Greetings Friends of the 144th!
I hope everyone is staying safe at home with their families. Each day brings the unexpected. This past week will saw all 4 counties in our legislative district put their own County Stay at Home Orders in place. This are in addition to the one that is in place by the Governor. I have received numerous questions about all these new guidelines. I try to do my best to answer each one, but your best source of information for these is your local Health Department. All of the counties have adopted separate orders and it is best to seek their intended interruption of them. The enforcement of these county orders will be carried out through our local sheriff’s offices.
Return to Jefferson City to Approve Vital Funding Package (HB 2014)
The members of the Missouri House of Representatives returned to the State Capitol Building Wednesday, April 8 to give final approval to a supplemental budget bill that will provide the state with vital funding to contain and control the spread of COVID-19. The House had previously approved a version of the bill on March 18, but members had to return to approve the final version, which contains new funding provided by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
As members returned to the Capitol, they did so with enhanced safety and security measures in place. Members and all visitors completed a health screening, which included having their temperature taken and answering questions regarding potential exposure, before being allowed into the building. While inside, most members and visitors wore masks, and everyone observed proper social distancing to minimize the risk of being exposed to COVID-19.
Once session began, the normally crowded House Chamber was sparsely populated because of a resolution approved by the body to limit the number of people on the floor of the House to 10. Most members remained in their offices and monitored debate remotely. Leadership from both parties worked together to ensure every member who wished to speak was able to come to the Chamber to do so. When it was time to vote on the legislation, members arrived in small, coordinated groups to ensure proper social distancing at all times. Members of the press and the public were allowed to view proceedings from separate upper galleries, and the House had its normal livestream to ensure public access.
The supplemental budget bill contains total funding of more than $6 billion, with the bulk of that funding from the federal CARES Act. The CARES act was designed to help states mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to help families and businesses deal with the economic impact of the virus. Some of the key funding items contained in the bill that is now on its way to the governor will:
• Provide more than $5 billion for Missouri to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, including funding for testing, healthcare workers, hospitals, nursing homes, personal protective equipment, crisis counseling, food delivery, public education, and much more.
• Allocate appropriations based on both federal and general revenue that is focused to:
o Equip frontline healthcare providers with PPE, respiratory/testing equipment, and in certain instances increased pay
o Fund the governor’s efforts to stand up alternative medical facilities (AMF) across the state for potential patient surges
o Aid to counties and municipalities responding to the crisis ($1 billion)
o Fund the Community Development Block Grant (additional $20 million in CDBG) for quarantine/treatment facilities, providing testing and diagnosis at fixed and mobile locations, and delivering meals to quarantined individuals
o Provide new funding that supports National Guard efforts to respond to the crisis and mobilize for future emergencies during the remainder of the fiscal year ($11 million)
o Provide $300 million that will help fund K-12 public schools for COVID-19 related expenses
o Provide up to $1.5 billion for additional K-12 expenses
o Provide $200 million to distribute among all recognized higher education institutions (public, private, and proprietary)
o Provide up to $304 million to distribute among Missouri’s public four-year and two-year colleges and universities
o Provide up to $90 million for use by nursing homes to help with infection control and COVID-19 related expenses
o Provide up to $66 million for childcare assistance
o Provide transit assistance grants to “non-urban” areas ($20 million)
o Provide LIHEAP utilities assistance program ($18 million)
o Provide additional resources to Head Start ($12 million)
o Provide up to $24 million for home delivered meals and emergency food assistance
The bill includes additional supplemental spending for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget that is not related to the state’s efforts to deal with COVID-19. Some of these funding items include:
o School Foundation Formula recalculation and early childhood education expenses ($27.8 million)
o “Read to Learn” preschool grant is increased $4.6 million (new total is $11.1 million)
o Increases construction authority for the Missouri Department of Transportation ($5 million) and bus transit ($7 million)
o Funding for mental health including crisis counseling grant authority ($1 million) and overtime pay at state facilities ($4.7 million)
o Transition of the state child welfare infrastructure to the federal Family First Prevention Services Act ($9.9 million)
o Foster care “outside income” distribution of children’s personal funds ($3 million)
o Specialty drug increases ($17 million)
o Food distribution program ($2.2 million)
o Supplemental nursing care ($333,715)
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. I have received numerous phone calls, emails, text and FB pm during this time and I am trying to address them as promptly as possible. As your Representative I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 573-751-2112.
Chris Dinkins is the area’s state representative for the 144th Legislative District. She can be reached by email – [email protected] or by telephone: 573-751-2112.