Representative Rebecca Roeber’s Capitol Report October 21, 2017
Missouri Transportation Funding
Over the last couple of years, there has been a considerable debate about transportation funding in the state of Missouri. Raising the gas tax, toll roads and a sales tax have been mentioned as possibilities to increase funding for transportation funding. This year, transportation funding will be one of the many important things the Missouri Legislature will tackle.
State Representative Jeff Messenger (Representative from Greene County) recently went around the state holding town halls and presenting a presentation on eight possible funding options on how to increase funding for the Missouri Department of Transpiration.
The video presentation is on the Missouri House Communications Office YouTube site. The video presentation is 40 minutes long. There is also a survey that if you wish to fill out, you can email me and I will send you the link to the survey. The survey results will be sent to Rep. Messenger’s office who will then share the results with the rest of the members. You can also email me your opinions and concerns about transportation funding. Since this is a very important issue, I look forward to hearing your opinions on the matter.
Real ID Update
Last Session, the General Assembly passed legislation ensuring Missourians have a proper ID for air travel. HB 151 will give Missourians a choice between a driver’s license compliant with Real ID or one that is not compliant.
The Department of Revenue still needs to change or upgrade several internal and external processes to obtain certification. That process is expected to take at least 18 months. Missouri will need an enforcement waiver extension from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In preparation to implement the new law, Gov. Eric Greiten’s office is in contact with DHS regarding such an extension. Once that request is granted, current Missouri driver licenses and non-driver identification cards will be accepted, and the January 2018 deadline for air travel will no longer be enforced.
Missouri has applied for an extension through March 2019. The Governor's office is in communication with DHS and has supplied all the documentation they have requested to date. The timing of any announcement, or the length of any extension, is up to DHS.
Legislature Continues to Look for Long-Term Care Funding Solution
Since Veto Session in September a bipartisan group of House and Senate members have been working to find funding for Medicaid recipients who were receiving in-home care or in long-term care facilities. A funding shortfall was thought to have put some of those receiving services at risk of losing them.
House and Senate leaders arrived at several workable solutions, which included changes to the circuit breaker property tax credit. The governor’s office has been made aware of the range of proposals that could restore permanent funding to this population.
However, during the process, information from the Department of Health and Senior Services has made it clear that very few Missourians are losing services at this time. According to the department, of the 1008 participants who have been evaluated under the new level of care standard, only 30 people have had their services altered. The change was initially projected to cause more than 8,000 people to see their services reduced, but the initial round of reassessments indicate the number will be far lower.
“Those numbers are pretty astonishing, but there is still going to be a funding problem moving forward and we will need to address this either in a special session or early next session. I am happy that this group came up with several ways to save the money necessary to fund these services and we will move forward with them as soon as the legislature is back in session,” said House Speaker Todd Richardson.
“The House has presented multiple solutions to this problem since this budget was passed last session and we will continue to work with our colleagues in both chambers to implement a plan to dedicate a revenue stream to fund long-term care for our seniors,” Budget Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick.
Both Speaker Richardson and Rep. Fitzpatrick also stressed the need to include funding for healthcare providers and caregivers for this vulnerable population in the final solution.
Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia Set to Reveal Recommendations
A legislative task force charged with making recommendations to improve the level of services offered to students with dyslexia will unveil its report at the end of the month.
The task force was created in 2016 to study and make recommendations for a statewide system to address the needs of students with dyslexia. The 21-member task force includes four lawmakers as well as educators, therapists and citizens with experience with dyslexia.
The final report produced by the task force is the result of public testimony, discussions and deliberations. The report includes three major recommendations for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding screening, classroom supports, and professional development for teachers. Additional recommendations are included for evidence-based reading instruction, intervention systems, teacher certification, and the reporting of data.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must develop guidelines for appropriate screening of students for dyslexia and related disorders and for necessary classroom support by December 31, 2017. Public schools will begin screening students, provide reasonable classroom support for students, and offer in-service training for teachers in the 2018-19 school year.
