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Representative Yolanda Young's Newsletter

May 28, 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,

Today is the two-week marker since we ended our 2021 regular legislative session. We suffered significant losses with the passage of legislation to nullify federal gun laws, hinder peaceful protests, and to block funding for Medicaid expansion.  

However, I believe there were some good legislation that will help a lot of Missourians, especially those in District 22. We passed bills that: will allow a tax credit of up to $10,000 to help offset the costs of adoption and foster care, will require religious boarding schools to be subject to health and safety standards to prevent child abuse, allow those eligible for WIC to use their benefits at farmers markets, prohibit health insurance companies from treating mental health treatments differently than physical health treatments, ban police choke-holds, require police departments to report instances of use-of-force, made it easier for state and local governments to collect internet sales tax to be used for community improvements, and an increased gas tax that will help put Missourians to work to improve our roads and bridges.  

Most of this legislation is pending Governor Parson's signature, but these bipartisan measures are likely to be signed in the beginning of June and become law by August 28. 
 
Thank you for all of your input, feedback, and visits to the Capitol to have your voice heard during this challenging session. Remember, we are always here to help you with anything you may need. For assistance, call my office at (573) 751-3129, email me at yolanda.young@house.mo.gov or email my assistant at kaylee.bauer@house.mo.gov. There are community and state resources that we can help connect you with to make the transition back to work a little easier. 

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend! 

Yours in Service,

Yolanda Young
First Black Woman Appointed
to Missouri Supreme Court
State appellate Judge Robin Ransom of St. Louis made state history on May 24 as the first Black woman appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court. Ransom will replace Judge Laura Denvir Stith, who retired in March after 20 years of service.
 
This appointment marks the second time Governor Parson has selected Ransom to fill an appellate vacancy. The first came in 2019 when he appointed her to the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District. Ransom, a 1991 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, previously had been a St. Louis City Circuit Court judge, a post to which then-Gov. Matt Blunt appointed her in 2008. Prior to becoming a judge, Ransom worked as a public defender, prosecuting attorney and family court commissioner.
 
Ransom was one of three finalists for the Supreme Court vacancy announced on May 21 by the Missouri Appellate Judicial Commission. Under the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan, the independent commission submits three names from among the applicants to the governor, who must select one or forfeit the decision to the commission.
 
The other two finalists were Court of Appeals Southern District Judge Don Burrell Jr. and St. Louis County Circuit Judge Bill Corrigan Jr. Burrell was appointed to the appellate bench by Blunt in 2008 and prior to that was a Greene County Circuit judge for about a decade. Corrigan, a former president of The Missouri Bar, had a long career as a private practice attorney until Parson appointed him as a circuit judge in November.
 
Ransom can begin serving immediately but must stand for a statewide retention vote in November 2022. If retained, she will receive a full 12-year term on the court. She is Parson’s first appointment to the state high court since he took office in June 2018. Ransom’s elevation will create a vacancy on the Court of Appeals Eastern District.
 
With Ransom replacing Stith, the seven-member state Supreme Court shifts from a majority of judges appointed by Democratic governors to a majority appointed by Republican governors. It marks the first time Republican appointees have held a majority on the court since 2002.
Hearing Set in Lawsuit
to Force Medicaid Expansion
Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem has set a hearing for June 18 in a lawsuit seeking to force Governor Parson’s administration to begin implementing Medicaid expansion as required by the Missouri Constitution. The lawsuit was filed May 20 on behalf of three Missourians who will qualify for the health program under new eligibility requirements that will take effect July 1. The filing came one week after Parson publicly went back on earlier promises to implement the constitutionally mandated expansion of the program.
Under a constitutional amendment voters ratified last year, Missourians with a household income of 138 percent of the federal poverty level or less soon will qualify for Medicaid. An estimated 275,000 additional people will be eligible for the program.
 
After lawmakers refused to include full Medicaid funding in the state operating budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which also begins July 1, Parson on May 13 withdrew an expansion implementation plan his administration had already submitted to federal authorities. Parson claimed he can’t implement expansion without a specific legislative appropriation for it.
 
