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Jerome Barnes Representative District 28 News Letter

Barnes

State Representative

JEROME BARNES

28th District

 

WEEKLY CAPITOL UPDATE

March 9, 2017

Volume 1, No. 9

HOUSE REPUBLICANS REJECT MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE

After complaining that a St. Louis ordinance that ultimately would raise the citywide minimum wage to $11 an hour is inappropriate because the minimum wage should be set at the state level, House Republicans on March 8 rejected a proposal to increase the state

wide minimum wage to $11 an hour as of 2020. The wage proposal fell on a near party-line vote 108-45, with Democrats in support and all but one Republican opposed.

Democrats proposed the statewide wage increase as an amendment to another measure, House Bill 1194, that seeks to block implementation of a St. Louis minimum wage ordinance. City officials enacted the ordinance in 2015, but it had been tied up in litigation until a unanimous Missouri Supreme Court upheld it on Feb. 28.

Also in 2015, the Republican-controlled General Assembly overrode a gubernatorial veto to enact a legislation prohibiting cities from having local minimum wages that are higher than the state minimum. However, that legislation included a grandfather clause allowing for higher local wage ordinances in effect as of Aug. 28, 2015, which St. Louis’ was.

HB 1194 would eliminate the grandfather clause, thus invalidating the St. Louis ordinance. The House on March 9 voted 111-45 to send the bill to the Senate for further debate.

BUDGET PANEL PROPOSES ENDING RENTER’S TAX CREDIT

The House Budget Committee on March 7 took the first steps toward eliminating the “circuit-breaker” tax credit for low-income renters who are elderly or disabled. The roughly $60 million in savings from eliminating the credit be used to preserve funding  for nursing home and in-home care services for the disabled, which Republican Gov. Eric Greitens has proposed cutting back.

The circuit breaker tax credit provides property tax relief to low-income elderly or disabled Missourians. Republicans say that only homeowners should qualify for the credit since renters don’t directly pay property taxes on their homes. Democrats argue that it is appropriate to extend the credit to renters, as it has been for more than 40 years, because landlords pass on the cost of their property taxes to renters. The average renter’s credit is about $500 a year.

Democrats further argue that with the hundreds of millions of dollars in special interest tax cuts the legislature has approved in recent years, a relatively modest tax break for the elderly and disabled isn’t the first place lawmakers should turn to for savings. Another committee must hear the bill before it can advance to the full House for debate.

GREITENS TEAM USES NON-PROFIT TO AVOID DISCLOSURE

Operatives connected to Republican Gov. Eric Greitens have established a non-profit organization called A New Missouri Inc. to advocate for the governor’s agenda and pay for some of his expenses, The Kansas City Star reported on March 8. As a non-profit, A New Missouri Inc. doesn’t have to disclose its donors, making it impossible for the public to know if individuals, companies or interest groups with business before the state are making contributions in order to curry favor with the administration.

The Star further reported that the non-profit will coordinate directly with the governor’s office and Greitens’ campaign committee. In some cases, the various arms of the Greitens organization will share staff, with at least one person, Austin Chambers, the governor’s senior adviser, working for all three, an arrangement that could blur legal and ethical lines.

Greitens focused his campaign for office on vows to fight corruption and the influence of lobbyists and campaign donors in Jefferson City. However, Greitens has been criticized for not practicing what he preached, taking nearly $2 million in untraceable “dark money” campaign contributions and refusing to disclose how much donors gave to fund in inaugural ball or who is paying for his plane travels while on official business.

MISSOURI VIETNAM VETERANS DAY

March 30th is Missouri Vietnam Veterans Day.  The House of Representatives will meet in the House Lounge at 9:15 that day to present the Vietnam Veterans with a resolution and say a few words.  If you know a Vietnam Veteran please let my office know by March 13th so we can recognize them for their service and honor them with a resolution. 

ELECTION DAY

April 4 is Election Day in Jackson County -- DON'T FORGET TO VOTE!

