Representative Yolanda Young's Newsletter

January 22, 2021

Contact me at: 
201 W. Capitol Avenue, Room 102
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Phone: (573) 751-3129

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Protestors from a Jefferson City church set up across the street from the State Capitol on Wednesday to show support for unifying the nation. Julie Smith // News Tribune
Dear Neighbors,
Let me first thank all of you who participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Monday. It was remarkable to see so many of you volunteering your time to serve others. I always appreciate seeing people coming together to support one another. Monday was another great example of that. 
This week was a quiet one in Jefferson City, as the House of Representatives was not in session due to both security concerns and an outbreak of COVID-19 among several representatives and staff. 

In the days leading up to the presidential inauguration there was heightened security- with countless Highway Patrol Officers, Department of Conservation Officers, and local police on standby to protect our Capitol and those inside. As inauguration day drew near, many were fearful that, similarly to the riots in Washington D.C. nearly two weeks ago, there would be violence at our state Capitol. Fortunately, as President Biden and Vice President Harris took their oaths of office, there were only a handful of peaceful protesters on the lawn of our Capitol. I am thankful that there were extra precautions taken to ensure safety throughout the nation. Of equal importance was the peaceful transition of from President Trump's administration to President Biden's. 

In the coming weeks, we will all will need to do the work that it takes to piece our nation back together. If there’s anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to call my office at 573-751-3129.
Yours in Service,
Yolanda Young
Senate Pushes to Nullify Federal Gun Laws
With over 668 Missourians killed in gun homicides last year, 2020 was our highest-ever recorded year for gun deaths. Instead of proposing solutions to a problem plaguing out state, the Senate majority is considering legislation to make it easier to access guns in our state.  

On January 19, the Senate General Laws Committee heard Senate Bill (SB) 39, a bill that would declare invalid federal law 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. However, individual states have no power to nullify federal laws or interfere with their enforcement. In a 1958 case, Cooper v. Aaron, the U.S. Supreme Court described the nullification doctrine as “illegal defiance of constitutional authority.”
SB 39 also purports to give those arrested for federal gun crimes the right to sue “any person or entity” enforcing such laws. In addition, it purports to declare that any federal agent who enforces federal gun laws in Missouri “shall be permanently ineligible to serve as a law enforcement or to supervise law enforcement officers.” Neither provision appears likely to withstand constitutional muster.
SB 39 also repeals an existing state law that promotes responsible gun while condemning the use of firearms to commit crimes. The statute to be repealed, RSMo. 1.320, says: “The general assembly of the state of Missouri strongly promotes responsible gun ownership, including parental supervision of minors in the proper use, storage, and ownership of all firearms, the prompt reporting of stolen firearms, and the proper enforcement of all state gun laws. The general assembly of the state of Missouri hereby condemns any unlawful transfer of firearms and the use of any firearm in any criminal or unlawful activity.”
Similar legislation was passed in 2013, but then-Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the bill. During veto session of that year, the Senate was just one vote shy of the two-thirds majority it needed to override the Governor's veto. Our current Governor, Mike Parson, was a Senator at the time and voted to override the Governor's veto and nullify all federal gun laws in our state. Should this bill make it to the Governor's desk this session, it would likely pass. I will keep you updated as this bill moves through the legislative process. 
Senators Seek to Block Local COVID-19 Containment
The Senate Health and Pensions Committee on January 20 heard several bills filed by lawmakers that collectively would strip city and county officials of much of their legal authority to impose restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.

Throughout the pandemic, Governor Parson has avoided imposing a mask mandate or other statewide restrictions, leaving enforcement of coronavirus containment measures largely up to local officials, whom he repeatedly maintained are best positioned to address the specific needs of individual communities. Under the proposed bills, that existing local pandemic response would be largely eliminated.
One measure, Senate Bill 21, would prohibit county health boards from enacting emergency restrictions that last longer than a total of 14 days in any two-year period. Approval of both chambers of the General Assembly, which regularly meets only five months out of the year, would be required to exceed that amount. The bill also would ban any restrictions on the size of residential gatherings. Another proposal, Senate Bill 12, prohibits health restrictions relating to attendance at religious services. A third, Senate Bill 56, would entirely strip local health department of their authority to issue orders to combat infectious, contagious, communicable or dangerous diseases.
Supporters of the bills contend local public health orders harm restaurants, bars and other local businesses by limiting their operations and also infringe on individual freedoms. Opponents say the proposed legislation would make the pandemic far worse than it already is. To date, there have been 445,621 known cases of COVID-19 in Missouri, including 6,527 deaths. 
Panel Hears Bill on Legal Immunity in COVID Cases
Despite the apparent lack of any litigation in Missouri over alleged wrongful exposure to COVID-19, the state Senate is fast-tracking legislation to provide businesses, schools, churches and medical providers with blanket legal immunity from lawsuits relating to the pandemic.
The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee heard two similar bills on the subject on January 19, Senate bull 42 and Senate bill 51. While supporters of the measures say liability protections are necessary to protect against “frivolous” legislation, a representative of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys testified the organization isn’t aware of any cases that have been filed that would be prevented by the bill.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry have been pushing for such legislation since the pandemic began last spring, and it also enjoys support from other groups whose members would enjoy legal protections from it, including the Missouri Hospitals Association. In November, Governor Parson included legal immunity against COVID-19 lawsuits among the topics of a special legislative session, but lawmakers adjourned the session in December without taking up the bill. Ironically, that session shut down for two weeks due to an outbreak of the disease among senators and staff.
The Senate committee took no immediate action on either bill, but it expected to advance one or both to the full Senate sometime in the coming weeks. 
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 
Copyright © 2021 State Representative Yolanda Young, All rights reserved.

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