What’s Happening Report: March 4, 2019

If we were having coffee today, I would talk with you about how the Legislature spends the limited amount of time it has during session.

I received a number of e-mails last week talking about how every hour the Legislature spends discussing abortion is an hour spent not discussing real issues that would help reduce unintended pregnancy, make families healthier, and improve the lives of citizens.

I spent last week on a national taskforce discussing the future of the workforce for people with disabilities. This taskforce was put together by the US Department of Labor and two national governmental organizations (NCSL and CSG). It is clear that the workforce is changing. The economy is changing from job-based work to task-based work. We are doing more contract/gig work and less traditional “employment.” That has implications far beyond the world of work.

For example, contract workers’ pay does not necessarily have a steady upward path like that of a long-term employee (especially when you compare it to employment expectations from 30 years ago). What does that mean for housing? Traditionally, adults buy a starter home, move up to a larger home as their family grows, and downsizes as they need less room and enter retirement. This makes sense if the income stream is predictable. If you never know how much money you will be making in the future, does it make sense to take on debt for a larger house? What does this mean for the housing stock in the United States? In Webster Groves and Shrewsbury and Crestwood?

This is the type of question we need to be asking. The future of the workforce clearly means changes to the way people work, the way they advance their career, and the way they interact, economically, with the world. We do not have the answer to these questions. But these are questions that need to be asked, policies that we need to be exploring. And that is what I was doing last week.
Last Week
Last week, the House perfected HB 126, an bill that takes reproductive choices away from women. While I worked hard to help prepare the arguments against this bill, I missed Tuesday’s debate on the bill because of my taskforce meeting. I changed my flight to be home on Thursday (since normally, bills we debate on Tuesday are voted on Thursday), but the Majority leadership changed procedure to vote on the bill on Wednesday. I was devastated to miss that vote.

Some good things happened this week, including a vote on HB 219, which extends Ticket to Work to continue allowing working people with disabilities to purchase Medicaid coverage. I was proud to vote for this bill on Thursday to empower people with disabilities to work and make sure their healthcare needs are covered.

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 government accountability. See it here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UDeZglwLSY. 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.

Although it is not yet on the Calendar, I am told that we will be debating and voting on 
HB 581, a charter schools expansion bill. We will also be debating
HB 161, which prevents schools from starting before late August.

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

In Children and Families, we will be voting on 
HB 254 – Morris (140)MAINTENANCE ORDERS and on 
HB 282 – Anderson OUT-OF-STATE ABORTION REFERRALS (Now that we have restricted in-state abortions, we are trying to regulate them out-of-state as well).