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Representative Yolanda Young's Newsletter

August 27, 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,

This week the Kansas City Public School welcomed students back for the 2021-2022 school year. To celebrate, I was invited to a neighborhood vaccination and health check event where health services and free school supplies were provided. I also visited a back-to-school picnic at George Melcher Elementary. It was great to see all of the children and their families and their excitement to start another school year and get back to learning! 
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic will once again be at the center of the school year. If you haven't been vaccinated, especially if you have children in school, I encourage you to get vaccinated to help protect those who are too young to get the vaccine. Continue to wear your masks according to CDC guidelines and practice social distancing whenever possible. Taking these steps will help us move toward minimizing the disease while we all work toward ending this pandemic.  

Remember, we are always here to help you with anything you may need. For assistance, call my office at (573) 751-3129 or email me at yolanda.young@house.mo.gov

Yours in Service,

Yolanda Young
Attorney General Seeks to
Stop School Mask Mandates
Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit on Aug. 24 seeking to block Missouri public schools from enforcing mask requirements designed to keep students, faculty and staff safe as the COVID-19 delta variant continues to sweep through state. Schmitt has made his legal efforts to thwart local government responses to the continuing pandemic a central component of his campaign for the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat that’s up for election in 2022.
 
The lawsuit, filed in Boone County Circuit Court, directly challenges the mask mandate adopted by the Columbia Public Schools. However, Schmitt is seeking class-action status so that a ruling in his favor also would apply all other Missouri school districts. In the lawsuit, Schmitt said he “seeks to protect the welfare of Missouri’s children and the liberty and constitutional rights of the people of Missouri.”
 
The latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal indoor masking in schools, including for vaccinated adults. At present, none of the three COVID-19 vaccinations in widespread use in the U.S. have been approved for children under age 12, putting them at particular risk. Although children appeared less susceptible to COVID-19 early in the pandemic, infection rates among children have soared with the highly contagious delta variant.
 
As The Kansas City Star and other news outlets reported, White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki, during an Aug. 24 media briefing, sharply criticized the lawsuit for putting children at risk. “The president thinks that’s completely unacceptable,” Psaki said.
 
As the current school year – the third impacted by the pandemic – gets underway, at least 50 Missouri school districts have adopted mask requirements to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Critics contend Schmitt’s lawsuit, if successful, greatly increases the likelihood of more schools being forced to shift from in-person instruction to on-line learning in order to contain outbreaks.
 
As of Aug. 25, no hearing date had been set in the case, State of Missouri ex rel. Eric Schmitt v. Columbia Public Schools. So far, Schmitt has not requested a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of mask mandates while the case is adjudicated, which could take months. As a result, such requirements will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Most New Laws Passed
This Year Take Effect Aug. 28
Most of the new state laws the Missouri General Assembly enacted during its spring legislative session will take effect Aug. 28, including high-profile measures relating to taxation, private school vouchers and policing. A handful of bills passed this year contained emergency clauses, meaning they took effect the moment the governor signed them into law.

Senate Bill 262 gradually increases Missouri’s fuel tax, which has been set at 17 cents per gallon since 1996, by an additional 12.5 cents over several years. The first of five 2.5-cent increases will kick in Oct. 1. Another tax measure, Senate Bill 153, makes it easier for local governments and the state to collect sales taxes for online purchases that already were due under statute but rarely paid.
 
One controversial new law, Senate Bill 26, grants special legal protections to police officers accused of wrongdoing, likely making it harder to hold problem officers accountable for their actions. However, another measure taking effect, Senate Bill 53, institutes criminal justice reforms by prohibiting police from using respiratory chokeholds on suspects in most circumstances, requiring law enforcement agencies to track and report use-of-force incidents, increasing penalties for officers who have sexual contact with those in custody and granting prosecutors more authority to seek to overturn past wrongful convictions.
 
Other significant legislation taking effect includes House Bill 349, which redirects state revenue for tax breaks to provide partial tuition vouchers for K-12 students to attend private schools; Senate Bill 51, which shields businesses, health care providers, nursing homes and religious institutions from lawsuits relating to COVID-19 exposure; and House Bill 297, which removes an existing statutory cap on how much public colleges and universities may increase tuition in a given year and ensures college athletes are able to earn compensation from the use of their name, image, likeness or reputation.
Federal DOJ Asks Court to
Nullify Gun Nullification Law
The U.S. Department of Justice is asking a Cole County circuit judge to block a new Missouri law that purports to declare federal gun laws unenforceable in the state and imposes punishments on local police departments that assist federal authorities in criminal investigations.
 
The justice department stated its position in an Aug. 18 filing in support of a lawsuit brought jointly by St. Louis city and St. Louis County in June asking the court to declare House Bill 85 unconstitutional. The Missouri General Assembly passed the bill, on strict partisan lines, in May, and Governor Parson signed it into law the following month. The lawsuit argues the bill violates the Supremacy Clause of the federal Constitution, which prohibits individual states from invalidating federal laws.
 
