We’re Halfway There!
Missouri Legislative Session Update
The Missouri General Assembly returned to Jefferson City on Monday, March 21, 2022 after a week-long legislative spring break. Spring break marks the mid-point in legislative session, which means we’re over halfway there. The next six weeks will be jam-packed with bill hearings, budget battles and floor debates as lawmakers race toward the final day of session.
The 2022 Missouri Legislative Session ends on Friday, May 13, 2022.
OFS Policy Priorities: Where Are They Now?
The 2022 Legislative Session has been a tale of two chambers so far. The House of Representatives passed over 30 bills during the first half of session, while the Senate stood in gridlock. To date, only one bill – a supplemental budget that includes pay raises for state employees – has been Truly Agreed and Finally Passed.
During session, Operation Food Search has submitted testimony in support of and in opposition of several bills. Read more details about our priority issues below.
Postpartum Medicaid Coverage Extension
Currently, pregnant people enrolled in Missouri’s Medicaid for Pregnant Women (MPW) program lose critical health care coverage after 60 days postpartum. SB 698, sponsored by Senator Elaine Gannon (R – Desoto), and HB 2604, sponsored by Representative Jon Patterson (R – Lee’s Summit), seek to extend coverage to one year postpartum. Both bills have received public hearings in their respective committees. Operation Food Search joined over a dozen partner organizations to testify in support of both bills.
At OFS, we recognize the inextricable link between nutrition and health. People are more likely to develop chronic health conditions when they do not have access to enough food and quality nutrition. Food insecurity during pregnancy can lower an infant’s birthweight, leading to higher health care costs and increased risk of long-term health conditions. This proposed legislation would ensure participants of our Fresh Rx: Nourishing Healthy Starts program have continued access to health care, which will allow new parents and their families greater opportunities to thrive.
Threats to Food Assistance in Missouri
Each year Operation Food Search advocates against bills that threaten access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for thousands of hardworking Missouri families. This year, we submitted testimony in opposition of HB 2156, sponsored by Representative Chad Perkins (R – Bowling Green), and HB 2255, sponsored by Representative Dottie Bailey (R – Eureka).
HB 2156 seeks to implement the maximum penalties allowed by federal law for Missourians who fail to report they’ve met certain work requirements for SNAP. Eliminating food assistance will only make it harder for people to find consistent, stable employment. Increasing the work reporting requirement for certain individuals will create undue administrative barriers for both program participants and Missouri Department of Social Services staff, who are already experiencing difficulties with the call center.
HB 2255 would establish a child support cooperation requirement for individuals enrolled in SNAP. Threatening to take away a parent’s food assistance benefits is not an effective way to increase child support cooperation. Proposals like HB 2255 fail to recognize situations in which the custodial parent doesn’t feel safe pursuing child support from the non-custodial parent. Taking away SNAP from parents who decide that it isn’t in their family’s best interest to pursue child support will leave them with less ability to afford healthy food and will ultimately harm the well-being of the child.
Operation Food Search is committed to ensuring all Missouri children and their families have access to the food resources they need to live a healthy life. Nutrition safety net programs such as SNAP are essential to helping low-income, working families put food on the table.
Tax Credits for Urban Farms
Operation Food Search submitted testimony in support of SB 717, sponsored by Senator Barbara Washington (D – Kansas City), and HB 1919, sponsored by Representative Kimberly-Ann Collins (D – St. Louis). Both bills would establish a tax credit for urban farms located in food deserts. There’s a rising community of urban growers, entrepreneurs and community leaders in St. Louis who have been spearheading initiatives to increase production and access to affordable fresh produce in the region. Tax credits help further incentivize and support such initiatives. OFS also partners with local urban farmers to promote food access and food security within the St. Louis region through our Gleaning Program.
The Road Ahead
Lawmakers are back to work! While several of the bills Operation Food Search supports have received positive committee hearings, it’s unclear at this point if any of them will be Truly Agreed and Finally Passed and sent to the Governor’s desk for approval. The final weeks of legislative session may be consumed with debates over big-ticket issues, such as drawing the new congressional map and passing a FY 23 budget.
Of course, if you’d like to stay up-to-date with the latest food and nutrition-related happenings in Jefferson City, follow us on Twitter @OFSFoodAdvocate!
Upcoming Session Dates
- April 18, 2022 – No Session (Easter Break)
- May 6, 2022 – FY 23 Budget must be finalized
- May 13, 2022 – Last Day of Session
Click here to see the full list of Bills We’re Following this session.