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

Join the conversation and follow me on Twitter @RepJeromeBarn28. Pease feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and will try to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at (573) 751-9851 or email at Jerome.Barnes@house.mo.gov.  Please go to my House web page at http://www.house.mo.gov/member.aspx?year=2017&district=028 and do the Online Survey.  I will put the results in my end of session report.

February 23, 2017

Volume 1, No. 7

March 30th is Missouri Vietnam Veterans Day.  The House of Representatives will meet in the House Lounge at 9:15 that day to present the Veterans with a resolution and say a few words.  If you know a Veteran please let my office know by March 13th so we can recognize them for their service and honor them with a resolution. 

HOUSE APPROVES SLASHING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

The House of Representatives on Feb. 23 voted 100-56 to advance legislation that would cut the maximum length of unemployment benefits in Missouri from 20 weeks to 13 weeks. Missouri already offers some of the least generous unemployment benefits in the country, and is one of just eight states that provides fewer than 26 weeks of benefits.

Under House Bill 288, the maximum duration of benefits would be based on the statewide unemployment rate during the previous year. Maximum benefits would range from just 13 weeks if the statewide rate is below 6 percent to 20 weeks if the statewide rate is 9 percent or higher.

Missouri’s statewide unemployment rate has remained under 6 percent for more than two years. It stood at 4.4 percent in December, the last month for which information is available.

HB 288 now goes to the Senate for further consideration. Republicans attempted to enact similar legislation – House Bill 150 – over a gubernatorial veto in 2015, but the Missouri Supreme Court later ruled its passage invalid because GOP leaders failed properly to follow constitutional procedures.

HOUSE TAKES FIRST STEP ON REAL ID, SENATE TAKES PASS

The House of Representatives on Feb. 21 gave preliminary approval to legislation that seeks to bring Missouri drivers’ licenses and non-driver identification cards into compliance with the federal Real ID Act. One day later, however, the Senate set aside a similar bill after three hours of debate and isn’t immediately expected to return to it.

The 2005 federal law sets minimum standards that state identification cards must meet in order to be used to enter a federal building or military base or to board a plane. Many states initially resisted complying with the law, and the federal government repeatedly delayed enforcement. However, Missouri is now just one of five states that remain noncompliant, and the federal government plans to fully enforce the law in 2018.

Even with the looming possibility that Missourians may soon be prohibited from boarding a plane unless they have a compliant alternative form of ID, such as a U.S. passport, many Republican state lawmakers remain steadfastly opposed to Real ID, saying it violates personal privacy and states’ rights.

The House version, House Bill 151, needs a second vote to advance to the Senate. Even though majority Republicans hold 116 seats in the House, support from Democrats likely will be required to reach the minimum 82 votes necessary for final passage.

SENATE ADVANCES LIMITED DRUG MONITORING PROGRAM

The Senate on Feb. 22 granted first-round approval to a highly restrictive version of legislation to create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. However, since the bill is sponsored by a longtime drug monitoring opponent, program proponents say it falls well short of what is need to be effective.

Missouri is the only remaining state that has yet to enact a prescription drug monitoring program, which is intended to combat prescription narcotics abuse by tracking patients who obtain multiple prescriptions from different doctors. State Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph and a physician, has long blocked prescription drug monitoring legislation as an unwarranted government invasion of patient privacy.

Under Senate Bill 74, which Schaaf touted as a compromise, doctors would have limited access to patient records to through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to track prescription drug use. However, individual prescription records would be purged after 180 days. The bill also would pre-empt local governments from operating monitoring programs, which many have launched in recent years due to the state’s continued inaction on the issue.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Missouri Medical Association immediately labeled Schaaf’s bill as “fake PDMP.” Supporters of a more expansive monitoring program are expected to continue to push for it in both legislative chambers. Schaaf’s bill requires a second vote to advance to the House of Representatives.

UPDATE ON CHARTER SCHOOLS

As of today HB634 which allows charter schools to be operated in any school district of the state was heard in the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on January 30, 2017.  The Committee has still not voted on this bill. 

