May 21, 2013
Next Task Force Meeting
May 23 @ 3:30 - 5:30 pm
Hunger & Poverty Related Missouri Legislation
May 6, 2013
HB = House Bill
SB = Senate Bill
HCS = House Committee Substitute
SCS = Senate Committee Substitute
SJR = Senate Joint Resolution
SS= Senate Floor Substitute
FOOD STAMPS FOR ALL
SB 346 Shalonn “Kiki” Curls (D- Kansas City) – Not a majority party bill, but the Senate Government Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee voted Do Pass on SB 346 thanks to our advocacy! The House version, HB 838 (from Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, a majority party sponsor) has also passed out of committee. This proposal – favored by MASW – would allow those convicted of drug offenses, who have complied with treatment and other provisions, to receive food stamps.
Please contact senators asking them to Perfect and pass this bill on to the House. Both sponsors are also looking for additional legislative vehicles on which these bills could be amended.
FOOD STAMP & TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE RESTRICTIONS
HCS HB 455 & HB 297 Andrew Koenig (R – Manchester) [HB 297 by Keith English (D – Florissant)]
This proposal would force the Department of Social Services to seek a waiver from the federal government to put photos on EBT cards for food stamp accounts. The state would have to provide a card with photo to each member in a household age 16 or older. Rep. English told KMOV-TV this move would only cost $100,000 the first year and $20,000 per year thereafter but would save “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” We disagree. When the cost of staff time, postage and other direct and indirect expenses are attributed to the photo cards, that price is substantially higher. The value of the ‘prevented fraud’ is hard to calculate – many actions described by legislators as “fraud” are actually legal and reasonable (like driving across a state line to buy a product if it will save your family money). We doubt that true savings will be as great as the photo card expense.
This bill passed with 120 votes. It has been referred to the Senate Government Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee.
HCS HB 343 Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany)
This collection of punitive and unenforceable rules passed the House with 112 votes – three votes more than needed for a veto override. The bill is now in the Senate: friendly senators do not think they can stop it. The Fiscal Note on this bill warns that it could cost Missouri more than $3.5 billion per year in federal funds for the Medicaid program. The director of the Department of Social Services has told the legislature that the federal government will not approve the numerous waivers to allow this bill to take effect.
The bill is now before the Senate Government Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee. It could get a Senate hearing this week. Advocates will be needed to contact state Senators to educate them on the potential cost of this bill.
HB 1040 Steven Cookson (R – Poplar Bluff)
“School age children of welfare recipients must attend public school, unless physically disabled, at least ninety percent of the time in order to receive benefits.” The Kansas City Star and other media have called this proposal ‘mean.’ This approach has not proven to improve school attendance in other states. Anything that makes a desperately poor family more poor actually works against school attendance (by causing evictions, utility disconnection, etc.).
HB 801 Jay Barnes (R – Jefferson City)
Every person covered by MO HealthNet who is convicted of a drug related crime must go to drug treatment if they want to still have medical coverage. This would require a federal waiver.
This bill has been assigned to the Government Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Barnes.
SB 128 David Sater (R – Barry Co.)
This bill would restrict food stamp use to a list of ‘healthy’ foods, similar to the WIC program: it conflicts with federal regulations. It is opposed by the grocers and other retail associations.
This bill was heard by the Senate Government Accountability & Fiscal Oversight Committee on 3/27.
SB 251 Will Kraus (R – Jackson Co) [Co-sponsor Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D – St Louis Co)]
This bill requires DSS to staff a hotline to take anonymous reports of “suspected public assistance fraud.” Those convicted of fraud would serve 120 days or more in jail unless they make full restitution to the state. This bill caused a stir because of a sensational and erroneous headline and AP article – stating that food stamp benefits could be converted to cash by using an EBT card at an ATM machine.
The Senate amended and passed this bill. It will be heard in the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee on April 29.
HB 700 Jay Barnes (R – Jefferson City)
The bill to ‘transform’ Medicaid would limit coverage to those with incomes at or below 100% of the poverty level. While some additional families would gain coverage, the net effect could be to have fewer families (and children) covered than are currently enrolled. The proposal would require federal waivers. The revised Medicaid system would not qualify for additional funding from Washington. The Senate leadership said they do not see the bill passing this year. MASW members should continue to push for Medicaid expansion! If we do not win it by May 17, we must demand a Special Session and passage of this win-win-win opportunity for our state.
The House Rules Committee is reviewing the bill.
HB 926 Sue Allen (R – Manchester)
This pair of bills would shift many elderly and disabled patients on MO HealthNet into private prepaid pharmacy and private Managed Care programs. This could cost as much as $26 million in General Revenue.
