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Volume XLIII, Issue 4                                                                           February 15, 2013


ERA

The League supported the ERA in 1972, fighting hard for ratification by the states. As that effort fell short, the League continued to take action of issues from pay equity to Title IX.

SCR6 (Justis, Jolie) to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution was postponed on February 5th and will be heard Tuesday, February 19th 1:00pm 3rd floor Senate Lounge by the Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee.   If you cannot attend the hearing to testify or show support, please contact the members of the Senate Rules Committee urging them to ratify the amendment. It is not too late!

Senate Rules Committee:

        Ron Richard, 32nd, Chairman http://www.senate.mo.gov/13info/members/mem32.htm

        Tom Dempsey, 23rd, Vice-Chairman Tom.Dempsey@senate.mo.gov

        Brad Lager, 12th http://www.senate.mo.gov/D12WebApps/Contact.aspx

        Doug Libla, 25th no e-mail address available  (573) 751-4843

        Brian Nieves, 26th Brian.Nieves@senate.mo.gov

        Paul LeVota, 11th Paul.LeVota@senate.mo.gov

        Gina Walsh, 13th http://www.senate.mo.gov/D13WebApps/Contact.aspx

     

Reasons to support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment:

        Remember the only right guaranteed to women in the US Constitution is the 19thAmendment giving women the right to vote.

        We know that on average women make only about 77 cents for every dollar a man  earns.

        Remember that it's been only 40 years that women can get credit in our own names.

    More than 100 other countries have a guarantee of equality in their constitutions. It's time the US had such a guarantee also.

Electoral Process – Nancy Copenhaver, Director and Public Advocacy for Voter  Protection (PAVP) Chair

PHOTO ID

On February 14, the Missouri House of Representatives “heartlessly” voted to take the right to vote away from thousands of Missourians who have been regular voters.  Perfection of the committee substitute for HB 48 and HB 216 combined and HJR 5 and HJR 12 to require a vote to change the constitution to require a state-issued photo ID to vote was an unwanted valentine gift.  These two bills now will move to the Senate where (according to news reports) Senate President Dempsey has stated that “photo ID is not a priority of the Senate.”

LWVMO testified on two dates in the House and one in the Senate on these issues.  The bill which deals with the enabling legislation, if passed by the Senate, goes to the Governor for a probable veto.  But the proposal to change the constitution goes directly to the voters if passed in the Senate in the same form as the House.  Our job as voter advocates now is to contact our Senators to express our concern over this legislation and hope that it somehow gets tangled up in “negotiations or deal making” between the House and Senate.

TERM LIMITS

League also testified in support of HJR 4 (Neth) which proposes a constitutional amendment allowing a member of the General Assembly to serve the 16-year maximum in any proportion in either chamber as long as he or she serves no more than 16 years total.  Although League would prefer elimination of the current term limits entirely, this is a “step in the right direction.”  HJR 4 was voted “do pass” out of the Elections Committee on Feb. 14 and is currently in the Rules Committee before moving to the floor of the House.

In addition there are three other term limit bills; each essentially the same. Presently a member of the General Assembly may not serve more than eight years in each house. 

SJR10  Jamilah Nasheed  Referred to the Joint Rules  Resolutions and Ethics Committee on 2/12/2013. 

HJR13 Rochelle Walton Gray Referred to the Elections Committee on 1/31/2013 

HJR18  Jill Schupp Referred to the Elections Committee on 2/14/2013 

Term limits work against having members of the General Assembly (GA) committed to long term goals, motivated to learning the ropes, developing relationships with other members of the GA, becoming expert on specific issues, knowledgeable about the intricacies of the GA and having mentors from more experienced members. Another serious lose is the lack of an historical memory.

Although the League opposes term limits in general, these incremental term limit bills address some of the above concerns. The League supports these flexible term limits.

Health Care – Barbara Davis, Director and Health Care Chair

93 (H) + 62 (S) = 155 (MO) + M+O+R+E = (?)


No, it’s not weird algebra—those are the number of health-related bills working their way through the Missouri Legislature as of 10:55 p.m. Valentine’s Day.  Granted, some of them are very loosely related, and the number includes health insurance bills.  A few hearings have been held in both the House and Senate, but the real “action” in the health arena has not yet begun.  

I testified in person on behalf of the LWVMO before the Senate Appropriations Committee and submitted written testimony before the House Appropriations Committee in support of our Legislative Priorities related to Medicaid expansion and the preservation of rural hospitals.

And now for the MORE!  If you know of health-related events in which our members would be interested, please let me know, and if the time schedule works, I’ll include them in this publication, or if not, I’ll at least let the president(s) in the appropriate areas know.

If you want a list of the health-related bills before the Legislature, let me know and I’ll send it (and probably with the bill status), preferably by email.

I’m getting lots of information from a variety of sources about the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid Expansion, and related topics.  If you want me to forward it, send me your email address and perhaps a bit of specificity about your areas of interest.  I’m also on a weekly conference call at 2 p.m. every Friday (once in awhile I miss it).  If you’re interested in participating, contact me.

