Missouri’s Wonky News – Feb. 28, 2020

This week in Missouri’s wonky news! 

We’re complete policy wonks, and we own that. 

We talk about politics and polls and studies and data all the time. (Some say too much.) And we have a hunch that you’re keen on knowing what’s going on “in the weeds” here in the Show Me State. So we wanted to share some Missouri-specific things we think are interesting right now. So below, we’ve got Something Interesting to Read, a bit more in-depth wonky-ness with Your In The Weeds Moment, and our weekly photo essay that highlights some of your fellow Democrats of Missouri. 

Something Interesting to Read:

Let’s face it – when you hear any news about contraception in Missouri… it’s usually not good news. So here’s a breath of fresh air! The Right Time is a $20 million effort to expand access to contraception in Missouri. And since it began ten months ago, 9,000 patients have gotten some form of birth control – completely free of charge. (And nope, it’s not a government-funded program.) The rate of unintended pregnancy in Missouri hovers around 50% – which is a wildly high number. Lack of insurance and high copays mean many people just can’t afford birth control. The Right Time fixes that, with partnerships with seven different providers across Missouri providing free or low-cost birth control – including expensive IUDs and implants. By 2024, The Right Time hopes to cut the rate of unintended pregnancies by 10%.  

You can read more about the program here: https://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2020/02/24/free-birth-control-program-in-missouri-reaches-9000-patients

Your In the Weeds Moment: 

There’s a lot of weedy stuff out there right now, with a number of (crazy) bills having been filed and a whole stack of studies about rural healthcare that we can’t wait to share.  

But this week we wanted to highlight the work of some of our state senators – because even though they only control eight seats of the 34 seats in the senate, they successfully kept one of the bills that would have hurt Missourians from becoming law. How? By filibustering all night long! 

The bill at issue was Senate Bill 575, which would have made it harder for asbestos claimants to get compensation. Republican sponsors disagreed (as they often do). But 575 would have required a victim to file claims with all of the asbestos trusts that are available and provide proof they did so when they file for any civil action. Defendants could file motions asking victims to file claims with more trusts. And the victims would have to provide status of their claims. 

That sounds like a lot of filing, doesn’t it?

That’s what state senator Gina Walsh and other Senate Democrats thought too – especially when time is of the essence and a claimant can pass away from mesothelioma before ever getting compensated. (Unfortunately, that’s often the point of adding more steps for victims to have to take in filing claims.) And not only does the bill put a lot of the burden of proof on the victims, but it also relies a lot on trusts, which often run out of money. 

As Walsh said: “It’s hard now under current law. … They have to jump through hoops now. This isn’t a slam dunk or an easy process, and it’s not a pile of gold at the end of the rainbow. … They’re just making it a lot harder on victims.”

So what did our (well-caffeinated) Democratic state senators do? They stood up for us. Literally. 

Because state senators have the right to unlimited debate, they can “filibuster” and delay a vote on a bill by standing up and talking about … well … anything. So our state senators spent over 20 hours talking about everything from professional sports and favorite breakfast foods to their workout routines to keep this bill from moving forward. And they won. 

By standing up and speaking out all night long, they were able to force Republicans back on the bill, which they tabled in favor of another bill reforming punitive damages. This isn’t the first – and certainly won’t be the last – time senate Democrats filibuster.  So the next time you see one of our Democratic state senators, thank them for standing up (literally) for Missourians. Read more here: https://themissouritimes.com/after-20-hours-senate-hits-brakes-on-asbestos-litigation-in-tort-reform-compromise/

Democrats of Missouri: 

Our Democrats of Missouri project highlights a Missouri Democrat each week to showcase what a diverse and interesting bunch we Missouri Democrats are. If you’re interested in participating, we’d love to have you! Email us at missouri@itstarts.today!This week we have Barbara and Marsha from Kansas City: 

Barbara:I’m a Democrat because I believe Democrats are the party that wants to help people. And I think government is for the people – not people are for government. I believe in healthcare, fair wages, and chances at having a good life. I like people to see that they have a voice, and that their participation matters. That government is for the people, not that people are for the government.  I believe Missouri people are good people. I’m just an average person. If I can do it, anyone can. 

Marsha:I think healthcare is a right. Our country is better when we all do better. And I believe the Democratic party stands for that. Thank you, ladies, for being part of our Democrats of Missouri project! 

One last thing. 

It Starts today is built on the value that we all do better, when we all do better. We’re a group of grassroots folks just like you that are supporting every Democratic nominee for Missouri state legislature, because we believe everyone deserves a chance.

It’s pretty simple: folks like you kick in a few bucks a month (as Fran told us last month, “that’s less than a froofy coffee”) … and after the primary we split the community funds evenly between every single Democratic nominee for MO state legislature.  We leave no nominee behind. 

YES!! I know Democratic nominees need my help and I’m ready to join! 

And we’re pretty psyched about all the momentum we’ve got right now. In fact, we’re just a handful of people away from having our best month ever – even better than the month Jason Kander tweeted nice things about us! (And that was a very good month!) So if you’ve been on the fence, please join today by clicking here or through the huge button below.  We’re excited about all the support we’re able to give the nominees, and we’d be even more excited to have you on our team. 

You should totally join, because all the Democrats are doing it. 😉

With over 12,000 donations already, you’ll be in great company. Join us at www.itstarts.today/missouri

Stay wonky!