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Representative Yolanda Young's Newsletter

March 12, 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,

In the last week of session before our legislative spring break, both the House and Senate were busy passing as many bills as we could. 

Just this week we voted on and passed twenty bills in the House of Representatives. Some bills will improve the daily lives of Missourians, such as allowing doctors to send medical questionnaires over tele-medicine, updating our states stalking statutes to protect people as technology develops, and allowing small school districts that share superintendents to receive additional state funding. 

Unfortunately, we also passed some harmful bills that would allow people to bring guns onto public transit and several that would make it harder for Missourians to vote and access the initiative petition process. There are numerous bills moving through the legislature this session that restricts the rights of Missourians to vote and get issues that are important to them on the ballot. I am keeping a very close eye on these bills and will keep you informed as best I can. 

A bright spot regarding voter protection did occur this week when my House Bill 324 was voted out of committee unanimously. This bipartisan bill requires that polling places have accessible voting machines for blind and visually impaired voters for all federal, state, and local elections. My bill now moves on to the Rules Committee to be voted on a second time before making it to the House floor for debate. KOMU 8 News in Columbia even highlighted my bill on their 5 o'clock broadcast. Check out their story and interviews with visually impaired voters this bill would impact. 

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
President Biden Signs COVID-19 Stimulus Bill
On March 11, President Biden signed into law the nation's third coronavirus relief package. This $1.9 trillion stimulus bill is aimed at putting tax dollars directly in the hands of Americans. Among the provisions in the bill are: 
  • $1,400 direct payments per person for individuals making less than $75,000 per year and couples making less than $150,000 per year. Dependent adults including college students and adults living with disabilities will be eligible to receive stimulus checks. 
  • $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits will be continued. 
  • Americans with children under 17 will receive direct monthly payments for each of their children through the end of the year through the Child Tax Credit. Monthly payments will amount to $3,600 per child up to 5 years of age and $3000 for children 6-17. 
  • $350 billion was provided for states and local governments to increase education funding, housing aid, child care assistance, and food distribution. 
  • Those who receive healthcare through the ACA will get a temporary subsidy boost. 
  • Federal unemployment benefits up to $10,000 will be exempt from federal taxes. 
  • FEMA will pay families back for up to $7,000 in funeral expenses related to COVID-19 deaths. 
I will keep you updated as we learn more about how everyone can access all of the provisions in the stimulus bill. It will take a couple of weeks before all of the provisions can be implemented but most portions of the bill should go into effect this week. 
Senate Endorses 15-Cent Increase
in State Fuel Tax
The Missouri Senate on March 11 voted to send legislation to the House of Representatives that would gradually increase the state fuel tax from its current level of 17 cents per gallon to 29.5 cents a gallon in 2025. The tax would generate an estimated $462.39 million a year in additional revenue for state and local transportation projects once fully phased in.
 
Senate Bill 262 would increase the fuel tax by 2.5 cents as of October 1, with additional 2.5-cent bumps every subsequent July 1 until the tax tops out at 29.5 cents on July 1, 2025. Missouri currently has one of the nation’s lowest state fuel taxes and last increased it in 1996 under legislation enacted in 1992.
 
In an unusual twist, supporters are selling SB 262 as an optional tax increase since the bill would allow Missourians to seek a refund on the new portion of the tax paid each year. However, the expectation is that few people would go through the trouble of maintaining their receipts and filing annual refund requests with the Missouri Department of Revenue.
 
Lawmakers put a proposed 10-cent fuel tax increase on the statewide ballot in 2018, but tacked it onto an unrelated bill providing a special tax break for Olympic athletes and included confusing ballot language that attempted to sell the fuel tax hike as a funding boost for law enforcement, even though intent was provide new revenue for transportation projects. Voters defeated the measure with just 46.4 percent in support.
 
 SB 262 would not go on the ballot for voter approval and, like the last successful fuel-tax hike legislation in 1992, would simply take effect if enacted by the legislature and signed into law by the governor. Missouri voters haven’t approved any kind of tax increase since endorsing a
4-cent bump in the fuel tax in April 1987.
Mega COVID-19 Vaccination
Event at Arrowhead Stadium
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has partnered with the Jackson County Health Department, Truman Medical Center, the Chiefs' Organization, and KCATA to host a "mega" vaccination event at Arrowhead Stadium on March 19-20. 

The Mega Vaccination Site is expected to operate from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. both Friday and Saturday of next week. Approximately 6,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine have been reserved to fully vaccinate 3,000 Missourians each day of the event. 

To sign up for the mega vaccination event at Arrowhead, you must be registered through the Jackson County Health Department. It is not too late to get on the Jackson County list to potentially be selected to receive the vaccine next weekend, but you must be contacted by the Health Department to schedule an appointment. They will not take walk-in appointments at the event. 

If you are contacted for an appointment, RideKC and KCATA will be providing free bus transportation to everyone needing a ride to Arrowhead for their vaccine appointments. 

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. 

