Jeanette Mott Oxford for State Representative 2010

Sunday, March 30, 2008

JMO4Rep Update - First Half of Session Wrap Up 2008

Friends, Constitutents, and Allies,

Spring Break was March 14-24 for the Missouri House and Senate, so it's time for a wrap-up of the first half of the Legislative Session. Now in my fourth year as a legislator, I can say this has been the slowest year for legislative action that I have experienced. Very little of substance has been debated, other than the budget bills of the past week. We begin afternoon debate sessions next week (to go with our morning sessions), so the pace may pick up, but for now, here are the highlights (mostly "lowlights") of First Half, 2008:

- Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: After just 10 minutes of debate, House Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt, R-Blue Springs, on March 11 unilaterally closed debate and called for a voice vote on House Joint Resolution 41 (HJR 41), a proposed constitutional amendment to limit the authority of state judges. (The resolution violates the constitutional separation of powers in my opinion.) At least half a dozen Democrats were standing at
microphones ready to offer amendments. Although the "no" votes clearly were louder than the "yes" votes, Pratt nonetheless declared the measure had won first-round approval. The steam roller for the bill was slowed down on March 13 when sponsor Rep. Jane Cunningham of Chesterfield moved the bill be Third Read and passed. Several GOP legislators had left early for the Spring Break that began that day, and it became apparent there weren't enough votes to pass the bill if Democrats stuck together and
voted no, so the bill was laid over on the informal calendar. Read more at:

- Dirty Deeds - Part 2: The Missouri Ethics Commission has fined Gov. Matt Blunt’s campaign committee $15,000 and ordered it to repay $101,600 in illegal, over-the-limit campaign contributions it accepted in 2005 shortly after his election. This is the first time a sitting Missouri governor has been fined for violating state campaign finance laws. The fine covers several violations, including Blunt’s use during the 2004 campaign of a motor home owned by Jefferson City auto dealer Mike Kehoe.
Blunt failed to pay for the use of the vehicle until the Missouri Democratic Party filed an ethic complaint. Blunt’s campaign eventually paid $6,159 to Kehoe, which Democrats said was only about one-third of the true market value. The over-limit donations came from money donors gave to Blunt in 2005 to cover 2004 campaign debts. The money was credited to his 2008 campaign, but the Ethics Commission ruled the money should have counted toward his 2004 effort. Since some of that money came from donors who had already given Blunt the maximum in 2004, the commission said it had to be returned.

- Dirty Deeds, Part 3 - MOHELA/MO-STEALA/BAD DEALA (in the words of Sen. Wes Shoemyer): Less than a year after the Republican-controlled General Assembly pushed through Gov. Matt Blunt’s plan to use Missouri Education Loan Authority assets to pay for capital projects, the agency is losing money for the time since it was created in 1981. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on March 7 that MOHELA has laid off 16 employees and is letting another 23 vacant jobs go unfilled as a result of its financial problems. MOHELA also was reported to be considering skipping a $5 million payment to the state due Monday as part of a six-year quarterly payment plan to which it previously agreed.

It took Blunt two legislative sessions to win approval of his controversial MOHELA proposal, the final version of which requires the agency to turn over $350 million to the state. Before last year’s change in the law, MOHELA’s assets had been off limits to lawmakers. In additions to the revenue MOHELA lost as a result of funding Blunt’s plan, the ripple effects through financial markets from the national subprime lending crisis is contributing to MOHELA’s problems.

- Anti-Immigrant Hysteria: By some counts, more than 100 bills have been filed to crack down on undocumented immigrants in Missouri. Most are redundant, making something illegal that is already illegal in state or federal law. House Bill 1463, however, would make Missouri the first state to bar undocumented immigrants from taking classes at institutions of higher learning, something not barred in federal law. (Often international students have temporary status issues that get resolved, so enforcing the law may prove cumbersome and costly to colleges and universities.) I hope you'll give a pat on the back to those who joined me in voting no. Read about the debate and see the list of no voters at:

- House Passes $22 Billion Budget: The entire focus of our work in the MO House March 24-26 was passing the budget bills that fund the various departments of Missouri government and a variety of services to Missouri
residents. I was pleased that the "flat raise" plan that I offered as an amendment last year (which lost by two votes then) was adopted this year. Instead of giving state workers the three percent raise that Gov. Blunt recommended, each worker will receive $1056. This means that a worker making $20,000 per year will receive an additional $556 beyond the $600 that she or he would have received under Blunt's plan.

