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Representative Yolanda Young's Newsletter

May 14, 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 marks the final day of the 2021 legislative session. We are under a constitutional deadline to adjourn by 6pm tonight, and we are will in session as I write this. I will give you a full update on everything that we passed in next week's newsletter, but this week brought lots of news-worthy headlines. 

As I've mentioned in previous newsletters, the last week of session is often the busiest because everyone is in a rush to get their bills passed before we are required to adjourn. This week brought many late nights and multiple lively debates, but I think we really did pass some good legislation this week that will benefit Missourians. 

We imposed regulations on religious boarding schools to prevent child abuse and neglect, raised the gas tax two cents so we can repair our crippling roads and bridges, banned the use of police chokeholds, and allowed college athletes to get paid for extra work they do for their universities. I am proud to be able to have voted in favor of all of these measures that will make life better for many Missourians. 
Unfortunately, despite the good bills we were able to get across the finish-line, many Missourians are now left to deal with the consequences of two announcements from Governor Parson— that he is withdrawing plans to expand Medicaid and is ending federal unemployment in Missouri in June (more information on these announcements are discussed later in this newsletter). 

If you are currently on unemployment and need assistance finding a job in your area, call my office at (573) 751-3129 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. 

Yours in Service,

Yolanda Young
Parson Breaks Promise to
Implement Medicaid Expansion
Going back on earlier promises to implement a constitutionally mandated expansion of Medicaid, Governor Parson on May 13 said his administration is withdrawing the expansion implementation plan it submitted to the federal government in March. Parson’s reversal marks a setback for expansion proponents and guarantees a lawsuit will be filed to force the state to do as the Missouri Constitution requires.
 
In a news release announcing his decision, Parson cited the General Assembly’s refusal to include expansion funding in the state operating budget for the 2022 fiscal year. However, under a constitutional amendment voters ratified in 2020, an estimated 275,000 additional Missourians will be eligible for the health care program and entitled to services when the new fiscal year begins July 1, regardless of if the program is fully funded.
 
Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost of expansion – about $1.4 billion for FY 2022. In addition, implementation will secure Missouri an additional $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, injecting that much new federal spending into the state would create an estimated 80,000 jobs and provide a substantial boost to the economy.
Lawmakers Approve First
Fuel Tax Bump in 25 Years
Following four hours of contentious debate, the House of Representatives on May 11 voted 104-52 to grant final approval to legislation to increase Missouri’s fuel tax for the first time in 25 years. The bill heads to Governor Parson, who issued a statement the next day signaling his intent to sign it.
 
Over several years, Senate Bill 262 would gradually add a total of 12.5 cents to the state fuel tax, which currently stands at 17 cents per gallon. The tax would generate more than $500 million a year in additional revenue for state and local transportation projects once fully implemented.
 
The first 2.5-cent increase is scheduled to kick in Oct. 1, with additional 2.5-cent bumps every subsequent July 1 until the tax tops out at 29.5 cents in 2025. Missouri currently has one of the nation’s lowest state fuel taxes. It last increased in 1996 under legislation enacted in 1992.
 
Like the last successful fuel-tax hike bill in 1992, SB 262 isn’t subject to voter approval. One unusual feature of the legislation allows Missourians to annually apply for refunds on the new portion of the tax. However, supporters expect few people will go through the trouble of maintaining receipts and filing annual refund requests with the Missouri Department of Revenue.
Prescription Drug Monitoring
Program Wins Approval
Senator Holly Rehder, the bill's long-time sponsor speaks about PDMP on the Senate floor. 
With Democrats providing the votes necessary for final passage, the House of Representatives voted 91-64 on May 11 to grant final approval to legislation creating a statewide prescription drug monitoring program to help prevent opioid abuse. If the governor signs the bill into law, it will mark the culmination of a years-long effort to create a PDMP in Missouri, which is the only state in the nation that currently doesn’t have one.
 
For eight straight years, PDMP legislation routinely passed the House only to die in the Senate. But with the bill’s long-time House sponsor now a senator, the upper chamber approved it in early April on a vote of 20-12, with Senate Democrats also proving critical to passage.
 
Opponents of a statewide PDMP steadily lost leverage over the years as many Missouri counties joined a PDMP network started by St. Louis County in response to the legislature’s prolonged inaction. The St. Louis County PDMP now covers about 90 percent of Missouri’s population. Under Senate 63, however, the new statewide PDMP will supplant St. Louis County’s version.
Parson to Block Enhanced
Unemployment Benefits
Governor Parson’s administration will block Missourians from receiving $300 a week in enhanced federal unemployment benefits after June 12, the governor announced May 11. The enhanced benefits are being provided to unemployed workers under the latest federal pandemic relief package and are scheduled to expire in September. Parson’s action cuts off Missourians from the benefit three months early.
 
