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07/10/23 Missouri Mondays - The work to protect our rights and freedoms must continue! Take action!


Welcome to another Missouri Mondays!


We know it’s exhausting but the necessary work to protect our rights and freedoms from the GOP’s relentless attacks must continue. Thank you for staying informed and taking action with us each week! You make a difference! Help us spread the word to others and share our link to sign up for Missouri Mondays: https://www.moactionalliance.com/signup.


Missouri in the News


“Democratic legislative leader launches campaign for Missouri governor”

“The top Democrat in the Missouri House State Rep. Crystal Quade officially launched her campaign for governor early Sunday morning, taking direct aim at her likely GOP rivals while touting efforts to restore abortion rights and block foreign ownership of farmland.


Quade, 37, is the first major Democratic candidate to enter the field to replace Gov. Mike Parson next year. In an introductory video announcing her campaign, she discussed being raised by a single mom and relying on food stamps before touting her record in the legislature.


“I committed myself to working for families like the one I grew up in,” she said. “Now I’m a leader in the state House, where I’ve stood up for workers against corporate special interests, sponsored a law to stop China and Russia from buying our farmland to squeeze out Missouri farmers and I’m leading the fight to restore our abortion rights.”


Quade is scheduled to kick off her campaign Monday in her hometown of Springfield.”


“Three major Republican candidates are already actively running for governor — Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and state Sen. Bill Eigel. Quade took direct aim at Ashcroft in the video, saying the secretary of state “uses fear to score cheap political points and divide us.”


In the description of the campaign video, Quade contrasted her background with two of her potential opponents, noting that Ashcroft is the scion of a well-known political family and Kehoe became wealthy after purchasing a Ford dealership in Jefferson City. “My daddy wasn’t a U.S. senator or governor,” Quade said. “I don’t own a car dealership, or a cattle farm. I’m a mom, a social worker and a leader who builds bridges to make change.”


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“Governor signs bill extending postpartum coverage under Missouri Medicaid”

Postpartum Medicaid coverage will expand from 60 days to one year under legislation signed into law Thursday evening by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

“Missouri had the 12th-highest maternal mortality in the nation from 2018 to 2020, and three-quarters of pregnancy-related deaths in the state — or roughly 138 people — were preventable, the Missouri Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review Board found last year.


“Missouri’s maternal mortality rate is frighteningly high, in particular for moms of color,” said Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City. “This new law will save lives and make Missouri a safer, healthier place for new moms and their babies.”


The state Department of Social Services estimates the extension signed Thursday will cover more than 4,000 people who otherwise go uninsured two months after the end of pregnancy.


Thirty-two states and Washington, D.C., have already implemented the extension.


Parson’s signature came as no surprise.


In his annual State of the State address in January, the governor committed to tackling the state’s high maternal mortality rate, calling it “embarrassing and absolutely unacceptable.” He said the fact that three-quarters of maternal deaths in the state are preventable was a “tragic Missouri statistic.”


The proposal earned support from an ideologically diverse coalition, including both Pro-Choice Missouri and Campaign Life Missouri. But opposition from conservative members of the Senate, which blocked the bill last year, nearly upended its chances in the legislative session’s final weeks. Opponents wanted to include language designed to prevent anyone who receives an abortion from receiving the benefit.


Advocates said including the language would jeopardize federal approval, and though it was added when the bill initially passed the Senate, it was excluded from the version Parson signed Thursday.


A multi-year report analyzing maternal mortality in Missouri and published last year found that women on Medicaid are eight times more likely to die within one year of pregnancy than their counterparts with private health insurance. It also found Black women in Missouri were three times more likely to die within a year of pregnancy than white women.”


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“Parson strikes $555 million from record-high state budget”

Gov. Mike Parson on June 30th issued 179 line-item vetoes to strike $555.3 million in spending authority from the state budget for the 2024 fiscal year, which started July 1st. However, the remaining $51 billion budget still includes record state spending and is roughly $3 billion more than the $48 billion budget originally authorized for FY 2023.

With the state beginning the new fiscal year with an unprecedented revenue surplus of $7.8 billion, including $5.7 billion in general revenue, there wasn’t an issue with having enough money in the state treasury to cover all of the spending authorized by lawmakers. Nonetheless, in most of his explanatory veto messages, Parson, a Republican, said they were necessary to “help ensure the financial stability of Missouri” in the future.

