Jeanette Mott Oxford for State Representative 2010

Thursday, June 12, 2008

JMO4Rep End of Session Update - June 2008

Friends, Constituents, and Allies,

Legislative Session 2008 ended at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 16, with the final 24 hours containing a flurry of activities. A log-jam had formed because of the Speaker blocking legislation in order to prevent repeal of "the village law" that was slipped into legislation in 2007. (The village law would have allowed developers to avoid local zoning or environmental ordinances by declaring their developments "a village.")

When back-room deal-making finally led to a resolution that allowed the repeal vote to happen, the GOP-led majority pushed through more than 70 bills in the final day of Session, usually by "calling the previous question" to cut off debate.

Combined with another long evening of slam-bam/no debate on the House consent calendar bills, perhaps two-thirds of all bills passed by the House happened in two single days of a five month long Session. This was not good government in action, and I hope not to see a repeat of this practice in coming years. Even writers connected to the Republican party were critical of Jetton's actions.

See one commentary at:

Summary of Some Key Legislation from 2008

139 of the 1336 House Bills and 577 Senate Bills that were filed were "truly agreed and finally passed" and will be sent to Gov. Blunt for signature to become law. Few of this year's bills were of major importance, but here are a few that you may find of interest:

Missouri’s 2009 Budget: The Missouri General Assembly approved a $22.4 billion state operating budget for Fiscal Year 2009, an increase of nearly $1 billion over the previous year. The spending plan includes a $121.3 million increase in the formula for distributing state money among Missouri’s 524 public school districts. The funding is within the standard range of increases public education receives each year. The budget also includes a $43 million increase for Missouri’s colleges and
universities, although total funding for these institutions remains below FY 2001 levels, the high-water mark for higher education funding. The budget does not restore the cuts to health care made in 2005.

Scrap Metal Theft: Senate Bill 1034 makes it easier for law enforcement officers to track scrap metal dealers that have bought and sold stolen copper and aluminum. The bill requires scrap metal dealers to obtain a copy of photo identification from individuals who are not regular business customers but are selling more than $50 worth of metals such as copper and aluminum. Dealers must retain records for law enforcement review for two years. A violation is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, up from the current fine of $25 to $500. Also, scrap metal dealers must pay with a check or some other traceable payment method for certain purchases of more than $500. The bill makes it a felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison, to steal wire, electrical transformers or any pipe used for conducting electricity or transporting natural gas or other fuels. It also prohibits scrap dealers from buying manhole covers, bleachers, guard rails, signs, traffic lights or cemetery materials without written permission from the utility, governmental entity or cemetery. They also are prohibited from buying metal beer kegs unless from the brewer or its authorized representative.

Campaign Contribution Limits: Senate Bill 1038 eliminates contribution limits to candidates for political office, allowing donors to give unlimited amounts. Missouri voters first imposed the limits with a 1994 ballot measure that passed with 73.9 percent support. Currently, individual donors can give candidates for statewide office no more than $1,350 per election, with donations capped at $675 for Senate candidates and $325 for House candidates. The bill takes effect Aug. 28, meaning that the limits will remain in place for this year’s Aug. 5 primary election but unlimited donations will be allowed for the Nov. 4 general election.

Property Tax Relief & Enhancement of Circuit Breaker: Senate Bill 711 provides relief to Missourians who experienced excessive property tax increases resulting from higher property values. The Missouri Constitution requires taxing jurisdictions to roll back their tax rates following property reassessments, which occur every two years, so that they bring in the same amount of revenue that they did prior to reassessment, plus the value of new construction and an inflationary adjustment. Because many jurisdictions have tax rates below their legally authorized rate ceiling due to past rollbacks, some decline to further lower their rates, resulting in higher taxes for homeowners. SB 711 requires taxing jurisdictions to roll back from their actual collected levy to ensure they don’t profit from reassessments. The bill also enhances the state Circuit Breaker program that provides senior citizens property tax relief. The bill increases the maximum annual household income a senior citizen can have to qualify for the Circuit Breaker to $30,000 from $27,500. The spousal exemption will
double to $4,000 from $2,000. The maximum benefit from the Circuit Breaker will increase from $1,100 from $750.

Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders: Senate Bill 768 is part of Missouri’s efforts to enhance autism health and education services and empower families to improve the quality of life for Missourians of all ages living with autism. The legislation creates the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to make recommendations about all levels of ASD and to develop a comprehensive, coordinated system of healthcare, education and services for people living with ASD. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism affects one in
150 children — more than AIDS, juvenile diabetes and pediatric cancer combined. The Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders will provide another much-needed resource for families, who deserve the best resources available for diagnosis, treatment and support services.

Immigration Reform: House Bill 1549 contained some redundant provisions that were already a part of federal law such as denying food stamps and other public assistance to those without legal status. It also bars state contractors from employing undocumented immigrants and imposes a fine of up to $50,000 for employers that misclassify such workers as contractors instead of employees as a way of avoiding the restriction. The legislation precludes communities from adopting so-called "sanctuary" polices for providing safe harbor to undocumented immigrants (even though
MO city had yet declared itself a sanctuary), bars individuals from transporting or harboring such immigrants, and requires commercial driver’s license tests to be administered only in English. I was disappointed in this bill which I believe may increase profiling and prejudice toward immigrants who are here with documentation, including New Americans. I prefer comprehensive federal immigration reform to provide a pathway to citizenship and family reunification.

Green Sales Tax Holiday: Senate Bill 1181 gives consumers a tax break on energy efficient appliances. The legislation creates the Show-Me Green Sales Tax Holiday to remove the state sales tax on the first $1,500 of the price for energy certified appliances such as washers, dryers, water heaters, ovens and refrigerators. The holiday will run from April 19 through April 25 beginning in 2009. The legislation also requires 10 percent of the money in the state's maintenance fund for state buildings to go toward energy-efficient projects.

To find a complete list of all Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed legislation, please go to:

Surrounding Our Schools With Care Update

Thanks to all who donated to or volunteered in St. Louis Public Schools in 2007-08. I have compiled a list of many of the activities that I took on to help the schools in the 59th district and beyond this year. If you'd like to receive a copy, simply reply to this e-mail and request it. I will be issuing a press release on this topic next week, and I will be inviting all St. Louis representatives and senators to join me again for an August kick-off of "Surrounding Our Schools With Care."

Primary Campaigns Heating Up

I've been to fundraising parties recently for a number of candidates who have contested primaries and also for the National Women's Political Caucus of Metro St. Louis and for NARAL. There are some really excellent candidates running this year.

Here are some I hope you will help:

Stacey Newman:

Judy Baker: (a chance for the Democrats to pick up a seat in Congress; I served with Judy for four years and she's wonderful! I believe she has the best chance of several good Democratic candidates when it comes to winning in November.)

Jim Trout:

Robin Wright-Jones: Her new website will debut very shortly, but for now, call her manager Glenn Burleigh at 314-258-4149 to volunteer. There's a big canvass day on June 21. Robin is the most progressive candidate for the Senate 5 seat being vacated by Sen. Maida Coleman. I will have a yard sign for her delivered to your home if you will call me at 314-771-8882.

Anheuser-Busch Developments

Some have expressed concerns about whether A-B, landmark in the 59th and a major regional employer, will be purchased. After weeks of speculation, Belgian brewer InBev SA announced a $46 billion offer to buy St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Cos., the nation’s largest beer producer. Gov. Matt Blunt issued a statement opposing the deal, which he called "deeply troubling."

The takeover of Anheuser-Busch at the very least would strike a heavy psychological blow to the St. Louis region, which has taken great pride in being the company’s headquarters for well over a century. From a financial standpoint, company employees and state and local leaders are concerned about InBev’s reputation for slashing costs. A-B currently employs about 6,000 people in St. Louis and has a tradition of providing high wages and good benefits. A-B is also known for generous investments
in the community and for progressive company policies, like same-sex domestic partner benefits.

