What’s Happening Report: February 10, 2020

If we were having coffee, I’d probably want to address the partisan rancor in Jefferson City.

Consider the lively debate we had on HB 1521 last Tuesday. This bill added an oversight board to the Capitol police, consisting of the governor, the speaker of the house, the senate pro tempore, the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, and the chair of the state capitol commission; with the lieutenant governor, the chief clerk of the House of Representatives (who is hired by the Speaker of the House), and the Secretary of the Senate (who is hired by the Senator Pro Tempore) serving as ex officio members.

Who is missing from this board? Anyone representing the minority party in the House or Senate.

There was a lively debate over an amendment to add the Senate and House Minority Floor Leaders to the members of this oversight board. One argument made was that the sponsor didn’t want to increase government bureaucracy over security in a government building. My response to that is, if the Government doesn’t run a Government building, who does?

The debate was about as partisan as you could get, with Democrats trying to have a voice in the Board, and the Republican sponsor fighting (and winning) with every flimsy argument he could come up with. The vote on this amendment was on mostly party lines, with 19 out of 114 Republicans voting in favor of the amendment.

If Democracy works as Democracy should, Republicans will not always be in the majority. The pendulum will swing, and Republicans will wish they had made this bipartisan when they had the chance.

Every week, the House Democrats will be holding a press conference to highlight bills we have filed. Last week’s conference was about Black History. Watch our latest conference here. This week’s conference will be about education.
This week, the Budget Committee will hear from the Department of Social Services, including the Family Support Division (who determines eligibility for Medicaid and other social services) and MoHealthNet, which consumes the largest share of general revenue in Missouri. It is now generally accepted and acknowledged that of the 100,000 children dropped from the rolls, thousands remained eligible for MedicaidThere is an article about this in Sunday’s Springfield News-Leader.
As for my week, I have three committees scheduled. The Health and Mental Health Committee meets at 12:00 PM on Monday, and we will vote on HB 1460, which makes it easier for businesses to have AEDs (defibrillators) on their premises, as well as HB 1484, which would create adult protection teams for victims of caregiver abuse. Additionally, we will hear HB 1709, which prohibits health insurers from considering a person’s status as a living organ donor when determining coverage. We will also hear HJR 92, which proposes an amendment to the Missouri Constitution that indicates the people’s rejection of single-payer health care in favor of maintaining the privatized system. 

The Children and Families Committee meets at 8:00 AM on Tuesday. We will hear HB 1288, which allows minors to engage in a contract to receive mental health care, HB 2171, which would give Missouri families adopting children a tax credit of up to $10,000 to offset adoption expenses, and HB 1666, which would allow those enrolled in Women, Infants, and Children to obtain vouchers for fresh produce. 

The Rules Committee will meet on Tuesday at 9:30 AM. This week we will vote on 14 bills:

HCS HJRs 101 & 76 – Repeal Clean Missouri HJR 77 – property taxesHB 1710 – property taxes and assessments HCS HB 1655 – Sec. of State must let public inspect original rolls of laws passedHCS HB 1600 – election laws HB 1486 – needle exchange programHB 1768 – Dept. of Economic Development must keep record of funds coming in from Broadband Internet Grant ProgramHCS HB 1896 – background checks for employees at medical marijuana facilitiesHB 1488 – victim impact program for those guilty of driving while intoxicatedHB 1454 – Missouri Veterans Assoc. must gather job opportunity information for veteransHB 1386 – excludes legislative liaisons from the definition of lobbyist HCS HB 2030 – Missouri Video Lottery Control ActHCS HB 2088 – Missouri Video Lottery Control Act
My bill, HB 1270, which removes the requirement that notices to recipients of blind pensions be sent via certified mail, passed in the House Committee on Health and Mental Health Policy last Monday and is moving to the House Committee on Consent and Procedure. Senator Wallingford has filed a corresponding Senate bill, SB 974, thus we are optimistic that soon we will remove this roadblock!
My office has published a consumer guide but will not be sending it to the district. We have had a small number printed to make available to constituents, please contact my office if you would like a copy. The consumer guide is available through my website from the “District Publication” button.

I am working to build a coalition of people with disabilities in my district. If you have a disability and would like to help advise me on disability issues, please let me know. The concept of “nothing about us without us” is important to me and needs to be part of all policy making, especially relating to people with disabilities.
Medical Bills
If you have received a surprise medical bill, I would like to hear your story. Please e-mail me with the subject “surprise bill” or call my office at573-751-1285 to tell us your story.

The Department of Insurance is available to advocate for customers who think they have been taken advantage of. You can call their consumer helpline at 573-751-4126 to get help on insurance matters.
RealID Update
RealID compliant drivers and nondrivers licenses are now available with proper documentation. Please note that the Federal government requires a copy of this documentation be kept for several years. You can go to the DMV and request a replacement for your current license with the Real ID for a $5 processing fee. If you renew your license at the time of the request you will be charged the renewal fee. You need a RealID compliant Identification Card to board an airplane and enter federal buildings; Missouri issued Identification Cards (including drivers’ licenses) will be accepted in lieu of RealID until October 1, 2020. For more information about RealID, go to dor.mo.gov/drivers/real-id-information/.

According to the federal Real ID Act, states must retain paper copies of source documents for a minimum of 7 years, and images/microfiche of source documents for at least 10 years, after which point they are to be irretrievably destroyed. Missouri statute complies with this requirement and permits the Department of Revenue to keep these documents within a system not connected to the internet or accessible by any other state or the federal government.

When you get a RealID, please note that the state is required to keep a digital copy of your data for ten years. If you are using a document with private information for identification, like a bank statement, I believe you can redact that information before they scan it.
The Census is Coming!
The US Constitution requires the federal government to take a count of people living in the United States every 10 years — and 2020 is it! Everyone means everyone — adults and children, citizens and noncitizens. Census data gives community leaders vital information about building community centers, opening businesses, and planning for the future.

Businesses and developers pour over census data when deciding where to expand and open up shop; an accurate census count helps them understand the wants and needs of a changing population. These decisions can bring valuable new jobs to many of the vibrant and diverse neighborhoods in our country. 

In mid-March, homes across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail.

Census takers have begun visiting areas that have experienced a lot of change and growth to ensure that the Census Bureau’s address list is up to date. This is called address canvassing, and it helps to ensure that everyone receives an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. This past week, Census takers begin counting in Alaska.
In St. Louis County, 84% of residents participated in the Census in 2000, and 81% in 2010. This leaves a significant number undercounted, which cost St. Louis County and Missouri millions of dollars.

The Census is hiringApply here.

Watch this space for more information on the 2020 Census!
Capitol Construction
The Missouri Capitol will be under construction for the next two years. Many streets around the Capitol are closed, with signs directing an alternate route. The Capitol Dome is also closed. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2020.
Nancy and I will be in the office Monday-Thursday through session. If you are in the Capitol, please contact Nancy to arrange a meeting–I welcome walk-ins, but may not be available to meet. You may call at 573-751-1285 or e-mail at sarah.unsicker@house.mo.gov.

I enjoy opportunities to meet with people in the community and participate in local events. It’s one of the best parts of my job!
Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

Representative Sarah Unsicker
91st District