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Representative Yolanda Young's Newsletter

February 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,

Each day of Black History Month, members of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus give a presentation on the House Floor about an outstanding member of the Black community. This week, I gave my presentation on Mr. Joe Delaney, the former Chiefs running back who gave his life to save three children drowning in a pond, despite not knowing how to swim himself. Delaney's tragic death took the life of a loving son, father, friend, and an extremely talented athlete who had a bright future ahead of him. Joe Delaney died a hero and he will forever be remembered in Kansas City. 

I am also proud to announce that my House Bill 324 was granted a public hearing on Wednesday, February 17. If passed, this bill will bring Missouri in line with federal law that requires accessible voting machines to be made available at all elections for those who are blind and visually impaired. Currently, these machines must only be available for federal elections -- HB 324 would make them available in state and local elections as well. To submit written testimony in support of my bill, you may do so on the House website

I have also sponsored or co-sponsored the following bills that I hope to have heard in committee this legislative session: 

HB 483- Requires the Department of Revenue to include in the Missouri Driver Guide educational material on vehicular stops and searches by law enforcement
HB 1011- Provides a state fund for public schools to hire a school nurse and a mental health professional
HB 1012- Designates the third week of March as Victims of Coronavirus Memorial Week
HJR 19- Removes the restriction on people judged incapacitated being able to vote 
HB 99 (Sharp)- Establishes Blair's Law, which creates the offense of unlawful discharge of a firearm for discharging a firearm within or into the limits of a municipality with criminal negligence
HB 115 (Walsh Moore)- Requires state agencies to support competitive integrated employment for persons with disabilities
HB 118 (Walsh Moore)- Modifies provisions relating to MO HealthNet eligibility
HB 596 (Mackey)- Authorizes a tax credit for reestablishing a grocery store in a food desert
HB 613 (Rogers)- Establishes employees' right to compensation for unused vacation leave at end of employment
HB 654 (Stevens)- Requires school districts to provide "period products" at no cost in charter schools and public middle and high schools
HB 720 (Sharp)- Authorizes a tax credit for urban farms located in a food desert

If there’s anything else I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office at 573-751-3129.
 
Yours in Service,
 
Yolanda Young
Happy Birthday to Frederick Douglass
Today marks the 203rd birthday of American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery on February 12, 1818, Frederick Douglass dedicated his life to the fight for equality for all people- black, white, female, Native American, or immigrants. After he escaped slavery 1838 Douglass began telling his story of living as "property." He wrote three autobiographies, traveled throughout Ireland and Great Britain lecturing about slavery, published an abolitionist newspaper and opened his home to the Underground Railroad. With the slogan "Right is of no Sex- Truth is of no Color- God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren," Douglass worked to abolish slavery and uplight the voices of women by supporting their right to vote. In 1848, a decade after escaping slavery, Douglass became the first African-American nominated for Vice President of the United States. Douglass used his talents as a writer and orator to secure the position as the United States Minister Resident to Haiti and the Dominican Republic under President Harrison. 

Douglass was a champion for equality and worked to achieve it until he died in 1891. It was his achievements and his valiant efforts to promote equality that led the Association for the Study of African American Life and History to designate the second week of February (to coincide with Douglass' and Abraham Lincoln's birthdays) as Negro History Week in 1926. After decades of celebration of Negro History Week, President Gerald Ford officially recognized the entire month of February as Black History Month. 

Since 1976, every American president has endorsed a specific theme for Black History Month. This year, the theme for the month is "Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity." The theme is meant to explore the African diaspora and the spread of Black families across the United States. 

To learn more about the establishment of Black History Month, I encourage you to explore the Association for the Study of African American Life and History's website. 
Find a COVID-19 Vaccine Near You
Each week, the federal government sends Missouri thousands of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed throughout each of our 113 counties and St. Louis City. Unfortunately, with some counties having much larger populations than others the vaccine doses don't go as far in our area. This has made it extremely difficult for people in our community and the surrounding areas from accessing the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Department of Health and Senior Services, in collaboration with the Governor's office, has established an online COVID-19 navigator for Missourians who fall in the current eligible tiers to receive the vaccine. 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. To register to receive a vaccine, sign up using state's vaccine navigator

I do apologize for the way our State has been rolling out the COVID-19. As pictured in the map above, we currently only have nine mass vaccination cites, all of which are located in rural Missouri. I have been calling the Governor's office to encourage accurate vaccine information and trying to get more vaccination sites in Jackson County. Currently, the vaccine navigator is telling those who apply in Jackson County that they can receive a vaccine two hours away in Clinton, Missouri. I realize that this is not an accessible option for most of my constituents, so I have been in contact with the Governor's office to find a better way to distribute the vaccine in our area. His office assured me that next week another round of vaccines will be distributed to Kansas City, so people in our communities can easily get the vaccine. I am hopeful that the Biden Administration will be able to distribute vaccines directly to community health organizations that can quickly and efficiently get the COVID-19 vaccine to those who need it most. 

