25 Days of MO Session: Alternate Reality is Real

The House is rolling along, some days feeling productive but most days trying to contain my disgust.

I’m heartened that many more of you are paying attention —not just at the federal level and the dysfunction of the White House, but what we are doing at the state level as well.

The Speaker added a new committee this year, Special Committee on Litigation Reform, which meets every Monday at 1pm.  Their purpose?  To advance legislation making it harder for Missourians to access the legal system, particularly if you are negligently injured, killed or even discriminated against. Of course, these bills make it easier and less costly for corporations.

ADDITIONAL BILLS WE’VE SENT TO THE GOVERNOR:

SB19 (Brown, R-Rolla) – RIGHT TO WORK

Employees are not required to join a union to collect union benefits –  I voted NO

GOVERNOR SIGNED INTO LAW ON FEBRUARY 6, 2017

FOR A FULL LIST OF BILLS TO DATE SENT TO THE SENATE – CLICK HERE

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WHAT WE DID THURSDAY ON THE HOUSE FLOOR

Taking a break from anti-labor legislation, this week the House debated and sent over to the Senate HB57 (Haefner, R-South St. Louis County) – giving law enforcement “special victim” status when they may be targeted based on their employment and raising that penalty.  We also third read HB302 (Hill, R-Lake St. Louis), creating a “Blue Alert” system when law enforcement have been intentionally injured or killed, similiar to the existing “Amber Alerts”.

We had several days of impassioned debate, including emotion testimonies Thursday from many members of our Black Caucus, detailing their personal histories of being detained/pulled over because of their race.  I could feel their anguish, knowing that HB57 may protect further race targeting – which makes me very angry.

I echo my colleague, Rep. Peter Merideth’s sentiment as he posted online:

Rep. Merideth also mentioned in his debate that last session we TOTALLY ignored the wishes of law enforcement who were adamant against “Guns Everywhere” SB656, which the GOP overrode after Governor Nixon’s veto. Missouri police chiefs, prosecutors and sheriffs statewide were loud in their opposition – citing their own safety with the abolishment of concealed carry permits (no longer any training required or a sheriff’s discretion allowed).

Those of us in metropolitan areas with higher populations KNOW that flooding our streets with more easily attained guns with no background checks or permits to carry concealed required makes it MORE dangerous for law enforcement at any traffic stop or incident call.

It is clear hypocrisy that the GOP majority would rather give law enforcement “protected class” status, further endangering people of color and women, than actually keep them safe.

HB57 passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 120-35 (several Democrats voted in favor).  I VOTED NO.

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“ALTERNATE REALITY/FACTS” EXPLOSION re REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE

Just when you think you’ve heard everything…

It all began when St. Louis City passed Board Bill 203CS which was signed into law by Mayor Francis Slay on February 10 – prohibiting discrimination in housing or employment based on an individual’s reproductive health decisions or pregnancy.

I sponsor similiar bills, HB376 (protecting reproductive decisions) and HB377 (Pregnant Workers Fairness Act) – which have yet to be referred by the Speaker to a committee for a hearing.

Across the country employers are using their religion to discriminate against employees for their personal reproductive decisions, using birth control or assisted reproductive technology.  Cities and states are stepping up to prevent women from being fired or losing their homes because these actions are not included in most non-discrimination laws, including Missouri’s Human Rights Act. See the National Women’s Law Center brief HERE.

Fast forward.

Last week my Children & Families Committee heard public testimony on HB174, (Hubrecht, R-Dexter) which would provide additional protections for religious based alternative-to-abortion agencies.  These agencies have received tax credits since 2007 —this year Gov. Greiten’s budget allows them over $6M, however they have little MO government oversight.  Many of these agencies provide medical treatment for pregnant women and are not required to employ medical staff, provide medically-accurate information or even receive inspections.

Tax credits for fake medical centers but no money for school buses?  Really?

Then real dysfunction began in the hearing.

Numerous people testified that HB174 was designed to overthrow the St. Louis city ordinance —because religion, particularly the Catholic Church, was under attack.  Yet, the city ordinance has a clear religious exclusion:

Yesterday Governor Greitens posted this on his Facebook and commenters pushed back.

