What’s Happening Report February 17, 2020

Survey Available!
My office will not be mailing out surveys this year. Instead, you can access our survey online at https://xeroxcorp.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eCGy4KvqhuD9bJH. These surveys help our office determine priorities and now how the District feels on a variety of topics. I hope you will take the time to take our survey!

If we were having coffee, I would talk with you about safe sleep for infants.

Babies are learning to do all of the things that endear them to us, like making eye contact and smiling. They are also learning to do basic things like breathing and moving their head. Because they are still learning these basics, it is important to protect them while they sleep. In 2017, 81 Missouri babies died from accidental suffocation. Most were younger than 6 months old.

It is important to know the ABCs of safe sleep for infants — babies sleep best alone, on their backs, in a crib. The crib should be free of soft bedding such as blankets, pillows, or crib bumpers. Protecting babies’ sleep is the best way to prevent accidental suffocation deaths.

I have filed a bill every year that I inherited from Jeanne Kirkton to ban the sale of non-mesh crib bumpers in Missouri. This bill, HB 1271, is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday in the Children and Families committee. With this hearing, I hope to bring more attention to the issue of safe sleep for babies.

Every week, the House Democrats will be holding a press conference to highlight bills we have filed. This week, we will bringing light to the declining Medicaid enrollment. Watch our latest conference here.

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 1709, which prohibits health insurers from considering a person’s status as a living organ donor when determining coverage, as well as 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.We will hear HB 1319, which alters the definition of “service dogs” to include dogs trained to work for an owner with a psychiatric or developmental disability or mental health condition. It also makes it illegal to misrepresent an animal as an assistance animal for the purposes of receiving related accommodations. 

The Children and Families Committee meets at 8:00 AM on Tuesday. We will hear my bill, HB 1271, which prohibits the sale of baby crib bumper pads, as well as HB 2356, which prohibits discrimination due to hair textures or protective hairstyles in educational institutions. We will also hear HB 1437, which adds newborn incubators to the list of places a parent may deliver a child with the intent not to return without being prosecuted. We will vote on 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. In addition we will vote on HB 1558, which exempts grandparents from submitting background checks before becoming guardians or conservators for their grandchildren. 

The Rules Committee will likely meet this week, though the time has yet to be determined.

My bill, HB 1270, which removes the requirement that notices to recipients of blind pensions be sent via certified mail, will be heard by the House Committee on Consent and Procedure on Tuesday at 12:00 PM. Senator Wallingford has filed a corresponding Senate bill, SB 974, thus we are optimistic that soon we will remove this roadblock!

This week I filed 3 bills. I filed HB 2438, which modifies the Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review Board to require the board to consider social determinants of health and racism when reviewing severe maternal morbidity and maternal mortality. I filed HB 2439, which requires Missouri to follow federal guidelines when redetermining eligibility for Medicaid and to reduce unnecessary burdens. And I filed HB 2440, which adds tobacco and vapor products to the drug-free education program in schools.

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 at 573-751-1285 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.

The data collected in the census is confidential. It cannot be used by law enforcement, immigration, or to determine eligibility for government benefits. 

The counts are used to determine Missouri’s fair share of over $675 billion of federal funding for programs including Medicaid, SNAP, school lunch programs, subsidized housing, roads, and many, many other programs. Each person that is not counted costs Missouri $1,272 in federal funding. 

The data is also used to ensure Missouri’s fair representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College as well. 

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. In Mid-March, a census survey will be mailed out to households.

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