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Representative Yolanda Young's Newsletter

February 5, 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,
 
It was a busy week here in Jefferson City! I filed two new House bills, participated in three committee hearings, and had floor debate everyday this week. 

I filed HBs 1011 and 1012 on Tuesday, February 2. HB 1011, a bill I also filed last would create a fund in the Missouri treasury that would help schools hire school nurses and mental health professionals. With rising concerns of suicide and other mental health issues for our children, as well as the COVID-19 crisis, HB 1011 is crucial to making sure all schools in our state have access to at least one healthcare professional.

HB 1012 designates the third week in March as Victims of Coronavirus Memorial week in Missouri. Throughout this week each year, Missourians would be encouraged to acknowledge our collective losses during the COVID-19 pandemic and honor first responders, as well as those who lost their lives, lost loved ones, lost their jobs or businesses, or were negatively impacted by the coronavirus. 

As session moves forward, I am continuing to work on additional bills that would be beneficial to our state. I will keep you updated as those bills go through the legislative process. 
 
It has also been brought to my attention that many Missourians are continuing to have difficulties navigating the unemployment system. If you believe you have wrongfully received a notice to repay your pandemic unemployment benefits or if you have other difficulties with unemployment, call my office at 573-751-3129. 

If there’s anything else I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office.

 
Yours in Service,
 
Yolanda Young
House Bill Would Let Criminals
Sue Police Departments
On February 4, the House of Representatives voted 103-43 to grant final passage to legislation that would declare federal gun laws unenforceable in Missouri and empower those accused or even convicted of federal gun crimes to extract large fines from local police agencies for assisting federal authorities in their arrests. The bill now advances to the Senate, where similar legislation is already pending.
 
Under the original version of House Bill 85, those accused or convicted of federal gun crimes could have sued individual police officers for assisting federal authorities, but that provision was removed. Instead, federal gun offenders could sue the departments those officers work for. Those departments would be subject to a minimum fine of $50,000, with no upper limit on the amount of such a fine. Critics say the bill seeks to defund police merely for enforcing the law and enriches federal criminals in the process.
 
Other provisions of HB 85 unconstitutionally attempt to nullify federal laws relating to the taxation, registration or tracking of firearms, as well as laws prohibiting the possession, ownership, use or transfer of specific types of firearms. Nullification is a discredited 19th century doctrine holding that individual states can reject federal laws they don’t like. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled states have no such authority, describing nullification in one case as the “illegal defiance of constitutional authority.”


I was one of the 43 'no' votes on HB 85. While I support the second amendment, I have serious concerns about the implications of nullifying federal gun laws. Not only would this bill reverse sensible gun regulations like background checks, it would make it legal for convicted domestic abusers to purchase and carry a firearm, something that is currently only illegal under federal law. Additionally, I am concerned that this bill would make it illegal for local law enforcement agencies to assist with federal firearms investigations, meaning dangerous criminals would likely walk free and local police departments would face large fines. 
Court Mostly Upholds University of Missouri
Rule Against Guns On Campus
On February 2, the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District largely upheld a University of Missouri System rule prohibiting firearms on its four campuses while striking down a portion of the rule regarding the storage of firearms in personal vehicles parked on university grounds.
 
An MU law professor challenged the UM System rule barring firearms in 2015, claiming it violates a 2014 state constitutional amendment that revised the gun-rights provisions of the Missouri Constitution. However, the Missouri Supreme Court subsequently ruled in several unrelated cases that the 2014 amendment merely restated gun-rights protections as they previously had existed and made no substantive changes or created new rights.
 
Although a trial judge in 2019 upheld the entirety of university rule, which had existed for many years prior to the 2014 amendment, the three-judge appellate panel said a portion of the rule barring firearms that are stowed out of sight in locked vehicles on campus is pre-empted by state law that specifically allows state employees keep weapons in their vehicles. The panel agreed with the trial judge that the rest of the rule passed constitutional muster.
 
The case, is State ex rel. Eric Schmitt v. Mun Choi. It is expected to be appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Judge Stith To Retire After 20 Years
Missouri Supreme Court Judge Laura Denvir Stith, currently the court’s longest serving member, will resign on March 8, one day after the 20th anniversary of her appointment. 
 
With her 2001 selection by then-Governor Bob Holden, Stith became just the second woman to serve on the state’s highest court and replaced the first, Judge Ann Covington, who served from 1988 until retiring in 2001. Governor Holden appointed another woman, Judge Mary Rhodes Russell, to the Supreme Court in 2004, but she has been the last, with all five subsequent vacancies going to men.
 
Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Stith served six years on the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District. On the high court, she did a two-year stint as chief justice, a post that rotates among the court’s seven members, from 2007-2009. Although her current term runs through 2026, she would have been required to step down in October 2023 upon reaching the mandatory judicial retirement age of 70.
 
Stith’s departure marks the first vacancy on the state Supreme Court since Judge Richard Teitelman died in November 2016. It will also give Governor Mike Parson his first high court appointment.
 