I encourage you to visit the COVID-19 map to find a vaccinate site near you. Kansas City residents can sign-up to receive the vaccine now at Samual Rodgers Health Center and at Swope Health. 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.  
Panel Considers Tighter Limits on Ballot Measures
On Febuary 10, the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee on considered 11 measures that would make it more difficult for Missourians to amend the state constitution or use the initiative petition process to enact laws independently of the legislature.
 
The initiative has been used in recent years to enact Medicaid expansion, increase the state minimum wage and impose legislative ethics reform – ideas popular among Missouri voters but opposed by the lawmakers who control the General Assembly. Three proposed constitutional amendments considered by the committee would increase the number of signatures required to put imitative measures on the ballot, while a statutory change would impose a minimum $500 fee to submit an initiative petition.
 
Throughout Missouri history, only a simple majority has been required to amend the state constitution. Seven proposed constitutional amendments would raise the bar for ratification to a super-majority, with some calling for a three-fifths majority and others a two-thirds majority. Some of the proposals would to allow constitutional amendments proposed by lawmakers to still be ratified with simple majorities but require a two-thirds majority for amendments put on the ballot via initiative petition.
 
The committee didn’t take immediate action on any of the measures following the 4 ½ -hour hearing, but is expected to vote on at least some of them at its next meeting. Any constitutional changes ultimately would require voter approval.
Committee Considers Bills on Internet Tax Collection
The House Ways and Means Committee on February 10 heard 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.
 
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 that resistance to collecting taxes on online sales puts their brick-and-mortar operations at a competitive disadvantage, while local officials lament the significant loss in tax revenue.
 
House Bill 644 could bring in as much as $120 million a year in state general revenue plus another $50 million earmarked for public education. In addition, it could generate up $169 million a year in local tax revenue. Two other related measures heard by the committee – House Bill 554 and House Bill 555 – also would implement so-called Wayfair collection but seek to offset revenue gains with cuts to other taxes.
Bipartisan Effort to Fix Unemployment Overpayments
On February 10, a House committee heard a bipartisan collection of bills seeking to block Governor Parson’s administration from taking back as much as $150 million in excess unemployment payments it made to an estimated 46,000 Missourians who lost their jobs in the past year due to the pandemic.
 
The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has admitted that 97.7% of the overpayments did not involve fraud, but instead resulted from mistakes made by the department. The overpayments largely came from federal pandemic funds, and the Federal Department of Labor has authorized states to waive repayment from people who, through no fault of their own, received benefits they shouldn’t have.
 
Despite the fact that the federal government doesn’t want the money back and told state not to collect federal overpayments, Governor Parson has insisted any overages be repaid, even though doing so would cause substantial hardship to thousands of unemployed Missourians who have little to no ability to do so. Most of the bills before the committee would prohibit the state labor department from seeking repayment from those who acted in good faith. Those who acted fraudulently would still have to repay the money and face potential penalties.
Governor Approves $324 Million Supplemental Budget Bill
Yesterday, the Governor granted final approval to a supplemental appropriations bill authorizing $324.69 million in spending authority for rental assistance to low-income Missourians struggling to afford housing due to the pandemic. 
 
The money for housing assistance comes from redirecting existing federal coronavirus relief funds that already are authorized in state operating budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which runs through June 30. The Missouri Housing Development Commission will oversee distribution of the housing assistance funds. 

While Jackson County gets money for rental assistance directly from the federal government, Jackson County residents will be able to access this $324.69 million in rental assistance once federal dollars run out at the county level. For help applying for rental assistance through the state or county, call my office at 573-751-3129. 
Bills Seek To Allow Guns in Churches and on Public Transit
The House General Laws Committee on February 9 heard four bills that variously would repeal existing prohibitions against carrying concealed weapons in churches or public transit and bar private property owners from preventing people from storing weapons in vehicles parked on their property.
 
The bills continue the push among some lawmakers to steadily eliminate restrictions on the possession or use of firearms and follow House passage of a bill last week purporting nullify enforcement of state gun laws in Missouri and empower those convicted of federal gun crimes to sue local police departments for assisting in their arrests.
 
The committee took no immediate action on the latest bills. Another measure seeking to prohibit colleges and universities from banning firearms on their campuses was scheduled to be considered by the committee but was pulled without explanation before the hearing.
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. 
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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