In addition to attempting to nullify federal gun laws, HB 85 authorizes federal gun offenders to sue Missouri police departments for a minimum $50,000 per occurrence, plus attorney fees, for assisting federal authorities. The bill also subjects any local government agency to similar fines merely for hiring a former federal agent who previously enforced gun laws, regardless of whether that person is hired in a law enforcement capacity. The new law carries the dubious moniker of the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.”
 
“HB 85 is unlawful under the Supremacy Clause,” the justice department filing says. “The state of Missouri lacks authority to nullify valid federal law, including the firearm regulations at issue here. Once the central premise upon which HB 85 stands is rejected – and federal firearm laws are recognized as valid – all remaining substantive provisions of HB 85 must also be rejected, because they are non-severable.”
 
The department also said “HB 85 has caused, and will continue to cause, significant harms to law enforcement within the state of Missouri” by prompting local police to cease cooperating and sharing information with federal authorities for fear of being sanctioned under the new state law.
 
Cole County Judge Daniel Green was scheduled to hold a hearing in the lawsuit on the afternoon of Aug. 19. The case, City of St. Louis, et al., v. State of Missouri, hasn’t yet been set for a hearing.
State Reports 10,000 COVID Deaths,
Real Toll Much Higher
Missouri’s death toll from COVID-19 topped the 10,000 fatality mark on Aug. 12, according to official numbers reported by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. However, because the state undercounts COVID-19 fatalities compared to statistics compiled by local health departments, the state’s total death count from the disease stood at 11,182 that day, according to an analysis conducted by the Missouri Independent.

Because of the undercount, Missouri likely topped 10,000 deaths from COVID-19 in late May or early June, according to the Independent, an on-line news organization focusing on state government. Missouri’s first death from the disease was reported on March 18, 2020. The 10,002 cumulative cases the state reported for Aug. 12 was 1,180 short of what local health departments reported.
 
The discrepancy is because the state only count fatalities in cases in which a person’s COVID-19 positive status was confirmed by a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test and excludes cases confirmed by an antigen test. Most counties include antigen test cases in their fatality counts, according to the Independent. The news site first reported that Governor Parson’s administration has been underreporting cases total and death counts in March.
 
Missouri currently ranks in the top third among U.S. states with the most new COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita. It also has among the lowest vaccination rates, with just 43 percent of eligible Missourians being fully vaccinated as of Aug. 19, according to tracking data maintained by The New York Times.
State Board Changes Substitute
Teacher Training Rules
The Missouri State Board of Education voted 7-0 on Aug. 17 to approve a regulation permanently authorizing a streamlined process for obtaining a substitute teacher’s license in Missouri. The board first authorized the new process a year ago on a temporary basis to address a statewide substitute teacher shortage that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Under the alternate training process, prospective substitute teachers must complete a 20-hour on-line training course approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Previously, substitute teachers were required to have at least 60 hours of college credit. Under the revised regulation, applicants can still go the college-credit route to qualify for a substitute teacher’s license.
 
According to the Missourinet radio news network, board member Don Claycomb of Linn said that despite initial skepticism by some on the board, the change has been an improvement. Claycomb noted that while the required 60 college credit hours can be in any subject – and not necessarily related to education, the on-line course focuses on preparing people to be substitute teachers.
COVID-19 Vaccine Lottery
To encourage people to get vaccinated in Missouri, the Governor announced that the Department of Health and Senior Services will be hosting a vaccine lottery. From now until October, vaccinated Missourians will have the chance to win $10,000 just by proving that you are vaccinated. 

For those 18 years or older, 800 Missourians will be chosen to win $10,000 cash. For those 12 to 17 years of age, 100 people will be chosen to win a $10,000 educated savings account, to be used to pay for school. 

For a chance to win $10,000 visit covidvaccine.mo.gov/win or call (877) 435-8411 to enter. To win, you must be able to prove your Missouri residence and your vaccination status. 
KC Public Libraries Offering
Free COVID-19 Vaccines
As the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, the Kansas City Public Library is partnering with KC CARE Health Center to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Beginning August 3, 2021, anyone in need of a COVID-19 vaccine can receive one for FREE from KC CARE Health Center at the following Library locations:

Tuesdays, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.

Wednesdays, 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Waldo Branch, 201 E. 75th St.

Thursdays, Noon - 6 p.m.
North-East Branch, 6000 Wilson Ave.


Anyone hoping to get a vaccine can walk in to one of the Library clinic sessions as long as supplies last. No registration is required. Available for ages 12 and older. There is no cost to get the vaccine -- it is completely free.

The full schedule of vaccine clinics at Library locations can be found on the Library’s online calendar.
Additional COVID-19 Vaccine Resources
Truman Medical Center is offering walk-in vaccinations at their 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. 

ALL Missourians are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have not been vaccinated, I encourage you to visit the COVID-19 map to find a vaccination site near you. The following places are currently offering vaccines in Kansas City: 
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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Jefferson City, MO 65101

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State Representative Yolanda Young · 201 W Capitol Ave · Jefferson City, MO 65101-1556 · USA

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