Many of Parson's vetoes struck spending items inserted by individual lawmakers for the benefit of their districts, which could spark some override attempts when the General Assembly convenes on Sept. 13th for its annual veto session. However, overrides of line-item budget vetoes often have little practical impact. That’s because although an appropriation is required for the state to legally spend money for a particular purpose, it doesn’t mandate an actual expenditure.

In 2014, for example, the Republican-controlled legislature overrode 47 of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s budget vetoes. However, since the governor controls most executive branch expenditures, Nixon’s administration simply didn’t exercise the spending authority tied to many of those overrides.

Unlike with most legislation, which the governor must either sign into law or veto in its entirety, the Missouri Constitution empowers the governor to strike individual items from an appropriations bill while signing the rest of the bill into law.

Key spending authority that remains in the budget includes an ambitious $2.8 billion plan to widen the entire length of Interstate 70 from Kansas City to St. Louis, plus another $379 million for various road and bridge projects around the state. However, Parson rejected $28 million for improvements to part of Interstate 44, as well as several other regional road projects.

The FY 2024 budget also provides substantial increases for Missouri’s public colleges and universities, allocates the minimum level of basic funding for local public school districts called for by state law and, for the second year in a row, fully funds the state’s share of districts’ student transportation costs. In addition, the new budget increases funding for expanded public pre-K offerings and bumps state reimbursements for home care workers who assist elderly or disabled Missourians to boost their average pay from about $12 an hour to $14 an hour. –Democratic Legislative Network Newsletter July 7


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“Missouri will exempt Social Security, public pension payments from state income taxes”


“Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday signed the tax cut he said a week earlier was responsible for his decision to veto most of the 201 spending items he cut from the state budget.


The bill, exempting Social Security benefits and public pension payments from income tax, would reduce state general revenue by an estimated $309 million annually. It would also allow counties to hold a vote on whether people 62 or older should be exempt from increases in their annual property tax bills.


The bill passed with broad bipartisan support – only two House members voted against it – but not without some misgivings among Democrats, said Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis. Under current law, exemptions allowed for retirement income are phased out for single taxpayers earning more than $85,000 and married couples with incomes above $100,000. “I was not thrilled with it,” Merideth said. “But honestly, to me, it was the best of the options presented.”


The Republican House leadership was pushing for a $1 billion cut in corporate and income taxes. The bill’s property tax language began as a cap on increases in assessments for all property owners. “Many of us agree that there is a real problem with seniors right now that are on fixed incomes dealing with inflation and property taxes are a big part of that,” Merideth said.


Homeowners around the state, especially in metropolitan areas, are seeing massive increases in their assessments due to the recent rise in real estate prices. And while provisions in the constitution require rates to be rolled back when overall assessment increases exceed inflation, individual property owners could still see big increases if their property assessment went up more than the general average.


Parson’s decision to cite the tax cut for retirement benefits as a reason to veto spending items is not playing well with lawmakers. Budget leaders from both chambers said this week they will consider overrides, and said fiscal policies pushed by the governor, more than the retirement exemption, are doing more to reduce state revenues.


“Maybe the governor’s concerned about what possible, further tax reductions that the legislature may be looking at, but that’s not necessarily how, in my opinion, you build this budget,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, said in an interview this week.


Missouri took in $13.2 billion in general revenue in the year that ended June 30. The state was also holding surplus funds of nearly $8 billion. Parson vetoed $555 million in spending, including $365 million in general revenue appropriations, from the $16 billion in general revenue items in the budget.


Growth in state revenue slowed, however, to 2.7% during fiscal 2023 and is expected to be just 0.7% in the current fiscal year. It is a large income tax cut passed last year, not the retirement exemptions, responsible for slowing growth, Merideth said. “It’s one thing to blame this tax cut,” Merideth said, “but really, the real tax cut that’s gonna be costing us money is the other one.”

State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville and sponsor of the bill, could not be reached Friday morning for comment.”



