Empowering You November Newsletter

WOW! What a great POW! Conference. Thanks to all those who attended. See what you missed and share in the great pics. This issue also includes updates on the case of Michael Johnson who was convicted under MO’s outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminal laws, the illegal lockout bill in STL city, and a welcome to our new board chair! Take a look.

Click for downloadable/printable PDF.

Empowering You – October Newsletter

Check out Empowering You- newsletter from Empower Missouri.

In this issue:

  • Preview our workshops and meet our Superhero Awardees for the 116th Annual Conference: Persisting & Organizing to Win – POW! October 5-6th! Register NOW!
  • Veto Session: were any of Gov. Greitens’ vetoes overridden?
  • How will you honor World Food Day?

Download a PDF.

POW! 2017 Annual Conference

Persisting & Organizing to Win! Putting the POW in EMPOWER!

October 5-6, St Louis, MO

Online Registration is NOW OPEN!

Empower Missouri is dedicating the 2017 Annual Conference to the role of labor organizing. With continued attacks to reduce the reach and influence of the labor community, now is the time to focus on building strong alliances across the broad social justice spectrum.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Nancy Cross: Opening Keynoter, Vice President SEIU Local 1
  • Tiffany Dena Loftin: Closing Keynoter, Senior Program Specialist, NEA
  • Rev. Traci Blackmon & Rabbi Susan Talve: Dinner & Awards Speaker

>>>Preview our complete POW! Conference program booklet, with descriptions of workshops, bios of presenters and awardees, and final schedule. <<<


Thursday, October 05, 2017

9:00 - 10:00


Registration Opens - remains open throughout conference

Pre-Conference Session Presented by Missouri Jobs with Justice



11:45- 1:15

Conference opens with Welcome 

Buffet Lunch Available

Keynote: Nancy Cross 




Session 1 Breakouts.  See below for list.




Session 2 Breakouts. See below for list.


Break and Awards Dinner check-in.


Networking Happy Hour with Cash Bar.

6:00-8:00 PM

Dinner and guest speakers Reverend Traci Blackmon & Rabbi Susan Talve.

Presentation of annual awards winners.

Friday, October 06, 2017



Breakfast buffet

Annual Business Meeting




Keynote Presentation - Tiffany Dena Loftin 


Response Panel 

11:45 AM-Noon

Call to Action, Thank You’s & Safe Travels


Subject to change, more details to follow.

Breakout Session #1 1:30-3:00 PM   Breakout Session #2 3:15-4:45 PM
Housing & Food Insecurity Among Low-Wage Workers (AHHTF & HTF)   Housing & Food Insecurity Among Low-Wage Workers (Repeat) (AHHTF & HTF)
Justice in the Workplace (HRTF)   Faith/Labor Alliance
MO Budget Project (EJTF)   Ban the Box - Fair Chance Hiring Policies (CJTF)
Impact of Trauma on Low-Wage Workers (H/MHTF)   Minimum Wage and #FF$15 (EJTF)


10% of the total tickets sold are available at a Scholarship Rate of 10% of the conference price. Click here to apply for a scholarship. If selected, you will receive registration instructions.


You and/or your organization can show your support for worker's rights and grassroots organizing by sponsoring our conference and contributing to our scholarship fund for low-wage workers. 

Thank you to last year's Sponsors. 2017 Sponsors include:

Bob Fox & Maxine Clark
Center for Budget & Policy
Clark-Fox Foundation
CWA Local 6355
David Bohnett Foundation
Dowd Bennett, LLP
Lutheran Children & Family Services
Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys
Missouri Faith Voices
Missouri Jobs with Justice
Missouri Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Council of Jewish Women
National Low Income Housing Coalition
Painters & Allied Trades, District Council 58
Places for People
Representative Deb Lavender
Schuchat, Cook & Werner
Second Chance Freedom Foundation
Service Employees International Union Local One
Senator Jill Schupp
Sts Joachim & Ann Care Service
Vision for Children at Risk
Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice
15th Ward Democratic Club

When & Where

October 5-6, 2017

Sheraton Clayton Plaza Hotel, St. Louis

7730 Bonhomme Ave.

St. Louis, MO 63105

(Special hotel rate of $109/night is available under "Empower Missouri October 2017" RATE EXPIRES 9/12)





Our Homes, Our Voices: the National Week of Housing Advocacy

As state partner with the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Empower Missouri’s Affordable Housing and Homelessness Task Force is participating in Our Homes, Our Voices: the National Week of Housing Advocacy from July 22-29.

