Star: “Defying voters, Missouri House passes ‘radical undermining’ of Open Records Law”
Springfield News-Leader “AS they dodge Sunshine Law, legislators risk dragging local governments into darkness”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “‘We’re not going to have to turn over virtually anything’: Missouri House votes to curb Sunshine Law”
In the area of Missouri income tax, the Department of Revenue discovered an error in how they calculate tax withholdings. Because of this, they changed the tax tables. People who were expecting tax refunds this year will likely get either a smaller refund this year or end up owing money to the state. The Democrats have filed HB 378 to give people who owe an unexpected tax bill a longer time to pay it. This error was discovered in relation to the federal tax cut of 2017. Here is more information about the changed withholding tables:https://dor.mo.gov/business/withhold/
Last Week
Last week, we debated three bills and passed two. I discussed HB 445 earlier — I voted no.

I voted yes on HB 67, which modifies procedures for municipal courts.
We also debated HB 188, a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. This program builds on the successful program in St. Louis County and other counties in Missouri and keeps a database of prescriptions that pharmacists can use to help reduce opiate abuse.

The Missouri House Democrats gave a weekly press conference — last week it was on healthcare. See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y805yjumZw. The Democrats are giving weekly press conferences on a variety of policy topics; you can see all press conferences on the MOHOUSECOMM Youtube Page athttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd6ymiL-IlKewSkyoocKcuw
This Week
This week, we are discussing some substantial bills in my committees.

In Children and Families, we will be voting on HB 127, requiring a minor seeking an abortion to notify both parents. We will also be hearing HB 488, requiring fetal death reports for miscarriages after 9 weeks of gestation; HB 680/HB 339, the “Pain Capable” abortion act, which prohibits abortions after 22 weeks gestation; and HB 126, the Fetal Heartbeat Abortion act.

Abortion is a contentious topic, and we spend a lot of time and energy on it in the Legislature. When we spend this time and energy on abortion, we are not addressing issues that could significantly reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies–issues such as Medicaid expansion, comprehensive sex education for teens, and foster care issues.