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

Join the conversation and follow me on Twitter @RepJeromeBarn28. Pease feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and will try to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at (573) 751-9851 or email at Jerome.Barnes@house.mo.gov.  Please go to my House web page at http://www.house.mo.gov/member.aspx?year=2017&district=028 and do the Online Survey.  I will put the results in my end of session report.

If you would like to be removed from the mailing list for this report, please reply to this email with “remove from list” in the subject line. Thank you.

Jerome Barnes

Representative District 28

573-751-9851

 

February 16, 2017

 

Volume 1, No. 6

APPEALS COURT REVERSES RULING AGAINST CORRECTIONS

A panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District on Feb. 21 reversed a lower court’s ruling that the state Department of Corrections violated the state Sunshine Law by refusing to disclose records identifying the compounding pharmacies it contracts with to produce pentobarbital, the drug used to execute condemned inmates in Missouri.

The appeals panel ruled 3-0 that Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem erred when he said the state law that shields the identities of the state’s execution team doesn’t extend to those who supply the execution drug. Beetem had allowed the department to keep the identity of the drug manufacturer secret while the case was under appeal.

Missouri and other states have turned to compounding pharmacies to make execution drugs in recent years as most major pharmaceutical companies, under pressure from death penalty opponents, have refused to sell drugs to states for lethal injection purposes. States have sought to keep the identities of the compounding pharmacies they work with secret in order to shield them from the same pressures.

The case, Joan Bray, et al., v. George Lombardi, et al., is expected to be appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.

GOVERNOR MAKES THREE PICKS TO UM BOARD OF CURATORS

Gov. Eric Greitens nominated three members to the University of Missouri Board of Curators on Feb. 15. The nine-member governing board for the four-campus UM System has been without of a third of its members in recent weeks.

Greitens nominees are Darryl Chatman of Foristell, an attorney, former deputy director of the state Department of Agriculture and former MU Tigers linebacker; Jeffrey Layman of Springfield, a senior vice president with Morgan Stanley; and Jaime Farmer of Jefferson City, president of Farmer Holding Company.

The board has so many vacancies because the Senate last year refused to confirm any of then-Gov. Jay Nixon’s curator appointees. Nixon, a Democrat, was able to temporarily fill some spots once the Senate adjourned for the year in mid-May, but Greitens, a Republican, withdrew Nixon’s picks shortly after taking office in January.

The terms of two other curators recently expired, but they are allowed to continue serving until Greitens nominates their replacements. All of the curator picks are subject to Senate confirmation.

We Want to Hear from You

Join the conversation and follow me on Twitter @RepJeromeBarn28. Pease feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and will try to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at (573) 751-9851 or email at Jerome.Barnes@house.mo.gov.  Please go to my House web page at http://www.house.mo.gov/member.aspx?year=2017&district=028 and do the Online Survey.  I will put the results in my end of session report.

WEEKLY CAPITOL UPDATE

February 9, 2017

Volume 1, No. 5

 

 

 

Quick Links:

www.state.mo.us

www.house.mo.gov

www.modot.org

The 99th General Assembly is in its fifth week and things are starting to heat up. Next week we will start having afternoon sessions along with our morning session. Thank you for your support.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CHARTER SCHOOLS?

Legislation to authorize the statewide expansion of charter schools stalled in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee amid opposition from supporters of traditional public schools. Under existing law, charter schools are allowed only in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Charter schools are public schools that are allowed to operate free from many of the regulations that traditional public schools are required to follow. Their funding is redirected on a per-pupil basis from the local school district in which the charter school operates.

Charters have had a spotty in the nearly two decades they have operated in Kansas City and St. Louis. While a few have done well, most have performed no better than the traditional public schools they draw their students from, and in some cases charters have performed far worse.

Given the lack of consistent success from charter schools, lawmakers should be skeptical about expanding this experiment statewide. Do you want charter schools in Raytown? I would like to hear from you.

