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Representative Yolanda Young's Newsletter

March 26, 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,

As session picked back up this week following our legislative spring break, more Missourians are traveling to the Capitol to voice their support for various measures. This week was Missouri Agriculture Week. I had the opportunity to speak with citizen representatives from the Missouri Farm Bureau to discuss improvements that can be made to agriculture and food production in our state.
 
Some of you know that I have an urban farm located in the heart of Kansas City. It spans a quarter acre of land. My husband and I repurposed some vacant lots to grow fresh, healthy vegetables not only to provide food for our household, but to address the need for our community to have better access to locally grown foods. Urban farming is growing throughout the country and is one way that some are using to improve food insecurity.  
 
The Missouri Farm Bureaus representatives that I spoke with this week were surprised to hear that I was a farmer. In Jefferson City we often talk about the rural-urban divide that “plagues” our state. I, on the other hand, know that no matter where you live within our state, it's likely that we share some of the same struggles. We’re all concerned about our families, education, finding good jobs, and how we’re going to put food on the table. Speaking with the Farm Bureau this week gave us all the opportunity to remember that while we all might have different ways of solving problems, we share some of the same ones, and we have to work together to solve them.
 
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic I have missed being able to make connections with my constituents and “rub-elbows” with those who are doing to work to try to make our state better. That is why I am very excited to host the first of three virtual town hall events with Representatives Mark Sharp and Michael Johnson. Please join us tomorrow at 1pm to hear more about what’s happening here in Jefferson City and ask your questions about state government. You can find the event information later in the newsletter.

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
Virtual Town Hall TOMORROW
Please join us for the first of this three-part series of Town Hall meetings offering important information and dialogue brought to you by Representatives Mark A. Sharp, Yolanda Young and Michael Johnson in partnership with Black Archives of mid-America in Kansas City, Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, and Concord Fortress of Hope Church. 

Join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device: 
Click Here to Join
Passcode: 569361

Or iPhone one-tap:
US: +13017158592,,82888625922# or +13126266799,,82888625922# 
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):     
US: +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 929 205 6099 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 669 900 6833 
Webinar ID: 828 8862 5922 
Participant ID: 483863
Passcode: 569361
International numbers available: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kiao5zTsO
Vacant Lot Project
I was contacted this week by a representative of the Heartland Conservation Alliance (HCA) for help identifying community leaders who are interested in fixing up vacant lots in our area. In an effort to preserve communities and reduce pollution, HCA is working with local organizations and stakeholders to access vacant lots and make the necessary improvements. The Urban Neighborhood Initiative has several templates for similar vacant lot projects.  

If you or someone you know might be interested in participating, I encourage you to reach out to their technical advisory group by contacting Hilary Noonan at hilary@syntaxlanddesign.com or (816) 309-0655. 
Women Legislators of Missouri Scholarship
I am a member of the Women Legislators of Missouri. We are encouraging young women who are positioned to graduate from high school, to apply for a college scholarship. Each year the group selects one student from each of Missouri's congressional districts to receive the award. This year, we raised enough money to provide $1000 scholarships to two young women in each congressional district. 

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. 
Funding for Medicaid Expansion Blocked
in Budget Committee
               House Budget Committee Chair, Representative Cody Smith
 
The House Budget Committee on March 25 voted 9-20 to reject funding for Medicaid expansion, which is mandated under a constitutional amendment voters ratified last year. The action came on a straight party-line vote, with Democrats supporting the bill and Republicans opposing it.
 
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, states can expand their Medicaid eligibility threshold to 138 percent of the federal poverty level and the federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost in perpetuity. After years of the Missouri legislature refusing to implement expansion, supporters of the measure took the issue directly to voters, who ultimately decided the state should be required to expand Medicaid.
 
An additional 275,000 Missourians will become constitutionally eligible for Medicaid with the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. In January, Governor Parson included funding for expansion in his proposed budget for the upcoming 2022 fiscal year.
 
House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith (R-Carthage) engineered the defeat of the expansion funding by removing it from the appropriations bill for the Department of Social Services, which oversees the state’s Medicaid program, and placing it in a stand-alone measure, House Bill 20. Smith then led the charge in defeating his own bill.
 
Supporters of Medicaid expansion could attempt to put the funding in House Bill 11, the social services’ budget measure, when it goes to the full chamber for debate. But because of the House’s highly restrictive rules governing budget amendments, success is unlikely. As a result, it likely will be up to the Senate to restore the funding. The Senate is seen as less hostile to Medicaid expansion, especially due to Governor Parson’s support.
 
If the legislature passes a final budget without Medicaid expansion funding, a lawsuit forcing the state to implement expansion anyway is virtually guaranteed since the new Medicaid eligibility threshold is now fixed in the state constitution and lawmakers have no discretion to lower it through the budget process.
Senate Rejects Limiting Local
Health Officials’ Power
A bipartisan group of senators on March 25 defeated legislation pushed by the chamber’s more conservative Republican members that sought to severely restrict the authority of local officials and health departments to respond to pandemics and other public health emergencies.
 
