Jeanette Mott Oxford for State Representative 2010

Sunday, May 28, 2006

JMO4Rep Update - End of Legislative Session May 2006

Friends, Constitutents, and Allies,

The Legislative Session ended on May 12, and given the number of pieces of bad legislation that I was playing defense against for the past few weeks, I must say that I am glad of it! With the current majority in power, the state is probably safer when the Legislature is not meeting.

My greatest disappointment about this Legislative Session is that my House and Senate colleagues failed to use revenue that was clearly available to restore Medicaid to many of the Missourians who were cut from health coverage last year. In addition, House Bill (HB) 1742 to restore Medical Assistance to Workers with Disabilities failed to pass in the Senate, although it did pass with strong support in the House. And we underfunded elementary and secondary education and higher education again this year.

Here are my thoughts on some of the Legislation that passed as well as some bills that did not:

Eminent Domain Reform (HB 1944) - Following the public outcry about the Kelo v New London Supreme Court decision in 2005, the House Judiciary Committee took much testimony and spent many hours trying to balance the concerns of the Farm Bureau and urban developers, both very influential groups in the Capitol. Home owners are granted some strengthened protections in the bill that passed, but it's unlikely that the changes that were made would have prevented some of the more controversial cases of eminent domain abuse from happening. In the end, I was one of a very small number of legislators who voted against this bill out of my sense that those who had been harmed by eminent domain needed some of us to vote in solidarity with them since the bill was clearly going to pass by large numbers.

Education Reform (Senate Bill/SB 894) - This bill started out as PROMO's anti-bullying legislation (for which I was a House co-sponsor). In time, it became an education reform omnibus bill with several components. I supported about half of them and opposed the remainder. This bill passed, but I voted no because I believe barring local school districts from listing categories of protected students greatly weakens the bill. For example, those districts that have passed policies protecting lesbian,
gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students would now be forced to change to a more generic anti-bullying policy. A tremendous amount of bullying against LGBT students has been reported to me, and the schools that have done the best to stop this are ones that have specific and enumerated anti-bullying policies.

Prohibiting Funeral Protests (SB578/HB 1026) - This is another bill where I was in the extreme minority; I was one of three voting no. I certainly agree that it is a shame that any person would interupt a funeral service with a protest, especially the rude and toxic kinds of signs and chants and actions led by Rev. Fred Phelps. (Phelps and his band of hate-mongers from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka were the cause for this bill being introduced - they had been disrupting soldier's funerals, screaming that deaths in Iraq are God's punishment for America's love of gay people). Yet I believe that we must be very careful not to violate freedom of speech protections, even for those who are rude, mean-spirited, and an embarrassment to decent folks everywhere.

Campaign Finance Reform (HB 1900) - While this bill had components that I support (such as requiring lobbyists to disclose which members of caucuses receive gifts), this bill also removes the maximum contribution limits for candidates as well as ending the limit on independent expenditures for candidates by committees. Campaign giving limits were created by a vote of the people, and I believe legislators must be very careful about overturning the will of the people expressed at the ballot box. I voted no on this bill that ultimately passed, but may become the subject of a lawsuit.

The Voter ID Bill (SB 1410) - In a great travesty of justice, and over the protests of Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, the GOP majority passed a bill requiring a photo ID to vote in the November elections. All Democrats voted no. Presently about 200,000 Missourians do not have the needed ID's, and the bill fails to appropriate adequate funds and staff for effective outreach and implementation to remedy that problem by November. Those with disabilities and senior citizens are expected to be among those most frequently disenfranchised by this law. Again a lawsuit may be filed on this legislation.

I was glad to see these bills fail (whether in committee, on the House calendar, or in the Senate):
- HB 1461 - the "deadly force" bill to give homeowners extraordinary immunity protections if they shoot first and ask questions later. I believe the current laws are adequate to protect homeowners while requiring good judgment be used
- HB 1075 - the "sex mis-education bill"
- HB 1539 - the so-called "Health Care Rights of Conscience Act" which would have allowed a health care professional to not participate in a health care service that violates his or her conscience; this was written so broadly that many may have been refused services on the basis of prejudices masquerading as matters of conscience
- bills filed by Rep. Nolte and Rep. Nieves that would have offered non-solutions to problems related to immigration while increasing public bias against immigrants

I regret that midwifery (by certified professional midwives) was not legalized again this year (HB 974) and that my bill on childcare eligibility guidelines (HB 1052) did not receive a hearing. The rude treatment of my witnesses at the hearing on my progressive tax reform bill (HB 1960) was shocking and highly inappropriate.

On a happier note, it was a pleasure to introduce legislation to decrease class sizes on behalf of Local 420, the teacher and school related personnel union for St. Louis Public Schools. It was also a pleasure to work with the women and men of the State Workers Union (CWA Local 6355) to sponsor a caseloads standards bill to require greater honesty about whether Missouri is adequately staffing some of our most crucial state worker positions (like child support enforcement, income maintenance, and positions caring for elderly and disabled veterans, nursing home residents, etc.). I hope to be re-elected and bring many of these good bills back next year.

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Speaking of re-election, if you live in the 59th district and would like to sponsor a coffee or house party so that I can meet your neighbors and answer their questions about state policy, please call soon so that we can set a date. Also let me know whether you would be willing to let me post a yard sign at your home. I also welcome those from in district and out who can volunteer in a variety of capacities as we move toward the August 8 primary election.

Endorsements are coming in. So far I have been endorsed by (with more expected very shortly):
- the Democratic ward organizations in wards 6, 15, and 25
- the Teamsters Joint Council No. 13
- Gas Workers Local 5-6 Voluntary PAC
- the ERA PAC

If you have not yet visited my website, please do at
Thanks so much to the volunteer that has made this possible.

And finally, if you would like to receive a PDF file with the House Democratic Caucus' end of session report, please let me know and I will send it to you individually. Sometimes e-mail programs block attachments that are sent to lists.