OPPONENTS SEEK TO FORCE VOTE ON ‘RIGHT-TO-WORK’

Hours after Republican Gov. Eric Greitens signed a so-called “right-to-work” bill into law on Feb. 6, the Missouri AFL-CIO filed a referendum petition that would require a statewide vote on the measure before it could take effect.  Labor groups are also pursuing a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit the General Assembly from enacting right-to-work laws in the future.

Right-to-work opponents have until Aug. 28 – the day the measure takes effect – to submit petitions signed by roughly 100,000 registered Missouri voters. If they do so, it automatically will go on the November 2018 statewide ballot and won’t take effect until and unless voters approve it.

Senate Bill 19 would make it a crime punishable by jail time for business owners to negotiate labor contracts requiring workers to pay dues for the union representation they receive. Democratic lawmakers sought to include a provision placing the bill on the statewide ballot, but majority Republicans blocked that effort, leaving the referendum petition as the only option to give voters a say on the issue.

The referendum petition is a rarely used process similar to the more common initiative petition. But while an initiative petition bypasses lawmakers by proposing legislation and placing before voters for their approval, a referendum petition takes an act of the General Assembly and forces a statewide vote on it.

The last time a referendum petition was successfully employed to force a vote was on House Bill 695, a bill lawmakers enacted in 1981 to allow larger trucks on Missouri highways. The bill went on the April 1982 ballot as Proposition A, which was rejected by 53.3 percent of voters.

In addition to the SB 19 referendum petition, labor groups are also circulating an initiative petition for a proposed constitutional amendment to block future right-to-work legislation. The issue last went before voters in 1978 when 60 percent rejected Amendment 23, which sought to constitutionally mandate right-to-work.

HOUSE SENDS ANOTHER ANTI-LABOR BILL TO THE SENATE

The House of Representatives on Feb. 9 voted 95-60 to advance legislation that seeks to make it more difficult and costly for labor unions to collect membership dues. The measure, House Bill 251, went to the Senate on a largely party-line vote with Republicans generally in support and nearly every Democrat opposed.

Then-Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed a similar bill last year, and the Republican-controlled legislature fell one Senate vote short an override. New Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, generally has been supportive of anti-labor proposals.

HB 251 would impose new procedural barriers to the efficient and timely collection of union dues by requiring workers to reauthorize payroll deductions for union dues more frequently.

STATE SUPREME COURT VACANCY DRAWS 31 APPLICANTS

Thirty-one lawyers have applied for the Missouri Supreme Court vacancy created by the Nov. 29 death of Judge Richard Teitelman, the Appellate Judicial Commission announced on Feb. 7. The commission will interview the applicants on Feb. 28 and March 1, and then select three finalists to submit to Gov. Eric Greitens, who must choose one of them or forfeit the decision to the commission.

The applicants include two members of the Missouri Court of Appeals and 10 state trial judges, the bulk of whom are Republican. The selection commission consists of Supreme Court Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge, a Republican appointee; three lawyers elected by members of the Missouri Bar and three non-lawyers chosen by former Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat.

Greitens, a Republican, has called for eliminating the commission and allowing the governor to appoint whomever he wants to judicial vacancies, but such a change would require a voter-approved constitutional amendment. In 2012, 76 percent of voters rejected the most recent attempt to change Missouri’s judicial selection process.

NET STATE REVENUE UP 3 PERCENT SO FAR IN FY 2017

Net year-to-date state general revenue collections increased 3 percent through the first seven months of the 2017 fiscal year compared to the same period in FY 2016, going from $4.96 billion last year to $5.11 billion this year. Net collections for January 2017 increased 7.1 percent compared to those for January 2016, going from $791.6 million to $848.1 million.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

Join the conversation and follow me on Twitter @RepJeromeBarn28. Pease feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and will try to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at (573) 751-9851 or email at Jerome.Barnes@house.mo.gov.  Please go to my House web page at http://www.house.mo.gov/member.aspx?year=2017&district=028 and do the Online Survey.  I will put the results in my end of session report.

If you would like to be removed from the mailing list for this report, please reply to this email with “remove from list” in the subject line. Thank you

Jerome Barnes

Representative District 28

573-751-9851

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