All MO state representatives and state senators, as well as newly elected statewide officials (Governor Eric Greitens, Lt. Governor, Mike Parsons, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Attorney General Josh Hawley, and Treasurer Eric Schmitt) have been sworn in, inaugurated and are ready to go.
Legislating has begun.
Note these important dates:
* Last day to file bills – March 1
* Spring break – March 20 – 24
* Constitutional deadline to deliver budget to the Governor – May 5
* Session ends – May 12, promptly at 6pm.
The GOP has a super majority in the House (veto override proof): 117 Republicans and 46 Democrats = 163 members. Rep. Todd Richardson (R- Poplar Bluff) was once again sworn in as the House Speaker for the next two years.
The GOP has a super majority in the Senate (veto override proof): 23 Republicans and 10 Democrats = 33 members. There is ONE current vacancy with the resignation of former Sen. Mike Parsons who was just sworn as the new Lt. Governor.
Session will resume on Tuesday January 17, following the state holiday observing Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday. With extreme policies that are sure to come this session, I will be keeping a few of his speeches & quotes in my desk, ready to use when I most need them, for inspiration or courage to fight back.
Click HERE for my 2017 filed legislation.
As you might have suspected, the first day of session last Wednesday, Jan. 4th was eventful.
With my seatmate, my fellow progressive who I work closely with on reproductive health and gun violence prevention, Rep. Judy Morgan (D-Kansas City)
Normally, the first day in the MO House consists of the procedural swearing in of members by the current Secretary of State, nominations of House leadership followed by their speeches, upon the full body election.
My last swearing in as House member (my final term) – I’m on the right.
Secretary of State Jason Kander chose to use his ceremonial presiding over the House to address the body, which was highly unusual.
He admonished the majority party in a 10 minute speech for their fervent support of the Voter ID law and constitutional amendment which voters approved in November. As you can imagine the House floor became electric – with standing ovations and boos from both sides of the aisle.
As an outspoken advocate against Voter ID proposals, I was dismayed to see the cheering & enthusiastic applause for voter suppression efforts from the GOP side of the aisle. We have pointed out numerous times that over 200,000 current voters do not meet these new requirements to be able to vote. I find purposefully limiting the right to vote morally disgusting.
To retaliate, Speaker Richardson chose NOT to present the customary House resolution of thanks to Kander, which again, broke protocol – HR5.
Upon adjournment I was proud to stand with my fellow Democrats for our customary first day of session press conference as we admonished the majority party for their rudeness to a statewide official and opposed the Speaker’s session priorities, including Right to Work anti-labor legislation.
NEW COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS
Committee assignments which normally are announced at least a month prior to session were finally done this week by the Speaker. I was pleased, as the most senior Democrat member, with my requested appointments:
House Elections – Ranking Minority Member, meets regularly Wednesdays at 5pm or upon adjournment, chaired by Rep. Lindell Schumake (R- Hannibal)
Children & Families – meets regularly Tuesdays at 5pm or upon adjournment, chaired by Rep. Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton)
Crime Prevention and Public Safety – meets regularly Tuesdays at 8am, chaired by Rep. Don Phillips (R- Kimberling City)
For the 7th year, in a row, I am again honored to chair the House Progressive Caucus, which consists currently of 29 Democratic members, 16 women (all but one of us) and 13 men (of 29).
I’m thrilled to have a vice-chair this year, newly elected Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., (D – St Louis). Bruce has worked as a regional organizer for Generation Progress (part of the Center for American Progress) and we share many colleagues around the country who are dedicated to gun violence prevention.
The Progressive Caucus met this week with organizations who presented their legislative priorities for the year. It was fabulous to have all of them with us in one room at the same time.
Rep. Bruce Franks and I with Progressive Caucus presenters and staff including:
Karen Aroesty, regional director with the Anti-Defamation League, Sara Baker, legislative and policy director with the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, Shira Berkowitz, director of advocacy at Central Reform Congregation, Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould, executive director of Missouri Faith Voices (and my constituent), M’evie Mead, state director of organizing with Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Missouri, Elizabeth Fuchs, manager of public policy with PROMO, Leslie Pritchard, director of outreach & advocacy with the Missouri Family Health Council and Alison Dreith, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri.
AND THIS HAPPENED THIS WEEK…
My colleague, GOP Rep. Nick Marshall, Parkville -District 13, posted this on Facebook Wednesday as well as on his Capitol office door. Apparently he is upset with the new security metal detectors Gov. Greitens has installed in the Capitol.
“Marshall, a Parkville Republican, believes the security protocols are an infringement on freedom, declaring on Facebook that “this is not how citizens should be greeted when entering the people’s house, their Missouri State Capitol.” Read more of the Kansas City Star article HERE.
I immediately reached out to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker who listed numerous problems with Rep. Marshall’s offer: no apparent background checks, no asking if anyone is a felon, has an outstanding order of protection and the potential criminal or civil liability he would be undertaking if someone with his gun committed a crime.
Both the Kansas City Star and my office reached out to the office of the Director of Public Safety but were unable to reach anyone.
Many of us were disheartened to learn that our colleague keeps enough guns in his office to loan to others. Per statute, legislators and staff can legally carry concealed firearms in the Capitol and many do, particularly in committee hearings and on the House & Senate floors.
I am alarmed that my personal safety and well as others in a public state building is not of concern by Rep. Marshall.
Never a dull moment.
CHILDREN’S FIREARM SAFETY ALLIANCE (CFSA)
Last fall, my partner Beth Joslin Roth of the Safe Tennessee Project, Nashville, TN, and I launched a new nationwide project, focusing on children accessing loaded unsecured firearms and unintentionally shooting themselves or others. CFSA tracks and manages a unique national daily database of these incidents, which sadly, happen almost every day somewhere. Beth and I personally track daily media reports with the assistance of the Gun Violence Archive and have a difficult time getting many of these horrific incidents out of our heads.
CFSA has posted 2016 year end numbers: 121 kids killed, 176 kids injured and 21 adults shot…all by kids, some as young as two years old. Check out our 2016 summary video online. Unfortunately, about 25 states, including Missouri, do not hold adults accountable or criminally responsible if a child finds their gun and pulls the trigger.
I have refiled Missouri legislation, HB362, to add child firearm access protection to our child endangerment statute. Last year it was not even granted a public hearing. However CFSA is working with similar bill sponsors in other states as well as the medical community, researchers, prosecutors, mayors and state gun violence prevention groups to keep pressure on legislatures to save kid’s lives.
If you or a medical professional who would like to endorse or work with CFSA to lower children’s gun violence fatalities, please let me know.
I founded ProgressWomen in the beginning of the 2011 session as a communications tool to address anti-women issues we consistently face in the legislature – reproductive health attacks, pay equity, voter suppression, domestic violence protections, even sexual harassment that has permeated the Missouri Capitol. It has evolved through national social media reach to women’s regional events the past several years to our latest project, “GOV 101” seminars – demystifying the MO state legislature, cohosted by the Washington University School of Medicine AMA student chapter.
The first “GOV 101” in St. Louis with over 260 people registered was scheduled for this past Saturday however Mother Nature had a different agenda with a statewide ice storm which mandated we cancel. We hope to reschedule it ASAP.
Additional “GOV 101” seminars are scheduled for Kansas City January 28th (RSVP HERE) and Fenton February 4th (already sold out) with more in the works. I’ve begun lobbying Mother Nature for cooperation.