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Representative Yolanda Young's Newsletter

April 16, 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,

As our last month of the legislative session nears, our days in the Capitol are becoming longer and longer. This week the House of Representatives passed over 20 bills and sent them over to the Senate. Among them were bills to provide more funding for: education, the public defenders office, Department of Mental Health, and other state agencies. There were bills to reduce aircraft taxes, prohibit the publication of lottery winners, stop mail theft, and create equity between charter and public school funding. 

The House also truly agreed to and finally passed three bills— creating the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum special license plate and two bills that create tax credits for foster and adoptive parents (discussed in detail below). These three bills made it through both the House and the Senate, but will need to be signed by the Governor to become laws. 
On Wednesday evening after our session adjourned, the General Assembly gathered for our annual charity softball tournament. Last year the tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19, but since most of us are fully vaccinated, we were able to play this year! Between donations from the participating teams and spectators, we raised over $11,000 for the Samaritan Center. My team, the Legislayers, managed to score several runs, but if points were given for the team with most team spirit, we would have won!
Remember, my office is here to help you. If you or someone you know needs any assistance, please don't hesitate to call my office at (573) 751-3129.

Yours in Service,

Yolanda Young
Medicaid Expansion Funds Redistributed
The House of Representatives on April 15 voted 143-1-4 in favor of a $342.26 million appropriations bill that seeks to redistribute revenue made available by the decision to essentially defund the state’s Medicaid program. By refusing to provide the spending authority necessary for a constitutionally mandated eligibility expansion that will take effect July 1, the existing Medicaid program will have to provide health care coverage to nearly 300,000 more Missourians with no additional funding whatsoever.
 
When the House passed its version of the FY 2022 state operating budget earlier this month, it excluded Medicaid expansion funding. House Bill 21 seeks to take the leftover spending authority and allocate it for various other programs that enjoy wide support. However, as supporters of Medicaid expansion noted on the House floor, with robust general revenue collections and a massive influx of federal economic stimulus funds, Missouri has sufficient revenue to fund those items and implement Medicaid expansion.
 
Because the state constitution will soon require Medicaid to cover adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, an estimated 275,000 additional Missourians will be eligible for the program. But if the legislature doesn’t authorize the necessary spending authority, the program could exhaust its funding partway through the FY 2022, which starts July 1.
 
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost of expansion, or about $1.4 billion for FY 2022. In addition, Missouri would receive an additional $1.5 billion under the most recently passed COVID-19 relief bill for implementing expansion. Such a large influx of spending is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs and have a tremendous economic impact on the state.
 
Because of the economic benefits, Governor Parson, a longtime expansion opponent, called for fully funding Medicaid in the FY 2022 budget. Senate leadership has sent mixed messages about whether they will restore full Medicaid funding in the primary budget bills, which currently are pending in the chamber.
 
We have until the May 7 constitutional deadline to pass a final budget. If Medicaid expansion funding isn’t included, it is almost guaranteed that a lawsuit will be filed and the state will be forced to follow the constitution and fund Medicaid expansion. 
Labor Department to Stop Unemployment Recollection
                       Anna Hui, Director of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
 
The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced on April 15 that it has paused all efforts to collect almost $150 million in excess unemployment benefits it mistakenly paid out last year when the state’s jobless rate spiked due to the pandemic. The move came two days after a contentious hearing during which lawmakers accused the department of going back on a commitment it had made six weeks earlier to suspend its collection efforts.

According to the department, nearly all of the overpayments involved recipients who acted in good faith but, through no fault of their own, were given more benefits than they should have. Governor Parson originally insisted the money be paid back, even though the federal government had waived repayment in non-fraud situations.

As bipartisan pressure mounted and the House of Representatives was poised to pass legislation to block the department from pursuing most collections, the Parson administration seemingly relented in early March and said it would suspend collection efforts in exchange for lawmakers removing an emergency clause from the bill that would have allowed the measure to take effect immediately instead of in August, as is usually the case for most new laws.
 