The state constitution, however, doesn’t tie expanded eligibility to the appropriations process. But it does mandate that services be provided to the expanded population, prohibit the state from treating that population differently from current eligible recipients and require state officials to maximize the amount of federal funding available to the state for Medicaid.
 
Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost of expansion – about $1.4 billion for FY 2022. Implementation also will secure Missouri another $1.5 billion under the latest federal COVID-19 relief package. In addition to the societal benefits of increasing health care access for more Missourians, securing that much new federal spending would create an estimated 80,000 jobs and provide a substantial boost to the economy.
 
The lawsuit asks Beetem to order the Parson administration to follow the plain language of the state constitution and begin enrolling and providing services to members of the newly eligible population and maximize the state’s share of federal funding for the program. The case is Stephanie Doyle, et al., v. Jennifer Tidball, et al.
Medicaid Director Sounds
Warning About Funding Loss
Acting MO HealthNet Division Director Kirk Matthews said the continued existence of the state’s Medicaid program is at risk after the legislature failed to renew a special tax that provides the bulk of its funding, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in a May 25 story. Matthews, a former state representative, made his comments the same day during meeting of the MO HealthNet Oversight Committee.
 
“The existence of the program will be threatened by the end of the year. I cannot overstate the impact, the importance of that,” Matthews said, according to the paper. Matthews went on to say that the division might not even have sufficient funds to pay employees, calling the loss of the tax “crippling.”
 
At issue is the “federal reimbursement allowance,” a voluntary tax paid by Missouri health care providers that allows the state to leverage more federal Medicaid funding. The tax accounts for nearly 80 percent of the program’s funding. Lawmakers typically reauthorize it with little controversy, but renewal legislation derailed this year after two senators insisted on adding unrelated restrictions on abortion and women’s access to birth control. Because of the impasse, lawmakers were unable to secure final passage of such a bill didn’t pass before the 2021 legislative session ended on May 14.
 
As of right now, the tax remains in effect, but it will expire if not renewed by Sept. 30. Governor Parson is expected to call a special legislative session to address the issue but hasn’t yet indicated when he might do so. The fight over reauthorizing the provider tax is separate from the legislature’s refusal to fund a constitutionally mandated expansion of the program that will take effect on July 1.
Judge Orders State to
Bargaining Table with Unions
A Cole County judge ruled on May 10 that Governor Parson’s administration violated the constitutional rights of state employees to collectively bargain when it stopped adhering to valid labor contracts after the 2018 passage of legislation eliminating basic workplace protections for government workers. The judge also ordered the administration to begin good-faith negotiations on new contracts with unions representing state employees.
 
The 2018 law, Senate Bill 1007,  jettisoned the state’s merit system, which decades ago ended political patronage in government hiring, and made most state workers “at-will” employees who “may be discharged for no reason or any reason not prohibited by law.” After the law took effect, the Parson administration stopped following the terms of labor contracts then in place with three unions representing employees in multiple bargaining units at several state agencies.
 
In his ruling, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem said nothing in SB 1007 says it supersedes negotiated labor agreements and interpreting the law that way would render it in violation of Article I, Section 29 of the Missouri Constitution, which guarantees the rights of workers to collectively bargain.
 
Beetem said he ruled favor of plaintiffs “because SB 1007 does not restrict collective bargaining, and Defendants have violated Article I, Section 29 by acting as if it did – by repudiating labor agreements while they were in effect, refusing to process grievances, unilaterally changing terms of employment, and refusing to bargain in good faith over just cause protections, seniority as a factor in employment decisions, and grievance/arbitration procedures.”
 
Although most of the labor contracts in question expired at the end of 2018, they all contained “evergreen” provisions stating that their terms remain in effect while new contracts are negotiated. Beetem ordered the administration to negotiate with state employee unions over new contracts “without any constraint from SB 1007” and “without unilaterally modifying the existing terms and conditions of employment during such bargaining.” The Parson administration is expected to appeal.
Republicans Seek to Punish Police,
Nullify Federal Law
Pro-gun activists gather to protest gun laws in Virginia
On the last day of the 2021 legislative session, the House of Representatives voted 111-42 to pass legislation that purports to declare federal gun laws unenforceable in Missouri while also empowering criminals extract hefty fines from local police departments that assist federal agents in investigating gun crimes, among other provisions. The Senate voted 22-10 in favor of the bill a day earlier, so it next heads to the governor, who supported similar legislation as a state lawmaker.
 