If you are unable to get an appointment to be vaccinated at Arrowhead Stadium, 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 Votes to Make it Harder to Amend MO Constitution
Volunteers loaded hundreds of boxes of petitions signed to support the Medicaid Expansion amendment in 2020. (AP Photo/David A. Lieb)
 
The House of Representatives on March 11 voted 111-46 to advance a proposed a constitutional amendment that would require support from at least two-thirds of voters to ratify future amendments to the Missouri Constitution. In addition, the measure, would significantly increase the number of signatures required to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot using the initiative petition process.
 
Throughout Missouri history, only a simple majority has been required to amend the state constitution. Of the 133 constitutional amendments Missouri voters have ratified since the current state constitution was adopted in 1945, only 45 – 33.8 percent – hit the two-thirds majority threshold that would be required under House Joint Resolution 20.
 
In a move designed to deceive voters, HJR 20 also includes a provision that already exists elsewhere in the state constitution stating that only U.S. citizens who are Missouri residents and registered voters can vote in Missouri elections. Supporters added that provision to HJR 20 to justify loaded ballot language included in the measure telling voters it would “allow only citizens of the United States to qualify as legal voters” before mentioning its other provisions, which they might find less palatable.
 
If the Senate also approves HJR 20, it automatically would go on the November 2022 ballot. Following current constitutional requirements, only a simple majority of voters would be needed for ratification.
Senate Rejects Bill to Eliminate
Personal Property Tax
After several hours of debate, the Missouri Senate on March 8 voted 13-18 to reject legislation that would have cost local governments an estimated $1.45 billion in lost revenue by eliminating personal property taxes. Eight Republicans joined unanimous Democrats in opposing the Republican-sponsored bill.
 
Property taxes, including levies on real property such as land and buildings, account for a significant portion of local budgets, especially public school districts. Senate Bill 24 would eliminate taxes just on personal property, such as vehicles, machinery and business equipment.
 
Although the bill would have phased out personal property taxes over 10 years, critics said it would still devastate the budgets of cities, counties, school districts and other local governments since there is no guarantee that growth from other revenue sources would be anywhere close to sufficient to make up the losses. Supporters argued that personal property taxes are highly unpopular and aren’t imposed by a majority of states.
Lawmakers Pass Bills to
Capture Online Sales Taxes
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping has dramatically increased in recent years. This puts pressure not only on the US Postal Service, but on local businesses losing out on sales (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
 
The House of Representatives on March 11 voted 96-59 to approve legislation that would allow the state and local governments to better capture sales tax revenue from online purchases that already is due under state law but rarely collected. The measure, House Bill 554, now advances to the Senate, which approved similar legislation, Senate Bill 153, earlier in the day.
 
A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court case, South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc., clarified that state and local governments can levy taxes on purchases made by their residents from businesses located elsewhere. Small businesses owners have long maintained the state’s failure to fully enforce the collection of taxes on online sales puts brick-and-mortar operations at a competitive disadvantage, while local officials lament the lost tax revenue.
 
While facilitating the collection of taxes on Internet sales, the state wouldn’t reap any financial windfall under HB 554 and, in fact, could end up collecting less in overall taxes. That’s because the bill attempts to achieve revenue neutrality by cutting the state income tax to offset any new revenue. According to the bill’s fiscal note, however, the income tax cut would result in a net loss of nearly $120 million in state general revenue collections once fully implemented.
House Approves Allowing Concealed Firearms on Public Transit
Concealed weapons permit holders could carry firearms on public transit under legislation the Missouri House of Representatives approved on March 8. The bill advanced to the Senate on a vote of 124-32-3.
 
It currently is illegal to possess weapons on buses, light rail or other means of public transit. House Bill 52 would exempt conceal-carry permit holders from that prohibition, although weapons would still be prohibited on Amtrak trains. Supporters say the bill would enable transit users to protect themselves if necessary. Opponents say allowing firearms on buses would do more to spark incidents of violence than prevent them.
Commission to Announce Supreme Court Finalists in May
The Missouri Appellate Judicial Commission is accepting applications for the Supreme Court vacancy that opened with the March 8 retirement of Judge Laura Denvir Stith after 20 years. The commission is scheduled to interview the applicants in May and announce its list of three finalists on May 21.
 
Stith’s replacement will mark Governor Parson’s first Supreme Court appointment since taking office in June 2018. Once the commission announces the finalists, Parson will have 60 days to choose one of them or forfeit the decision to the commission. However, during the nearly 80 years Missouri’s current judicial selection process has been in place, a governor has never declined to make an appointment.
 
Until her retirement after 20 years on the high court, Stith had been its current longest-serving member, a distinction now belonging to Judge Mary Rhodes Russell, who has been on the court since September 2004. Stith’s departure creates the court’s first vacancy in more than four years.
Net Revenue Collections Up
8.1 Percent in February
Net state general revenue collections for February 2021 increased 8.1 percent compared to February 2020, going from $685.4 million last year to $740.7 million this year. Strong growth in both individual and corporate income tax collections largely was responsible for driving the improved collections, as has been the case in recent months.
 
Year-to-date net general revenue collections through the first eight months of the 2021 fiscal year increased 18.5 percent compared to the same period in FY 2020, going from $6.08 billion last year to $7.2 billion this year. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the delay of last year’s tax filing deadline from the last quarter of FY 2020 to the first month of FY 2021, the year-to-date revenue figures are inflated.
Virtual Town Hall Series
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. 
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. 

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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