The House upheld its part of the bargain before passing House Bill 1083, but the department apparently did not, with numerous reports of the agency continuing to file wage garnishments, imposing liens and taking other aggressive collection efforts. During a hearing before the House Special Committee on Government Oversight, department Director Anna Hui insisted the agency had kept its side of the deal but some cases slipped through the cracks. Lawmakers were not mollified by her explanation. HB 1083 remains pending in the Senate, where a committee approved it on April 15.

If you have questions about your unemployment claim or your demand for repayment, please call my office at (573) 751-3129.
Adoption, Foster Parent Tax Breaks Sent to Governor
The House of Representatives on April 12 granted final passage to a pair of bipartisan bills to provide new tax breaks for adoptive and foster parents. Both measures now go to governor to be signed into law.
 
House Bill 429 would expand who can qualify for an existing $10,000 adoption tax credit. Current law limits the credit to adoptions of special needs children who are Missouri residents. The bill removes both the special needs and residency requirements to qualify for the credit, although applications involving special needs children and Missouri residents would be given priority. The bill also creates a tax deduction of up to $5,000 for expenses relating to providing foster care.
 
House Bill 430 also contains provisions relating to the adoption tax credit, as well as tax breaks for domestic violence shelters and maternity homes. On their final House votes, HB 429 passed 127-8-4, while HB 430 passed 142-0. Both bills had previously cleared the Senate.
House Approves Lifting Cap on College Tuition Hikes
Missouri’s public colleges and universities would be free to increase tuition by as much as their governing boards will allow under legislation the House of Representatives approved on April 13 by a vote of 128-14-12.
 
Starting on July 1, 2022, House Bill 297 would eliminate a statutory cap limiting annual tuition growth to a certain percentage that has been in place since 2007. Because state funding for higher education has remained largely flat for two decades, HB 297 supporters say Missouri’s public colleges and universities need the flexibility to increase tuition by more than the cap allows in order to generate need revenue. Opponents of eliminating the cap say families can’t afford large tuition hikes and that lawmakers should instead increase higher education appropriations.
 
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 but was transformed into an omnibus higher education bill. The measure now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
Ethics Probe Continues After House Rejects Resignation
The House of Representatives on April 15 voted 153-0 to temporarily reject the resignation of a state representative so that the House Ethics Committee can complete its investigation into allegations that he physically and sexually abused his now-adult children when they were young. State Rep. Rick Roeber (R-Lee’s Summit) submitted a letter on April 13 saying he was resigning as of April 16.
 
The Ethics Committee plans to issue its report on April 19. After the report is released, the House could take further action against Roeber, including expulsion. An expulsion vote would require a two-thirds supermajority, or a minimum of 109 votes. The House has only expelled one member in state history, ousting a lawmaker in 1865 for disloyalty to the Union. As in the current case, that lawmaker attempted to resign, but the House refused to accept the resignation pending consideration of an investigative report and subsequently voted for expulsion.
 
The allegations against Roeber date to the 1990s and early 2000s and became public last fall when his children shared their experiences with The Kansas City Star. At the time, Roeber was running to fill the House seat previously held by his wife, Rebecca Roeber, who died in 2019 from injuries suffered in a serious car crash months earlier. Rick Roeber’s children were from a previous marriage. He was narrowly elected in November.
 
Roeber submitted his resignation shortly after news broke on April 13 that House leaders had contacted prosecutors and police in Jackson County expressing concerns about Roeber’s continued contacts with a minor child. In his resignation letter sent to all House members, Roeber said he only intended to serve one session and is moving out of state with his fiancé to be closer to her children and grandchildren.
COVID-19 Vaccine 
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.
Vacant Lot Project
I was contacted last week by a representative of the Heartland Conservation Alliance (HCA) for help identifying community leaders who are interested in fixing up vacant lots in our area. In an effort to preserve communities and reduce pollution, HCA is working with local organizations and stakeholders to access vacant lots and make the necessary improvements. The Urban Neighborhood Initiative has several templates for similar vacant lot projects.  

If you or someone you know might be interested in participating, I encourage you to reach out to their technical advisory group by contacting Hilary Noonan at hilary@syntaxlanddesign.com or (816) 309-0655. 
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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