As the chair of the task force said, the final report “contains some simple yet impactful changes that schools can implement to ensure that our Missouri children with dyslexia receive the assistance and the resources they need to succeed in the classroom.”
Pro-Life Legislation Becomes Law (SB 5)
A new law takes effect this week that is meant to better ensure the health and safety of women by putting common sense safety requirements in place for abortion clinics. Approved by the legislature during a special session held in June, the bill is also designed to protect pregnancy resource centers from a city ordinance the governor says has made St. Louis an abortion sanctuary city.
The bill that now becomes law contains several provisions to protect the health and safety of women. Some of the main provisions of the bill will:
• Allow the attorney general to prosecute violations of state abortion laws with no obligation to first inform local prosecutors;
• Require the physician who is to perform an abortion to inform the woman orally and in person of the immediate and long-term medical risks associated with the proposed method of abortion 72 hours prior to the procedure;
• Allow the Department of Health and Senior Services to adopt rules governing complication plans to ensure patients undergoing abortions induced by drugs or chemicals have access to safe and reliable care;
• Prevent abortion clinic staff from requesting emergency responders to alter their normal response procedure by turning off lights or sirens;
• Require an abortion facility to provide affirmative evidence that each person authorized to perform abortions is a physician currently licensed to practice in Missouri;
• Allow the state health department to adopt separate rules to apply to ambulatory surgical centers and to apply to abortion facilities;
• Permit the health department to make an unannounced on-site inspection of any abortion facility at least annually;
• Strengthen penalties for abortion clinics and hospitals that do not comply with the requirements for submitting fetal tissue after an abortion; and
• Require that all tissue removed at the time of abortion be sent to a pathologist within five days for examination.
The stronger safety regulations are meant to address a court ruling that struck down Missouri’s previous law that required abortion providers to abide by the same regulations imposed on ambulatory surgical centers. The court also did away with a law that required a doctor providing an abortion to have privileges at a nearby hospital. Supporters say the regulations are necessary to ensure the safety and health of women using the facilities. They note that the Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis has had to call an ambulance 58 times in the last seven years with 23 of the calls made to respond to hemorrhages as a complication of abortion. They also point out that the St. Louis facility was cited by the Department of Health and Senior Services more than 100 times from 2009 to 2016 for failure to provide a safe and sanitary environment.
Standing up to a recent court challenge is the provision in the bill that requires the doctor who will perform an abortion to give information about the procedure to the woman 72 hours before it is performed. Missouri had allowed any “qualified professional” to discuss the information with the patient. Planned Parenthood filed suit saying the new requirement would place “extreme and unprecedented” requirements on women seeking abortion and would “unduly restrict” their access to the procedure. However, this week, a Jackson County judge rejected the challenge to the new law, saying it was “at best a moderate modification of the informed consent restraints already in place.” With that, the provision will take effect along with the rest of the bill.
The provision in the bill that addresses the St. Louis city ordinance will protect the rights of pregnancy resource centers. The St. Louis ordinance was put in place by the city to prevent employers and landlords from discriminating against women who have had an abortion, use birth control, or are pregnant. The governor has said the ordinance makes it so organizations like pregnancy care centers can't work the way they're supposed to. As the governor said, local politicians have tried to make it illegal for pro-life organizations to say that they just want to hire pro-life Missourians. The new law acknowledges and protects the right of an "alternatives to abortion" agency to operate freely and engage in speech without governmental interference, and the right of a person not to be compelled by the government to participate in abortion contrary to his or her religious beliefs or moral convictions.
I want to make sure that you know that my door is always open to you if you have any questions, concerns or comments. You are always welcome to visit, call or email me. My office telephone number is 573-751-1456 or you can email me at Rebecca.Roeber@house.mo.gov
. My office address is MO House of Representatives 201 West Capitol Avenue Room 102 BA. To sign up for my capitol report please email me.