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.