Jeanette Mott Oxford for State Representative 2010

Saturday, July 04, 2009

JMO4Rep Update - Independence Day Edition 2009

Friends, Constituents, and Allies,

This long-overdue wrap up of Legislative Session - 2009 is finally being sent out during Independence Day weekend, giving me the opportunity to wish each of you a very happy and meaningful holiday. May our nation continue to build on the best of our history and correct the worst of our history, always moving toward the realization of "liberty and justice for all."

Highlights of the 2009 Legislative Session

The major issue of the 2009 Legislative Session was the state budget. With many Missouri jobs lost and sales tax receipts also down, finding a way to adequately fund our state’s essential needs was a huge challenge. The House budget process included deep cuts to health, mental health, and social services, so I voted no on the budgets for most state departments. Fortunately the Senate saw things differently and used about $785 million from the federal economic stimulus package to fund most items in Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposed $23 billion budget.

In addition, $381 million of federal stimulus money was approved for various special projects, including a $112 million radio system for emergency responders and $12 million for Metro buses. Nixon has said he will veto some items in the bill, and that is a good idea given next year’s economic forecast. We need to save some of these funds for another projected budget shortfall.

If you would like to see a map of where stimulus funds are being used go to:

Detailed budget facts sheets are also available at:

Below is a brief review of the bills that were truly agreed and passed this legislative session. They are currently being reviewed by Governor Nixon whose signature would make them law. All signed bills will become law on August 28th, 2009.

HB 62: Omnibus Crime Bill
-Prohibits drivers under 21 from sending text messages while driving
-Keeps sex offenders 500 feet from playgrounds, pools, and childcare facilities
-Prohibits beer bongs and kegs on most Missouri rivers and streams.
-Increases penalties for cattle rustlers
-Prohibits possession of an alcohol beverage vaporizer
-Requires an awareness program regarding financial exploitation of the elderly
-Prohibits the use of false or misleading diplomas

SB 37: Establishes caseload limits for public defenders

SB 36 & 112: increases the child-rape penalty from 30 years to life without parole

HB 863: Child-Witness Protection Act: Allows an age-appropriate oath administration, a child-preferred time to testify, and a comfort item, such as a stuffed animal, on the stand.

SB 202: Allows riders age 21 or older to go helmetless on all Missouri roads except interstate highways. (I was glad to hear that Gov. Nixon vetoed this one.)

HB 577: Prohibits fake insurance cards, prohibits life insurance companies from providing or restricting coverage based on past or future travel destinations, and requires coverage of prosthetic devices. The bill also makes MO Healthnet information available on the Department of Health and Human Services website.

HB 205: Requires all cigarettes sold in Missouri to self-extinguish beginning in 2011.

HB 191: Expands the Quality Jobs Program, exempts businesses with less than $10 million in assets from MO franchise tax, and increases tax incentives for the location an expansion of large business projects. The bill also increases the New Markets Tax Credit program and extends its sunset to 2012. It also caps the historic preservation tax credit at $140 million annually. Smaller projects that utilize less than $275,000 in credits are not included in the cap amount.

HB 1075: changes state unemployment compensation laws in an attempt to draw down federal stimulus dollars to extend benefits for unemployed Missourians. The bill also allows Missourians to receive unemployment compensation if they are without work due to family reasons such as illness or location change in a spouse's employment.

HB 152: Expands the state's DNA profiling system to require DNA samples from all suspects arrested for burglary or violent felonies, including sex crimes.

HB 381: Requires the contracts for Missouri's 183 driver and vehicle license fee office to be competitively bid.

HB 82: creates an income tax exemption for military retirement income and removes the age requirement for the income tax exemption for publicly funded retirement benefits.

HB 620 & 671: Loosens restrictions on bingo to allow charitable organizations to raise additional funds for community service projects and repeals the sales tax on pull-tab and bingo cards sold by charities.

HB 272: creates the Alzheimer's State Plan Task Force to assess the impact of the disease on Missouri and services available to affected residents.

HB 395: requires long-term care facilities that have undergone major renovations as of August 2007 to install an approved sprinkler system. The bill also changes the way long-term care facilities are inspected and surveyed.

SB 1: Establishes regulation of the preneed funeral contract industry including licensing and audits.

HB 111: Allows veterans' service organizations to collect the unclaimed cremated remains of veterans.

SB 291: Omnibus education bill
-Makes a technical change to make Prop A effective
-The bill also allows certain students to attend school and work for credit under a flex school plan
-Changes guidelines for dropping out and creates a fund for dropout prevention strategies
-Allows a four-day school week as long as it meets the required 1,044 hours of required annual class-time
-Requires a designated educational liaison for children in foster care
-Provides opportunities for 12th graders in public school to mentor kindergarten through eighth graders
-Reimburses parents or volunteers who donate time at certain schools with three credit hours at a public college or university
-Creates a study on the effect of open enrollment across school district boundary lines
-Gives St. Louis teachers the option to give up their tenure for an opportunity to earn more money based on their performance under the Teacher Choice Compensation Package

HB 922: Requires school districts to adopt a policy on allergy prevention and response.

HB 390: Prohibits College or university students who are unlawfully present in the U.S. from receiving certain financial aid.

HB 236: establishes Kaitlyn's Law, which requires school districts to allow certain students with disabilities to participate in graduation ceremonies with their class and continue to receive services.

HB 525: Requires the Department of Mental Health to establish programs and serices to help families affected by Autism. The bill also creates a Missouri Parent Advisory Committee on Autism.

HB 683: Exempts new vehicles from safety inspections for five years. The bill creates a drunken driving victims memorial sign program and the Heroes' Way Interstate Interchange Designation program to honor fallen Missouri military heroes who were killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. This bill also includes the designation of the Rabbi Heschel Memorial Highway.

