What’s Happening Report: April 8, 2019

If we were having coffee, I would share with you how thankful I am that Spring seems to finally have arrived! It’s been a long winter and it’s good to have some warmth outside and flowers blooming.

We are entering the last part of session. With only 6 weeks left of session, things are going to get more intense. As of today, 119 bills have been third read and passed by the House. We will be hearing a lot more bills as May 17th approaches.

Scroll to the bottom for information on a Veterans Writing Workshop, a veteran’s day ceremony for Vietnam veterans, and a survey about career/technical education.
Governor Parson changed the tax withholding tables in January to withhold more income tax from paychecks. This was in response to his under-withholding taxes last year. Nicole Galloway, our state Auditor, did an analysis of this and determined it was done illegally because it was done without a hearing.

The way things stand right now, people have less money in their paychecks due to the new withholding tables. However, they still owe money on last year’s taxes, possibly an unanticipated tax bill. People just have less money to pay it with.
Last Week
Last week was frustrating! We debated a number of bills, including HB 728, which discourages people from filing an Establishment Clause (the doctrine of separation of church and state) lawsuit in state court. Under current law, if someone wants to file a lawsuit but fear for their safety, they can file under a pseudonym. This bill states that anyone filing such a lawsuit must be named as a plaintiff in their own name. This bill sets a dangerous precedent, and I feel that it puts a chilling effect on speech.

We also debated HB 575, which is a bad bill for higher education. The bill allows schools to designate professors and staff as “campus protection officers” to carry a weapon on university property. There were several amendments added on to the bill, including an amendment that does not allow public universities to require students live in the dorm beyond their first year, and one that allows students to opt out of using the campus health plans. But the most dangerous amendment to this bill, and the one that is receiving the most attention, is an amendment to require schools allow anyone who has a concealed carry permit to carry a firearm on campus.

In Children and Families, we voted out a bill (HB 183) requiring Medicaid recipients to provide documentation either that they are working or that they are exempt from work requirements. The department doesn’t have the staff or the computer capacity to handle this new documentation. I’m afraid it would remove people from Medicaid. While many people will be exempt from the work requirements, they will still be required to document their exemptions. In 2018, over 50,000 children were accidentally dropped from Medicaid rolls over failure to provide documentation. I am sure something similar will happen if this passes, including to people who are intended to be exempt from the work requirements.

One of the highlights of my week was speaking to 4th grade students at Edgar Road Elementary School. They were full of questions!

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).

Democrats and Republicans are giving 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 will be a busy week in the House.

We are still scheduled to 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
Children and Families will be hearing
SS SCS SB 230 – Crawford

In Ways and Means, we will be voting on
Ways and Means will be hearing
HB 1243 – Messenger TAX CREDITS