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Representative Yolanda Young's Newsletter

March 05, 2021


Contact me at: 
201 W. Capitol Avenue, Room 102
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Phone: (573) 751-3129
Email: yolanda.young@house.mo.gov


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Dear Neighbors,

Last year there were 828,289 unemployment claims filed in Missouri. Since the first of this year, 109,562 Missourians have filed for unemployment benefits. Many of our friends, neighbors, and family members are still struggling to put food on the table, keep their lights on, and keep their heat running as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. I get calls to my office almost daily from those who need assistance with paying for food, utilities, rent, or to receive unemployment benefits. 

When the state shelter-in-place order went into effect in March of last year, over one hundred thousand people lost their jobs; they turned to unemployment benefits as a life-line (under the instruction of their employers). In the mad dash to provide relief, the Department of Labor mistakenly gave out benefits to people who didn't technically qualify. By the end of 2020, many people received letters that demanded repayment of the money (over 46,000 Missourians have recently received repayment notices) and were further threatened with future garnishment of wages if payments were not made. People used the money because they needed it to buy food, pay bills, and to take care of basic needs for their families -- they don't have any to repay!  

To address that issue, one significant bill we passed this week would lift the burden of repaying federal non-fraudulent unemployment over-payments and require the Parson administration to cease their requests of repayment. I voted in favor of this bill (HB 1083), which I believe will help families move past the impact of the pandemic a little easier.  

If you or someone you know needs rent or utility assistance, there are organizations in our area that can help. If you need further assistance or need help with the unemployment system, call my office at (573) 751-3129.

Yours in Service,

Yolanda Young
House Votes to Waive Unemployment Repayments
The House of Representatives voted 157-3 on March 4 to send bipartisan legislation to the Senate that would block the Parson administration from forcing tens of thousands of Missourians to collectively repay most of the $150 million in excess unemployment benefits the Department of Labor mistakenly paid out last year when the jobless rate spiked due to the pandemic. The majority, however, backed off efforts to expedite the bill becoming law. 
 
House Bill 1083 would require the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to forgo the recovery of non-fraudulent overpayments of federal unemployment funds. Excess benefits involving state funds – a relatively small portion of the total – would still have to be repaid.
 
According to the department, only 2.3 percent of the overpayments involved fraud, with the remainder to going recipients who acted in good faith but, through no fault of their own, were given more benefits than they should have. The federal Department of Labor has authorized states to waive repayment in non-fraud situations.
 
For weeks, Parson, who has the authority to remedy the matter on his own, had insisted that the money be repaid, regardless of the financial hardship it would impose on unemployed recipients lack the income to repay. However, Parson, a Republican, has seemed to soften his position in recent days and indicated he would go along if lawmakers send him legislation authorizing the department to waive overpayment.
 
Because of the urgent need for a resolution, the bill originally contained an emergency clause allowing it to take effect immediately upon being signed by the governor. But in an unexpected move, some lawmakers voted to defeat the emergency clause after the bill’s sponsor said the revenue department had given assurances it is backing off collection efforts. Without an emergency clause, which the Senate could restore, the bill won’t take effect until August 28. 
House Bill 33 to be Heard on March 10
On March 3 the committee on Children and Families, of which I am a member, was scheduled to hear House Bill 33. This bill prohibits medical providers from administering any medical or surgical treatment for the purpose of gender reassignment for anyone under the age of 18. Any licensed health professional who assists in prohibited actions could lose their license and parents could be reported to the Department of Social Services Children's Division for child abuse. 

My office received numerous calls throughout the week from Missourians asking me to vote no on this bill.  Additionally, many trans children and their parents drove to Jefferson City on Wednesday from all corners of our state to testify against HB 33, but minutes before the committee hearing started, it was decided that our committee would not hear the bill until next Wednesday. I sincerely apologize to anyone who took the time to make the trip to Jefferson City, only to be turned away. If you are willing and able, I encourage you to come to the Capitol on Wednesday, March 10 at 8:00 am to provide testimony on this bill. You may also submit written testimony on HB 33 via the House website.
Find a COVID-19 Vaccine
Both the state and federal governments are working to direct COVID-19 vaccines to Missourians who still need to be vaccinated. This week, the Biden Administration began sending vaccine doses directly to local health organizations, as well as some pharmacy chains.

We are still in Phase 1B- Tier 2, so if you are a healthcare worker, resident of a long-term care facility, a first responder, or are considered a high risk individual (65 and older or have a qualifying health condition) you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Missourians in Phase 1B- Tier 3 who provide critical infrastructure to our state including, K-12 teachers, childcare workers, agricultural personnel, and others will be eligible beginning March 15. 

