On Thursday evening, Jan. 14, the Missouri House announced it is canceling session for the coming week, Jan. 18-22. House leadership issued the following statement:
“Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the building, we are exercising an abundance of caution to protect members, staff, and visitors by canceling session next week. Our goal is to return to work the following week.”
The Missouri Senate plans to decide this morning if it will be in session next week.
GOVERNOR PARSON INAUGURATED
Governor Mike Parson was officially sworn in Monday afternoon as the 57th Governor of Missouri. This year’s inauguration looked quite different than previous years. Due to COVID-19, the Governor, along with Missouri’s other statewide officials took their oaths of office outside of the Missouri Capitol and there was no celebratory inauguration ball after.
After being sworn in for his first full term, Governor Parson spoke briefly to highlight his priorities for this session. It was noted the pandemic would continue to be a focus of this year, however his two top priorities will be: workforce development and infrastructure; and healthcare, specifically relating to telemedicine and telehealth. The Governor is expected to highlight other areas of interest during his State of the State on January 27, 2021.
SENATE RULES CHANGES APPROVED
The Missouri Senate adopted slight technical changes to its legislative rules during the first week of the 2021 session. Previously, no amendment or substitute bill or other document required to be distributed to senators as “hard copies” shall be adopted by the senate until such document has been distributed to each member. Now, electronic distribution shall be an acceptable form of distribution. However, laptop computers may not be used by senators at their desks in the chamber. Tablets, cell phones or other flat devices are approved for senators to use.
“The only thing that we’re changing — and it’s not a monumental change — is the fact that when a document goes to your desk, it’s scanned in and distributed through the system and sent to every senator’s desk at that point,” President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) said during floor debate on the rules. “That’s not a huge change to the Senate — it doesn’t speed up the process to the point where we’re moving at lightning speed because we can still seek recognition to have a conversation about what’s going on.”
According to the rules, laptop computers may be used by senators, senators’ staff and senate staff at the staff table located in the chamber, by the secretary of the senate at the dais, and by the research staff at the research table in the senate chamber as long as their use does not violate the rules or is otherwise disruptive to the business of the senate.
HOUSE ADOPTS RULES ON REMOTE TESTIMONY AND SECURITY
The Missouri House of Representatives on Jan. 12, adopted rules it will use in the 2021 legislative session. Among changes are allowing remote testimony during House committee hearings and approving new law enforcement powers for its sergeant-of-arms and his staff.
The House will allow persons to testify virtually by telephone or video conferencing, but committees must approve in advance if the remote testimony will be allowed. Persons wishing to testify on a particular bill must request in advance. According to the new rules, “A request to testify remotely must be received or made by the chair or ranking member of the committee by the time of the committee hearing to consider allowing remote testimony. Only individuals who receive approval to testify remotely from the committee and who submit a completed, signed witness form shall be allowed to do so.” Written testimony may be submitted online through the House website.
The House sergeant-at-arms duties include overseeing the security of the areas within the state capitol under the control of the House of Representatives. “The sergeant-at-arms shall have all powers granted to law enforcement officers in this state to apprehend and arrest persons for violations of” Missouri law, “and may carry firearms when necessary for the proper discharge of his or her duties. The sergeant-at-arms may employ additional staff to assist him or her in the performance of his or her duties. The sergeant-at-arms and any such additional employees shall maintain a valid peace officer license for the duration of their employment,” the adopted rules say.
CHAIRS AND MEMBERS OF COMMITTEES APPOINTED
Both the Missouri Senate and the House of Representatives announced appointments to legislative committees this week, paving the way for committee hearings to begin in the coming weeks. President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) and Speaker Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) made the Senate and House appointments of committee chairs, vice-chairs and members, respectively. Click the following links to access all committee information:
GOVERNOR UNVEILS NEXT PHASE OF COVID VACCINATIONS
On Jan. 14, Governor Mike Parson announced the activation of Phase 1B – Tier 1 of Missouri’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. Federal partners have informed the state that they plan to significantly increase vaccine supply starting Jan. 18, and that individuals 65 and older and those with comorbidities should be prioritized. This news allows the state to begin the process of activating Phase 1B tiers.
Information about Priority Phases of Phase 1B can be found at: Phase 1B White Sheet.pdf (govdelivery.com)
Tier 1 of Phase 1B, activated Jan. 14, focuses on vaccinations for law enforcement, fire service, and public health professionals, among others.
Tier 2 of Phase 1B, to be activated Jan. 18, focuses on protecting those who are at increased risk for severe illness, including individuals aged 65 and older and any adult with cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, or intellectual and/or developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome, heart conditions, a weakened immune system due to organ transplant, severe obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, or Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
Tier 3 of Phase 1B, to be activated after tiers 1 and 2, focus on critical infrastructure workers. This group includes education (K-12), childcare, communications sector, dams sector, energy sector, food/agriculture sector, government, information technology sector, nuclear reactors, materials, and waste sector & transportation systems sector, and water and wastewater systems sector.
A list of vaccinators and regional vaccine implementation teams will be made available at www.MOstopsCovid.com on January 15. DHSS encourages employers and associations representing individuals in activated phases to use the list to connect with a vaccinator or regional vaccine implementation team in their area and make a plan for vaccinating their teams.
Although initial tiers within Phase 1B are being activated, there are currently not enough vaccines for everyone included in these groups. As additional supplies arrive, this activation will allow for the greatest vaccine coverage where it is most needed. It will also allow vaccinators and organizations to continue planning effectively for future tiers and phases.
Individuals in Phase 1A and Phase 1B – Tier 1 should work through their employer and/or association to access the vaccine. Individuals in Phase 1B – Tier 2 should contact their local pharmacy or health care provider or visit www.MOstopsCovid.com to learn when vaccines may be available and how to receive them.
Click the link below to access your 2021 Tracking Report