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Sen. Karla May’s “May Report” for the Week of Feb. 28, 2022

On the Floor

This week, the Senate debated Senate Bill 678 and Senate Joint Resolution 38, which modify the funding requirements for the Kansas City Police Department. Currently, Kansas City is required to spend one-fifth of its general revenue on the police department. Senate Bill 678 initially attempted to increase that amount to 26% as well as have other forms of city revenue be considered as part of general revenue. This faced opposition from several senators who worried about how this increased funding requirement may negatively impact other important city services. Ultimately, the chamber gave a round of initial approval to a version of the bill that only requires Kansas City to spend one-fourth, rather than the one-fifth, of its general revenue on policing. Senate Bill 678 still requires another vote by the Senate to be sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Later in the week, several senators took to the floor to speak at length on the Senate’s journal. As this discussion was going on, a motion was made to adjourn, and it was approved, bringing the legislative week to an abrupt end.

Bills and Committees

Sen. May’s Legislation:

This week, two pieces of legislation I filed were voted out of their committees:

  • Senate Concurrent Resolution 27, which recognizes a need for mental health awareness training for high school pupils in public schools and charter schools, was voted out of the Senate’s Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee.
  • Senate Bill 685, which seeks to introduce due process into hearings regarding the suspension of a business, occupational, professional or other license for not complying with a child support order, was approved by the Senate’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee.

Other News

Deadly Force Bill Heard in Missouri House

On March 1, a House panel considered House Bill 2118, which would change state law to allow someone who used physical or deadly force to be presumed to have acted in self-defense and be “immune from criminal prosecution or civil action.” Not only could that person not be prosecuted, the bill would prohibit suspects from being arrested, detained or charged with a crime unless authorities can prove “by clear and convincing evidence” that suspect didn’t act in self-defense. This comes nearly three weeks after a Senate committee rejected similar legislation and prevented it from advancing to the full Senate.

Governor Appoints Another Acting Health Department Director

On March 1, the governor appointed a 22-year veteran of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services as the agency’s acting director, following his previous choice for the position failing to be confirmed by the Senate.

Paula Nickelson immediately took over as acting director from Richard Moore, the department’s general counsel. Moore temporarily led the agency for a month after the confirmation of Donald Kauerauf stalled in the Senate. Kauerauf ultimately resigned when the Senate didn’t act by a Feb. 4 constitutional deadline to approve his appointment.

In a news release announcing Nickelson’s appointment, the governor didn’t say how long she will remain acting director or if he plans to again attempt to install a permanent director. As acting director, she doesn’t face Senate confirmation.

House Passes Bill to Require KC to Spend More on Police

The House of Representatives voted 99-42 to send legislation that requires Kansas City to increase the amount of local revenue it spends on its police department. Currently, Kansas City is required to allocate at least one-fifth of its general revenue fund for the police department. House Bill 1986 seeks to greatly expand the base of what is considered general revenue by including special taxes that are dedicated for specific purposes outside of the general fund. The bill now advances to the Senate.

Amendment Turns Tax Cut Into Tax Increase

A legislative snafu that transformed a $144 million tax cut into a $416 million tax increase has resulted in the bill being sent back to its original committee to have the problem fixed.

As originally filed, House Bill 1992 sought to further reduce the state sales tax on food. However, before the House Ways and Means Committee voted to approve the bill on Feb. 22, an amendment was successfully added, changing the list of foods that are mostly exempt from sales taxes. But because of the way it was worded, the amendment instead would have resulted in more categories of food being taxed than currently are under existing law. The mistake was caught, and another House committee that handles procedural matters voted to send the bill back to the Ways and Means Committee to correct the issue.

American Rescue Plan Act Funding Toolkit

Federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) are available to St. Louis City and County for a variety of local projects. I encourage constituents and businesses to review the toolkit here for funding ideas and opportunities.

Information For Interested Transportation Providers for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

Transportation services for individuals with developmental disabilities continue to be a great need for the St. Louis and St. Charles area. Parties considering being a transportation provider should first contact the Department of Mental Health (DMH) Division of Developmental Disabilities (DD) to discuss service needs in their area. Please email intent to apply to ProviderEnrollment@dmh.mo.gov.

Application Process:

  • Interested parties must apply to become a contract provider with Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities. The application will be reviewed and scored.
  • After all of the pre-contract requirements are completed, an application to Medicaid must be submitted. Providers are required to pay Medicaid an application fee (currently $586.00).
  • After approval of contract, the DD Enrollment Team will begin training and implementation.

Transportation:

  • Transportation can be provided by a regular size car, up to a full size transit van.
  • Individuals need rides to and from many program sites throughout St. Louis County, St Louis City and St. Charles County.
  • There are several individuals who live throughout the community who need to get to the same location at the same time, typically 5 days a week, both in the morning and afternoon. Most providers find that their best option is to develop a route to pick up several people at one time with the first person on the route home being located the farthest away, etc.
  • The expectation is that everyone arrives at their destination by their program starting time and are picked up at the program end time.

Reimbursement:

  • DMH reimburses on zone rates, which are based on miles between person’s home and drop off location.
  • Providers are paid twice a month.

If you have any questions, please contact DMH at 314-475-7616.

Partnership Announcement

St. Louis Community Credit Union recently announced a new partnership with BJC HealthCare in an effort to expand regional access to affordable financial products and services. BJC’s support, in the form of a significant deposit into our Credit Union, will provide additional capital resources that will be used to fund home and business loans. As a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), St. Louis Community Credit Union specializes in creating opportunities for low-and-moderate-income households to access savings and checking accounts, as well as loans for a wide range of uses. For more information, please contact St. Louis Community Credit Union.

Find Employment with the State of Missouri

Interested in working for the state? Missouri has career opportunities throughout the state and you can find them here mocareers.mo.gov. Interested applicants can search by agency or position or location. This week, I would like to highlight opportunities with the Missouri Department of Mental (DMH). I worked with individuals with disabilities as a DMH employee for six years, and it was rewarding work.  If you like people, this may be a good fit for you interested in direct support positions. Learn more about the department at dmh.mo.gov.