SPECIAL SESSION ENDS WITH CARES ACT BUDGET BILL,
SLIGHT PROGRESS ON COVID-19 BUSINESS LIABILITY PROTECTION
The Missouri Senate briefly discussed, then gave final approval for a $1.3 billion supplemental budget bill on Dec. 2, to allow spending of remaining federal CARES Act funds in the state. The called Special Session of the General Assembly has ended, except for technical sessions of the House and Senate set for Dec. 14, when the budget bill will be signed by officials.
Even though Governor Mike Parson added to the Special Session agenda a call to help relieve businesses from COVID-19 liability, such legislation did not move forward but is expected to proceed when the 2021 regular session begins in January. On Dec. 1, the Senate Government Reform Committee jump-started discussions by holding a hearing on the need to shield businesses, schools, and health facilities from the growing threat of COVID-19 lawsuits.
According to the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, since March, more than 1,000 COVID-19 lawsuits have been filed against employers across the nation. In response, many states, including all but one of Missouri’s neighboring states, have enacted some form of protection against lawsuits. Meanwhile, Missouri employers remain completely exposed.
2021 REGULAR SESSION BEGINS JANUARY 6
The 2021 Missouri Regular Legislative Session begins on Wednesday, January 6. Below is a list of key dates for the upcoming session:
January 6, 2021 – First day of the 2021 legislative session
January 18, 2021- Martin Luther King Jr. day observed
March 1, 2021 – Last day to file legislation
March 15-19, 2021 – Spring Break
May 7, 2021 – Constitutional deadline to pass the FY2022 State Budget
May 14, 2021 – Last day of the legislative session
MISSOURI LAUNCHES COVID-19 WEBSITE ON VACCINE DELIVERY
Missouri launched a new vaccine website available to the state’s citizens who seek more information about COVID-19 vaccines. Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced the website on Nov. 24.
MOStopsCOVID.com provides information about the safety of the vaccines, research, and production processes, and when Missourians may be eligible for vaccination. The website will be updated and also will offer additional functionality as vaccines become available.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has developed this site to educate the public and businesses on how the state plans to roll out the vaccines for distribution in three phases. The first phase includes healthcare workers, essential workers, and high-risk populations. Under the plan, health care workers include those at skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, residential care facilities, and inpatient/outpatient facilities. Essential workers include public-facing healthcare, first responders, childcare workers, teachers and education staff, water and wastewater workers, energy workers, critical manufacturing workers, and food and agriculture workers.
The new website includes answers to common questions Missouri residents may have, such as when they will be able to receive the vaccine and how well it works. It also clarifies misinformation that citizens may have heard about the vaccines.
MO STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING
The Missouri State Board of Education met December 8 and decided public schools will give state assessments next spring, but the results from those tests won’t be used for state and federal accountability measures. DESE officials believed it would create too much stress on educators. Due to the COVID-19 break last spring- assessments were not given and there is no data from the 2019-20 academic year.