As we wrap up the year, we’re already deep into planning for the next legislative session that starts in January. Our December Friday Forum covered the highlights of what we’re expecting and prioritizing this coming year, but today, we want to give you a deeper dive into some topics that we expect will come up again this session. Please take a look through some of our past Weekly Perspectives to learn more about these important issues:

Safety Net Programs

Protecting and expanding safety net programs like SNAP, WIC, TANF, and others is a continuous challenge every year in the Missouri legislature. You can explore different aspects of this problem in several articles:

Cash Benefits are a Critical Resource for Families Experiencing Poverty

A Drug Conviction Should Not Mean a Lifetime of Hunger

Providing Adequate Nutrition for Our Seniors Should Be Simple

Initiative Petition Reform

The initiative petition process allows ordinary citizens the power to organize and bring policy proposals directly to the people. You can read more about why we will continue to fight to protect this right in this article from last session:

Data Doesn’t Lie: The Initiative Petition Process Doesn’t Need Changing

Clean Slate

A priority for our Community Justice Coalition this year, HB 352 and SB 347, legislation to automate the expungement process for eligible criminal records, have been prefiled. In addition to last week’s article on the impact on families, you can learn more about Clean Slate in two previous installments:

Clean Slate Legislation Would Make It Easier For Missourians To Move Past Old Mistakes, and Give Them New Opportunities To Have A Second Chance in Life

It’s Time for a Clean Slate

Eliminating Food Sales Tax

Sales tax is an extremely regressive form of taxes, leading to a disproportionate impact on individuals and families who are already struggling to afford basic necessities. HB 260, HB 377 and SB 161 would each eliminate the sales tax for food. Read more about past attempts to address this issue in this article published during the last session:

It’s Time to Eliminate Sales Tax on Groceries

Eviction Protections

We know that evictions are incredibly traumatizing and destabilizing, not just to the household, but also can affect the broader community through increased homelessness, and disrupted education and social connectedness. Fighting for better protections for tenants, including from eviction, is a high priority for our Affordable Housing Coalition.

Eviction: A Cause or Condition of Poverty?

This article offers a broad look at the causes and effects of eviction.

Evictions and Homelessness: Exploring Right to Counsel and Mandatory Mediation as Policy Interventions

This more recent article examines two potential policy solutions to address evictions.

Affordable, Accessible Contraceptives

Continuous Contraceptives would require insurance companies to fill a full year of oral contraceptives pills at one time, reducing geographic and financial barriers and leading to fewer accidental pregnancies. You can learn more in this piece from last year:

“Continuous Contraceptives” is Smart Anti-Poverty Policy

Private Probation Reforms

Unregulated, for-profit probation businesses add unnecessary financial and emotional strains for individuals in the criminal legal system and their families. HB 276 and SB 126 would offer some improvements, but our three part series earlier this year highlights the extent of the issues:

Missouri’s Privatized Probation Services Part 1: What is Private Probation?

Missouri’s Privatized Probation Services Part 2: What’s the Problem?

Missouri’s Privatized Probation Services Part 3: What Can We Do?

Food Desserts

Across Missouri there are about 100 food deserts, low-income areas where a large number of residents do not have easy access to supermarkets or grocery stores. Tax credits to grocery stores opening in those areas is just one option for addressing this issue:

Addressing Food Deserts & Expanding Food Access Across Missouri

These articles are a brief overview of topics that we have featured before, but there are many additional issues we are ready to get to work on in the new year. We were excited to see the Restaurant Meals Program (SB 313) refiled this year, as well as two bills (SB 321 and HB 172) calling for free school lunches for all Missouri public school students, and there are many additional bills we’ll be watching closely. You can view all of the bills we are following, and subscribe to updates using our Bill Trackers.

Before the next legislative session begins in January, make sure you are subscribed to our email newsletter to get weekly updates about what is happening in Jefferson City, as well as these deeper dives into high priority policies. If you have a strong interest in one of our priority areas (food security, affordable housing, or criminal legal system reform), you can learn more about joining one of our coalitions here.

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