HB 359: gives the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission more flexibility when awarding construction contracts.

HB 544: statutorily requires the Office of Administration to maintain the Missouri Accountability Portal. The also creates a committee to oversee the money from the federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act of '09.

SB 542: phases out the existing statutory cap on the interest rate the state can receive on funds invested with Missouri banks.

SB 44: Establishes regulations on how privately run jails cooperate with local law enforcement and treat their inmates.

SB 141: makes it easier overturn court-ordered child support when DNA testing proves a man is not a child's father.

House Joint Resolution 15 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would provide a property tax exemption for former prisoners of war who suffer from a total service-related disability.

Senate Joint Resolution 5 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would require all home-rule charter counties, with the exception of Jackson county, to have elected county assessors.

The number of House bills introduced in 2009 was 1,241, and 115 of these were "Truly Agreed and Finally Passed" (although some will be vetoed by Gov. Nixon). A full list of bills passed may be found at:

I am disappointed about a number of items that did not pass, including:

The Tax Justice for A Healthy Missouri plan; health insurance for 35,000 low-wage working parents (Missouri hospitals had agreed to finance this); and requiring health insurance companies to cover adopted and/or autistic children.

Children and Families Committee Back in the News

Earlier this year, I told you the story of my exclusion from the Children and Families Committee. That committee was recently back in the news, when committee chair Rep. Cynthia Davis (R-O'Fallon) commented on hunger as a postive motivator in a column she wrote for constituents. Many editorials and much media attention followed, including spotlights on Keith Olbermann's MNBC commentary and The Colbert Report.

A couple of good editorials on the situation may be found at:


Surrounding Our Schools with Care Update

Dr. Carol Hall-Whittier Retires: I have been blessed to have Carol Hall-Whittier as principal of Shepard e-Mints Academy during my time as state representative. Unfortunately this school was on the school closings list because of the need for expensive renovations and inadequate enrollment. Dr. Hall-Whittier has announced her retirement, and I enjoyed presenting resolutions in her honor from Gov. Nixon and
from the House of Representatives in early June at a wonderful party in the Central West End. A highlight of the party was her husband crooning (with an excellent voice!) "The Way We Were" to his lovely wife. Happy Retirement, Dr. Hall-Whittier! You deserve a good rest, but I'm sure you're not finished with your crusade to improve public education for all our children.

Chris Nicastro New Head of DESE: The Missouri State Board of Education on July 2 selected Hazelwood School District Superintendent Dr. Chris (Wright) Nicastro as the state’s new commission of education, the top administrator at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Nicastro will begin work on Aug. 1. Nicastro, 58, will be the first woman to hold the post. She will replace Dr. D. Kent King, who had led the department for more than eight years until succumbing to brain cancer in January. I am very excited about the possibilities that she brings as director of the department in that I was on faculty for the Dismantling Racism Institute for Educators the year that Dr. Nicastro atended, and I was very impressed by her understanding of both oppression and privilege. Best wishes, Dr. Nicastro! I look forward to working with you to erase disparities in educational attainment.

Emily Massengale SLPS Teacher of the Year: Emily Masengale, a tenth grade World Literature and World History teacher from Big Picture High School at Kottmeyer, as SLPS’ Teacher of the Year. A former Teach for America: St. Louis Corps member, Masengale’s eyes were opened to the academic needs of students in urban school districts. Since that time she has dedicated her career to ensuring that her students meet her high academic expectations. Her accomplishments include advancing students reading abilities 1.9 years in one year of teaching at Roosevelt High School
before becoming a part of Big Picture High School, a feat described by Masengale as, "my biggest accomplishment. We started from the ground, no additional training, and a clean slate. This was so exciting yet so challenging all at the same time."

Even though Kottmeyer Big Picture is a few feet north of my district boundary, I still think of it as one of "my schools", partly because I am such a fan of their fantastic principal, Kacy Seals. I am so pleased to see Ms. Masengale receive this honor. Big Picture is moving farther away this fall and will be housed at Northwest High School.

$3,000 Scholarships Available For Young Women: July 17 is the deadline for the 2009 National Foundation for Women Legislators Essay Contest. The full applications may be found at The focus this year will be on the Bill of Rights as shown through current women in politics and the media. Female High School juniors or seniors, class of 2009 or 2010, are eligible to participate. The seven winners will receive an award, a $3,000 unrestricted college scholarship, and an all-expense-paid trip to NFWL’s 2009 Annual Conference along with their sponsoring
legislator. We ask that you please distribute information about the Essay Contest to your community. This will be a wonderful opportunity for young women interested in politics and leadership.

Important Anniversaries

Paraquad and other members of the Missouri Disability Coalition for Healthcare Reform recently marked the 10th Anniversary of the Olmstead Supreme Court decision. The Supreme Court ruled on June 22, 1999 in the Olmstead case that people with disabilities have the right under the Americans with Disabilities Act to live in the “most integrated setting”.

States received technical assistance from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services on how to reform the Medicaid system to give people with disabilities access and choice to home and community-based services.

And Dorothy and I are celebrating our 25th Anniversary on July 4, 2009. What a wonderful 25 years it has been! When we met in 1983, we had no idea that I would be a state representative and she would be a hospice chaplain in 25 years. We both love what we do, and we are so fortunate to have a supportive community of faith and wide circle of caring friends.

We have fireworks viewing planned as a part of our celebration - if the weather will cooperate. So, as you are enjoying fireworks somewhere this weekend, imagine you are participating in our anniversary party.

Until next time.