Friends, Allies, and Constituents:
The 2007 Legislative Session is in its final weeks as we move toward
adjournment on May 18. Around 2,000 bills were filed in the House and
Senate, and with time running out, there are many attempts to amend
language from bills that are stuck in committee onto bills that are
moving on the House floor.
I was honored to have the opportunity to offer the "flat raise" amendment
on behalf of Democrats in the recent House budget debate. Gov. Blunt and
the GOP majority had called for an across the board three percent
increase. Missouri ranks 50th in the nation in how we pay state workers,
and low wages and impossible caseloads lead to high turnover in many
crucial positions (like child abuse and neglect investigations or mental
health direct care staffing). The Democrats proposed an alternative - a
flat $912 per worker raise so that, in effect, $20,000 per year employees
would receive an almost five percent increase, while our few $100,000 per
year employees would receive about one percent. I offered the amendment
on three separate budget bills, and after a lively debate on the Mental
Health bill, two Republicans representatives stood up to support me on
the issue. I then called for a roll call vote (instead of a voice vote
where the Speaker always calls the vote for the GOP). The Democratic
amendment failed 77-79 after a few arms were twisted on the GOP side of
the aisle. All Democrats present voted Aye. I hope the majority party
will do right by our lowest paid employees next year and offer the flat
raise option instead of a percentage raise.
On March 28, Rep. Jamilah Nasheed and I held a press conference in the
House Lounge to announce the filing of House Concurrent Resolution 46.
This calls for Congress to investigate whether to institute impeachment
proceedings toward George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney. We were thankful
to peace activists from Springfield and Kansas City who drove many miles
to attend the press conference. The text of HCR 46 may be read at:
I also helped prepare and signed on to House Concurrent Resolution 55
related to the No Child Left Behind Act. This resolution is at:
I was recently attacked by the eader of a thinktank called the Madison
Forum through a commentary in the Suburban Journals. I wrote a response
that was published this week, and you can read it at:
Other News from the Missouri Legislature
Fight Continues About Minimum Wage: With 76 percent support, Missourians
approved Proposition B, which increased the state’s standard minimum wage
to $6.50 from $5.15 an hour. The Senate in February passed SB 255 to fix
a flaw in the minimum wage law related to overtime pay for police and
firefighters. When the bill came before a House committee, however,
Republican lawmakers voted to repeal key voter-approved provisions that
will annually adjust the minimum wage to account for inflation and that
boosted the minimum wage for tipped workers to $3.35 from $2.13 an hour.
If the statutory fix isn’t passed this year, it could end up costing
local governments substantially more in overtime pay for police and
Medicaid Reform Bill Has Many Shortcomings: By a 26-7 vote, the Senate on
April 11 to the House legislation to rename the state’s Medicaid program
as MO HealthNet and make other changes to the state health care program
for the poor intended to put emphasis on preventative care. The measure,
SB 577, doesn’t restore coverage to the 180,000 Missourians who lost it
when lawmakers cut the program two years ago. Republican senators
defeated attempts to restore coverage. Democrats, however, successfully
amended the measure to expand health screenings and family planning
services for women. The bill is now being worked over by the Special
House Committee on Healthcare Facilities and will reach the floor for
full debate in coming weeks.
Big MODOT Funding Gap Anticipated: Missourian Department of
Transportation Director Pete Rahn on April 11 said that over the next 20
years the state is expected to have nearly $37.4 billion in
transportation needs but only $19 billion in expected revenue. Rahn made
his comment during discussion of MoDOT’s long-range transportation plan
before the State Highways and Transportation Commission. According to The
Associated Press, long-range plan anticipates that over the next 20 years
MoDOT will need $16.3 billion to expand the state highway system, $11.8
billion to maintain existing roads, $4 billion for public transportation,
$3.5 for bridge maintenance, $1 billion for passenger rail, $710 million
for airports and $60 million for river ports.
Legislature Responds to Deaths in Joplin Fire: The House of
Representatives has passed a bill requiring mental health facilities and
group homes to be equipped with sprinkler systems. The bill was prompted
by the November fire at the Anderson Guest House in Joplin that killed 11
people. The Anderson facility was not equipped with sprinklers. HB 952
would apply to residential facilities licensed by the state, nursing
homes and assisted living centers to install sprinkler systems by 2015.
The bill is now in the Senate.
Montee Sues MOHELA: State Auditor Susan Montee sued the Missouri Higher
Education Loan Authority on April 12 over the agency’s refusal to comply
with a subpoena seeking records of closed meetings. The agency believes
state law allows it to keep those records secret. Montee is seeking the
records as part of an audit of the agency.
GOP Senate Leadership Forces MOHELA Vote: Senate Republicans shut down
debate in the early morning hours of April 19 to force votes on two bills
related to Gov. Matt Blunt’s plan to sell Missouri Higher Education Loan
Authority assets. The sale would raise $350 million to pay for
construction and maintenance projects at state colleges and universities,
but bears little resemblance to the governor’s proposal to promote life
sciences research and economic development. Republicans stripped the
plan’s centerpiece – an $89.5 million life sciences research center at
the University of Missouri-Columbia – and also removed funding for other
projects at the UM System’s Columbia and Kansas City campuses.
The Senate gave first-round approval to SB 389, which provides legal
authorization for the sale, on vote of 21-12. SB 389 and HB 16 were just
the seventh and eighth bills since 1970 on which the Senate shut down
debate to force votes. Five of those actions have come since Republicans
took control of the Senate in 2001. Unlike in the House of
Representatives where the majority party routinely uses its power to cut
off discussion, Senate tradition allows for indefinite debate. You can
read Sen. Coleman's statement about the forced end of the filibuster at:
You are invited to: A roast beef dinner fundraiser for Epiphany UCC, a
Just Peace and Open and Affirming Church, 2911 McNair in the Benton Park
on Saturday April 28 from 5-7:30 p.m. The menu is roast beef au jus,
roasted vegetables, dessert and beverages for $9 (adults) or $6 (children
6-11). Children under six eat free.
Scholarship Available: The Women Legislator's Caucus of Missouri is
offering a $500 scholarship to one young woman from each Congressional
district who will be graduating high school in 2007. If you have a
daughter, niece, etc. who will be graduating this year (or if you are a
graduate yourself!), please contact me at email@example.com
for the application.
Project Blitz on April 28: On Blitz Saturday, join St. Louisans to clean
the streets, alleys and vacant lots in the City. This means picking up
trash, raking leaves, clearing debris, and bundling branches. Feel free
to sweep your alley, too! Working together is a great way to get to know
your neighbors and make new friends! If you want to volunteer or need
more information, call Operation Brightside at 772-4646 or visit
One such Blitz Project is at the Southside National Bank. Barb Potts from
Neighborhood Stabilization invites any residents of the Gravois Park
neighborhood to participate in a cleanup. Representatives from the
Mayor's office, some students from a nearby elementary school, and some
city officials will be cleaning the area from Gravois South to Chippewa.
Meet at 9:00 a.m. at the bank parking lot on Tholozan and Grand. Many
hands mean quick work.
Laclede Gas Hearings - The Public Service Commission will hold public
hearings on Laclede Gas Company rates on: May 24, 5:30 p.m., Auditorium,
Wohl Community Center, 1515 N. Kingshighway; and May 29, 5:30 p.m.,
Century Room, Millennium Student Center, University of Missouri-St.
Louis. Consumers unable to attend these local public hearings who wish to
make written comments may contact the Office of the Public Counsel, P.O.
Box 2230, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102, or call 800-392-4211, or e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. For more information, see