The move follows a recent trend among some Republican governors who claim, without much evidence, that the temporary extra unemployment benefits are keeping people out of the workforce. That argument ignores various market factors, including increased competition for workers that has pushed up wages to levels some employers don’t want to pay – particularly for jobs with a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure – and the inability of some parents to return to work because of the lack of child care since many schools and care facilities remain closed or below capacity.
Regulations for Religious
Boarding Schools Pass
Maggie Drew attended a rally in November in Stockton, Missouri, to call attention to alleged abuses at Circle of Hope Girls Ranch and other faith-based reform schools. Her sign listed her own experiences, she said. LAURA BAUER LBAUER@KCSTAR.COM
For the first time in several decades, religious boarding schools would be subject to state regulation under legislation that cleared the General Assembly on May 13. The bipartisan bill passed 23-9 in the Senate, 147-1 in the House of Representatives and heads to the governor.
 
The longstanding problem of unregulated religious boarding schools operating in Missouri came to the forefront last fall following a Kansas City Star investigation that revealed allegations of abuse at the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Cedar County. In March, the state Attorney General’s Office charged the couple who owns the now-closed ranch with 101 felony counts, including statutory rape, statutory sodomy, child molestation and child abuse or neglect.
 
Not long after, the governor appointed the attorney general to assist Cedar County officials in investigating a second religious facility, Agape Boarding School, over allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Missouri and South Carolina are the only states in the nation to completely exempt religious schools from regulation.
 
House Bill 557 would require religious boarding schools to notify the Missouri Department of Social Services of the existence of their operations and follow basic safety requirements, such as submitting to fire, safety and health inspections and maintaining medical records for all residents. The bill also requires the schools to conduct background checks on all employees and volunteers, as well as guarantee parents have access to their children.
Bill Lifts Tuition Cap,
Protects College Athletes’ Rights
Lawmakers granted final passage on May 14 to legislation that would eliminate a statutory cap limiting how much Missouri’s public colleges and universities can increase tuition each year. The bill, which includes various provisions relating to higher education, also would guarantee the right of college athletes in Missouri to financially benefit from their names and likenesses, NCAA rules to the contrary notwithstanding.
 
House Bill 297 would eliminate the tuition cap as of July 1, 2022. The cap has been in state law since 2007. Because current state funding for higher education is at about the same level as it was two decades ago, the bill’s supporters say colleges and universities need the ability to enact higher tuition to generate revenue. Opponents of lifting the cap argue that instead of shifting the financial burden to students and their families through higher tuition, lawmakers should instead bolster higher education spending.
 
The provision allowing college athletes to profit from their names and likenesses follows a national trend of pushing back on NCAA rules that prohibit athletes from profiting in any way from their participation in college sports, despite the fact that college sports is a multibillion business that provides substantial revenue to schools and enables coaches and athletic department officials to demand hefty salaries.
 
The House of Representatives voted 145-8 in favor of the bill following a 23-9-1 vote in the Senate a day earlier. Before being transformed into an omnibus higher education bill, HB 297 originally was limited to creating a statewide educational mission in visual and performing arts, computer science and cybersecurity for Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.
Federal Judge Tosses Lawsuit
Filed by Attorney General
U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey on May 11 dismissed a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Eric Schmitt over a provision of the most recent federal coronavirus relief bill that prohibits states from using the federal funding to replace revenue lost from instituting state tax cuts. In his ruling, Autrey said Schmitt’s claims were “too speculative, abstract and remote” to move forward, according to The Kansas City Star.
 
Schmitt has filed a series of politically high profile – but legally dubious – lawsuits in recent months as he seeks the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in 2022. Others include challenges to Biden administration actions on immigration and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. More than a year ago, Schmitt sued China in a farfetched effort to blame it for the COVID-19 pandemic, but the case has gone nowhere.
Restrictions on Police
Chokeholds Clears Legislature
Tyler Harris, center, from University City, marches with an image he created of George Floyd, on May 29, 2020. Hundreds marched through the streets to protest the killing of George Floyd and the use of police chokeholds. DAVID CARSON // STL TODAY
Police would be prohibited from using respiratory chokeholds in most circumstances under wide-ranging criminal justice legislation that secured final passage through the General Assembly on May 13. The Senate voted 26-7 in favor of the bill before the House of Representatives sent it to the governor on a vote of 140-4.
 
Senate Bill 53 also requires law enforcement agencies to track and report use-of-force incidents, increases penalties for officers who have sexual contact with those in custody and grants prosecutors more authority to seek to overturn past wrongful convictions. The measure also eliminates a requirement that Kansas City police officers reside within the city limits.
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.
Hope Faith Homeless Assistance
The Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus is looking for donations of new socks to pass our to the homeless population here in Kansas City. If you are able to help, drop off socks at 705 Virginia Ave or purchase items from their Amazon wishlist and have them mailed to the facility. You can also make a monetary donation on their website
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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