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“UM System ends race-conscious policies after federal ruling”

The University of Missouri System is immediately ending consideration of race in admissions after the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority on June 29th ruled race-conscious college admission policies aimed at addressing past discriminatory practices are unconstitutional. Other Missouri colleges and universities, both public and private, are expected to take similar actions.

In a pair of separate rulings respectively involving admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, the court effectively reversed decades of precedent holding that such policies were justified to expand opportunities for racial minorities who historically had been denied equal access to a college education. The judges split along ideological lines, with the conservative majority declaring policies that favor racial minorities violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which was ratified shortly after the Civil War to protect the rights of racial minorities.

In a statement not attributed to any specific university official, the UM System said it would cease considering race and ethnicity as a factor in both admissions and the awarding of certain scholarships that had been aimed at improving racial diversity on its four campuses. However, the statement said the system would continue to honor financial aid commitments already awarded to current and incoming students that “were lawfully issued under previous Supreme Court and U.S. Department of Education interpretations.”

The Supreme Court’s abrupt ending of affirmative action in college admissions is expected to result in a decline in campus diversity, as has been the case in states such as California, Florida and Michigan where consideration of race is already banned under state law.

“The devastating impact of this decision cannot be overstated,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the three dissenting judges. “The majority’s vision of race neutrality will entrench racial segregation in higher education because racial inequality will persist so long as it is ignored.” –Democratic Legislative Network Newsletter July 7

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“Hawley’s Sunshine Law violations cost taxpayers $254,000”

“Missouri taxpayers are on the hook for more than a quarter-million dollars as a result of Republican Josh Hawley violating the state Sunshine Law while serving as state attorney general.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem, a Republican, on June 28th ordered the Attorney General’s Office to pay $242,000 in attorney fees in relation to litigation over Sunshine Law violations Hawley, now a U.S. Senator, committed during his two-year stint as attorney general from 2017-2018. Making Hawley’s violations particularly egregious is the fact that the attorney general is the state official primarily responsible for enforcing the Sunshine Law.

In a scathing ruling in November, Beetem previously determined Hawley intentionally withheld official records deemed harmful to his 2018 U.S. Senate campaign that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sought through a Sunshine request. Those records involved Hawley’s use of paid campaign consultants to help run the Attorney General’s Office. Beetem fined the office $12,000 for the violations – the maximum allowed by law – but delayed awarding attorney fees pending further proceedings.

Mark Pedroli, who represented the DSCC in its lawsuit, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Hawley should apologize to Missouri taxpayers and personally reimburse them for the court’s judgment. A Hawley spokesman bizarrely responded to the paper that it is Democrats who should apologize for pursuing the case and proving Hawley broke the law and that they should reimburse taxpayers for the consequences of Hawley’s wrongdoing.” –Democratic Legislative Network Newsletter July 7


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“Judge Mary Rhodes Russell begins rare second term as chief justice”

“Missouri Supreme Court Judge Mary Rhodes Russell took over as the court’s chief justice on July 1st, becoming the first woman in the court’s history to get a rare second term in the post. Russell, who previously served as chief justice from 2013-2015, replaces Judge Paul Wilson, whose term in the administrative role ended.

Because the position rotates among the court’s seven members every two years, only five judges in the court’s modern history have served as chief justice for more than one term. Prior to Russell, the last person to do so was Judge William Ray Price Jr., who held the post from 1999-2001 and again from 2009-2011, before retiring from the court in 2012.

An October 2004 appointee of Democratic Gov. Bob Holden, Russell is the state high court’s longest serving current member. Her latest term as chief justice will run through June 30th, 2025.” –Democratic Legislative Network Newsletter July 7


 

UPCOMING EVENTS - WHAT YOU CAN DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!



TAKE ACTION WITH THE MISSOURI VOTER PROTECTION COALITION (MOVPC)

TO PROTECT THE RIGHT TO VOTE


Join the MOVPC weekly meeting MONDAYS at 10 AM

Text “MOVPC” to 66866 or register HERE: bit.ly/protectmovoters


Our work to protect the vote requires our continued attention! So we hope you'll join our next MOVPC call where we will discuss the necessary steps in our fight to protect the right to vote in Missouri. MOVPC is a nonpartisan statewide network promoting access to the ballot and working to remove barriers to voting in Missouri!


