Greetings Friends of the 144th!
Some good news for the area! AT&T has recently added 5 macro cell towers in our area.
Caledonia at 216 N. State Highway 21, Old Mines at 10315 Mystic Rd. in Cadet, Richwoods at 19063 W. State Highway 47, Potosi East at 502 Veterans Dr. Pilot Knob at 2020 County Road 103 in Ironton.
These new sites enhance wireless coverage and are built with public safety in mind, expanding FirstNet, which gives first responders access to innovative capabilities. Although there are many other areas that still lack adequate service, this is definitely a step in the right direction and an area that we will continue to address.
Families that provide a stable home to children in need would receive additional financial assistance under the first two pieces of legislation approved by the Missouri House of Representatives for the 2021 legislative session. The bills are a top priority for House Speaker Rob Vescovo, who was adopted as a child after spending time in Missouri’s foster care system.
By a vote of 149-0, the House approved HB 429, which would authorize an income tax deduction for Missouri taxpayers for the expenses related to providing care as a foster parent. The bill would authorize a deduction of $2,500 for an individual and $5,000 for a married couple if foster care is provided for at least six months.
The income tax deduction will allow foster parents to utilize these additional funds to provide for the children they foster, and will enable more families to foster who might otherwise be financially unable.
HB 430 was approved by the House by a vote of 155-0. It would expand the state’s existing $10,000 tax credit to any adoption. Currently the credit applies only to Missouri taxpayers who adopt special needs children. The legislation would continue to give priority to special needs adoptions.
An amendment added on the House floor would allow the adoption tax credit to be claimed by Missouri taxpayers who adopt an individual who is 18 years of age or older but is physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself or herself. With the approval of the House of Representatives, the two bills now move to the Missouri Senate for consideration.
House Committee Considers First Responders Protection Act (HB 59)
Missouri House members are being asked to protect law enforcement officers and other first responders and their families by protecting the personal information of those individuals.
The House Committee on Public Safety took testimony Tuesday on legislation known as the “First Responders Protection Act.” HB 59 would bar counties from disclosing the address or personal information of law enforcement officers and first responders, upon their request. This would be directed at county clerks, collectors, treasurers, auditors, and recorders of deeds. It would also make illegal the “doxing” of those individuals; that is, the posting of such information on the internet with the intent of causing harm to them.
Such information has been used in the past to target law enforcement officers and their loved ones. The legislation could save local law enforcement agencies money that is expended to protect officers who have been targeted due to access to their personal information. The committee has yet to vote on the legislation.
House Approves Supplemental Funding for Rental and Utility Assistance (HB 16)
The Missouri House took quick action this week to approve additional funding that will help renters pay their bills. The House gave final approval to HB 16, which will appropriate more than $324 million to the Missouri Housing Development Commission to help Missourians with rental assistance and utility assistance.
The bill allocates Missouri’s share of a $25 billion federal aid package for housing that was passed in December. Missouri’s portion of the federal funds will be disbursed by the Missouri Housing Development Commission and can be used to pay landlords and utilities in arrears or to help keep renters current. The Missouri Senate intends to take up and pass House Bill 16 next week. It will then head to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
Governor Parson Delivers 2021 State of the State Address
Governor Mike Parson delivered the 2021 State of the State Address to the Missouri General Assembly this week. While the speech typically takes place in the House Chamber, the governor gave his address from the Senate Chamber this year to ensure proper social distancing for those in attendance.
Parson’s speech focused on priorities for 2021: education and workforce development, infrastructure, stronger communities, health care, and government reform. Additionally, the governor expressed his hope that the legislature will make COVID-19 liability protection and Wayfair top priorities this session.
Some of the other policy areas highlighted by the governor include:
- COVID-19 Response
Parson highlighted the state’s efforts to help Missourians dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted the state went from testing only a few thousand people each week to more than 100,000 a week. Parson pointed out that the state launched the Show Me Strong Recovery Plan to support Missouri citizens, businesses, and communities. He also said the state waived nearly 600 statutes and regulations to provide more flexibility and safety for Missourians, distributed $520 million in CARES Act funds to local jurisdictions within 10 days, and helped secure more than $11 billion in low-interest loans for Missouri small businesses.
- Workforce and Education
Parson emphasized the importance of Missouri’s children to the state’s future workforce. To strengthen Missouri’s early childhood system, the governor announced the consolidation of several different programs and divisions across three state agencies into a new Office of Childhood. Parson also proposed multiple investments in K-12 education, including a fully funded Foundation Formula and the expansion of the WorkKeys curriculum to all 57 existing career centers in Missouri.
For college-bound students, the governor called for an increase of more than $13 million for the A+ scholarship program as well as the continued funding for the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant program.
Parson also called for major investments in infrastructure, including $6.3 million for shovel-ready projects at Missouri’s established ports and $25 million to fulfill the transportation cost-share program established by Governor Parson’s administration in 2019. Additionally, Parson announced his administration will once again seek $5 million to continue expanding and improving broadband services across the state.
The governor will also seek approval for infrastructure projects at 22 state parks and a one-time expenditure of $100 million to clear the backlog of maintenance projects for state assets, facilities, and buildings.
- Health Care
As a result of the way COVID-19 has changed how health care is delivered, and because the demand for telehealth has increased significantly, Parson proposed over $4 million to support telehealth for individuals with developmental disabilities. The governor also proposed more than $20 million to establish 50 new community mental health and substance use disorder advocates and six new crisis stabilization centers across the state.
COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard Now Online
Missourians interested in finding out information about the state’s vaccination efforts can turn to a new website launched this week. Gov. Mike Parson announced the launch of the COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, which will provide Missouri-specific data submitted by providers from across the state.
Enrolled vaccinators throughout the state of Missouri continue to vaccinate those living or working in Missouri who are eligible under Phase 1A and Phase 1B – Tiers 1 and 2. The interactive dashboard includes total doses administered and also distinguishes the number of individuals who have received one dose or both doses. Seven-day averages of doses administered are also included as well as demographic information on individuals who have received at least one dose. This information shows the shares of individual populations by age group, sex, race, and ethnicity.
Additionally, those who live in Missouri and have received at least one dose are also captured in a county-level vaccination table. This shows how many residents have received a dose per reported county of residence. Missourians are encouraged to visit MoStopsCOVID.com to see the latest vaccine updates, find out when they are eligible for the vaccine, and locate available vaccinators in their area.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. As your Representative I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Chris.Dinkins@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-2112.