Getting CARES funding to those that want it most

Greetings from your Missouri Capitol. I’m now in my new office, 235BB, on the second floor on the Senate side of the building. As I write this, there is painting going on so the entire move is still ongoing. I invite you to stop by when you are at the Capitol, but I would wait until we are ready for visitors after the first of the year.

Since I last wrote this column, the Senate has passed the supplementary budget to gain access to the resources of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which are designed to provide additional resources in response to COVID-19.

We passed our bill in the House of Representatives last month and it has received strong support from both parties in both houses so that federal money can get to those who need it most. The largest item in the $ 1.3 billion spending plan is $ 764 million for the state’s efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Other important points in the spending plan are:

• $ 140 million for testing, tracking of reports, and other costs related to virus mitigation.

• $ 96.8 million to transfer child child support debts, intercepted from federal stimulus payments, to custody parents who deserve the money.

• $ 75.7 million for school feeding programs that were extended through December.

• $ 34 million to support companies / employees participating in the Work Together Program.

• $ 19.6 million for homeless prevention grants.

• Additional funding of $ 5.1 million for sustained long-term behavioral health effects in adults and children caused by natural disasters in our state in 2018-19.

• $ 93 million in ongoing pharmacy expenses under the Medicaid program due to increased occupancy during the pandemic.

With the approval of the legislature, the draft law was forwarded to the governor’s desk to be legally signed. The passage of the bill marks the end of the work of the legislature during the special session. The governor had called for the session to be expanded to include laws that provide liability protection for healthcare providers, manufacturers, businesses, schools, churches and non-profit organizations, among other things. While the Senate began work on the bill, Governor Mike Parson asked lawmakers to have a discussion on the bill first. Legislators will now deal with the issue of COVID-19 liability protection when the regular session begins in January.

In other news, pre-registration began on December 1st, and on that day alone, 288 pre-filed invoices were received, and that number is set to increase. Many of these bills were not heard or voted out of the committee at the last session due to the delays in COVID-19 and, quite frankly, ran out of time. This is the case with some of my invoices, and I will pre-submit them too. COVID has affected so many things in our entire lives and has affected the operations of both chambers. When the news is good, we all work to get the best legislation on the ground that will affect the lives of voters in my district and throughout the state of Missouri. Given the restrictions we face with restrictions on the number of people in a listening room, social distancing to protect one another from the spread of COVID, we are all doing our best to protect one another and our state.

The legislation submitted covered a wide range of issues. The issues raised in the pre-tabled bills range from limiting the ability of local officials to enforce bans, to improving transparency of local government spending, to protecting Missourians’ rights after the second amendment. To keep up to date with pre-filed invoices in the House, please visit the Missouri House of Representatives official website at and click the “Periodic Meeting 2021” link.

I had the opportunity to travel outside of our state over the past month and see how they are dealing with the COVID outbreak and how they are responding to restrictions. I can tell you should be happy living in Missouri and Jefferson City / Cole County in particular. The restrictions that many local jurisdictions have placed on their local businesses and citizens are almost criminal. I have many coworkers who live in St. Louis County and the restrictions their county supervisor has placed on local business and restaurant owners are so advanced that many are facing bankruptcy and losing everything they do over the years have worked. What Parson did here in Missouri becomes a model for what other states see, and we can be proud to call ourselves Missourians.

I hope and am also sure that after the vaccine is released, we will see a significant reduction in positive cases in the coming weeks and will return to our pre-COVID lifestyle. I have had many concerns from voters that they will be “forced” to take the vaccine. I haven’t heard that and I don’t think anyone should be forced to do something they don’t want or don’t believe in. I believe that taking the vaccine will be in the best interests of our families and friends, but that is a choice each of us must make.

Thank you again for allowing me to act as your representative. If I or my office can help you, please give us a call.

State Representative Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, represents the 60th Ward and shares his views on House issues twice a month.

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