We started preparing for this at our June 14th meeting, recognizing that the House Budget Committee would be preparing to debate its budget blueprint for FY18 and tax reform in July. As anticipated, the details were released on July 19. Here is a summary of some of our deepest concerns from budget and tax information put forward by the Trump Administration for the next ten year period:

  • Defense spending would increase nearly $1 trillion.
  • Domestic programs would be decreased by $1.3 trillion — to its lowest level since before the Great Depression.
  • Mandatory programs that ensure basic living standards for low income families, including Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly known as food stamps), would be slashed by $4.4 trillion.
  • The first $200 billion in cuts are put on a fast-track schedule to help pay for tax cuts.
  • More than 50% of those tax cuts would go to the wealthiest one percent in Missouri according to additional budgetary information received from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • The House Financial Services Committee, which oversees affordable housing and community development programs, is ordered to find at least $14 billion in savings.

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee moved forward with its FY18 spending bill for affordable housing and community development programs. NLIHC estimates the bill would result in the loss of more than 140,000 housing vouchers. For more detailed information, see NLIHC’s analysis and updated budget chart.

Here are Our Homes, Our Voices events slated for July 22-29 in Missouri:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Meeting with one of Sen. Blunt’s district office directors. Space is limited. If you would like to be considered for inclusion on this leadership team, email Jeanette@EmpowerMissouri.org.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017, noon

Press conference at Wilkes Blvd United Methodist Church

702 Wilkes Blvd, Columbia, MO 65201

You are welcome to attend to show opposition to housing budget cuts. If you would like to make signs, find ideas at https://www.ourhomes-ourvoices.org/resources. Speakers will include those who met with Sen. Blunt’s staff earlier that morning.

Friday, July 28, 2017, 9 a.m.

Tour of the Salvation Army Veterans Residence, 2933-35 Locust Street, St. Louis, MO 63103. This is a 48-unit low-income housing tax credit project that provides permanent and transitional supportive housing for Veterans. The housing is located in a campus-style community in the Locust Business District. Supports include on-site case management and our local Midtown health clinic for counseling, healthcare, and addictions treatment. Federal, state and local elected officials are invited to tour the site and hear a brief presentation of budget concerns. Please RSVP to Nicole McKoy at nicole_mckoy@usc.salvationarmy.org.

Please join us for these events or contact Jeanette@EmpowerMissouri.org if  you’d like to host a rally, letter writing party, press conference or additional Our Homes, Our Voices event in your community July 22-29.

Legislative Update Week of March 6, 2016

Empower Missouri’s mission is to advocate for the well-being of all Missourians through civic leadership, education, and research. If you are on our mailing list, you are somewhere along the civic leadership continuum – a new advocate, someone who has gained some skills and is anxious to learn more, or you may be a veteran who has been speaking up for social justice for decades. Wherever you are on the advocacy journey, this week there is a job for you.

First, here are items that relate to our 2017 priorities so directly that we ask you to take immediate and firm action:

Protect access to health care for children, people with disabilities and seniors who depend on Medicaid: We have been warning you about Senate Bill 28 for some time.  The bill is now #3 on the Senate calendar, and we expect debate by the full Senate this week. Even if you have called or emailed or visited your senator already on this issue, please remind them that you are watching and that you want them to defeat this dangerous idea. We should not commit to a way to revamp Missouri’s Medicaid system until we know exactly what we are dealing with at the federal level. Block grants are most definitely NOT a way to improve the system and protect the health of vulnerable Missourians.

