Jeanette Mott Oxford for State Representative 2010

Saturday, April 22, 2006

JMO4Rep Update - April 21, 2006

Constituents, Allies, and Supporters,

Due to the "Easter Break" the General Assembly had a shorter than usual and very intense week. The highlight for me was Wednesday's executive session for the Special Committee on Energy and Environment on which I serve. My office has been flooded with calls from members of Missouri Votes Conservation, the Sierra Club, and other environmental groups, thanking me for the role I played in stopping a polluter protection clause from being included in the House Committee substitute for a Senate

Mark Fogal, executive director of Missouri Votes Conservation, was kind enough to call me "the hero of the day" in an e-mail announcement sent to MVC members. You can read about the issue at stake on their website:

I lose on so many issues, that it was fantastic to have a win for a change! Still we'll have to remain vigilant, as I've already learned that many bad ideas pop up as amendments during the final weeks of the Legislative Session. (May 12 is the final day.)

The State Workers Union and AFSCME did a great job testifying in support of my case loads standards bill on April 13. Please consider sending a letter, e-mail, or fax to members of the Health Policy Committee in support of HB 2073. The bill is an attempt to hold state officials accountable around whether we are staffing key jobs at the departments of social services, health and senior services, and mental health adequately. Workers who are carrying 2-3 times more cases than one human being can handle should not be punished for their failure to accomplish the impossible. We have constant turnover in low-paying state jobs because of the lack of respect employees feel. It's time we address this situation!

Rep. John Bowman and a wide range of labor groups did a fine job presenting the bill to raise minimum wage on Wednesday, April 19. I am co-sponsor of this legislation. The Chamber of Commerce was the only group to testify against this needed raise in pay.

On April 13, House Republicans announced their latest plan, HB 1022, for allocating the proceeds from the proposed sale of Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority assets. On April 18, the House Budget Committee by a 19-6 vote approved a modified version of the bill that, among other changes, drops the prison funding and shifts most of it to retire existing higher education debt. I oppose the sale of MOHELA, and I also oppose the sale of any portion of its assets without a thorough analysis. This is yet another one time fix for our failure to adequately fund higher education. Instead we need progressive income tax reform that is equitable, adequate, and sustainable. Please consider writing a letter to the editor of your local Missouri newspaper or any of Missouri's major dailies opposing the sale of MOHELA or its assets.

The Kansas City Star reported in its April 15 edition that federal authorities are investigating the process by which the Blunt administration awarded the contracts to run Missouri’s 182 license fee offices to political supporters. The story says Bud Cummins, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, is handling the
investigation. The paper previously reported on April 13 that the FBI is also probing lobbying practices in the Missouri Capitol. At a news conference on April 19, Blunt cast doubt on the existence of the reported investigations and said neither he nor anyone in his administration had been contacted by federal authorities, but I have assurances from trustworthy folks that the investigations are definitely happening.
There's a lot in government that needs cleaned up, and I am committed to taking my broom to Jefferson City every week until we get the job done.
Hopefully the electorate of Missouri will help us get the job done in
November by choosing well among the candidates. We have some great Democrats running, and I believe we'll take back quite a few seats from the GOP majority.

Keep working for justice. Keep speaking the truth. Build community where
you are.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Media Release: Conservation Groups Praise Rep. Oxford For Removal of Polluter Protection Language

Media Release

April 20, 2006

Conservation Groups Praise Rep. Oxford For Removal of Polluter Protection Language (PDF)

Monday, April 10, 2006

JMO4Rep Update - mid-April 2006

Friends, Supporters, and Constitutents,

Last week wins my nomination for "Most Disgusting Week" of the 2006 Legislative Session so far (although the budget bills debate of mid-March still wins Most Harmful Week 2006 to date):

- We debated HB 1075, the "Sex Mis-Education" bill that includes religious doctrine and sexist oppression masquerading as science and education policy. There is some good news here! - The bill was moved to the informal calendar after two amendments were added, and that may be a sign that the bill is dead. The bill has enough serious flaws that many legislators who wear the "pro-life" label on both sides of the aisle do not want to go on record as voting for it.