And today the St. Louis Post Dispatch Editorial Board weighed in.  HERE.

I agree with the Post that private reproductive decisions are that —private. “Such decisions are none of the employer’s or landlord’s business.”

Stay tuned.

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AND EVEN MORE”ALTERNATE REALITY/FACTS” 

In that same Children and Families Committee, we also heard HJR18 (Moon, R-Ash Grove) a constitutional amendment proposal affirming the “right to life” at every stage of development, beginning at conception.

HJR18, if approved by the voters, would essentially be a test case against Roe v Wade and outlaw most forms of birth control and fertility treatments in Missouri.

The testimony went into the absurd quickly as the Rep. Moon indicated his confusion between federal law and the Constitution.  Male members on the committee were also confused by how common forms of birth control work and only men testified in FAVOR of HRJ18.

Rep. Moon had this to say when inquired of by my colleague, Rep. Cora Faith Walker (D-St. Louis).

WATCH HERE.

Tadpoles.  Women’s reproductive decisions are now based on tadpoles.

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THREE #GOV 101″ SEMINARS DOWN —AND ONE MORE COMING 

WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN DEMOCRACY INSTEAD OF FEELING DEPRESSED?

The activist momentum is exploding around the state – and #GOV 101 is there.

We had 200 people attend in Kansas City on January 28th at Center High School and another 125 people in Fenton on February 4th.  Then another 300 people attended at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School on February 11th.  People from every Congressional District and too many legislative districts to list —driving in from all corners of the state.

#GOV 101 seminars, hosted by ProgressWomen.com), are designed to de-mystify the state legislature, feature a panel including Planned Parenthood, ACLU, PROMO and more and show how citizens can testify from one of our expert testifiers, Dr. Colleen McNicholas.  The highlight has been local state representatives telling it like it really is in the State Capitol – State Reps. DaRon McGee (D-Kansas City), Greg Razer (D-Kansas City), Doug Beck (D-St. Louis) and Asst. Minority Leader Gina Mitten (D-Richmond Heights).

A highlight of #GOV 101: putting in the hands of each attendee a card listing their personal state legislators, governor and congressional electeds with phone numbers and emails.  No more excuses of not knowing who represents you!

L to R: Mary Kogut, E.D. of Planned Parendhood of the St. Louis Region & Southwest Missouri; Dr. Colleen McNicholas; Denise Lieberman of the Advancement Project; Craig Yugawa of Washington University Medical School;  Rep. Gina Mitten; Jeffrey Mittman of ACLU of Missouri; Elizabeth Fuchs of PROMO; Jessica Risenhoover of Moms Demand Action; Adam Speak, legislative assistant for State Rep District #87 and myself

YOU’RE IN LUCK!  ANOTHER #GOV 101 IS COMING TO ST. LOUIS ON MARCH 2ND.

Thursday evening, March 2nd – 7pm, registration opens at 6:30pm

Clayton High School Theatre, #1 Mark Twain Circle (near Maryland Ave & I-170).

YOU MUST REGISTER HERE.

IMPORTANT:  If you previously registered for a #GOV 101 and could not attend, please let me know right away —we’d love to save you a seat on March 2nd.

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LAGNIAPPE (Louisiana French meaning “extra gift”)

Washington University Brown School of Social Work graduate and law students, under the excellent direction of Anna Shabsin, fired up in the Missouri State Capitol.

Having a ton of fun with Civics juniors and seniors at Lift for Life Academy in St. Louis —we thought seriously about walking out of school en masse to protest for Justice! Thanks to Michelle Gerchen for the fabulous invitation.

Look who I found on the 2nd floor of the Capitol Rotunda – Glenridge Elementary 4th graders!

In honor of the first Planned Parenthood Capitol Lobby Day, my Progressive Caucus Vice-Chair Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. and I having fun with our SuperHero mugs.  Yes, he’s holding my pink knitted uterus and wearing a pink shirt standing in front of his SuperMan office in the Capitol.

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