Under House Bill 85, federal gun offenders could sue any local police department whose officers assisted in their arrests. Those departments would be subject to a minimum $50,000 civil fine per occurrence, with the money going to the criminal offender, who also would be entitled to attorney fees.
 
Another main provision of the bill unconstitutionally attempts to nullify federal laws relating to the taxation, registration or tracking of firearms, and also laws prohibiting the possession, ownership, use or transfer of specific types of firearms. Nullification is a discredited 19th century doctrine asserting 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 the 1958 case Cooper v. Aaron as the “illegal defiance of constitutional authority.”
 
Republicans supported the bill while Democrats opposed it. GOP lawmakers approved similar nullification legislation in 2013, but then-Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed it. Although the House voted to override, the effort fell one vote short in the Senate.
 
Protections for Officers
Under Investigation Pass
Missouri lawmakers granted final approval on May 14 to highly controversial legislation that would provide special protections to police officers who are under investigation for alleged wrongdoing. The measure, Senate Bill 26, also contains numerous other provisions loosely related to crime, policing and public safety.
 
The bill’s most contentious provision would create what supporters call a “law enforcement officers bill of rights.” Critics argue the provision is designed to shield problem officers from accountability and is a backward steps after years of protests nationwide over police abuses.
 
SB 26 would place tight restrictions on the length and scope of investigations of police and grant targeted officers special privileges that aren’t afforded to civilians whom the police investigate. For example, law enforcement agencies would be required to notify an officer in writing that an investigation is underway. Also, officers and their counsel would be entitled to review all video and audio evidence prior to questioning. Plus, no more than two investigators could ask an officer questions, and investigations would be required to end after 90 days.
 
The bill also would require local governments to indemnify officers against civil claims for job-related misconduct, putting the financial responsibility for misconduct on taxpayers instead of officers. In addition, SB 26 would restrict local governments from reducing law enforcement budgets, with no exception for necessity due to declining revenue collections. However, one controversial provision that sought to make the common protest tactic of blocking traffic a felony was removed from the bill just before the final vote.
 
Missouri’s move to adopt a special legal protections for police officers runs contrary to efforts in some other states to reconsider such laws. For example, Maryland, which in 1974 became the first state to adopt a law enforcement bill of rights, repealed its statute earlier this year, citing the obstacle it proved to be in firing problem officers, including those convicted of crimes.
Lawmakers Reduce Funding
Cap for School Vouchers
Students from St. Teresea's Academy in Kansas City
One week after the General Assembly finalized legislation to establish tax-supported vouchers for students to attend private K-12 schools, lawmakers passed a second bill to significantly reduce the amount of tax breaks available for the program. Passage of the follow-up bill was part of a deal to secure Senate passage of the first. Both await action by the governor.
 
House Bill 349, which won final passage on May 6, would have initially authorized up to $50 million a year in tax credits for the tuition vouchers, an amount that later could be adjusted for inflation until it reached a cap of $75 million annually. However, lawmakers then followed with Senate Bill 86, which contains a superseding provision limiting the credits to $25 million a year to start, with a subsequent $50 million annual cap.
 
The voucher program would allow people to donate to private organizations that in turn would provide qualifying students with partial scholarships for private school tuition. Since donors would receive a tax credit for the full amount of their contributions, they would get back all of their money. However, the amount of tax revenue the state collects for public education and other services would be reduced.
Special Session Needed to
Renew Medicaid Provider Tax
The General Assembly’s failure during the 2021 legislative session to reauthorize a key funding mechanism for Missouri’s Medicaid program means the governor must call a special session in the coming months for lawmakers to finish the job. If such legislation isn’t passed by Sept. 30, it could put the continued existence of the program in jeopardy.
 