Keep Missouri from taking ANOTHER giant step backwards on worker rights: You may be aware that Senate Bill (SB) 43, a weakening of protections against discrimination, passed the Senate on Thursday and is headed to a House committee shortly. SB 45 (regarding arbitration that disadvantages employees) is already scheduled for a House hearing on 1 p.m. on Monday, March 6, before the House Special Committee on Litigation Reform. Yes, Nimrod Chapel Jr., president of the NAACP in Missouri does plan to be there to testify against this bill which could force Missouri employees into arbitration with the person who abused them instead of allowing access to court proceedings. And Empower Missouri plans to be there to speak against this bill too. We hope to see you in House Hearing Room 6, and if you cannot be present, call or email members of the committee asking for a no vote IMMEDIATELY. The hearing notice says there will be an executive session on this bill and a similar House bill (HB 156) immediately after the SB 5 hearing. Ask committee members to vote both down.

Missouri needs a raise – but some lawmakers are trying to take away local control regarding wages: You may have heard about the victory for supporters of a higher minimum wage last week. Rep. Jason Chipman (R-Steelville) and Rep.Dan Shaul (R-Imperial) want to preempt the right of local municipalities to raise the wage higher than the state minimum wage, even if a higher cost of living is present. The bill numbers are House Bills (HBs) 1193 and 1194, and the hearing is March 6 upon adjournment (usually sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. on Mondays) in House Hearing Room 4. Please attend or send your testimony to the Rules Committee on Administrative Oversight.

Progress possible on trauma, toxic stress and trauma-informed care: The Special Committee on Urban Issues also has a hearing scheduled for Monday, March 6, at 5 p.m. or upon adjournment, whichever is later, in Hearing Room 5, and a bill we supported with testimony last week will be voted upon in executive session. HB 847 from Rep. Cora Faith Walker (D-St. Louis County) requires teacher-training institutions in this state receiving state aid to require students to demonstrate proficiency on the concepts of trauma-informed approach and trauma-specific interventions. Please ask members of the committee to vote Do Pass on this bill.

Join our Human Rights Task Force (HRTF) in speaking out to reduce bias in policing: Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis City) will present SB 287  to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence on Monday, March 6, at 2 p.m. in the Senate Lounge. Don Love, co-chair of the HRTF, has worked tirelessly on this issue and will be present to testify. You may also offer your support at the hearing or by contacting the committee.

Access to anti-psychotic medications threatened:

Our help to defeat SB 433 has been requested by our allies at the Federation, a coalition of mental health advocates. Here is the alert that they sent.

Urgent action is needed to oppose a Senate Bill 433, which threatens access to anti-psychotic medications. 

  • SB 433 repeals an important state statute that protects a physician’s ability to prescribe the medication they believe is best for their patient.
  • SB 433 ignores the fact that psychiatric prescribing is a delicate balance. Individual responses vary from one medication to another
  • SB 433 requires Prior Authorization for anti-psychotic medications that are non-preferred.  Prior authorization takes time away from physicians seeing patients.
  • SB 433 authorizes MO HealthNet to utilize Step Therapy (fail first) policies for non-preferred anti-psychotic medications.

Each of these policies erects a barrier to accessing the right anti-psychotic medication, which can result in harmful, costly and even tragic consequences for people with serious mental illness.

Here are 3 actions you can take that will make our work more powerful and effective:

  1.  If you want to have the greatest impact, testify at next week’s hearing the in the capitol.  (It’s not as scary as you might think.)  Your testimony need not be long.  Email Jackie Hudson at jhudson@manistl.org or Mark Utterback at mark.utterback@mha-em.org to get signed up.


  1. Call the Seniors, Family and Children Committee (it’s OK to leave a message with the their staff).  You can use the bullet points above.
Sen. David Sater 573-751-1480
Sen. Jeanie Riddle 573-751-2757
Sen. Maria Chappelle Nadal 573-751-4106
Sen. Gary Romine  573-751-4008
Sen. Rob Schaaf 573-751-2183
Sen. Jill Schupp 573-751-9762
Sen. Paul Wieland  573-751-1492


  1. Email the senators.


This is a top priority for our Federation.  Please add your voice to help us stop this bill.

