Representative Pike’s Report

Missouri 2022 Legislative Session BeginsDear Citizens: Lawmakers returned to the State Capitol Building Wednesday, January 5 for the start of the 2022 legislative session, which is officially the Second Regular Session of the 101st General Assembly.
House members returned to Jefferson City with a current split of 110 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and 4 vacant seats. On the first day of session, two Republican members announced their resignations to pursue other interests. The resignations drop the total number of Republicans in the House to 108 members, which is one vote short of a veto-proof majority.
Leading up to the start of the session, members pre-filed bills at a near-record pace. Pre-filing began Dec. 1 and ended January 4. In that period of time House members pre-filed 770 pieces of legislation. That number is significantly more than the 688 pre-filed bills for the 2021 session, and just six bills short of the pre-filing record of 776 that was set in 2020.
Legislators begin the session with a number of pressing issues on the table. Their first legislative action was to approve new congressional district maps based on the latest U.S. Census data. These maps determine our US Congressmen and Congresswomens’ districts.  The maps have to be approved and signed into law in time for the August 2 primary. Lawmakers went to work to approve a supplemental budget bill proposed by Gov. Parson. The governor has asked the House and Senate to have the legislation approved by February 1.
As the 2022 legislative session progresses, members will also focus on a number of other important issues including the state operating budget, protections for the unborn, election integrity, school accountability and transparency, and protections against overly burdensome mandates.

House Committee Considers Bills Designed to Ensure Appropriate Curriculum in Schools (HB 1995 and HB 1474)

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee held a public hearing recently to consider pieces of legislation designed to give parents more control over what their children learn, and to prevent inappropriate curriculum from being taught in school.
Lawmakers took testimony on HB 1995, which would establish the Parents’ Bill of Rights for Student Well-Being. The legislation would require school districts to adopt a policy to promote parental involvement including procedures for objection to instructional materials. The bill requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop specific forms that school districts must use for parents to opt out of instructional material, and for parents to be notified in advance whenever a teacher intends to teach a divisive or controversial topic.
“We need to send a very clear message that the state of Missouri, if we ever have to choose a side, we will always take the side of parents,” the bill’s sponsor told the committee.
The bill also establishes the Missouri Education Transparency and Accountability Portal to give access to every school district’s curriculum, source materials, and professional development materials.
During the hearing, the committee also heard testimony on HB 1474. The bill also creates a Parents’ Bill of Rights, but has additional language to prohibit the instruction of critical race theory in public and charter schools.
Specifically, the bill prohibits school districts, charter schools, and their personnel from teaching, using, or providing such curriculum or from teaching, affirming, or promoting any of the claims, views, or opinions found in the 1619 Project, which is a collections of essays on race. The bill does not allow curriculum that identifies people or groups of people, entities, or institutions in the United States as inherently, immutably, or systemically sexist, racist, biased, privileged, or oppressed.  

Finding the Best Environment for Children in Need (HB 1563)
Members of the House Emerging Issues Committee heard testimony recently on legislation that would require the state to put more effort into placing children in state custody with family members before placing them with strangers.
The sponsor of the bill thinks the state can do more to find family members who would be a good fit for each child. 

House Bill 1563 would require the Missouri Children’s Division to make “diligent searches” for biological parents when a child enters state custody. In the case of an emergency placement, the division would search for grandparents. If they can’t be found or aren’t fit, it would then look for other relatives for placement within 30 days. 
Members of the House Committee on Emerging Issues asked the sponsor whether his proposal would simply place burdens on overworked, underpaid members of an understaffed agency. He agreed those are concerns for the division but noted the state has resources that are available but not being utilized to the fullest.
The Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association told the committee their agency, serving 24 counties, helped find family members for 34 children in state care in the last two quarters of the last fiscal year. The chief program officer for the association said it could help even more children, but the Children’s Division hasn’t being asking.
“We don’t receive the referrals like we should, for being a contracted agency. They’re paying for our service but they’re not always using it,” she said. 
She believes as employees with the Division leave and are replaced, those new hires simply don’t know that her agency and others like it are available, or how they can be used.
She said similar agencies cover other parts of the state and her agency and others like it are simply more capable and have more resources than the Children’s Division for doing the kinds of searches the bill would require, and with compelling results. 
She told the committee, “With our program that we run and are contracted with, it’s called 30 Days to Family, we’re able to find at least 80 relatives if not more. Our average this last year has 115 relatives, and we do that within 30 days.”

