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Representative Yolanda Young's Newsletter

April 23, 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,

Emotions ran high in the Capitol this week as we debated numerous highly controversial topics in committee and on the House floor. 

In the General Laws Committee, and again on the House floor, there was discussion on whether or not our state should ban the New York Times' 1619 Project in all Missouri public schools. The 1619 Project developed by Nikole Hannah-Jones "aims to re-frame the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States' national narrative". Those who voiced opposition for the project argue that indeed it "re-frames history" and that it "creates a negative view of the United States." Those of us who support the project believe that American history cannot be accurately narrated without the integration of Black history (including the history of indigenous peoples and others who migrated to America). Ignoring the reality of slavery, Jim Crow, and the hundreds of years of Black struggle is ignoring the truth of our nation's history. Until we acknowledge all of our history and teach the truth about our collective past, I don't believe we can achieve liberty and justice for all.  The 1619 Project is a collection of stories, articles, podcasts, and art about Black Americans by Black Americans. I encourage you to check it out on the New York Times website. 
Art from the 1619 Project entitled Their Ancestors were Enslaved by Law. Today, they are Graduates of the Nation's Preeminent Historically Black Law School. Photography by Djeneba Aduayom. 
Another tough topic debated this week was an interscholastic athlete ban for transgender children who attend our state's public schools. This was filed as an amendment to a bill. The underlying bill would have helped high school students gain access to A+ scholarships, despite the effects the COVID-19 pandemic might have had on their academic performance or volunteer opportunities. What was supposed to be a clear-cut discussion on how best to help students move forward despite the pandemic, turned into an emotional debate about gender identity.

Opponents of the amendment gave impassioned speeches about discrimination against transgender kids and the emotional and physical toll this legislation would have on them. Supporters of the amendment spoke about the fear of transgender students "exposing themselves" to others in the locker room or the fear that transgender students would take away scholarship opportunities from their peers. I have had tough conversations with transgender children and adults about how legislation like this would effect them. I have had trans children and their parents call my office or come to Jefferson City to express the pain they feel when bills like this are considered. Hearing the pleas from members of the LGBTQ+ community while hearing derogatory remarks from people who support this type of legislation was very emotional for all of us on the House floor. 

When tough topics like these come up for discussion, I am reminded of why I am here— to make Missouri better for our constituents! The best way we can do that is to lead with love and compassion especially for those who need it the most— those who are most vulnerable. Not jumping to conclusions about them or how they live, but listening to their needs and doing our best to help them. I am truly sorry to those of you who look at your government and think that no one is fighting for you here in Jefferson City. I want you to know that there are many of us who wake up every day with you in our hearts and in our minds, ready to fight for what you need. 
Remember, my office is here to help you. If you or someone you know needs any assistance, please don't hesitate to call my office at (573) 751-3129.

Yours in Service,

Yolanda Young
Hope Faith Homeless Assistance
The Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus is looking for donations of new socks to pass our to the homeless population here in Kansas City. If you are able to help, drop off socks at 705 Virginia Ave or purchase items from their Amazon wishlist and have them mailed to the facility. You can also make a monetary donation on their website
June 26 Town Hall 
I invite you to mark your calendars for the next virtual town hall event, broadcasting live from District 22 at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, on June 26 at 1pm. 

At this event, I will have the opportunity to present a resolution to an outstanding citizen in our district— someone who is putting in the work to make our community the best it can be. If you know someone who is deserves to be recognized for their work in our community, please complete this form to nominate them for the District 22 Outstanding Citizen Award. 
Senate Panel Deadlocks on Restoring Medicaid Funding
The Senate Appropriations Committee on April 21 deadlocked 7-7 on restoring funding for Medicaid expansion to the 2022 fiscal year state operating budget. The funding fight now moves to the full Senate, with a lawsuit guaranteed if the spending authority ultimately is omitted from the final appropriations bills.
 
As of July 1, every Missourian whose income is at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for the state’s Medicaid program under a constitutional amendment Missouri voters ratified last year. Without full funding to cover the additional recipients, however, the program could exhaust its spending authority well before the end of the fiscal year. An estimated 275,000 additional Missourians will be eligible for the program.
 
After the majority in the House pulled the expanded Medicaid funding from the budget, many supporters, including the state’s major medical and business organizations, anticipated the Senate would prove more reasonable and not go along with defying a constitutional mandate. However, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Dan Hegeman (R-Cosby) joined six other Republican committee members in voting against expansion funding. Three Republicans joined the committee’s four Democrats in support.
 
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost of expansion, or about $1.4 billion for FY 2022. In addition, implementing expansion will secure Missouri an additional $1.5 billion under the most recently passed COVID-19 relief bill. Such a large influx of spending would create tens of thousands of jobs and have a tremendous economic impact on the state.
 
