What’s Happening Report March 9, 2020

If we were having coffee, we might talk about our kids. My son was in The Lion King this weekend and I couldn’t help but notice how Scar, the villain, manipulates Simba, a naive child, to act against his better judgment — with the result Scar wants. I feel like that is much of what happens in politics: issues that do not impact most voters are brought up as dividing points to encourage Missourians to vote against their own interests.

This year’s dividing topic is another one that can be brought up in churches to divide people while solidifying identities: Anti-LGBTQ issues. There have been more anti-LGBTQ bills filed in the Missouri House this year than in any other state. One of the worst bills is HB 1721, prohibiting parents from seeking medical or psychological help for trans children. This bill was scheduled for a hearing at 4:00 pm last Tuesday. The hearing didn’t start until 7:00 pm, and a number of other bills were heard in committee before 1721 came up. Children who came to testify waited as late as 11:00 pm, and testimony on the bill was limited to 30 seconds per witness.

Even as I type this, I got a notification about an edited video that implies that Joe Biden has endorsed Donald Trump. While this is not true, the video has been viewed more than 6 million times and retweeted over 34,000 times, including by President Trump.
Fixing Missouri’s Medicaid system is an issue I have been concerned about for a long time and have spoken about in past newsletters. Missouri House Democrats recently 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. Recently, 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.

I got a letter from the Department this week that makes me very sad. It appears that 3/4 of children who were dropped from the Medicaid rolls were dropped because of paperwork. The Department was requiring some parents to re-apply children for Medicaid when the children turned 1 year old, without a robust system to notify the parents that this was required. I responded to the Department with a list of questions, and I look forward to the Department’s response.
As for my week, I have two committees scheduled. Health and Mental Health Policy will meet at 12:00 PM on Monday. We will vote on HB 2412, which pertains to increasing oversight of rebates and payments for prescription drugs negotiated by pharmacy benefits managers. We will also vote on HB 2527, which pertains to the prescription drug cost of insulin, as well as HB 1816, which would remove the requirement that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses have to practice within 75 miles of their collaborating physicians. We will hear three additional bills. HB 1875 would prohibit MO HealthNet from restricting people’s access to antipsychotic medications taken for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression. HB 1305 would require MO HealthNet to provide coverage for Epi-Pens for minors. Lastly, HB 2512 would allow healthcare practitioners to accept and administer controlled substances on behalf of their patients. 

The Children and Families Committee will meet on Tuesday at 8:00 AM to vote on HB 2552, which would allow a former MO HealthNet recipient to continue to receive benefits after being found ineligible provided that he or she pays a premium. We will also hear three bills. HB 2462 would establish the Women’s Economic Development Task Force, which would meet five times during the year in different regions around Missouri to discuss topics pertaining to women’s participation in the workforce. SB 623 would modify provisions relating to Guardians Ad Litem, and SB 653 would alter the Foster Parents’ Bill of Rights.   

The Rules committee met and heard 37 bills on Thursday. Many of them were bills that erode Clean Missouri protections and Initiative Petitions. One bill, which would strike the word “marriage” from our laws, did not pass.
Coronavirus Update
The Novel Coronavirus has been found in both Missouri and Kansas this past weekend. Knowing that this virus is in our midst, I would remind everyone to be vigilant about hand-washing and to be careful not to touch your face. It is a respiratory virus, which means it spreads through touching your nose and mouth and having the germs pass from hands to airways. Finally, it appears that people who are older and have compromised immune systems are most at risk for the virus, so be extra cautious around those most vulnerable to becoming ill from the coronavirus.
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.
Women Legislators of Missouri Scholarship

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – Women Legislators of Missouri are encouraging young women, set to graduate from high school, to apply for a $500 college scholarship. Each year the group selects one student from each of Missouri’s congressional districts to receive the award. Members hope to spread the word about the scholarship opportunity so that female students from all parts of the state will apply.
This is a great opportunity for any young woman, who is interested in continuing her educational studies, to receive some valuable financial assistance.

The Women Legislators of Missouri Caucus created the senior scholarship program to provide financial assistance to students on the basis of leadership, academics and community service. Candidates must fill out an application and are required to submit a 500-word essay answering the question, “If you were a state legislator, what would you hope to accomplish and why?”

A link to download the scholarship is located at https://www.myscholarshipcentral.org

The submission deadline is Tuesday, March 31, 2020. 
The Women Legislators will announce the recipients on Monday, April 6th. The scholarships will be presented and a reception held in their honor on Monday, April 20th in the House Chamber at the Missouri State Capitol. For further information please contact 573-751-2042.
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!
Within the next 2 weeks, your household should receive a letter instructing you how to participate in the Census. It will tell you how to go online and fill out the census.

132 government programs used data gathered in the 2010 census to allocate $675 billion in federal funding; some of these programs include SNAP, Head Start, Pell grants, and Medicare. 

Census data is also used to determine how health concerns such as obesity and cancer are distributed across the country, allowing public health officials to target areas of particular concern. 

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