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Friday, February 19, 2021

Report from Rep. Patricia Pike

Dear Citizens:  House committee work and sessions continued this week, in spite of the snow and cold weather.  Here is a recap followed by important resource information.

 
House Approves License Reciprocity for Skilled Veterans (HB 476)  This week the members of the Missouri House continued their efforts to make Missouri an attractive location for military members and their families to live and work. The House advanced a piece of legislation that will allow veterans to use the skills they obtained in the military to more easily find jobs in the private sector.
 
The legislation builds on the efforts made by the legislature in 2020 to allow professionals to move to Missouri and to continue working in their professions without delay. HB 2046 set up a universal license recognition system that allows professionals licensed in other states to come to Missouri and enter the workforce. HBs 1511 & 1452 removed the barriers that impede military spouse licensure and allows them to practice their occupation as long as they hold a valid current license issued by another state or territory of the United States.  The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
 
House Approves Bill to Improve Local Government Transparency (HB 271)  Legislation that is now on its way to the Senate would create a database that allows taxpayers to search expenditures and payments received and made by counties and municipalities. The bill would create the Missouri Local Government Expenditure Database, which would be an easy to use, downloadable database housed on the Missouri Accountability Portal. A municipality or county may voluntarily participate in the database, or may be required to participate through a petition process used by its residents. The database would provide expenditure data for each fiscal year beginning on or after December 31, 2022.
 
Utility Assistance for Low-Income Missourians Expanded:  Missourians struggling with their heating bill, because of the extreme cold, will now have additional help. Gov. Mike Parson recently announced the state’s Energy Crisis Intervention Program will offer improved assistance to eligible low-income Missourians.
 
The Energy Crisis Prevention Program, which is part of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program(LIHEAP), assists households when their energy source has been shut off or is at risk of disconnection. The program pays the minimum amount needed on the fuel bill to get the household out of crisis. However, starting this winter, the program will pledge the maximum disconnect amount (up to $800) toward an eligible participant’s owed balance.
 
Parson said about the improvement to the program, “Since many Missourians remain in crisis for subsequent months, paying only the minimum to keep a low-income household out of crisis tends to prolong the situation. Now, we can make it faster and easier to resolve a household’s crisis situation.”
 
In FY2020, Missouri provided $78.6 million in LIHEAP assistance to over 108,000 households. In addition to meeting the income criteria, low-income Missourians must also meet the following criteria to be eligible for winter heating assistance through LIHEAP:
 

  • Be responsible for paying home heating costs,
  • Have $3,000 or less in bank accounts, retirement accounts, or investments, and
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legally admitted for permanent residence.

 
It is very important for low-income Missourians who have received a disconnect notice or know a disconnect notice is coming to get help now to prevent service disconnection at a later date. To learn more about the LIHEAP program, visit https://mydss.mo.gov/energy-assistance.

COVID-19 Update

The best resource for everyone is the COVID19 website MOStopsCovid.com .  The information is updated daily and is by far the quickest information resource.
 
Missouri Vaccine Navigator Tool:  The navigator tool will guide citizens through a questionnaire that will determine their tier group and notify them of upcoming vaccinations in their area.  If they are unable to make a vaccine event, they can decline and wait for the next notification.  The direct link to the vaccine navigator can be found here.  The system not only provides support for our citizens but also helps us determine where the greatest demands for vaccines exist throughout the state. 
 
No internet access or computer?  If someone doesn't have internet access or access to a computer, they can call 877-435-8411. The hotline is available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday to help people register. 

The Governor's Office has also released some additional information:

At the start of this week, approximately 1,115,100 first and second vaccine doses had been shipped to Missouri. Please note that the number of vaccines shippeddoes not equate to the number of vaccines receivedby state vaccinators. The 1,115,100 vaccines shipped includes doses allocated to CVS and Walgreens through the federal pharmacy partnership to vaccinate residents and staff at long-term care facilities. Of these doses, 79.5 percent have been reported as administered.