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Missouri Jobs With Justice Voter Action

Pledge Your Support for Fair Wages and Earned Sick Time

Take the pledge and volunteer to gather signatures here:


Missourians for Healthy Families and Fair Wages has launched a ballot initiative to gradually raise Missouri’s minimum wage to $15 by 2026 and allow employees to earn paid time off to care for themselves and loved ones.


Missourians for Health Families and Fair Wages rewards hardworking Missourians by making sure they can care for their families and keep food on the table. By gradually increasing the minimum wage, we can ensure wages can keep up with rising prices. By ensuring that all workers have the ability to earn paid sick leave, we can make sure no parent has to choose between taking care of themselves or loved ones and affording the cost of necessities like medicine or utilities.


NO ONE should have to choose between their paycheck and their family's health. NO ONE working full-time should have to live in poverty. However, this is NOT the reality in Missouri, which is why we are coming together again to do what the legislature won't do for hardworking Missourians.


Take the pledge to show your support for fair wages and earned paid sick time and sign up to volunteer here: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/pledge-your-support-for-fair-wages-and-earned-sick-time


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Greater Kansas City Womens Political Caucus

GKCWPC July Membership Meeting

Reproductive Roundup ft. Abortion Action MO

Thursday, July 27 (Virtual)

7:00pm-8:00pm


Since the overturn of Roe by SCOTUS last year, there seems to be SOMETHING going on every day in both Missouri and Kansas that digs the hole even deeper - legislative whiplash on reproductive justice is just to be expected at this point, right?


Join our July GKCWPC membership meeting as we bring in Executive Director of the *newly* rebranded Abortion Action Missouri, Mallory Schwarz (she/her), to chat with us about what the hell is going on. We are going to dig deep into the ballot process itself, where those abortion policies are in the process as of now, and how we can continue to work together to address the intentionally biased Missouri legislature.

Register for this FREE and VIRTUAL event and we will send you the Zoom information an hour before we start!


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MISSOURI HOUSE DEMOCRATS


Get involved!

We need your help to make sure there is an active presence in every district in our state, because every district matters in the fight to flip Missouri blue. Can we count on you to help us build progressive communities across the state? Get involved in your area https://www.mohousedems.com/get-involved


Make a donation!

Every election matters. Every gift can help.

Donate today and help us keep building the infrastructure needed to recruit, train, and support local candidates in Missouri.


Organizing efforts require year-round work, not just when there is an upcoming election, and your donation will help build the groundwork needed to bring real change benefitting all Missourians.



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BLUE MISSOURI

Find out more here: https://bluemissouri.org/

Blue Missouri was formerly known as It Starts Today-Missouri. It is a joint project between former Ohio Democratic party chair David Pepper and Every State Blue, formerly known as It Starts Today.

How Blue Missouri Works


Think of us as crowdfunders – for Missouri’s Democratic nominees for state legislature.

We make it easy for you to join thousands of other people and crowdsource democracy – supporting our nominees for a few dollars a month (which, these days, is less than you might spend on a fancy cup of coffee). And, as a monthly program, you just set it and forget it, knowing that you’re doing your part – no matter what else you have going on.


Since 2017, our Blue Missouri community (formerly known as It Starts Today-Missouri) has raised and distributed over $350,000 to Missouri’s state legislative nominees.

Working together, we can show up for Missouri’s Democrats, making sure no Democrat gets left behind … no Missouri voter is left without a choice … and no Republican gets a free ride. By joining Blue Missouri, you become part of a community of thousands of people who understand we are fighting for the future of Missouri.

Find out more here: https://bluemissouri.org/

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MISSOURI MONDAYS NEWS SUPPLEMENT!


With so much important news each week we don’t want you to miss a thing! Check out our MISSOURI MONDAYS NEWS SUPPLEMENT here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13cokjWlCh2EkY5K6bM357rjVPizZDzxlMqjAuoBQfoI/edit?usp=sharing


 

THANK YOU! for staying informed and using your voice and actions to make a difference!

Invite your friends and neighbors to join us and sign up for Missouri Action Alliance and this Missouri Mondays email at moactionalliance.com/signup

Follow us on Twitter at @MissouriAction, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MOActionAlliance and check out our website at http://www.MOActionAlliance.com

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