Jeanette Mott Oxford for State Representative 2010

Monday, February 25, 2008

JMO4Rep Update - late Feb 2008 Edition

Friends, Allies, and Constituents,

It's an exciting and busy time. We're finally starting to debate some important bills, and filing for re-election starts on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Will I have an opponent this year? I haven't heard any rumors yet, but we'll know for sure on the final Tuesday in March when filing closes. (If you'd like to support my re-election effort, send an e-mail to this address, and I'll be glad to keep you informed about help I need.)

"School Prayer" Constitutional Amendment

On Thursday, Feb. 21, I debated Rep. Mike McGhee on KTRS-AM radio, regarding his House Joint Resolution (HJR) 55. This HJR would create a ballot issue for November 2008 on whether to amend the Missouri Constitution to "clarify" the right to religious expression in Missouri.

Rep. McGhee says some children are not being allowed to bring their Bibles on school buses. He says some children are told not to say grace before meals in the school cafeteria, and that a teacher told a child to erase "I love Jesus" on a paper and write "I love Mama" instead. He says a constitutional amendment is needed to guarantee the right to religious expression. I oppose the HJR because I believe the U.S. Constitution and Missouri Constitution already clearly state our right to religious freedom. When the public is uninformed about rights, this is a cause for
public education, not a constitutional amendment. Education about freedoms guaranteed in our constitutions could solve each of the problems Rep. McGhee cites.

I also think the wording of McGhee's amendment muddies the water about religious freedom instead of bringing clarity. The ballot language that is provided in the resolution is deceptive in that it only tells part of what the amendment would do. Many of us suspect that the real reasoning behind the proposed amendment is to bring out christian nationalist voters in the November elections as they have come to be a voting block for GOP candidates. You can read the text of HJR 55 at:

HJR 55 passed the House 132-11 on Thursday (pitiful!), so I hope you will write a letter to the editor about this travesty. It's important that we kill this resolution on the Senate side. There's a good editorial about it at:

Or see a couple of excellent lettersat:

Surrounding Our Schools with Care Update

The Special Appointed Board of St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) announced that they will be conducting a nationwide search for a superintendent for SLPS, and then invited Dr. Diana Bourisaw, the current superintendent, to apply to compete for the position. Dr. Bourisaw instead announced that she will leave at the end of this school year. I am very disappointed at this turn of events as I think she was doing an excellent job, and the district needs stability of administration.

A rally in appreciation of Dr. Bourisaw is planned for Thursday, Feb. 28th, 5:30-7 p.m. at 801 N. 11th Street (SLPS headquarters). I will be unable to attend since I will be out of town, but I have prepared a letter to be read on my behalf. If you would like to receive a copy, write me at this address.

In addition, I urge you to make your thoughts known about the proposed closing of Meramec and Shenandoah elementary schools in the 59th district. Public comments may be submitted online at, by calling (314) 331-6100, or by writing to: Operations Division, St. Louis Public Schools, 801 N. 11th St., St. Louis, MO 63101.

The Continuing Saga of Insure Missouri

On Friday, Feb. 22, Gov. Blunt announced that he is withdrawing the Emergency Rule to implement Phase I of the Insure Missouri Plan. This would have made health coverage possible for 54,000 families of low-wage workers. Insure Missouri was less coverage for more money for a higher cost than Medicaid (and without the beneficial federal match of funds), but I was supportive of adding coverage for these families immediately and working out a better way to provide healthcare to them as the legislative process continues. House Democrats are united in calling for restoration of health coverage to all 180,000 Missourians who lost coverage under Gov. Blunt. To stay informed about what is happening with Insure Missouri and other key healthcare issues, go to the Missouri Budget Project website at:

Taking Back a Democratic Majority in 2009- Spotlight on Jeanne Kirkton

As I have been sharing with you, the Democratic Party has an excellent opportunity to take back majority status in the MO House of Representatives with the November 2008 elections. Quite a few GOP incumbents are term-limited out, and many districts have been trending Democratic in recent elections. (In special elections on Feb. 5 to fill vacancies, Democrats retained one seat while the GOP retained two, BUT
Democrats gained four or more percentage points in the two elections that were lost in districts GOP members have held for several years.)

In upcoming newsletters, I'll highlight some of the key races where a Democrat has an excellent chance to win a seat currently held by a Republican. The first race I'd like to call to your attention is District 91 in nearby Webster Groves. Rep. Kathlyn Fares (a GOP member for whom I have much admiration) is term-limited out this year. Jeanne Kirkton, a Democrat currently serving on the Webster Groves Council, has an exellent chance to the be next House member from the 91st. I have known Jeanne for
years, and she has been a wonderful supporter of my campaigns as well as causes near and dear to me (universal healthcare, sensible gun laws, anti-poverty measures, environmental protection, civil rights for LGBT persons, etc.). She is a critical care nurse by profession and a long-standing advocate for justice. I strongly urge you to be a volunteer and to contribute to her campaign. Find out how at: or by calling 314-968-0124.

Home Repairs Blog

The Franciscan Connection on Cherokee has started a new "St. Louis Home Repairs Network" blog. They hope you will use it to exchange timely information about home repair projects, volunteer opportunities, leftover supplies, funds available from foundations, etc. You can access the blog through their website:
or directly at:

The Representative Draws Inspiration.......

Many of you have asked how a progressive (like me) manages to survive in the Missouri Legislature and "stay on the battlefield" for the long haul. Certainly my community of faith plays a big role by being a source of spiritual refreshment. But there are so many things that happen in Jefferson City that inspire me and enable me to keep up my work for justice. Here are three of the most recent:

- The three women on the Missouri Supreme Court (Chief Justice Laura Denvir Stith, Mary Rhodes Russell, and Patricia Breckenridge) hosted a luncheon for women legislators on Feb. 12. This annual event brings together women judges and commisioners from all over the state with representatives and senators. In talking with some of the elder women on the bench who went to law school when there was a quota on how many women could attend, one can gain an appreciation for how far we have come as a society, thanks to the courageous struggles of those who have gone
before. (Yet we also have a long way to go; Women of Color are still under-represented in both the Legislature and the Judiciary.)

- On Feb. 19, I was honored to see actress and storyteller Shirley E. Oglesby Smith Johnson bring Harriet Tubman to life in "A Triumph of the Spirit," a special theatrical presentation in the Rotunda, a Black History Month event sponsored by the Missouri Black Legislators Caucus.
The music, dancing, and slide show that accompanied this performance were truly outstanding. Learn more at:

- Each week brings many citizens to the Capitol to lobby, and this week brought two grassroots networks that I especially admire - those who work to prevent homelessness and those who work to abolish the death penalty. I was glad to have time to talk with several old friends in these groups as well as to make new acquintances. Thanks to all who come to the Capitol to advocate for justice!