Capital Report – Feb. 5, 2021 | Opinion

Missouri House continues to advance legislation that reflects the values ​​and interests of Missourians. As someone who is for life, I was honored to present my Birth Match Program Bill (HB 432) to the House Committee on Children and Families. This bill would help the state quickly identify babies born to parents with a recent history of child abuse or neglect and provide support services to those families. I believe this bill is a step in the right direction to protect the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves. Please read on to find out about other promotions in the house this week.

House approves Second Amendment Preservation Act (HBs 85 & 310)

Members of the Missouri House approved laws designed to protect the rights of Missourians under the Second Amendment before an overarching federal government. I co-sponsored and voted for this legislation.

Known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act, the law is designed to protect law-abiding gun owners from potential gun legislation that could be passed in Washington, DC. It states that laws and other measures prohibit the manufacture, possession, and use of firearms, or firearm accessories or ammunition in Missouri in excess of the federal government’s authority. It also declares that all federal laws, acts, and ordinances that violate the rights of Missourians after the Second Amendment are void in the state.

The bill sponsor said: “If we do not protect the rights of the second amendment from overarching government as a government agency or as a law enforcement agency, we have missed our main line. We have let our voters down. “

In addition, the bill states that it is the duty of the courts and law enforcement agencies to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and states that no official or employee of Missouri or any political division of the state can have authority to enforce or attempt to enforce federal law who violate the right to keep and carry weapons.

“We are not saying that these laws cannot be enforced by the government. We’re just saying we won’t do it as a state. We will not use our resources to enforce their unconstitutional gun laws, ”said the bill sponsor. He added: “Our citizens deserve it and I think they are asking us to protect their rights.”

With the approval of the House, the bill will now be forwarded to the Senate for examination. The House and the Senate passed similar laws (HB 436) back in 2013. This bill was rejected by Governor Jay Nixon. During the annual veto session, the House received the votes required to override the veto, but the Senate missed one vote less than the votes required to complete the motion and put the law into law.

Missouri Disability Empowerment (MoDE) is a great group that visits the Capitol frequently to advocate policies and laws that support people with disabilities. In light of the COVID pandemic, MoDE sent “Flat Jace” to my office so he can continue to raise awareness of issues affecting people with disabilities while protecting his health. Here are a few pictures of Jace and me in my office and on my desk in the house chamber.

The House Committee is investigating the overpayment of unemployment benefits

The House Special Committee on Government Oversight gave testimony this week by Missourians being asked to repay unemployment benefits mistakenly received through no fault of their own.

The committee heard from Labor Department director Anna Hui, who told members that the state had spent about $ 150 million on “overpayments” that the state now wants back. Director Hui said overpayments are “built into the unemployment system”. The department is expected to make an eligibility decision and receive a payment to an applicant within 14 days, usually based solely on the information provided by the applicant. If additional information is received, often from the applicant’s current or previous employers, it could prove that he or she was ineligible.

Director Hui told the committee that Governor Mike Parson had made it clear that he would like the department to request overpayment recovery. Several lawmakers said they heard from voters being asked to repay thousands of dollars in state or federal relief, sometimes months after receiving it. A voter was asked to repay approximately $ 23,000.

One of the committee members said it was wrong for the state to ask people who are already struggling financially due to COVID-19 to repay thousands of dollars.

He said, “Do I have to remind you of our median income in this state? Most of the people in my district make $ 26,000 a year and you’re asking for a $ 11,000 repayment? We’re talking about keeping Missouri’s economy going. We speak of justice and conscience. [It’s] Taxpayers’ money, these people’s money, and frankly we are in a crisis. You have to keep it. Since that money has already been spent on mortgages, it is already being spent on food on the table, and frankly we have a responsibility here for the common good. “

Federal guidelines have given states the ability not to require repayment of federal government assistance, which makes up most of the $ 150 million the department overpaid. The labor director said Missouri is choosing to repay federal aid. Members of the committee told the director that the state shouldn’t spend its resources pulling money out of Missouri’s economy just to send it back to the federal government.

The committee also heard from a union made up of 500 school bus drivers and monitors. The union representative said many of them earn salaries that would bring them close to the poverty line, but around 400 have been asked to repay thousands of dollars.

“Now do we want to take back $ 9,000, $ 10,000? Where will you get it? These are hardworking individuals who haven’t done anything wrong or fraudulent. They just did exactly what the Missouri Department of Labor asked them to do, ”he said.

Committee members said the repayment situation added to the already increased stress for the struggling Missourians. You want Missourians to know that lawmakers are vigilant and looking for a solution. Several members have already passed laws to address unemployment overpayments.

New Missouri Child Support Office

As the House worked heavily on a non-partisan basis to support families who nurture and adopt young people in need, the governor’s office announced a new office that will offer a comprehensive approach to early childhood care and education. The new Childhood Office represents the consolidation of several early childhood programs within the state government. The new office is located in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and includes all government programs related to childcare, home visits, early learning and early intervention.

The governor’s office said the consolidation will streamline early childhood work across the state government and ensure that all children and families in Missouri have access to more consistent, higher quality programs and services. Governor Parson said, “Missouri families deserve the best early childhood system our state can offer. This is also a critical area of ​​human resource development for our state. We need to make tomorrow’s workforce start on the right foot, and that means better support for children in Missouri and their families. “The Childhood Office will have around 145 employees across the state. As a result of this consolidation, no government employee positions will be eliminated. The current funding for the participating programs as well as for private childcare providers and public schools remains unchanged. The Office of Childhood has an estimated budget for fiscal year 2022 of approximately $ 660 million.

Thank you for reading this week’s Capitol Report!

Please contact me at 201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 302-B Jefferson City, MO 65101-6806

Comments are closed.