What’s Happening Report: February 4, 2019

If we were having coffee, I would have to give you some bad news about food stamps and about income tax returns.

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 and passed one bill, which addresses sex trafficking.

On Wednesday morning, Supreme Court Judge Zel Fischer gave a presentation to the Legislature about the state of the Judiciary. He mentioned a number of reforms, including allowing military spouses to practice law temporarily in Missouri if they are licensed elsewhere, and a pro-bono program for retired lawyers. He also talked about changing when a judge can order a defendant to pay bail.

I attended the governor’s press conference last Thursday about making Missouri a model employer for people with disabilities. I am passionate about this issue and very excited that Governor Parson is taking an interest! This year, I have filed HB 517, which makes Missouri an Employment First state with a priority for competitive, integrated employment, and HR 19, a resolution that encourages inclusion in the workforce for people with disabilities.

In Missouri and in the United States, a woman giving birth today is more likely to die in childbirth than her mother was. We have to address this crisis. I filedHB 664, the Healthy Mothers Initiative, which creates a committee of doctors, nurses, patient advocates and other professionals to study maternal mortality within Missouri. They will make an annual report of causes of maternal mortality and recommendations to combat our high maternal mortality rate. This Initiative is vital to improving the health of mothers and of families.

The Missouri House Democrats gave a weekly press conference — last week it was on higher education. See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1ohCj3sSYQ. The Democrats are giving weekly press conferences on a variety of policy topics; you can see all press conferences on the MOHOUSECOMM Youtube Page at https://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 HCS HB 243/544 about allowing tenants out of leases if they are victims of domestic abuse. We will also be talking about two bills: HB 487, to allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills to patients, and HB 127, requiring a minor seeking an abortion to notify both parents.

Thank you,
Sarah