What’s Happening Report: February 24, 2020

If we were having coffee, I would talk with you about efforts to undermine our democracy.

There have been reports about Russia’s attempts to support Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the upcoming November election. The President calls this a “misinformation campaign.” Make no mistake, it will be hard to tell truth from fiction in this year’s election, and voters will not get the same spin on facts from the two political parties. While I do my best to educate you, it is up to you to decide who to trust this election cycle.

What’s probably less well known are the efforts to undermine democracy in Missouri, including changing the process for revising the Missouri Constitution and changing Clean Missouri, which was approved by voters with 62% of the electorate (72% of the 91st district) voting for it.

There are 51 bills that have been filed that change the Missouri Constitution, many revising the process for changing the Constitution itself. In many of these bills, the change would require a 51% majority of Missouri voters to approve of the change, but once the change is in place, future changes would require a 2/3 majority. This would give the Missouri Legislature more power, while reducing the power of individual voters to change the way Missouri is governed.

One of these proposed amendments, SJR 38, has already passed through the Senate and is moving its way through the House. SJR 38 changes the redistricting provisions of the Clean Missouri amendment to put partisan gerrymandering into our Constitution. This amendment, if it were to pass on the ballot, would make it easier for the Legislature to ignore minority voices.

I urge you to be informed about what is happening in your local, state and federal governments and to be active about issues that matter to you.

Every week, the House Democrats will be holding a press conference to highlight bills we have filed. Last week, we talked about the declining Medicaid enrollment. This Wednesday, we will hold a conference to discuss the Missouri Non-Discrimination Act. Watch our latest conference here.
Fixing Missouri’s Medicaid system is an issue I have been concerned about for a long time and have spoken about in past newsletters. This past week, Missouri House Democrats held a press conference about the drops in Medicaid enrollment. We asked the Governor to stop dropping people from Medicaid until a determination has been made as to what is happening. This last week, the 60,000 children who were dropped from the rolls who still qualify made state and national news. Missouri is now, in the media, encouraging those whose children lost Medicaid coverage to re-apply. I believe Missouri should go further, affirmatively reaching out to those who lost coverage and re-enrolling those who still qualify.

One good thing that is coming from this is that HB 2379, which allows 1 year continuous eligibility for children receiving Medicaid in Missouri, will be heard in committee on Monday.
At this time, I have one committee scheduled this week. The Health and Mental Health Committee meets at 12:00 PM on Monday, and we will vote on 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. We will hear HB 2412, which pertains to rebates and payments for prescription drugs relating to the pharmacy benefits managers. We will also hear HB 2379, which is a combination of two of my bills (HB 1272 and HB 1670) filed by Representative Helms. This bill would allow continuous eligibility for MO HealthNet for kids (giving them one continuous year of coverage rather than having to reverify eligibility). It also removes the 30-day enrollment waiting period for children eligible for the CHIP program to begin receiving coverage. 

The Children and Families Committee is not meeting this week, but last week we heard my bill, HB 1271, which prohibits the sale of baby crib bumper pads. I was glad to have the opportunity to generate awareness for the issue of sleep safety for infants. 

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, was heard by the House Committee on Consent and Procedure last Tuesday and was voted Do Pass. It will now be put on the House calendar, where it will be up for Third Read in a number of days. Senator Wallingford has filed a corresponding Senate bill, SB 974, thus we are optimistic that soon we will remove this roadblock!

This coming week is the last week to file bills, and I expect to file at least one bill this week.
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.
Diapers Needed!

Did you know that potty training is one of the most stressful seasons in a young family’s life? There is a clear link between a lack of access to resources and increased rates of child abuse and neglect. This is why the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank has put out a request for training pants. They are trying to raise about 16,600 training pants. If you can help the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank with 4T-5T training pants, please take them to 646 Hollywood Place in Webster Groves. There is a box for diapers on the front porch. You can also take them to (or have them delivered at) 6141 Etzel Ave., St. Louis, MO 63133. Their hours are Monday thru Friday from 8:30-4:30, Saturday from 10-noon. Thank you!
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.

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. 
In March, every household will receive a mailing from the U.S. Census Bureau with instructions to visit their website. You can also complete the census by telephone or mail.

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 still hiringApply here.
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 have two interns this year: Abby, from the University of Missouri, is in the office on Monday and Wednesday. Noelle, from Washington University’s Brown School, is in the office on Tuesday.

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