Senate Bill 43 sought to reauthorize a special tax on health care providers – known as the “federal reimbursement allowance” – that helps Missouri leverage billions of dollars in additional federal Medicaid funding. Although renewal bills typically pass without much fuss, this year’s effort derailed in April when a senator successfully attached an amendment seeking to restrict women’s access to birth control. Subsequent efforts to pass the renewal language in other bills was blocked by members of the Senate Conservative Caucus, who started insisting on adding unrelated anti-abortion language.
 
The fight over renewing the FRA is separate from the legislature’s refusal to fund a constitutionally mandated expansion of the program that will take effect on July 1. While the latter action seeks to block the state from providing services to the expanded population, not renewing the FRA would cut off funding needed to serve existing Medicaid recipients.
Legal Immunity from COVID-19
Lawsuits Sent to Governor
In the waning hours of the 2021 legislative session, the House of Representatives voted 97-57 to grant final approval to a bill providing businesses, health care providers, nursing homes and religious institutions with blanket immunity from most lawsuits related to COVID-19 exposure. The bill was a top priority of Governor Parson, who in January asked lawmakers to make it the first bill sent to him this year after they didn’t pass similar legislation in 2020.
 
Despite winning Senate passage in February, Senate Bill 51 languished in the House of Representatives for more than two months until April 26 when, in an unexpected move, a House committee voted to reject it. The committee later reversed its action but kept the bill tied up until the second-to-last day of session.
 
Business groups began seeking COVID-19 liability protections almost immediately after the pandemic began more than a year ago. Lawmakers declined to do so during the 2020 regular legislative session last spring and again during a December special session. To date, it doesn’t appear any lawsuits have been filed in Missouri relating to COVID-19 exposure, and critics contend the pandemic is simply being used as cover to provide businesses with unwarranted legal protections that will apply more generally.
Court Says State Must Disclose
Medical Marijuana Info
The Missouri Court of Appeals Western District ruled on May 18 that the state Department of Health and Senior Services must disclose records relating to successful applicants for medical marijuana licenses in appeals proceedings by unsuccessful applicants. The decision upholds a trial judge’s ruling against the department.
 
The department claimed that a provision of the Missouri Constitution authorizing marijuana production and sales for medical purposes prohibits the agency from disclosing any information about applicants, even as part of the discovery process during legal proceedings. However, the three-judge appellate panel concluded the constitution says the exact opposite and expressly allow for such information to be used during the license appeals process. To hold otherwise would produce and “unreasonable and absurd result,” the court said.
 
The department has faced relentless criticism over its implementation of medical marijuana, which Missouri voters authorized in 2018, and thousands of appeals from rejected applicants are pending before the Administrative Hearing Commission. The agency has been accused of using a secretive and arbitrary process that favors applicants with ties to Governor Parson’s administration over more qualified applicants who lack such connections. The department could still appeal the case to the Missouri Supreme Court.
Tax Collection for Internet
Sales Wins Final Passage
On final votes of 25-4 in the Senate and 145-6-1 in the House of Representatives, lawmakers approved legislation on May 14 that will enable local governments and the state to more easily collect sales taxes from online retailers, while also authorizing future cuts to state income taxes if certain revenue collection thresholds are triggered and creating a state-level earned income tax credit to benefit working Missourians.
 
Supporters have pushed for the online sales tax provision for years, saying it’s necessary to level the competitive playing field between local brick-and-mortar businesses that have always collected sales taxes and internet retailers, which usually don’t, even though such taxes have always been due under state law. Missouri is the last state in the nation to enact such legislation.
June 26 Town Hall 
I invite you to mark your calendars for the next virtual town hall event, broadcasting live from District 22 at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, on June 26 at 1pm. 

At this event, I will have the opportunity to present a resolution to an outstanding citizen in our district— someone who is putting in the work to make our community the best it can be. If you know someone who is deserves to be recognized for their work in our community, please complete this form to nominate them for the District 22 Outstanding Citizen Award. 
COVID-19 Vaccine 
Truman Medical Center is now offering walk-in vaccinations at their our two hospital campuses (2211 Charlotte and 7900 Lee’s Summit Road) 7am to 2pm Monday through Friday.  In addition, you can schedule a vaccine at www.trumed.org or by calling 816-404-CARE. 

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.
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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