I encourage you to visit the COVID-19 map to find a vaccination site near you. I have been told that the following places are currently offering vaccines in Kansas City: 
If you register at more than one location, be sure to call to remove your name from other lists and free your spot for someone else who wants the vaccine.
House Approves Limiting Power of Local Health Officials
       Bill Greenblatt // UPI
The House of Representatives on March 3 granted preliminary approval on a voice vote to legislation that would drastically limit the authority of county health officials to impose restrictions in response to a pandemic or other public health crisis. A second, recorded vote is required to advance to the Senate.
 
Because of Governor Parson’s hands-off approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and his reluctance to impose statewide restrictions, local public health officials have borne the primary responsibility for taking actions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus, such as mask mandates, restrictions on business operations and limits on a variety of public gatherings.
 
Under House Bill 75, a local health department could only order the closure of businesses, churches or schools for a maximum a 15 days. One 15-day extension could be imposed by majority vote of a local county or city governing authority. Up to three 10-day extensions could then be authorized by a two-thirds vote of that authority. Any subsequent 10-day extension would require unanimous approval.
 
Supporters say decisions by local health officials should be subject to oversight by local elected officials. Opponents say the short time limits on closure orders and supermajority requirements called for in the bill would render it nearly impossible for local officials to mitigate public health emergencies, situations that require quick and decisive action. HB 75 is one of several bills seeking to curtail the power of local health departments.
Parson Restores Remaining $281 Million in Budget Cuts
On March 1, Governor Mike Parson released the remaining $281.67 million in spending authority for the current state fiscal year, including $123.36 million in direct state funding for local public schools districts. The action will allow that spending to be disbursed during the final four months of the FY 2021, which runs through June 30.
 
Due to the fiscal uncertainty caused by the pandemic, Governor Parson exercised his constitutional power to unilaterally cut nearly $449 million in spending authority approved by the General Assembly when the FY 2021 began last July 1. Parson restored some of that spending authority in early January. In a news release, Parson said revenue collections had improved sufficiently to allow the remaining withheld spending authority to be restored.
Virtual Town Hall Series
Department of Revenue Accepting e-Filings

The Missouri Department of Revenue and the United States Internal Revenue Service has begun accepting and processing e-filed state tax returns for tax year 2020. To file your Missouri taxes online, visit dor.mo.gov

As a result of the delayed start to this year's income tax filing season, the Department of Revenue received around 400,000 returns claiming refunds immediately after the February 12 opening day. In most tax seasons, the Department receives a similar volume over a three-week period. Therefore, some customers filing at the beginning of tax season may not receive their refund as quickly as in previous years.

The Department still encourages Missourians to file electronically, as it will result in the most accurate return and the fastest refund. Once the Department completes processing the initial wave of returns received from the IRS, refund claims received on accurate and complete returns will be issued within five days after e-filing or two to three weeks after mailing a paper return.

Taxpayers have until April 15, 2021, to file their 2020 tax year returns and pay any taxes owed. If taxpayers request an extension to file, they will have until Oct. 15, 2021, to file their 2020 tax year returns; however, any amount owed will still be due by April 15, 2021.

If you have any questions or need help navigating your 2020 tax return, please don't hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-3129. We will put you in direct contact with a tax expert at the Department of Revenue. 

Women Legislators of Missouri Scholarship
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. 

The Women Legislators of Missouri 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 questions, "If you were a state legislator, what would you hope to accomplish and why?" 

A link to download the scholarship can be found at https://www.myscholarshipcentral.org 

The submission deadline is Tuesday, March 31, 2021. For further information please contact 573-751-2042. 
Joe Delaney Memorial Highway
I am proud to support a project which will designate a portion of I-435, running from State Highway 350 (Exit 66) continuing to Raytown Road (Exit 63C), as the Joe Delaney Memorial Highway. Joe Delaney was an exceptionally talented running back for the Chiefs until he heroically lost his life in an effort to save three drowning children.  

Designating a section of I-435 after Joe Delaney requires a minimum of 100 signatures from residents in Jackson County for it to be approved by the Missouri Department of Transportation.  If you live in the area and would like to support the designation, please send a pdf containing your statement of support, along with your full name, address, county of residence and typed signature to Adam Jassey, who is overseeing this project at AJKCFAN@yahoo.com
State government can be hard to navigate. If you need assistance with a state department or with unemployment, Medicaid, food stamps, or other state benefits call my office at (573) 751-3129. We can also guide you to community resources such as rent and utility assistance, food distribution, and COVID-19 related issues. My staff and I are here to help in any way we can. 
District 22 Staff




Kaylee Bauer
201 W. Capitol Avenue, Room 102
Phone: (573) 751-3129
kaylee.bauer@house.mo.gov 
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State Representative Yolanda Young · 201 W Capitol Ave · Jefferson City, MO 65101-1556 · USA

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