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Representative Yolanda Young's Newsletter

February 20, 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,

While winter weather cut our week in Jefferson City short, we were still able to pack a full agenda in the two days we were in full session. 

On Wednesday, our first day of session for the week, I was able to have one of my bills, House Bill 324, heard in the Committee on Elections and Elected Officials. HB 324 would require election authorities to make available accessible voting machines to the blind and visually impaired for all elections, not just federal elections as is the current law. This bill was previously filed by my predecessor, Brandon Ellington, and I am honored to move it forward.

Expanding access to voting is one of my legislative priorities; I am grateful that I am able to carry this bill, especially for my blind and visually impaired constituents who don't have the ability to vote privately and independently like all other voters. We had several organizations testify in favor of the bill including The League of Women Voters, the ACLU, the Voter Protection Coalition, the Missouri School for the Blind, the Missouri Council of the Blind, and the National Education Association. I am hopeful that HB 324 will be passed out of committee soon and make it to the House floor for debate. I will keep you updated as the bill moves through the legislative process. 

If there’s anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office at 573-751-3129. 
 
Yours in Service,
 
Yolanda Young 
Winter Weather Sweeps the State
The winter storms that recently shut down most of Missouri also impacted legislative proceedings, causing the House of Representatives to cancel two days of session on February 15-16 while the Senate took off the entire week.
 
While the weather was interfering with session, it was also taking an even bigger toll on the people back home in each of our districts. Many areas across our state, including Kansas City, experienced rolling blackouts caused by the overwhelming amount of energy needed to keep our homes warm as temperatures reached below -20 degrees. While the rolling blackouts were supposed to be a controlled way to conserve energy so the entire system wouldn't shut down, some were without power for hours longer than anticipated. I received calls from constituents who expected to be without power for an hour but waited just over five hours before their power was restored. 

I am hopeful that we do not experience severe winter weather again this season, but we should all prepare just in case there is a significant drop in temperatures again. The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) released a winter weather guide to help Missourians prepare for another round of severe winter weather or rolling blackouts. Being prepared for the next winter storm is the best way to protect yourself and your family should you be stuck without power again this winter. To order a free family winter safety guide, called SEMA at (573) 526-4768. 
COVID-19 Update
Severe winter weather slowed down the state's COVID-19 vaccine distribution to Missourians this week. We did, however, receive 1,115,100 first and second doses of the vaccine from the federal government to be distributed throughout our state as soon as mass vaccinations can be rescheduled. Qualifying residents of Jackson County may sign up using the state's vaccine navigator to be placed on the list to receive the vaccine at the Cerner World Headquarters Campus in North Kansas City. Pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS have begun receiving vaccines to distribute to residents of long-term care facilities, so if you register on each of their websites, you should be able to get on a list to receive any extra doses that become available. 

We are still in Phase 1B- Tier 2, so 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 the state's vaccine navigator

I encourage you to visit the COVID-19 map to find a vaccination 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.  
Limits on Malpractice Awards Headed to Supreme Court
The Missouri Supreme Court could soon decide the constitutionality of the state’s cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases after a lower appellate court determined only the state’s highest court has jurisdiction to settle the issue.
 
The case was brought in 2017 by a woman who alleged negligent actions by her doctors during the delivery of her child and subsequent care caused her to suffer several serious and permanent injuries. Two years later, Jackson County jury awarded her $30,000 in economic damages plus $1 million in punitive damages. Applying the statutory cap on such damages, the trial judge reduced the latter amount $748,828.
 
Both sides appealed, with the woman claiming the damage cap interferes with her constitutional right to trial by jury by arbitrarily limiting the award jurors deemed appropriate after hearing the evidence, while her doctors argue the punitive damage award should be reduced even further under the cap statute.
 
The state Supreme Court in 2012 ruled a previous version of the medical malpractice damage cap statute violated a state constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to trial by jury in all causes of action that existed under the English common law prior to the adoption of the state’s first constitution in 1820. However, that same year the high court upheld caps on non-economic damages arising from statutory causes of action created by the legislature after 1820.
 
In 2015, the legislature enacted a law purporting to repeal the common law cause of action of medical practice and replace it with a statutory cause of action. The validity of that law is questionable, however, since it cannot alter the historical fact that medical malpractice was a common law cause of action prior to 1820 and thus constitutionally protected from legislative interference.
 
In the current case, Velazquez v. Reeves, a three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals Western ruled that because it challenges the constitutionality of a statute, the Supreme Court has exclusive appellate jurisdiction to decide the issue and ordered the case transferred to it. If the Supreme Court accepts the case, a final decision could come by the end of the year.
Committee Passes Bill to Address Unemployment Benefit Overpayments
On February 17 a House committee voted 7-1 to advance bipartisan legislation to block Governor Parson’s administration from forcing tens of thousands of unemployed Missourians to collectively repay as much as $150 million in excess benefits the administration mistakenly paid out last year as unemployment skyrocketed due to the pandemic.
 
The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has testified that 97.7 percent of the overpayments did not involve fraud and instead resulted from mistakes by the department. The overpayments largely involved federal pandemic funds, and the Federal Department of Labor has authorized states to waive repayment from people who, through no fault of their own, were given excess benefits.
 
House Bill 1083, which combined similar bills filed by both Democrats and Republicans, would require the department to forgo the recovery of non-fraudulent overpayments of federal unemployment funds. The committee also voted 7-1 to pass House Concurrent Resolution 30, a Democratic proposal urging the Parson administration to waive repayment on his own authority without requiring a change in state law. To date, Governor Parson has insisted the excess benefits must be repaid, even though most recipients of the unemployment overpayments applied for benefits in good faith and lack the means to repay the benefits. 
Warming Centers in Kansas City
If you or someone you know are in need of a place to get out of the winter weather, I encourage you to visit one of our local warming centers. Temperatures in Kansas City will likely be below freezing for the next several weeks and it's important that those who need a warm place to shelter have somewhere to go. Jackson County has nine warming centers throughout the county, open to anyone who needs a place to go. For more information on these centers, you may call the center directly at the numbers listed below or you may call the United Way at (816) 474-5112. 
 
  • Brush Creek Community Center 
    • 3801 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd
    • (816) 513-0730
    • Open Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
  • Garrison Community Center 
    • 1124 E 5th Street
    • (816) 513-7500
    • Open Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
  • Gregg/Klice Community Center 
    • 1600 John "Buck" O'Neil Way
    • (816) 513-0652
    • Open Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
  • Hillcrest Community Center
    • 10401 Hillcrest 
    • (816) 513-8560
    • Open Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
  • Kansas City North Community Center 
    • 3930 NE Antioch Road
    • (816) 513-7740
    • Open Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
  • Line Creek Community Center 
    • 5940 NW Waukomis Drive
    •  (816) 513-0760 (call before arrival)
    • Open Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
  • Marlborough Community Center 
    • 8200 Paseo Blvd
    • (816) 513-7800
    • Open Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
  • Scott Eicke Warming Center 
    • Bartle Hall, 301 W 13th Street 
    • Open Daily 6pm-8am
  • Westport Roanoke Community Center 
    • 3601 Roanoke Road
    • (816) 513-7660
    • Open Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
Joe Delaney Memorial Highway
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 until he heroically lost his life in an effort to save three drowning children.  

Designating a section of I-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 area 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
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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