What’s Happening Report: February 25, 2019

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you what an honor it is to serve in this position and how I work hard every day to earn your continued trust in me.
Last weekend, I was recognized by UCP Heartland for my advocacy on disability rights issues. This is the third year I have filed a bill to expand the infrastructure of supports for people with a disability to be in the workforce. This week, I will be traveling to Harvard to participate in a task force about the future of the workforce for people with disabilities. Disability rights are an issue I have worked on for a long time, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be able to work on this in the legislature.

In the photo: I received the Heart of the Community award from UCP Heartland. I was joined at the ceremony by Sen. Brian Williams and Rep. LaDonna Appelbaum.
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, I had a hearing on my bill, HB 664, to establish a maternal mortality review board in Missouri. I am working on amending the bill and hope to have it voted out of committee before Spring Break.

On the floor, we passed a number of bills, including HB 113, which eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders. This is a good bill, and a step in the right direction for criminal justice reform.

You can see the growing list of bills that have been perfected (final version is complete and ready to vote on) and third read (bills we have voted on) on the House webpage under “Legislation”.

While it is interesting to see what we have been doing, a better way to be involved in what is coming up is to track the upcoming hearings (to see what committees are working on) and Calendar (to see what is coming to the floor).

The Missouri House Democrats gave a weekly press conference — last week it was on black history month. See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoA9Wl8Q9iM. 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 will be a busy week in the House.

We will be discussing HB 126, the Fetal Heartbeat Abortion act. This bill prohibits abortions after a heartbeat is detected. The fiscal note on the bill lists a risk that Missouri can lose all federal Medicaid funding if the bill passes as written.

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.

This week, we are discussing some substantial bills in my committees.

In Children and Families, we will be voting on HCS HB 474, which prohibits TANF recipients from using their benefits to take out cash. They are often not able to use benefits for childcare, rent, or to take the bus to go to work, and recipients are currently able to use their benefits to get access to cash in every state. It also prohibits recipients from eligibility for benefits if they do use them for a “prohibited purpose.”

The committee will be hearing 
HB 282 – AndersonOUT-OF-STATE ABORTION REFERRALS; 
HB 420 – Kelly (141) COLLABORATIVE PRACTICE ARRANGEMENTS;
and HB 42 – Burnett CHILD’S RIGHT TO COUNSEL

Thank you for reading,
Sarah