RELEASE: Legislative actions and information for the week of March 5, 2018

As the 2018 legislative session enters March, legislation continues to move forward. As the days get longer in the spring, so does the time spent on the Missouri Senate floor, as senators debate numerous policy issues. No matter how much time is spent on the floor in the coming weeks, Sen. Nasheed is committed to always representing the people of the 5th Senatorial District with honor and integrity.

On The Floor

The Missouri Senate approved an important piece of criminal justice reform. Senate Bill 793 raises the adult court jurisdiction age from 17 to 18. Currently, Missouri is one of five states that has an age limit that is lower than 18. Senator Nasheed believes this must change. Introducing children into adult prisons with violent offenders is costly and dangerous. Missouri lawmakers should do all they can to protect children and reduce recidivism. Research indicates that adults leaving prisons are three times more likely to reoffend and end up back in prison. Additionally, keeping a 17-year-old offender in one of Missouri’s juvenile justice facilities is less costly than introducing them into one of our state’s overcrowded prisons. Senator Nasheed supported the passage of this bill out of the Missouri Senate. The legislation has already been first read by the Missouri House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 793 also carries with it some of Sen. Nasheed’s legislation. Amended onto SB 793 is legislation creating a process for children who were forced into prostitution to have their criminal records expunged, as long as a court determines they were acting against their will. This language is similar to Senate Bill 792, sponsored by Sen. Nasheed. Senator Nasheed believes these types of provisions give survivors of human trafficking a path forward with their lives.

Another piece of legislation that was approved by the Missouri Senate was Senate Bill 547. This bill implements a pilot program for the cultivation of industrial hemp. Hemp is one of the oldest crops known to man and tens of thousands of products can be created from it. This is a large and growing industry in the United States and if SB 547 is signed into law, Missouri will be the 35th state to allow industrial hemp production. While the legislation mandates strict guidelines and permitting, this is done to ensure the integrity of the produced hemp product. Sen. Nasheed believes this legislation will help farmers diversify their crops and bring money into the state.

Bills and Committees

As the Missouri Senate nears the halfway point of the 2018 legislative session, Sen. Nasheed’s legislation continues to move through committees and be debated on the floor.

Senate Bill 803 – This bill prohibits the use of shackles on pregnant offenders during transportation, medical visits and labor. Senate Bill 803 was voted out of the Senate’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee. Meanwhile, over in the Missouri House of Representatives, Sen. Nasheed’s SB 803 was amended onto House Bill 2026, which is making its way through the legislative process as well.

Senate Bill 804 – This proposal reauthorizes the Donated Food Tax Credit until December 31, 2026. This bill was heard in the Senate’s Economic Development Committee, however the provision has been amended onto House Bill 1288. The Missouri House of Representatives approved HB 1288 and sent it to the Senate, where it will be heard by the Senate’s Economic Development Committee on March 13.

Senate Bill 925 – This legislative proposal addresses property tax issues surrounding urban and community gardens. It has been combined with Senate Bill 627, which was approved by the Missouri Senate this week.

Senate Bill 993 – This proposal gives the treasurer of the City of St. Louis the authority to create the Office of Financial Empowerment, which would be tasked with providing educational programs and other financial empowerment resources to the public. Senate Bill 933 is now scheduled for a hearing on March 13 before the Senate’s Local Government and Elections Committee.

Senate Bill 994 – This bill aims to make state government more efficient and effective through consolidating the state’s data storage capabilities and modernizing several of Missouri’s communications technologies. Senate Bill 994 was heard in the Senate’s Government Reform Committee this week.

Senate Bill 1054 – This legislation establishes guidelines and requirements for school districts that have returned to local governance after being under the authority of a different governing structure. The bill was referred to the Senate’s Government Reform Committee and is scheduled for a hearing on March 14.

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee discusses several housekeeping issues this week. The committee heard testimony regarding capital improvement requests, maintenance issues and repair needs. Senator Nasheed believes the Missouri State Capitol is the people’s building and it must be maintained in order to remain that way. The State Capitol is currently undergoing a much needed renovation project that is expected to be completed by 2020.

Other News

St. Louis Loses Fair Housing Funds

On May 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that St. Louis’ Civil Rights Enforcement Agency (SLCREA) was officially suspended from participating in the Fair Housing Assistance Program through May 15, 2018. The move stems from legislation that was approved by the Missouri General Assembly last year and signed into the law. Senate Bill 43, which many believe makes it harder to sue to for discrimination in Missouri, changed state statute so that HUD saw it as no longer “substantially equivalent” to federal law. If the Missouri General Assembly amends state law in order to be in compliance by May 15, the suspension will be lifted and funding will be restored. If not, SLCREA will be removed from the Fair Housing Assistance Program. Senator Nasheed is sending a letter to HUD to address this matter.                                                              

ACLU hosts Lobby Day at Missouri Capitol

The American Civil Liberties Union hosted its annual Voices of Liberty lobby day on March 7. The event helped raise awareness for several of the ACLU’s priorities, including raising the age for criminal offenses from 17 to 18 and ending racial profiling. Senator Nasheed spoke at the group’s morning rally in the State Capitol, discussing the importance of Senate Bill 803, which prohibits the shackling of pregnant offenders. This bill, which is also a legislative priority for the ACLU, has been voted out of the Senate’s Transportation, Infrastructure, and Public Safety Committee and is on its way to the floor of the Missouri Senate for discussion and debate.

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