Thank you for all you do.

Jackie Hudson (NAMI) and Mark Utterback (Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri), Co-Chairs

What else are we especially watching this week?

Here’s a list, and we hope you’ll be watching too and taking action as a civic leader:

Monday, March 6, 5 p.m. HR 7 – Elementary and Secondary Education () HB 457 (Swan) – this is a priority for the Missouri Children’s Leadership Council

Press conference to protect STL minimum wage increase in House Hearing Room 2 from 3-4 pm Monday 3/6.

Members are welcome at the Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates advocacy day tomorrow March 7. Contact Jeanette Mott Oxford for more information on both of these events.

Tuesday, March 7. 10 a.m. in Senate Committee Hearing Room 1 – Small Business and Industry Committee:  SB 69 (Schupp) – creates the Missouri Earned Family and Medical Leave Program. 

Also on Tuesday, March 7, at 5 p.m. in Hearing Room 7 before the Children and Families Committee Rep. Dan Shaul (R-Imperial) and Rep. Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) present House Bills 712 and 713, which establish a pilot program within the Department of Social Services to provide additional child care assistance for low-income working families The income guidelines for this program are outdated and much too low, compared with the cost of living. We should thank this bi-partisan pair for trying to do something about it.

Also in that same hearing, Rep. Mike Kelley (R-Lamar) offers HB 903 which seeks to create a way for persons below 75% of the federal poverty level to afford hearing aids. Please thank the sponsor and consider contacting the committee.

2016 Call for Membership

Dear Justice Advocates,

Our nation has recently come through a long and tumultuous election season. People of every party identification were saddened, angered, and shocked as campaign statements were made that were undeniably racist, sexist, Islamaphobic, and insulting toward people with disabilities – to name a few concerns. We are a deeply divided state and nation, standing on the edge of an uncertain future.

Your Empower Missouri Board of Directors and staff have been wondering, like you, “what can we do to grow the social justice movement that is so needed in this time?” So we come to you today to share some of the commitments that we have made for building our capacity to secure basic human needs and basic fairness for neighbors on the margins. We ask you to join the effort by renewing your membership.

First, we take the “empower” in Empower Missouri seriously. As executive director, I am honored to be your registered lobbyist, testifying in hearings on behalf of Empower Missouri. But one voice is not enough; our number one job is to prepare YOU to be an effective advocate. Throughout the 2017 Legislative Session, you can depend on us for timely and trustworthy action alerts, letting you know which bills are moving, what’s in them, and what you can do to support passage or to stop a dangerous threat.

Secondly, we have a renewed commitment to reaching college and university students. We will be their source for evidence-driven policies that can reduce oppressive conditions like housing insecurity, biased policing and hunger, and we will offer legislative advocacy training to them. Our April 5, 2017 Student Advocacy Day is expected to exceed last year’s 200+ attendees due to this new focus.

Thirdly, we are piloting a new Organizational Partner Program during 2017. We know that many work in direct service organizations that are understaffed and on very tight budgets. They see the human suffering created by low wages, mental illness, and inadequate access to affordable housing, child care, health care, etc. These direct service workers are an invaluable finger on the pulse of our state, able to let lawmakers know if our policies are offering help or harm or both.

Direct service providers would like to do more to advocate for and with their clients, but they do not have the time to research the legislation that impacts the families they serve. They cannot afford a registered lobbyist to be their voice in the Capitol Building. We are a perfect solution for their challenge, providing eyes on the General Assembly and timely and reliable information on legislation in our six issue areas:

·         Affordable Housing and Homelessness ·         Health/Mental Health
·         Criminal Justice  ·         Human Rights
·         Economic Justice  ·         Hunger

Fourthly, we are improving our advocacy curriculum for social justice advocates and making it available in multiple formats (three-ring-binders, PowerPoints, online, on mobile phones, etc.). This will be available for use in your chapter or task force, on campuses, at community trainings, and in the offices of our Organizational Partners.