Governor Parson has moved to implement expansion as required by the state constitution and requested that it be fully funded for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. Lawmakers face a May 7 constitutional deadline for completing work on the budget.
 
State Health Department
Director Suddenly Resigns
After four turbulent years leading the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Dr. Randall Williams resigned as the agency’s director on April 14 without explanation. Given that Williams had weathered several controversies during his tenure, his sudden departure amid no information as to its cause came as a surprise.
 
The news became public in a press release from Governor Parson announcing he was naming Robert Knodell, his deputy chief of staff, as acting health department director. The fact that Williams had resigned, thus creating a need for an acting director, wasn’t mentioned until the end of the release. Williams has made no public statement on his departure.

Former governor Eric Greitens appointed Williams, who had previously served as health department director in North Carolina, to the Missouri post in 2017. Williams stayed on after Greitens resigned in 2018, and Parson repeatedly had expressed support for Williams.
 
Williams generated widespread condemnation in 2019 when it became public that he had ordered the tracking of women’s menstrual cycles without their knowledge or consent as part of his failed effort to close Missouri’s only abortion clinic. The year earlier, the Republican controlled legislature slashed eight staff positions from the director’s office over his refusal to share requested information with lawmakers about a Bourbon virus outbreak in the state.
 
Williams also faced criticism over the implementation of medical marijuana in Missouri. His department’s inconsistent standards in awarding the limited number of licenses to operate in the industry resulted in thousands of administrative appeals being filed seeking to overturn the agency’s decisions. More recently, Williams took fire for the state’s lackluster response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the slow rollout of its vaccination program.
 
House Expels Lawmaker
for Alleged Child Abuse
Without dissent, the House of Representatives on April 21 voted to expel state Representative Rick Roeber (R-Lee’s Summit) after the House Ethics Committee issued a report outlining allegations that, during the 1990s, he had abused his four children, who are now adults. The expulsion, the first in 156 years, came on a vote of 153-0, with one lawmaker voting present.
 
The committee released its report two days earlier and found credible evidence Roeber had sexually abused two of his children and physically abused all four. Although some of the incidents of abuse were reported to state and local authorities at the time, Roeber was never criminally charged. The committee found Roeber’s testimony to be combative and not credible.
 
After first telling the committee he intended to fight any attempted punishment, Roeber submitted a letter of resignation on April 13 shortly after news broke that House leaders had contacted prosecutors and police in Jackson County expressing concerns about Roeber’s continued contacts with a minor child. Two days later, the House unanimously voted to temporarily reject Roeber’s resignation pending completion of the ethics report.
 
The only other legislative expulsion in Missouri history took place on Jan. 4, 1865, when the House voted to oust state Rep. John Sampson of Callaway County for disloyalty to the Union because he had attended a secessionist rally in April 1861. A Senate expulsion trial against state Sen. Joseph Falzone of St. Louis for soliciting a $1,500 bribe commenced on Oct. 29, 1945, but his subsequent resignation on Nov. 1 terminated the proceedings before they concluded.
House Spikes Bill After St. Louis
Earnings Tax Provision Added
The House of Representatives on April 19 voted 70-83 to reject legislation that originally sought to authorize a handful of rural cities to adopt a special public safety sales tax but was brought down by the addition of a provision seeking to exempt many telecommuters from paying St. Louis city’s earnings tax.
 
The original intent of House Bill 394 was to give certain cities the power to ask their voters to approve a half-cent sales tax dedicated to improving funding for police and fire departments. However, an amendment was added during House debate that would have prohibited St. Louis city from imposing the 1 percent earnings tax it levies on people who live or work in the city on non-city residents who telecommute to city-based jobs.
 
Without that provision, the otherwise non-controversial bill likely would have passed easily. Instead, those opposed to tinkering with St. Louis’ earnings tax and those who didn’t like the sales tax component combined to provide enough votes to defeat the measure.
House Rejects Limits on Government Communications
The House of Representatives on April 19 defeated legislation that sought to limit how local governments can communicate with voters regarding ballot measures. The bill fell on a vote of 72-82-1.
 
Under existing law, local governments already are prohibited from contributing public funds for campaigns in support of or opposition to ballot measures. However, they are allowed to provide factual information to voters regarding the impact of ballot measures, and local officials are free to issue news releases discussing their positions on them.
 
House Bill 512 sought to prohibit local governments from distributing any printed materials related to ballot measures. Supporters said new restrictions are needed because local officials sometimes skirt existing rules. Opponents said the bill’s restrictions went too far and would prevent local officials from weighing in on important public policy issues.
COVID-19 Vaccine 
Beginning April 9, ALL Missourians will be eligible to receive the vaccine. If you are interested in receiving the vaccine when it become available, I encourage you to be put on the wait-list at any of the locations listed below. 

If you have not been able to get vaccinated, 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.
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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