I was not pleased, however, that we continue to invest far too little in public education, higher education, mental health, and healthcare.
Democrats offered numerous amendments to restore Medicaid coverage to the 180,000 Missourians cut off the program by the GOP-led Legislature and Governor's Office since 2005. Only a couple of smaller amendments succeeded, one from Rep. Margaret Donnelly and one from Rep. Judy Baker.
Read more at:

I voted no on 11 of the 13 appropriations bills that make up the state budget and which now head to the Senate for further consideration. The constitutional deadline for sending the budget bills to the governor is May 9.

Filing Closes for 2008 Missouri Elections

Barring a very surprising upset in November 2008, I will be returning as state representative for the 59th Missouri House District in 2009-10. When filing closed at the Secretary of State's office on Tuesday, March 25, no Democrat nor Republican had filed against me. I do have a Libertarian opponent, but the 59th District normally performs at a 75%+ Democratic district, so I am likely to be re-elected.

You can find the full set of candidates for statewide offices, Congressional districts, state House and Senate, and Circuit Judge positions at:

"Take Back the House" Campaign - Featured Race: Deb Lavender in the 94th

I have been sharing information in these electronic newsletters about House races where it's possible for a Democrat to take back a seat from the GOP so that we have a Democratically-led chamber in 2009. This issue I'd like to highlight the 94th district in nearby Kirkwood where Deb Lavender has an excellent opportunity to defeat first term incumbent Rick Stream.

Deb is a physical therapist and small business owner who has lived in the St. Louis area for 27 years. She is solidly progressive and focuses on issues of education, healthcare, and the environment. She is parent to her 12-year old nephew, a student at North Kirkwood Middle School. She has been endorsed by the 21st Century Democrats organization, and you can learn more about her, including how to volunteer with her campaign, by going to:

Surrounding Our Schools With Care Update

I'm pleased to announce that St. Louis Public Schools has not only achieved its reading initiative goal of One Million Minutes by March, it has gone way over the top with 3,971,898 minutes! I helped rack up some of those minutes by reading to K-2nd graders at Shenandoah and Meramec Elementary Schools in January. (What a delight that was! Thanks to the librarians who helped me pick books we all enjoyed.)

A Petition Campaign I Hope You'll Join

We have the opportunity to put a restoration and expansion of the Medicaid program on the November 2008 ballot. Please help gather signatures by calling John Bowman, 314-322-4441, or Abby Scott, 573-289-7764.

Women Legislators to Honor "Women Firsts" and to Award Scholarships to Young College-Bound Women

The Women's Caucus of the Missouri Legislature will have a recognition ceremony on Wednesday, April 30, 1 p.m. to honor women who are "The First" in their field (town, job, volunteer activity, elected position, etc.). Please help me nominate deserving women you know. I have to turn in my nominations by Tuesday, April 1, so please write or call me immediately if you have a nomination.

In addition the Women's Caucus will again present up to nine $500 scholarships (one per Congressional district) for college-bound young women graduating high school in 2008. For an application form, please write me at or

Applications are due by May 1. Part of the application process is to write an essay on "In What Way Would The Country Be Different If A Woman Were President?"

JMO Quoted in Advocate Article on LGBT Endorsers of Obama

I was honored to be interviewed recently by The Advocate regarding my support for Barack Obama. Read the article at:

Did You Know?

In the 1950’s the average GI Joe doll had biceps that would be 11 inches around if he were human. Today they are the equivalent of 26 inches. (Baseball superstar Mark McGuire’s biceps measured only 20 inches.) Find out more in the 1999 documentary Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity narrated by Jonathan Katz -

Upcoming Events

- The Interfaith Legal Services for Immigrants will have an awards program, buffet, silent auction, and entertainment on Sunday, April 6, 4-6:30 p.m., at Nerinx Hall, 590 E. Lockwood, Webster Groves. Tickets are $15 for students and $25 for others. To RSVP, call 314-371-3640. Among those receiving awards are my House colleague Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City, my friend Gedlu Meteferia, director of the African Mutual Aid Association of Missouri, and, in memoriam, Daniel Horkheimer,
Immigrant Rights Advocate.

- The new Smokefree St. Louis coalition will have a training for advocates on Saturday, April 26, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Clayton Avenue Building of the Barnes-Jewish campus, 4353 Clayton, Conference Room R. To register, e-mail by April 11. It's time to protect the air we share.