Under the Missouri Nonpartisan Court plan, however, Parson won’t be able to pick whomever he wants to replace Stith. Instead, the seven-member Appellate Judicial Commission will select three finalists from among the applicants. Parson must choose one of those finalists or forfeit the decision to the commission.
Senate Approves COVID-19
Protections for Businesses
After about 15 hours of discussion on February 3, the Missouri Senate gave first-round approval to legislation granting businesses, religious organizations, and medical providers with immunity from most lawsuits relating to alleged wrongful exposure to COVID-19. A second vote is necessary to advance it to the House of Representatives.

As originally filed, Senate Bill 51 would have provided near blanket immunity from COVID-related claims. During the course of debate, however, the bill was amended to continue to allow lawsuits against businesses and medical providers in cases where an exposure resulted from “recklessness or willful misconduct” and the plaintiff was injured as a result. Religious organizations still would be exempt from lawsuits unless the plaintiff proves an intent to harm.
 
Governor Mike Parson and many of his fellow Republicans have been pushing for such legal protections ever since the pandemic began last spring. Despite no lawsuits on the subject having been filed in Missouri, Parson during his recent State of the State address urged lawmakers to make a COVID liability protections the first bill they send him this year.
Chief Justice Discusses Reform
During Judicial Address
In the annual State of the Judiciary address, Missouri Supreme Court Justice George Draper III said the judicial branch is continuing to develop and implement reforms to “build a culture of respect and fairness” and ensure the system treats all people equally under the law.
 
“Our judicial branch does not work as intended if we are not trusted to provide a fair and impartial forum for all people to have their cases heard and decided,” Draper said. “In recognition of this constitutional imperative, we also continue the courts’ efforts to address implicit bias and institutional racism that exist systemically throughout our country.”
 
Draper, who is the just second Black judge to sit on the state’s highest court, said all lawyers licensed to practice in Missouri are now required to undergo at least one hour of implicit bias training each year as part of their required hours of continuing legal education. Judges and court staff also must participate in such training, he said.
 
The annual address typically is delivered in the House of Representatives’ chamber before a joint session of the Missouri General Assembly. However, Draper instead submitted his comments to lawmakers in writing due to COVID-19 concerns.
 
Draper also discussed the judiciary’s efforts to keep Missouri courts functioning to the pandemic, implement uniform standards for specialized treatment courts and bolster courthouse security. Draper’s term as chief justice ends July 1, although he will remain a member of the court.
Grand Jury Indicts Lawmaker on 20 Felony Counts
A federal grand jury has indicted freshman state Representative Tricia Derges (R-Nixa) for wire fraud, illegally distributing prescription drugs and making false statements to investigators. Federal prosecutors unsealed the 20-count felony indictment on February 1.
 
Derges was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in November but has been in office for less than a month.  She operates medical clinics in Springfield, Branson and Ozark and is accused of marketing fraudulent stem cell treatments for various ailments, including COVID-19. Derges pleaded not guilty during her initial court appearance and has maintained her innocence in social media posts. Two days after the indictment, House Speaker Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) called on Derges to resign.
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
As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare to repeat as Super Bowl Champions this weekend, we are reminded of the deep history and rich legacy that the Chiefs and its players have woven in the fabric of the Kansas City community. 

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 in 1981 and 1982. Delaney won the AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 1981 and represented the Kansas City Chiefs in the Pro Bowl. He had a limitless future ahead of him when tragedy struck on June 29, 1983. While attempting to save three young boys from drowning near his home in Louisiana, 24-year-old Joe Delaney lost his life. His jersey number 37 still has never been worn by another Kansas City Chiefs player. 

An inductee into the Kansas City Chiefs Ring of Honor in 2004, Joe’s exceptional heroism was remembered by President Ronald Reagan who quickly awarded him posthumously the Presidential Citizens Medal. Joe Delaney is still the only NFL player, as well as only person with any connection to Kansas City, to ever receive this distinguished honor.
 
Designating a section of 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 any 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

 
Emergency Rent Assistance Available
The Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC), in coordination with the Missouri Department of Social Services, has set up a program tapping CARES Act COVID-19 Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG-CV) funds for emergency rental arrears assistance.

This ESG-CV assistance program is currently accepting applications from landlords and renters who are struggling due to the COVID-19 emergency. It will reimburse landlords for past due rent payments (rental arrears) for the period beginning April 1, 2020. Applications must be completed and submitted by landlords in collaboration with their tenant. A one-time payment of up to six months of rental arrears will be made to the landlord on the tenant’s behalf. Requests are subject to rent maximums.
  
To participate in the program, landlords and tenants should review the necessary pre-application materials here. Generally speaking, landlords must sign a guarantee of non-eviction of the tenant listed in the application for non-payment of rent for 120 days from the date of the rental arrears application submission. By accepting rental assistance, landlords must waive any and all outstanding rent, late fees, and other penalties incurred by the tenant for non-payment, or late payment of rent, that were incurred on or before the date the application was submitted.
 
Landlords will complete an online application and will be notified of application status by email. Applications can be submitted here.

Anyone (landlord or tenant) interested in getting emergency rental arrears assistance can visit the program homepage to access additional information and requirements, application materials, and to submit their application. If you need additional assistance, call my office at 573-751-3129. 
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. 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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