Excluding vaccines shipped to CVS and Walgreens, 903,700 first and second doses have been shipped to Missouri vaccinators as of February 16. Of these doses, 86.2 percent have been reported as administered.

As of February 17, Missouri providers have administered approximately 940,000 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to citizens across the state. Nearly 667,000, or 11 percent, of Missourians have received an initial dose vaccination. Collectively, Missouri vaccinators have demonstrated the capacity to administer nearly 50,000 vaccines daily once supply will consistently allow. Administration capacity will only increase as more vaccinators are onboarded. 

The state also continues to move forward with regional mass vaccination events. To date, the Missouri National Guard, Department of Health and Senior Services, State Emergency Management Agency, and local health care partners have completed 27 mass vaccination clinics across the state. More than 50,000 Missourians have received an initial vaccine dose at one of these events. 

Targeted vaccination teams are also fully operational in St. Louis and Kansas City. After the first round of events, these four man teams have administered more than 2,000 initial doses in Kansas City and St. Louis. These vaccines have gone to vulnerable populations in communities with limited access to health care.

Missouri has mechanisms in place to ensure the most equitable and efficient vaccine distribution as possible. Recently, there has been increased attention on vaccine allocation to the St. Louis region. To date, Highway Patrol Region C, which represent 37 percent of the state's population, has received 315,200 doses, or 35 percent, of the 898,175 doses delivered to Missouri vaccinators. That amount does not include vaccines allocated to federal partners. 

The St. Louis metropolitan area – which includes Jefferson County, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, and St. Louis City and represents approximately 31 percent of Missouri's population – has received 282,300 doses, or 31.4 percent, of the state's total vaccine allocation. 

In addition to vaccine successes, Governor Parson also highlighted encouraging signs in Missouri's COVID-19 data.

“We are happy to report that COVID-19 activity in Missouri has declined for the fifth consecutive week. The continued decrease in our positivity rate shows that Missourians are taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones,” Governor Parson said. “Our administration has never wavered in our balanced approach to addressing this pandemic, and we know we are on the right track to winning the fight against COVID-19.”

Missouri's seven-day PCR positivity rate has fallen to 7 percent, and the antigen (rapid) test rate has fallen to 5.1 percent. The state's current seven-day case average is approximately 533 cases per day – a number that has not been this low since June of last year.

Missouri data shows also that since a peak of 7,616 new cases reported on November 9, new daily case volume has fallen 95 percent to only 346 confirmed cases on February 15. Over the past 14 days alone, data reporting by the New York Times shows that Missouri's volume of new COVID-19 cases and number of hospitalizations have fallen by 42 percent and 22 percent, respectively. 

Constituent Services

It is an honor to serve on your behalf and I appreciate the opportunity to represent you in the upcoming 2021 legislative session. Please contact my office at 573-751-5388 or e-mail at Patricia.Pike@house.mo.gov for assistance on State Issues, Resolutions, Assistance for Veterans, Capitol and District Visits.  Our District 126 Legislative Assistant is Jeff Sutterer, who can be reached at Jeff.Sutterer@house.mo.gov and our Capitol office hours are Monday through Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Jefferson City, MO.

Requesting a Courtesy Resolution
The Missouri House of Representatives is proud to provide courtesy resolutions to commemorate our citizens' most important and precious life events. If you would like to request a courtesy resolution, please contact Jeff.Sutterer@house.mo.gov. or call our office at (573) 751-5388 if you have any questions.

Service Members and Veterans
The members of the Missouri House of Representatives have great appreciation and respect for the sacrifices the men and women of our armed services make in order to defend the freedom of the United States and its citizens. It is very important to me to represent and advocate on behalf of the veterans of District 126 and Missouri. I have been proud to serve on the House Veterans Committee through my years of service in office. Please do not hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-5388 or Patricia.Pike@house.mo.gov with any questions or concerns you have regarding service member or veterans issues.
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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