Maybe in two weeks I’ll be able to give you some more definite information on the bills related to our priorities.  In the meantime, please contact me if you need to.

bdavis@socket.net   573-473-6775

 
Missouri Foundation for Health Forums 

The Missouri Foundation for Health, which serves an eighty-four county area and the city of St. Louis, will present a series of forums explaining Medicaid Expansion.   What an excellent opportunity to gain more insight into one of the 2013 Legislative Priorities of the League of Women Voters of Missouri—Equal access to quality health care through the expansion of Medicaid.

Forums are open to the public at no charge. Registration is requested, however walk-ins are welcome. Check in/light refreshments will be available at 6:30 pm. Forums begin at 7pm.

 FORUM SCHEDULE


Hannibal – Monday, Feb. 18

(Hannibal High School, 4500 McMaster Ave)

 

St. Louis – Tuesday, Feb. 19

(Missouri History Museum, Lindell and DeBaliviere in Forest Park)

 

Cape Girardeau – Monday, Feb. 25

(Osage Center, 1625 N Kingshighway St.)

 

Springfield – Monday, Mar. 4

(Community Foundation of the Ozarks, 425 E Trafficway St.)

 

Rolla – Tuesday, Mar. 5

(Rolla Lions Club, 1061 S Bishop Ave.)

 

Columbia  - Monday, Mar. 11

(Activity & Recreation Center- ARC, 1701 W Ash St.)

 

St. Peters – Tuesday, March 12

(St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre & City Hall

One St. Peters Centre Blvd.)

To register contact Michelle Miller (mmiller@mffh.org) or John Kosash (jkosash@mffh.org) Missouri Foundation for Health 314-345-5576

 

Tax Policy – Sydell Shayer, Director and Tax Chair

SJR2 Brad Lager   Amends the Constitution to limit general revenue appropriations and mandate state income tax rate reductions in certain situations.  It would limit appropriations to the amount of appropriations made in the previous fiscal year increased by an inflationary growth factor.  There is a formula to determine how much may be spent and what to do with any excess.

This bill was introduced in the Missouri legislature every year since 2008. It has been nick-named the Taxpayers Bill of Rights and is referred to as TABOR   This proposed constitutional amendment would tie the hands of future legislators in determining which programs and services they wish to provide for the people of Missouri.  According to the Missouri Budget Project  “Effectively, the measure would create a permanent revenue shortage, pitting state services against each other for funding each year and ruling out new initiatives that could help boost our economy and quality of life.”

The League sent a statement to the Senate Ways and Means Committee which held a hearing on Thursday, February 14, 2013.  In addition, Elaine Blodgett, state board member testified in person.                                                                                                                      

The League believes that fiscal policy should be flexible so that it can adjust to changing economic and social conditions. Never should fiscal policy that changes with economic conditions, political leanings and essential state needs be placed in the constitution.

Opposition to SJR2 is a state League priority.  Be prepared to respond to a state League action alert when this amendment reaches the floor of the senate.

HJR17  Eric Burlison  This constitutional amendment is a similar, but not the same, appropriation limiting bill. It was referred to the House Budget Committee on 1/31/2013. No action has been taken.   League opposes.

SB11, SB31, SB26 (See Legislative Bulletin #3) Heard in committee 1/24/2013. No action taken.

 

Death Penalty

SB61 Joseph Keaveny (previously listed incorrectly as HB61 in Bulletin #3) Requires the State Auditor to compare the costs of death penalty cases and first degree murder cases in which the death penalty is not sought. The League sent a statement in support when the bill was heard in committee on 1/23/2013. It was voted do pass 2/13/2013 by the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee with a significant amendment.   

The amendment requires the auditor’s cost in preparing the report to be paid for by private funds. It creates a fund for the donations received and from which the money will be distributed. The auditor may only work on the report if all the costs are paid for by the fund.  The report will be sent to the Governor, General Assembly and the Missouri Supreme Court within two years of the auditor receiving enough money in the fund to cover the costs of completing the report. The estimated cost is $150,000. The League believes that the cost should be borne by the state. 

There is still opportunity for the bill to change when it reaches the floor of the Senate.  Stay tuned.

SB247 Gina Walsh Abolishes the death penalty.  No change. League supports.

Public Education – Marty Ott, Director and Education Chair

Bills of Interest:

Sunshine Laws

SB139  Mike Kehoe extends the sunset on closure of school safety plans from public disclosure.  The sunset expired on December 31, 2012. The Senate approved Senate Amendment (SA) 1, offered by Senator Kurt Schaefer, to add the SCS version of his SB 122.  SA 1 contains numerous changes to the state's open records law, including increasing prior notice requirements, requiring notice to individuals who request notice and expanding the definition of public records to include leases.

The House gave first round approval to HB 256 (Caleb Jones) on February 12.  As amended, the bill permanently extends the closure of school safety plans from public disclosure.

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee approved HB134 on February 13. HB 134 (Sue Allen) revises law regarding school district anti-bullying policies.  The committee approved the bill by a vote of 22-0.  The bill includes additional standards and requirements for implementation of the policies, but maintains the existing law limit on local control to allow the policies to recognize identified categories of students often targeted by bullying.


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