The Capitol Report | February 9th, 2017

Fiscal Budget, Paycheck Protection, & Newborn Screening

Governor Eric Greitens held a press conference last week to reveal his budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year that begins in July. Because of lagging revenue and faster-than-projected growth in health care expenditures, the governor’s budget makes more than $572 million in cuts across state government, and reduces the state workforce by 188 positions.

The House Budget Committee Chairman, Rep. Fitzpatrick, reacted to the governor’s proposal by saying, “It is the obligation of the General Assembly and the governor to balance the state budget in good times and bad. I commend Governor Greitens for making tough decisions. Over the next two months, the Budget Committee and entire House of Representatives will scrutinize the proposed cuts and increases and determine the greatest good that can be done for Missourians with the revenues available.”

This week, the House continued labor reform efforts as we passed legislation commonly referred to as “paycheck protection.” A change that would allow union members to ensure their dues are not used for political purposes they oppose.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Taylor, is meant to give public employee union members the right to opt-in annually to have their dues automatically deducted from their paychecks. The current system requires a public employee to opt-out. If they fail to do so, their dues are automatically deducted.

The House also gave a first-round approval to legislation that would expand screenings of newborns in Missouri to look for two more life-threatening diseases. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ruth, would require that infants be screened for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and mucopolysaccharidosis II (MPS II), otherwise known as Hunter syndrome. Both are genetic diseases that can be fatal. Supporters say the earlier they are detected, the better outcomes can be.

Women Legislators of Missouri are encouraging young women, set to graduate from high school, to apply for a $500 college scholarship. Each year the group selects one student from each of Missouri’s congressional districts to receive the award. Candidates must fill out an application and are required to submit a 500-word essay answering the question, “If you were a state legislator, what would you hope to accomplish and why?”

A link to download the scholarship is located at http://house.mo.gov/downloads/wlsa2017.pdf

Applications must be mailed to:  Representative Patricia Pike, Missouri State Capitol , 201 West Capitol Ave., Jefferson City, Missouri  65101 or submitted via email to patricia.pike@house.mo.gov For further information, contact Rep. Pike at 573-751-5388.

You may read in more detail about what is happening at your State Capitol below.

As always, I will work diligently for you as your State Representative.

-Jason

 

 

Governor Unveils Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2018

Governor Eric Greitens held a press conference last week to reveal his budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year that begins in July. Because of lagging revenue and faster-than-projected growth in health care expenditures, the governor’s budget makes more than $572 million in cuts across state government, and reduces the state workforce by 188 positions.

The House Budget Committee Chairman, Rep. Fitzpatrick, reacted to the governor’s proposal by saying, “It is the obligation of the General Assembly and the governor to balance the state budget in good times and bad. I commend Governor Greitens for making tough decisions. Over the next two months, the Budget Committee and entire House of Representatives will scrutinize the proposed cuts and increases and determine the greatest good that can be done for Missourians with the revenues available. Furthermore, I commit to working with the Senate and the executive branch to advance long-term solutions that will provide greater stability and viability to future budgets while maintaining the state’s Triple A credit rating.”

Some of the highlights of the governor’s budget proposal include:

  • $3.3 billion for the school foundation formula, ensuring that classroom funding is protected.
  • $2 million to expand course access through the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program so that children across the state can use technology to access Advanced Placement classes.
  • $13 million to cover the costs of providing special education services to students with disabilities through the High Need Fund, which provides instruction, tuition, assistive technology, supportive services, and transportation.
  • $10.7 million to care for children who have been abused or neglected and removed from their homes, including services for children with emotional and psychological difficulties, and expenses for children in adoptive and guardianship care placements.
  • Additional funding totaling $33.8 million to serve 1,472 additional individuals with developmental disabilities through case management, transitional services, and crisis residential placements.
  • $750,000 to provide additional services for victims of sexual and domestic violence, and their children.
  • $250,000 to establish a Blue Alert system so the state can find and bring swift justice to anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer.
  • $1 million to decrease the backlog of cases at the state’s Crime Lab.
  • $690,000 to provide TASERs and body armor to ensure troopers are protected and have the nonlethal tools they need.
  • $11 million to coordinate efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in Missouri.
  • $2 million to enhance cyber security and protect against potential threats, attacks, and breaches.
  • $115.5 million to participate in the Excellence in Mental Health Act to develop a system to serve individuals with serious mental illness and substance use disorders while promoting the delivery of efficient and effective care.
  • $5.5 million to ensure veterans’ home residents are provided the quality care they deserve and veterans with service-related disabilities have access to services, and to build needed ancillary facilities at veterans’ homes and cemeteries.
  • $2.5 million to expand drug courts and veterans’ treatment courts in Missouri to help adults and veterans struggling with mental health and substance use issues.
  • $2 million to reduce recidivism rates by assisting offenders in partnering with agencies and community groups so they transition successfully from custody to productive citizens.