Governor Parson Ends State of Emergency
As 2021 came to a close, Gov. Mike Parson announced that Missouri’s COVID-19 related State of Emergency would expire and not be renewed on December 31. Parson first issued an Executive Order (EO) declaring a State of Emergency due to COVID-19 on March 13, 2020. 
Parson said, “Thanks to the effectiveness of the vaccine, widespread efforts to mitigate the virus, and our committed health care professionals, past needs to continue the state of emergency are no longer present. Over the last 22 months, we have coordinated with local, state, and private partners to mitigate COVID-19 and work towards returning to normalcy. We all now know how to best fight and prevent serious illness from this virus. The State stands ready to provide assistance and response, but there is no longer a need for a state of emergency.”
Gov. Parson extended the COVID-19 related State of Emergency five times before issuing a final targeted executive order for health care needs in August 2021. Currently, only three of Missouri’s bordering states and 20 other states in the nation have state of emergencies related to COVID-19 in place. 
At one time, nearly 600 statutory and regulatory waivers were approved across Missouri state government. Since that peak, waivers have reduced by nearly 80 percent. All remaining COVID-19 related waivers authorized under EO 21-09 officially terminated on December 31, 2021. 
“In Missouri, we never had mandates or forced lockdowns,” said Parson. “The main focus of our state of emergency was to provide regulatory flexibility to support and assist Missourians, health care facilities, and businesses and coordinate a COVID-19 response that saved lives and livelihoods. We encourage all Missourians to consider COVID-19 vaccination and to stay diligent, but we can work together to fight COVID-19 while living our normal lives. It is time to take this final step and move forward as a state.”
Gov. Parson emphasized that the best method to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 is vaccination, and more and more Missourians continue choosing to get primary and booster vaccinations. In the month of December alone, more than 565,000 doses of vaccine were administered and 42 percent were part of a primary vaccine series. The governor noted that nearly 94 percent of Missourians 65 and older, the most vulnerable, have received at least one dose. More than 73 percent of Missourians 18 and older and over 62 percent of all Missourians have chosen to initiate vaccination. 

General Assembly Convenes for State Address 
Members of the Missouri General Assembly gathered in the House Chamber recently to listen to the annual State of the State Address delivered by Gov. Mike Parson. Parson used the address to deliver the message to the people of Missouri that the state “is strong today and will be even stronger tomorrow.”
Parson’s speech focused on budget priorities and American Rescue Plan Act spending goals for 2022 including workforce and education, infrastructure, agriculture, community development, health care, and public safety. 
Parson said, “With a historic budget surplus and federal dollars coming to our state, we want to build on our past momentum to capture even greater opportunities for the future of Missourians.  When other states will be filling spending gaps and budget shortfalls, we will be making investments in the future, because in Missouri, we took a common sense approach to the pandemic, never shutdown businesses, and have always had a conservative and balanced budget.”Workforce and Education – During his speech, Parson called for the Missouri Fast Track program to be permanently established, $31 million for colleges and universities through MoExcels, and $20 million for the state’s 57 area career centers. Parson proposed multiple investments in K-12 education, including fully funding the Foundation Formula and raising starting pay for Missouri teachers to $38,000 per year. Parson also recommended nearly $600 million in higher education investments that are expected to generate over $1.1 billion in economic impact for MO, strengthen communities’ assets and bolster work force development programs.  Infrastructure -Parson called for major investments in infrastructure, including $75 million for the Transportation Cost-Share program established by his administration in 2019, $100 million for low-volume roads across the state, and $400 million for drinking water, wastewater, and storm water systems.  Additionally, Parson called for $400 million toward broadband expansion projects statewide, the single largest broadband investment in state history. This proposal would connect 75,000 households, expand access to rural areas and underserved urban areas, and update and expand wireless networks across the state. Agriculture – During his speech, Parson reminded the General Assembly of the continued need to support Missouri agriculture, the state’s number one economic driver. Parson called for $10 million to expand agriculture innovation and workforce programs. Community Development  – Parson asked legislators to make meaningful long-term investments in local communities by allocating $250 million for a statewide revitalization program. With local matching, the competitive grant program will encourage strategic local investments to revitalize communities and spur local economic recovery and growth. To expand tourism, and drive small business growth and job creation, Parson proposed investing $69 million to begin construction of the Rock Island Trail, which will become the largest circular rail-to-trail network in the United States.  Health Care – To strengthen health care networks across the state, Parson proposed $34 million to increase telehealth and telemedicine services in rural communities and the construction of a new multi-agency health lab to increase cross-collaboration for safer, healthier Missourians. Parson also called for doubling the capacity of Missouri’s six Autism Centers to help more families navigate the challenges of diagnosing and treating autism as well as reduce wait times for families needing services.  Public Safety – During his speech, Parson expressed his continued support for Missouri’s law enforcement officers. Parson proposed investing $11 million to upgrade Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) academies and provide more scholarships for law enforcement officers to receive POST certification and put more officers on the streets. These investments will aid with recruitment and retention efforts statewide and help keep communities safer. Additionally, Parson asked the General Assembly to invest nearly $140 million in certain community health centers across the state for vital capital improvements to help meet the increased demand for mental health and substance use disorder services. Legislative Priorities – Parson also called on the members of the House and Senate to establish a Cash Operating Expense Fund that sets aside 2.5 percent of general revenue to mitigate budget cuts and provide greater flexibility during emergencies.   
Parson concluded his speech by saying, “When we look to the future and not dwell in the past, when we find solutions instead of problems, when we stand together instead of apart, we can accomplish anything. We must always keep pushing forward in this state, because no one is coming to do it for us. Missouri is strong today and will be even stronger tomorrow.”
For more information, contact Representative Patricia Pike at or call 573-751-5388.***
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Our mailing address is:
State Representative Patricia Pike
Missouri House of Representatives
State Capitol – Room 313-2
201 W. Capitol Avenue
Jefferson City, MO  65101
The 101st General Assembly, 2nd Regular Session of the Missouri House of Representatives gaveled in on Wednesday, January 5. 2022.
Above:  Testifying recently to the House Pension Committee.  My bill is now moving forward.
Honored to serve on the Governor’s Escort Committee for the “State of the State 2022” Address in the House Chamber last week.