- The House overwhelmingly passed House Joint Resolution 39 which calls for a November constitional amendment vote to affirm our First Amendment rights to religious freedom. Supporters say this will educate the public that children can take their Bibles to school and that voluntary prayer on school grounds is allowed. I think the real reason for the vote is clear in that the GOP defeated an amendment to move the vote from November to August 2006. This is blatant partisan politics and an effort to draw the religious right to the polls in November. Hopefully this group will discover what their Bibles say about poverty and peace and stop being dupes for the Republican Party by November.

- On April 6, the House voted 132-23-2 in favor of legislation that would allow Missourians to use deadly force against persons unlawfully entering their homes or vehicles. HB 1461, sponsored by state Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, would provide immunity from prosecution or civil suit in such instances. I voted no as I believe that the current laws adequately allow homeowners to protect themselves and that there are more dangers than benefits in encouraging citizens to "shoot first and ask questions later."

- The last straw was the April 5 hearing on my tax restructuring bill, HB 1960, which would have reduced the tax burden for 60% of Missourians, while creating a tax system that is more up equitable, adequate, and sustainable. One billion dollars in new revenue would have been produced for essential state services like public and higher education, health, mental health, and child care. Representatives Cooper, Muschany, Pratt, and Yates immediately went into full Norquist/Reagan spin mode, labeling the bill only as a billion dollar tax increase and refusing to discuss the real details of the bill. Some were rude to my witnesses, allies who have long worked to serve our neighbors in need, and I found this heart-breaking. I withdrew the bill the next morning out of frustration that such a bill cannot get a fair hearing and reality-based discussion at this time. I do thank Chairman Ted Hoskins for the hearing in his Special Committee on Urban Issues, and I very much appreciated Rep. Yaphett El-Amin's positive contributions during the hearing. To the GOP colleagues named above I say, Missouri deserves better than you gave on April 5.

Petition Initiatives
Several important petition drives are going on, and I'd like to ask you to support two and to oppose one:

To volunteer to collect signatures to reinstate the Medicaid program, contact Christine Reynoso, Initiative Petition Coordinator-St. Louis, Peoples Agenda Fund; 314-800-3934 cell;

To volunteer to collect signatures to raise the MO minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.50 per hour contact Audrey Hollis, Jobs with Justice organizer, 314-644-0466;

Recently, a statewide organization, Missourians In Charge, filed petition language with the Missouri Secretary of StateÂ’s office to place a Tax and Spending Limit or TABOR (Tax Payers Bill of Rights) amendment on the November 2006 ballot. The petition is actually more restrictive and harmful than the legislative version of TABOR, House Joint Resolution 48. Missouri faces a very real danger that this innocent-sounding but destructive proposal will be placed on a statewide vote.
If you are approached to sign a petition for a Tax and Spending Limit in Missouri, DO NOT SIGN IT! Educate your friends, family and neighbors about the ballot initiative and urge them not to support this proposal.
Federal Issues
It was exciting to offer support during the Immigration Reform Rally on April 9. At least 5,000 gathered and marched at Kiener Plaza. Archbishop Burke and Mayor Slay and I are not always on the same side, so it was good to be on the same podium with them. (I also enjoyed joining the Vietnamese American community of St. Louis for their King Hung Founder's Day celebration on April 8.)

Missouri's budget woes will only get worse if the proposed federal budget is passed. Thanks to all who have contacted the Missouri Congressional delegation and senators Bond and Talent to oppose deep cuts to social programs. The status quo is changing folks, so keep it up! The GOP thought they'd get this budget passed long ago, but grassroots agitation has had a profound impact.

I have received information from constituents about issues of religious oppression and fears about Pres. Bush's chest-thumping toward Iran, and I will communicate these concerns to Congressman Carnahan's office and ask for his assistance.

Legislative Session continues through May 12. I appreciate your prayers and the affirmations that many have sent.