On the floor
This week, the Senate debated Senate Bill 678 and Joint Senate Resolution 38, which change funding requirements for the Kansas City Police Department. Currently, Kansas City must devote one-fifth of its general revenue to the police department. Senate Bill 678 originally attempted to increase this amount to 26% and have other forms of city revenue considered part of general revenue. This was met with opposition from several senators who worried about how this increased funding requirement could negatively impact other important city departments. In the end, the chamber gave a series of initial approvals to a version of the bill that only requires Kansas City to spend a quarter, rather than a fifth, of its general revenue on policing. Senate Bill 678 still requires another Senate vote to be sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
Later in the week, several senators took the floor to speak at length about the Senate Journal. As this discussion continued, a motion to adjourn was moved and passed, bringing the legislative week to an abrupt end.
Bills and commissions
Senator May’s Legislation:
This week, two bills I introduced were rejected by their committees:
- Concurrent Senate Resolution 27, which recognizes the need for mental health awareness training for high school students in public and charter schools, was rejected by the Senate Committee on Rules, Common Rules, resolutions and ethics.
- Senate Bill 685, which seeks to introduce due process into hearings regarding the suspension of a business, professional, professional or other license for failure to comply with a child support order, has been approved by the Senate Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Public Safety.
Deadly Force Bill heard at Missouri House
On March 1, a House panel considered House Bill 2118, which would change state law to allow someone who used physical or deadly force to be presumed to have acted in self-defense and be “immune from criminal prosecution or civil suit “. Not only could that person not be prosecuted, but the bill would prohibit suspects from being arrested, detained or charged with a crime unless authorities can prove “by clear and convincing evidence” that the suspect is not did not act in self-defense. It comes nearly three weeks after a Senate committee rejected similar legislation and blocked it from being introduced in the full Senate.
Governor appoints another acting health department director
On March 1, the governor named a 22-year veteran of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to serve as the agency’s acting director, following his previous choice for the job that didn’t was confirmed by the Senate.
Paula Nickelson immediately took over as acting director from Richard Moore, the department’s general counsel. Moore temporarily ran the agency for a month after Donald Kauerauf’s confirmation stalled in the Senate. Kauerauf ultimately resigned when the Senate failed to act by the February 4 constitutional deadline to approve his nomination.
In a press release announcing Nickelson’s appointment, the governor did not say how long she will remain as acting director or whether he plans to try again to install a permanent director. As acting director, she is not facing Senate confirmation.
House passes bill forcing KC to spend more on police
The House of Representatives voted 99-42 to send legislation that requires Kansas City to increase the amount of local revenue it spends on its police department. Currently, Kansas City is required to allocate at least one-fifth of its general revenue fund to the police department. House Bill 1986 seeks to significantly broaden the base of what is considered general revenue by including special taxes that are earmarked for specific purposes outside of the general fund. The bill is now before the Senate.
The amendment transforms the tax reduction into a tax increase
A legislative snafu that turned a $144 million tax cut into a $416 million tax increase resulted in the bill being sent back to its original committee for resolution.
As originally filed, House Bill 1992 sought to further reduce the state sales tax on food products. However, before the House Ways and Means Committee voted to approve the bill on February 22, an amendment was successfully added, changing the list of foods that are mostly exempt from sales tax. But because of the way it was drafted, the amendment would instead have resulted in the taxation of more food categories than the current laws are. The error was caught and another House committee that deals with procedural matters voted to send the bill back to the Ways and Means Committee to correct the problem.
American Rescue Plan Act Fundraising Toolkit
Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars are available to the City and County of St. Louis for a variety of local projects. I encourage voters and businesses to review the toolkit here to fund ideas and opportunities.
Information for interested transportation providers for people with developmental disabilities
Transportation services for people with developmental disabilities continue to be a great need for the St. Louis and St. Charles area. Parties considering being a transportation provider should first contact the Developmental Disabilities (DD) Division of the Department of Mental Health (DMH) to discuss service needs in their area. Please email the intent to apply to [email protected]
- Interested parties should apply to become a contract provider with the Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities. The request will be reviewed and noted.
- Once all pre-contract requirements have been met, an application for Medicaid must be submitted. Providers are required to pay Medicaid an application fee (currently $586.00).
- After contract approval, the DD enrollment team will begin training and implementation.
- Transportation can be provided by a full-size car, up to a full-size transit van.
- Individuals need rides to and from many program sites in St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, and St. Charles County.
- Several people living in the community have to go to the same place at the same time, usually 5 days a week, in the morning and in the afternoon. Most suppliers find that their best bet is to develop a route to pick up multiple people at the same time, with the first person on the return route being the furthest away, etc.
- Everyone is expected to arrive at their destination at their program start time and be picked up at the program end time.
- DMH reimburses zone rates, which are based on miles from the person’s home to the drop-off location.
- Providers are paid twice a month.
If you have any questions, please contact DMH at 314-475-7616.
The St. Louis Community Credit Union recently announced a new partnership with BJC HealthCare with the goal of expanding regional access to affordable financial products and services. BJC’s support, in the form of a large deposit in our credit union, will provide additional capital resources that will be used to fund home and business loans. As a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), St. Louis Community Credit Union specializes in creating opportunities for low- and moderate-income households to access savings and checking accounts, as well as loans for a wide range of uses. For more information, please contact the St. Louis Community Credit Union.
Finding a Job with the State of Missouri
Interested in working for the state? Missouri offers career opportunities statewide and you can find them here mocareers.mo.gov. Interested candidates can search by agency, position or location. This week, I would like to highlight opportunities with the Missouri Department of Mental (DMH). I worked with people with disabilities as a DMH employee for six years, and it was rewarding work. If you like people, this may be a good fit for you who are interested in direct support positions. Learn more about the department at dmh.mo.gov.