Friends, Allies, and Constituents,
The General Assembly begins Spring Break upon adjournment on March 16,
and I can't say that I'm particularly proud of our accomplishments in
this first half. More than 700,000 Missourians are still without health
insurance; child care is unaffordable for many workers; and a court
decision awaits in a lawsuit in which more than half of Missouri's school
districts sued the state. The legislation we have debated has little to
do with these crucial issues, and, in some cases, could make matters
I have done my best to stand for my core values and to improve the
quality of life for my district and for Missouri. I was a very vocal
critic of the weak "False Claims Act" passed by the House on Feb. 8. The
following Monday the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorialized:
.....but for an 11th hour amendment by Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford, D-St.
Louis, the House bill would have allowed companies convicted of fraud
to continue doing business with Medicaid.
Rep. Robert Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, the House bill's sponsor, opposed the
I also opposed Speaker of the House Rod Jetton's plan to exempt Social
Security income from the individual income tax (House Bill 444). Jetton
has the nerve to call this the "Senior Tax Justice Act" even though only
the wealthiest 28% of Missouri's seniors would benefit from the cut.
After the Post-Dispatch panned Jetton's plan, he wrote a justification
which appeared as a letter to the editor on Feb. 21. My own letter to the
editor appeared immediately below his, rebutting his arguments. My letter
read in part:
Taxation should be based on the amount of our income, not the type......
Mr. Jetton continues to maintain that his leadership has produced a
There is no surplus, only underspending for crucially needed programs.
Mr. Jetton's Social Security proposal sacrifices Missouri's most
vulnerable to provide a windfall to the Missourians who least need tax relief.
Perhaps my very vocal opposition of these GOP bills and others explains
why none of the legislation that I have filed has been referred to a
committee or received a hearing. I'm proud of the legislation I've filed
though, including HB 1099, the child care improvement act, which I filed
this past Thursday. You can read a list of all the legislation I have
sponsored or co-sponsored at:
I think in part that the legislation that I have filed as well as other
great bills from Democratic colleagues offer a clear alternative to
proposals of the current GOP majority. In a meeting of the MO House
Democratic Campaign Committee (MO HDCC) this past Tuesday evening, we
discussed the path to taking control of the Missouri House with the
November, 2008 election. Thanks to modest gains in 2006, it's within
reach folks, and we have the plan to MAKE IT REAL. Here are three ways
you can help us achieve that goal:
1) Contribute to Citizens to Elect Oxford at P. O. Box 19112, St. Louis,
MO 63118. (Such contributions during Legislative Session are still legal
at this point due to a court case that is in process.) Your contribution
will help me prepare for my next campaign - having recently heard that
Beckie Burrell, one of my 2004 opponents, is considering running against
me in 2008 - but it will also allow me to give generously to the MO HDCC.
I enthusiastically support our new chair Rep. Rachel Storch (D-64) as she
leads our efforts to take back the House.
2) Make out a check to the MO HDCC and send it c/o me at the address in #
1 directly above. I will deliver it to the HDCC at our March 28 Breakfast
Fundraiser in Jefferson City.
Or 3) Mail a check directly to the MO HDCC at P. O. Box 2235, Jefferson
City, MO 65102, and do me a favor: tell them JMO told you to send the
check so they'll know I'm being a cheerleader for the Blue Team.
Other current news in the Missouri political arena includes:
MEDICAID RULING: On March 2, U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple ordered
Missouri to reinstate coverage for durable medical equipment under the
Medicaid program. Medicaid cuts championed by Republicans in 2005
eliminated coverage for some durable medical equipment but allowed it in
other cases. (For example, Medicaid would pay for a motorized wheelchair,
but not the batteries, for a prosthetic limb, but not the training in how
to use it ---- yes, this obviously sounds insane, and every Democrat
voted against it). Although states aren’t required to provide the
equipment, Whipple said the state violated federal Medicaid rules by not
setting a reasonable standard explaining why some equipment is covered
while other equipment isn’t. If you have been denied any services or
equipment through Medicaid, please let me know as this ruling gives us a
new opportunity to challenge those decisions.
FERRELL CASE: On March 6, Dr. Shane Brookshire, the state veterinarian,
announced his resignation effective March 15. Brookshire was the
supervisor of the former Department of Agriculture employee who accused
department director Fred Ferrell of sexual harassment. Brookshire
encouraged the employee to take her complaints to the governor’s office.
Nine months after the complaint was filed, Ferrell was forced to resign
after the allegations became public. I appeared at a press conference
with Democratic colleagues recently to protest Gov. Blunt's bungling and
cover up of the Ferrell sexual harrassment case.
PUBLIC FUNDS FOR PRIVATE AND RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS: On March 8, the House
rejected a bill to provide tuition vouchers to allow certain students in
the St. Louis and Kansas City school districts to attend private schools.
The bill, HB 808, failed on a 62-96 vote. Under the bill, individuals and
companies would have received a 65-percent tax credit for donating to
scholarship funds. Eligibility for the scholarships was to be limited to
children whose family’s income was less than 135 percent of the income
threshold necessary to qualify for the free and reduced price school
lunch program and whose grade-point average in public school was 2.5 or
lower. (One puzzling thing to me was this income guideline - it's the
highest one I've ever seen in a Republican sponsored bill. The school
lunch cap is 225% of the federal poverty level, and HB 808 goes 35%
higher than that. The same GOP majority voted to cut off Medicaid to low
wage workers at 23% of the poverty level, so that's quite a range of
income guidelines in their priority legislation.) I voted No on HB 808
because I believe it violated separation of church and state and because
I was not convinced that it would help educationally at risk children in
families with low incomes. I support providing an excellent public school
education to every child regardless of race and class instead of spending
time, energy, and money on designing life boat strategies to air lift a
few students to other schools.
I recently have visited Shepard, Shenandoah, and Froebel elementary
schools, and I am proud of the hard work of their principals, teachers,
and staff. How to improve outcomes in our public schools continues to be
a priority concern occupying my mind. I am working on a concept for a
community group called SOS Care (Surrounding Our Schools With Care), and
if you'd like to read the first draft of that proposal and offer your own
suggestions, request it by e-mailing me at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
As always I welcome your feedback, your comments, and questions. Don't
forget to set your clocks ahead an hour this weekend, and I wish everyone
a Happy Spring!