Finally, you will see improvements in our website, action alerts, and use of social media in 2017. As technology evolves, we must keep up in order to have our desired effect on policymakers. We do not have to have all the bells and whistles of the wealthy special interests that flood our political system with donations from hidden sources. Indeed People Power can overcome the power of money – we have seen it time and time again. But it is also wise to use tools that save time and multiply impact.

A special capacity-building grant is being sought to underwrite the cost of several of these improvements. Grants are a wonderful help, but they also are not always a reliable source. In times of stock market upheaval – and some think we are entering such a period – foundations often have less funds to give and say no to many deserving proposals. Therefore, strong and consistent financial support from you, the justice advocates of Missouri, is necessary for us to be rock solid, a persistent and persuasive voice for justice.

How much are we asking? Our membership rates are flexible and may be adjusted to your household budget’s demands. What we do ask is that you invest an amount that is significant for your household. Justice is priceless, my friends. If it is within your means, won’t you give $50, $100, $250 or $500 today? Donate online – once or monthly – at: http://empowermissouri.org/donate/



Jeanette Mott Oxford


P.S. Some may wonder why we do our renewal appeal in the 4th Quarter instead of on the anniversary date of your first donation. 1) Having one annual appeal period saves hundreds of hours of office time (especially if you respond to the first notice); and 2) the Legislative Session begins in January, so 4th Quarter giving allows us necessary focus.

Empower Missouri & NLIHC Join Call for “Clean Budget”

Invite Members to Participate in November 17 “Twitter Storm” at 1 p.m.

Empower Missouri and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) have joined the Clean Budget Coalition—a group of more than 200 organizations—to urge Congress and the White House to adopt a “clean budget.” We ask them to reject harmful policy riders that could prevent lawmakers from enacting a final full-year spending package for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. Whenever Congress uses a Continuing Resolution to fund essential programs, it puts vital investments like affordable housing, healthcare, and nutrition programs at risk.

What is a policy rider? A rider is an additional provision added to a bill that is under consideration that has little connection to the subject matter of the bill to which it is attached. Riders tend to be of two varieties: 1) Some are a “hold your nose and vote” tactic to pass something that is so controversial that it would not pass on its own without the urgency of the underlying bill to help it along. Examples of these kinds of riders are anti-immigrant provisions, bans on funding Planned Parenthood, attacks on same sex marriage or transgender protections, or tax breaks for various special interest campaign contributors. 2) Others are of the “poison pill” variety, so controversial that they are meant to stop a positive vote that would pass a bill or approve a budget.

If Congress does not approve full-year FY 2017 spending bills for the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Agriculture (USDA) and instead passes a long-term stopgap spending measure known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), these agencies will see a steep shortfall in funding. This could result in deep cuts to critical housing and nutrition programs, placing thousands of families and children at risk of increased housing and food insecurity.

For more information on how long-term CR will negatively impact affordable housing programs, click here: http://bit.ly/2aK61e1.


Empower Missouri members are invited to join a “Twitter Storm” on Thursday, November 17 at 1 p.m. CST. Join us in telling Congress to say no to harmful policy riders. Recommended hashtags include #noriders #cleanbudget #doyourjob #getitdone #finishthebudget #omnibus and #thankful.

Here are some sample tweets:

  • 1000s of low income families may lose access to #affordablehousing unless #Congress passes a #cleanbudget ASAP
  • Without a #cleanbudget, Congress would put vital investments in food and #affordablehousing at risk.
  • The #affordablehousing crisis is reaching new heights. This is not the time to put vital investments at risk. Pass a #cleanbudget.
  • America is stronger when families have #affordablehousing. Tell Congress to pass a #cleanbudget ASAP to protect vital investments.


If you have questions or comments, please email outreach@nlihc.org or Jeanette@EmpowerMissouri.org.