InBev offered a cash bid of $65 per share, a premium of $6.65 above Wednesday’s closing price of $58.35 per A-B share. The Anheuser-Busch Board of Directors must approve the deal. If the board rejects it, however, InBev could take its offer directly to shareholders with a hostile takeover attempt.

Neighbors Working to Make Our Streets Safe

In recent visits to the Benton Park and Gravois Park neighborhood associations, I learned about activities that community volunteers are undertaking to monitor court cases involving criminal activities in their neighborhoods and also about the committed service on new members of the Neighborhood Accountability Board. Thanks to those who are participating. For addition information, contact Rita Ford at GPNA,
fordrita AT, or Cipriano Medina at BPNA, president AT

In addition, I've spoken with Alderman Ortmann and Alderman Schmid about a new program of the Family Court-Juvenile Division. They are developing a Youth Leadership and Development Program for Youth who are on Official Court Supervision (OCS), and reside in South St. Louis. This program is designed to provide a support system to youth who are in need of guidance in choosing responsible behaviors, settings goals, understanding self-image, and job readiness/job retention skills.

We are in need of volunteers who can provide information/resources in the following areas: employment readiness, leadership development, and community service opportunities. We are also in need of program incentives for the youth participants (gift cards, admission passes, etc.).

Please direct all inquiries and offers of help to: Tamara N. Taylor, DJO/NAB Coordinator at the 22nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri, Family Court-Juvenile Division, 3827 Enright Ave., 63108, 314-552-2470, tamara.taylor AT

Announcements of Events for Fun, Education, and More

M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell at Ethical Society: Mike Farrell, star of M*A*S*H and anti-death penalty activist will give a public talk and sign copies of his recent book, Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist. Suggested donation at the door $5. The event is Saturday, June 28, 8 p.m., Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Road, St. Louis 63117. The sponsoring group is Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty (MADP), and their contact is Rose Rita Huelsmann, 314-881-6019.

There will also be a fund-raising reception to benefit MADP from 6:00-7:30 p.m. before the public talk on Saturday, June 28th at the Ethical Society. Admission: $100/person or $125/couple includes wine, cheese, hors d'oeuvres, photos and an autographed copy of Just Call Me Mike. Reserve your place by mail to MADP, 4127 Forest Park Ave., St. Louis 63108 or online at

Events for Five Star Senior Center:
- Friday June 27th "All You Can Eat Spaghetti Dinner" 3-8 p.m. (Join the fun and bring your own wine if you would like.)

- Friday July 18th Join us and "Party on the Pergola" - Don't miss this great opportunity to spend a evening in one of the city's most unusual venues. Is it a new neighborhood deli? Is it a new office? NO, it's Millennium Restoration"s hottest new home - a new construction with all the charm of a historic city neighborhood. Don't miss this opportunity to experience a bit of Italy in Tower Grove East with your host Ron and Ann Auer. 6-8 p.m. 3015 Juniata $30 per person. Includes Hors D'oeuvres
and Libations. Only the first 50 who get their money in will be able to attend. Act fast don't be left out on this one.

- Saturday August 9th the ever popular and growing attended "Texas Hold'em Tournament" doors open at 6 p.m. Game starts at 7 p.m.

Rummage Sale: As many of you know, my partner's mother is moving up from Jackson, MS, to become a part of our household in late June. In order to make room for some things she wants to bring, we have to sell some of our considerable collection of "stuff and things." To that end, you are cordially invited to a multi-family rummage sale in the air-conditioned fellowship hall of Epiphany United Church of Christ, 2911 McNair, Benton Park. It's this Saturday, June 14, 2008, 7 a.m.-noon.

What will we have? A whole lotta of this and that ---- like dishes, housewares, computer components, art work, fabric, knick-knacks, books, cassettes, Christmas decorations, and more. I've heard one of the other participating families will have an exercise bike, and the collection of books will be quite eclectic given the political activism of the households that are participating. Please come on out and help us have Less Stuff-More Mama.