The Special Standing Committee on Emerging Issues in Health Care heard this bill on 4/17.
HCS HB 536 Burlison
This bill radically reduces the Missouri income tax paid by many business owners. The adjusted gross income subject to Missouri income tax would be reduced by up to 50% (by January 2017). Corporate tax burdens would also be reduced.
The Ways and Means Committee voted “Do Pass” on 3/12.
HB 895 Jeremy LaFaver (D – Kansas City) Not A Majority Bill
This bill would create a Missouri Earned Income Credit equal to 20% of a taxpayer’s federal EIC.
HB 917 Burlison
This bill would allow Missouri taxpayers to exclude 50% of capital gains income from their state taxable income: it would dramatically favor the richest of the rich taxpayers and cause a loss of up to $104 million in revenue.
This bill had a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee on 4/16. It is expected to be considered in executive session this week.
HCS SS#2 SCS SBs 26, 11 & 31 Will Kraus (R – Jackson Co.)
This bill would reduce the state income tax, replacing some of the lost revenue with an increase in the general state sales tax. The corporate tax rate would also go down, and, business owners would be able to deduct up to 50% of their income from their Missouri income tax calculations. Taxpaying families with an income of less than $20,000 per year would get a new $2,000 income deduction. The House made changes, most notably only allowing some provisions for tax cuts to apply if the state’s revenue increases by $100 million a year. (This bill is seen by many legislators as a necessary reaction to tax cutting efforts in Kansas.) This bill would shift more of the tax burden to working families, especially working poor families. According to the Missouri Budget Project, it is expected to result in a net loss of up to $900 million a year for Missouri.
The House sent the bill, with new amendments, back to the Senate. It could be considered by the Senate this week, so ask your Senate members to vote no. If the bill is Truly Agreed and Finally Passed and goes to the governor’s desk, Gov. Nixon should be encouraged to veto this bill. Watch for updates from MASW in these final days of Legislative Session.
SJR 16 Mike Kehoe (R – Cole Co)
This bill would – upon a public vote – create a new 1% sales tax for 10 years for transportation projects.
This bill has been passed by the Senate. The House Rules Committee voted “Do Pass” on 4/16. The proposal may appear on the ballot in 2014, but there is still internal majority party controversy about this bill, so it’s outcome is uncertain. (The Governor does not get to sign or veto Joint Resolutions.)
UTILITY COST RECOVERY
HCS HB 398 Jeanie Riddle (R – Mokane)
This bill would allow electric utilities to raise their rates, with less Public Service Commission review, to cover infrastructure improvements. MASW is among the groups warning that this proposal could result in significant annual increases in charges to ratepayers without traditional Public Service Commission review.
The Rules Committee voted “Do Pass” on the bill on 4/4. It may come to the House floor for Perfection at any time. Encourage your House member to vote no.
SCS SB 207 Mike Kehoe (R – Cole Co)
As seen on TV (and the Senate companion piece to HB 398 above): This bill would allow electric utilities to add surcharges to customer bills for infrastructure costs without going through the traditional rate change process before the Public Service Commission. There is great concern that this approach could cause bills to rise without adequate oversight. Supporters still have television commercials on this issue running on mid-Missouri stations. MASW has testified about its concerns with this bill and HB 398 and co-sponsored a forum on this topic with the Consumers Council of MO and AARP on 3/29.
The Public Service Commission stated that this bill “would remove a large component of cost analysis in the determination of just and reasonable rates. This is not to suggest the Commission would be unable to review these costs at all…Instead, the ISRS-related [infrastructure] costs would largely be subject to a mathematical review for accuracy.”
This bill is scheduled for Perfection in the Senate this week: Please contact your Senator urging a no vote.
The Economic Justice Task Force is committed to reducing economic injustice and inequality through advocacy and public education.
Goals for 2013
- Support progressive legislation on economic justice issues including (but not limited to) tax justice, predatory lending, Earned Income Tax Credit, subprime mortgage problems, utility rates, tax credits, living wage, and consumer protections.
- Work with MASW chapters and partner organizations to plan public forums on above identified economic justice issues, especially issues of economic injustice related to racial or gender discrimination.
- Co-sponsor conferences and major meetings whenever possible.
- Work with other organizations in support of efforts to reduce poverty and unemployment in Missouri.
Interested in participating in the Economic Justice Task Force? Contact Task Force Chair Angela Roffle.
A list of upcoming meetings is available on the MASW Calendar page.
A list of related web sites is available on the MASW Links page.
Looking for older Economic Justice links and/or documents?