Because of Governor Parson’s hands-off approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic, local officials have borne the primary responsibility for imposing and enforcing containment measures. Parson repeatedly has said local officials are best positioned to address issues such as mask mandates and limitations on school or business operations and public gatherings.
Under Senate Bill 12, however, local public health orders could last no more than 15 days during a 180-day period. Up to two additional 15-day extensions during the same period would be allowed, but only if a two-thirds majority of the local governing board approves. In addition to numerous other restrictions, the bill also prohibit hospitals from limiting visitor access to patients during a pandemic under certain circumstances.
 
Supporters of the bill say that in responding to the current pandemic local health officials have given too little consideration to the impact their actions have had on the economy and other aspects of society. Opponents counter that SB 12 seeks to punish local officials for their COVID-19 response by making it impossible to effectively deal with a future and potentially far more dangerous health crisis.
House Advances Bill Prompted
by Abuse Allegations
The House of Representatives on March 23 granted first-round approval to bipartisan legislation that would provide some state and local oversight of religious-based boarding schools, which currently are allowed to operate in Missouri without any regulation. A second vote is required to advance the bill to the Senate.
 
Problems with unregulated religious boarding schools operating in the state came to the forefront last fall following a Kansas City Star investigation that revealed allegations of abuse at the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Cedar County. Earlier this month, the state Attorney General’s Office charged the couple who own the now-closed ranch with 101 felony counts, including statutory rape, statutory sodomy, child molestation and child abuse or neglect.
 
On the same day the House approved HB 557, Governor Parson appointed the attorney general to assist Cedar County officials in investigating a second religious facility, Agape Boarding School, over allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Missouri and South Carolina are the only states in the nation that completely exempt religious schools from regulation.
 
HB 557 would require religious boarding schools to notify the Missouri Department of Social Services they are in operation and follow basic safety requirements, such as submitting to fire, safety and health inspections and maintaining medical records for all residents. The bill also requires the schools to conduct background checks on all employees and volunteers and allow parents access to the facility. The bill’s lead sponsors are state Reps. Rudy Viet (R-Wardsville) and Keri Ingle (D-Lee’s Summit).
Bill Limits Judges’ Ability to Fix
Slanted Ballot Wording
The House of Representatives on March 22 voted 109-44 to prohibit Missouri courts from changing false or misleading ballot language written by lawmakers for proposed constitutional amendments or laws the legislature places before voters. The measure now moves to the Senate.
 
The Missouri secretary of state typically is responsible for writing the ballot language explaining what proposed ballot measures would do. However, lawmakers have the statutory prerogative to write their own ballot language for measures that come through the legislature, although until recent years that power was exercised sparingly.
 
But when the legislative sponsor of a ballot measure also writes the ballot language, the result often is slanted in favor of proponents and sometimes outright deceptive. When such language is challenged and found deficient, in order to allow the underlying ballot measure to still go before voters, Missouri courts have rewritten only the portion necessary to ensure it is sufficient, fair and non-argumentative as required by state law.
 
House Bill 850 would strip the courts of the authority to alter ballot language drafted by legislature. As a result, the only remedy left to a court if it determines ballot language is false or misleading would be to issue an injunction barring the underlying measure from the ballot.
 
If this bill had been law last year, it would have prevented a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment pushed by its supporters to undo redistricting reforms voters had approved in 2018. The 2020 measure, Amendment 3, contained legislatively crafted ballot language that omitted mention of the measure’s central purpose, which two courts found insufficient and unfair prompting them to rewrite the defective language. Voters ultimately ratified the 2020 amendment with 51 percent support.
State Follows Feds in Delaying Tax
Deadline to May 17
After the federal government delayed this year’s income tax filing deadline from April 15 to May 17, Governor Parson announced on March 19 that Missouri also will push back the state income tax deadline to the same date. Because the state income tax filings in Missouri are closely linked to federal filings, any delay in the latter usually results in the state following suit.
 
The delay shouldn’t cause the state major financial problems, unlike last year when the tax deadlines were postponed to July 15 due to the pandemic. That date pushed the deadline into the next state fiscal year, thus contributing to a collapse in state revenue collections during the final quarter of FY 2020. Parson unilaterally cut more than $435 million from the state operating budget that year due to the lost revenue.
 
However, this year’s one-month delay means Missourians who owe state income taxes must still pay up during the current fiscal year, which runs through June 30. As a result, no late-year budget cuts are expected.
 
The Internal Revenue Service said this year’s delay was necessary due to the agency’s current focus on distributing the latest economic stimulus checks authorized by Congress, which created a need for additional time to process tax returns.
COVID-19 Vaccine Updates
This week, Governor Parson's office announced transportation assistance to Missourians traveling to and from their vaccine appointments. Across our state there are free or reduced-cost transportation options to help Missourians get their COVID-19 vaccines. For more information and to find a ride to your vaccine appoint, visit the MO Rides database

We are still in Phase 1B- Tier 3, so if you are a healthcare worker, resident of a long-term care facility, a first responder, are considered a high risk individual (65 and older or have a qualifying health condition), or are considered to be a part of our state's "critical infrastructure," you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Governor Parson also announced this week that 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.
Hope Faith Homeless Assistance has also partnered with Heart to Heart International to those who are experiencing homelessness and those working with the homeless population. If you or someone you know might qualify, visit the Hope Faith website or call their office at 816-705-0505.
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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