House Approves “Paycheck Protection” Legislation (HB 251)

This week, the House continued labor reform efforts as we passed legislation commonly referred to as “paycheck protection.” A change that would allow union members to ensure their dues are not used for political purposes they oppose.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Taylor, is meant to give public employee union members the right to opt-in annually to have their dues automatically deducted from their paychecks. The current system requires a public employee to opt-out. If they fail to do so, their dues are automatically deducted.

Specifically, the bill would require annual written consent from a public employee before any amount could be withheld from the employee’s earnings for the payment of any portion of dues, agency shop fees, or other fees paid to a public labor organization. The legislation also would require public employee unions to obtain annual written consent in order to spend a portion of the fees on political activities.

In addition, the bill is designed to increase transparency by requiring public labor organizations to maintain financial records identical to those required by federal law. The reports must be made available to employees in a searchable electronic format.

Supporters of the change say it is a matter of protecting the rights of workers and giving them a say in where their money goes. They say unions sometimes support political causes not endorsed by their membership and the bill would give members the authority to prevent their fees from being used for these purposes.

Opponents say contributions already are voluntary as current law allows union members to opt-out of the automatic deductions. They believe the requirement is an unnecessary intrusion and another administrative burden placed on unions by state government.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. The Missouri General Assembly approved a similar bill last year, but the legislation was vetoed by the previous governor. The current governor is expected to sign this year’s version of the bill into law if it reaches his desk.

Right-to-Work Legislation Signed into Law (SB 19)

Missouri will now become the nation’s 28th Right-to-Work state as Governor Eric Greitens recently SB 19 into law. This week the governor traveled to Springfield and Poplar Bluff before returning to Jefferson City for a series of ceremonial bill signings to tout the benefits of the new law that will take effect August 28.

As Greitens told a group of legislators and onlookers before signing the bill in the State Capitol, “Passing Right-to-Work sends a very clear message that the people of Missouri are ready to work and Missouri is open for business.”

House Gives Initial Approval to Legislation Expanding Screenings of Newborns (HB 66)

The Missouri House gave first-round approval this week to legislation that would expand screenings of newborns in Missouri to look for two more life-threatening diseases. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ruth, would require that infants be screened for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and mucopolysaccharidosis II (MPS II), otherwise known as Hunter syndrome. Both are genetic diseases that can be fatal. Supporters say the earlier they are detected, the better outcomes can be. The sponsor said the bill, “gives families hope and it gives us a chance to save the lives of even more babies here in Missouri.”

SMA results in a loss of physical strength that can include a lessened ability to walk, eat, or breathe. It is the leading genetic cause of death for infants. Hunter syndrome is caused by an enzyme deficiency that results in the buildup of harmful molecules that can affect a person’s appearance, mental development, organ function, and physical abilities. An estimated 2,000 people have Hunter syndrome worldwide, with about 500 of those living in the U.S.  No drugs have been approved for SMA, but one could be approved by April. There is no cure for Hunter syndrome, but earlier detection could improve the lives or increase the lifespan of those children who have it.

The sponsor of the bill believes there should be little or no additional cost to screen for SMA, and screening for Hunter syndrome can be done “very reasonably.” The bill would make the additional screenings subject to annual funding by the state, and would allow the Department of Health and Senior Services to increase its newborn screening fees to pay for the additional tests. The bill now requires another vote in the House before moving to the Senate.

Women Legislators of Missouri Scholarship

Women Legislators of Missouri are encouraging young women, set to graduate from high school, to apply for a $500 college scholarship. Each year the group selects one student from each of Missouri’s congressional districts to receive the award. Members hope to spread the word about the scholarship opportunity so that female students from all parts of the state will apply.

The Women Legislators of Missouri Caucus created the senior scholarship program to provide financial assistance to students on the basis of leadership, academics and community service. Candidates must fill out an application and are required to submit a 500-word essay answering the question, “If you were a state legislator, what would you hope to accomplish and why?”

A link to download the scholarship is located at http://house.mo.gov/downloads/wlsa2017.pdf

Applications must be mailed to:  Representative Patricia Pike, Missouri State Capitol , 201 West Capitol Ave., Jefferson City, Missouri  65101 or submitted via email to patricia.pike@house.mo.gov with the subject WLM Essay Contest.  The submission deadline is Thursday, March 9, 2017. The group will select recipients and then a hold a reception in their honor in the State Capitol later in April. Scholarships will be presented to the recipients in the Missouri House Chamber.   For further information, contact Rep. Pike at 573-751-5388.

RollaTechnicalCenter2017.jpgCapitol Visit

This week I had a great visit with Jacob Stewart, Brandi Grindel, Kourtney Carey, and Emily Whittaker from the Rolla Technical Center who were at the Capitol for Radiologist Technology Day.

I am committed to serve the constituents of the 120th District, so please feel free to contact my office anytime at 573-751-1688. Your District 120 Capitol Office is 201 W Capitol Ave, Rm 415-B, Jefferson City, MO 65101. If you wish to unsubscribe from this report, please email Dylan Bryant at dylan.bryant@house.mo.gov

 

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