The final two weeks of Legislative Session is always a time of great danger. Many legislators offer amendments that work against health and stability in local communities, and the volume of language pressing relentlessly through what has been called “the legislative sausage grinder” means that some of these bad ideas are able to “sneak through.” Empower Missouri members and allies must be on high alert through May 15 at 6 p.m.
Here are some actions we need you to take immediately to stop very bad ideas:
- Call or email your Missouri House member TODAY in opposition to HB 722. The Senate has added a wage ordinance preemption amendment to a bill that was about plastic grocery bags originally. What this means is that local citizens would have their rights to organize for higher local wages taken away. For healthy communities, we have to have honest numbers. Where workers cannot afford basic human needs, something has to change – and given how stagnant wages have been, local wage ordinances may make sense in a number of municipalities.
- Call or email your Missouri Senate member TODAY in opposition to SB 35. The House added several troubling amendments, including barring recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) from accessing all but very small amounts of cash using their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. This is sold as an anti-fraud measure, and where fraud is happening, current law allows us to prosecute it. The truth is that very poor parents have bank accounts because banks do not want customers of their income profile who run their balance down to zero each month. TANF recipients need cash for their rent, to shop for clothing at yard sales, to pay for clean clothing at a public laundry.
- Call (573-751-3222) or email Gov. Nixon by Friday to ask for a veto of Budget Bill 11. We find the bill to be totally inadequate for social service needs, but the two largest problems are:
- the bill imposes statewide managed care, and many rural areas do not have enough providers to make such a system work; and
- 76 more employees are cut out of our already understaffed Family Support Division (FSD). Given the passage of punitive welfare reform, this is a recipe for disaster. It would be very unfair and dangerous to child safety for cash aid to be removed from a family due to inability of FSD staff to accurately track their work participation.
- The Missouri House of Representatives has passed two pieces of legislation – House Joint Resolution (HJR) 1 and House Bill (HB) 30 – designed to make it harder for Missourians to vote. HJR 1 would force a statewide election on a constitutional amendment requiring future Missouri voters to present photo identification in order to vote. HJR’s do not go to the Governor, so cannot be vetoed. The legislation would do little if anything to deter voter fraud (which is practically non-existent according to years of analysis by the Department of Justice), but it would disenfranchise certain groups in high numbers. People with low incomes often cannot afford the steps involved to get a photo ID – especially if they do not have a birth certificate in hand. Women often change names through marriage and do not have an ID that matches their current name. Transgender persons, especially those with low incomes who cannot afford gender confirmation surgery, might be turned away for trying to vote with an ID with a different gender marker than how they currently live their lives. Call you Senator TODAY to oppose HJR 1 and HB 30.
- House Bill 1019, a weakening of Missouri Human Rights Code about which we have ready warned you, is on the Senate calendar for debate. It is already very hard to prove employment discrimination in our state. Please take a stand against discrimination by contacting your senator to ask for a no vote on HB 1019.
A word about Senate Bill 24: Although the House and Senate overrode Gov. Nixon’s veto of SB 24 this week, Empower Missouri did great work to build a strong coalition of more than 30 organizations that will continue to monitor this harmful welfare reform law. We will act together to protect the poorest of the poor in our state. Thank you for taking action, and please send Gov. Nixon one more thank you for his strongly worded veto letter.