What’s Happening Report: March 11, 2019

If we were having coffee, I would talk with you about how we care for our seniors, children, and people with disabilities. Nearly one in five Missouri children lives in poverty. 50,000 of those children lost their health insurance coverage last year. We used to provide prescription coverage to low income seniors, but that was cut out of the budget 2 years ago. And we have a chance to restore services to help people with disabilities to get back into bed at night, but that is dependent on the budget chairman’s acceptance of the proposal.

At the same time, we are cutting taxes at the federal and state levels. Before a tax cut from several years ago was fully implemented, we cut taxes again at the state level last year. And the Ways and Means committee voted again to cut the top income tax rate just this week. Meanwhile, revenues are down nearly $500 million since this time last year. I am told that to fund education the way the laws intend would cost about $4 billion dollars more.

We cannot take care of our citizens while we continue to cut taxes. We are having to make difficult budget decisions between funding roads and funding schools. And, I am told, we are in a booming economy. What will we do when our economy takes a downturn?

I mailed out a legislative survey to constituents this year, and I hope you had a chance to fill it out. If you haven’t, this is your last chance. The on-line survey closes on Friday 3/15.

Scroll to the bottom for information on a Veterans Writing Workshop and a scholarship opportunity for young women.
Last Week
Last week, the House perfected and third read HB 161, which prevents schools from starting before late August. I think this is a dangerous bill that proclaims that Missouri values tourism more than children’s education. I am hopeful that this bill will not pass in the Senate.

Last week I also met with the Governor’s office to talk about his initiative to make Missouri a Model Employer for people with disabilities. The state is in the exploration phase of that initiative, and I was happy to provide some resources to help with this. http://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/work-matters-a-framework-for-states-on-workforce-development-for-people-with-disabilities.aspx

I had some Special School District students who are in the Fred Saigh Leadership Academy visit me in the Capitol last week. I really enjoy meeting with constituents!

Last week I was added to the Ways and Means committee. In that committee we voted on HB 548, a bill to increase internet sales tax, with a corresponding decrease in the top income tax bracket. The vote was very close, and the bill passed with only a 5-4 margin. I voted no.

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 — this week it will be about the budget. 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 debating and voting on HB 581, a charter schools expansion bill. This week, we are voting on some substantial bills in my committees.

In Children and Families, we will be voting on
HB 42 – Burnett — CHILD’S RIGHT TO COUNSEL and hearing 
HB 877 – Kelly (141) –CHILD FATALITY REVIEW PANELS and 
HB 953 – Knight — JUVENILE COURT JURISDICTION

In Ways and Means, we will be hearing 
HB 614 – Dohrman — UTILITY FOOD PREPARATION TAXATION and 
HB 704 – Gregory — PROTESTS OF ASSESSED TAXES

Thanks for reading,
Sarah