Weekly Update
January 8, 2021
More Money for Missouri
Early this week, Governor Mike Parson announced he would release $4 million in CARES Act funding for St. Louis Community College in Forest Park to improve the quality and access for its early care and education programs. 

"Access to quality child care is critical for working families, and attending college is often a full-time job," Governor Parson said. "With this funding, St. Louis Community College in Forest Park will for the first time be able to offer on-site child care by repurposing existing space into a 15,000 square foot facility that will serve up to 60 children at any given time. This facility will be crucial to ensuring children remain safe and educated while student parents receive training for high-demand jobs."

"In addition to providing quality child care, this facility will allow students in Early Childhood programs to gain on-site experience that will expand child care options in St. Louis," said Missouri Department of Social Services Acting Director Jennifer Tidball. "This facility will enable parents on campus to focus on their job or education while their children are learning developmental skills."

This follows last week's announcement of $46 million in child care funding for child care providers. 

We are thrilled with the Governor's commitment to early care and education and will dive into more details on how this impacts our child care supply in the coming weeks.
Speaker Rob Vescovo opens session with a call for stronger investment in early childhood education. PHOTO CREDIT: Missouri House of Representatives
Missouri News
Legislative Update
At noon on Wednesday of this week, the Missouri House and Senate officially kicked off the 2021 Legislative Session. The 101st Session of the Missouri General Assembly began with the swearing in of the newly elected members of each body. All 163 members of the House were sworn in for their two year term which included 46 newly elected Representatives.  In the Senate, 17 members (half of the membership) were also sworn in to their four year term with 11 newly elected Senators. Republicans maintained their super majorities with 114 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and 1 vacancy in the House and 24 Republicans, 10 Democrats in the Senate.

After the swearing-in ceremony, each body elected their respective leaders - Rob Vescovo (R-Jefferson) was elected Speaker of the House and Dave Schatz (R-Franklin) was re-elected as Pro Tem of the Senate. Each then gave a short speech outlining their priorities for the upcoming session which are as follows:

President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (The full text of the speech may be found here: Sen. Schatz Speech)
  • Education Reform
  • Reduction of government regulations
  • Transportation funding/gas tax
Speaker Rob Vescovo (The full text of the speech may be found here: Speaker Vescovo Speech) As a note, the Speaker gave a very heartfelt account of his own education journey. 
  • Education Reform
    • Early Childhood Development Funding
    • Charter School Expansion
  • Foster Care
    • Tax Credits/Deductions to entice new foster parents
    • Adoption tax credit funding expansion
  • Reduction of regulations for businesses
  • COVID Liability
  • Tax Code Reform
  • Law Enforcement Training Reform
  • Election Integrity Legislation
 
Budget Update
On Wednesday, Governor Mike Parson released more than $126.9 million in spending withholds from the FY2021 budget.  Governor Parson had previously released over $68 million in spending restrictions in October of 2020.  The Governor also announced the availability of more than $68 million in Federal Budget Stabilization Funds for infrastructure and capital improvement projects at Missouri's public universities and State Technical College of Missouri.  The full document may be found here Governor Withhold Releases.  

Some of the released restrictions include:
  • $8.6 million for state tourism;
  • $9.4 million for work programs for low-income families receiving state assistance;
  • $14 million for state colleges and universities;
  • $9 million for community colleges;
  • $250,000 for STEM Career Awareness Program;
  • $9.4 million for TANF;
  • $1.8 million for Athletes & Entertainers Tax Distribution
Click here to download a copy of our Missouri policy priorities.
Dates of Interest

January 2021                          
11 - Inaugural
18 - Martin Luther King Holiday - No Session
27 - Governor Parson will deliver the State of the State and Budget Address at 3:00 p.m.
 
March 2021
11 - Last Day to Place House Consent Bills on the Senate Calendar (Rule 45)
15 - Spring Break Begins Upon Adjournment
22 - General Assembly Reconvenes
 
April 2021
5 - Easter Holiday - No Session
 
May 2021
7 - Last Day for Floor Action on Appropriation Bills
14 - Last Day of Session (Article III, Section 20(a), Const.)
 
September 2021
15 - Veto Session

Kansas News

Legislative Session Preview
Lawmakers return to Topeka for the start of the 2021 Kansas Legislative Session on Monday, January 11. If there was ever a feeling of uncertainty in the air, this is the year. Until this week, it was unclear where lawmakers would conduct their business in the middle of a pandemic. 

All 13 committee rooms in the Statehouse used by the Legislature have been installed with both audio and visual streaming. A virtual communication platform will be used and made available for committee members, conferees, and the public to participate in hearings remotely if they choose. Seating in both the House and Senate chambers has been rearranged for lawmakers to social distance when they need to be in the same room to vote on legislation. Masks and COVID-19 testing will also be made available on request.

While the building will be closed to anyone not conducting official business with the Legislature, lobbyists are still unsure of proper protocols in interacting with legislators.
Legislative leaders are taking hefty precautions to prevent a coronavirus outbreak at the Statehouse. Some Democrat lawmakers have voiced concern over returning to Topeka this early, asking to postpone the legislative session to spring or summer when infection numbers have decreased across the state.

Every year, the session schedule is fluid, and with lawmakers often making changes. This year, however, folks are prepared for anything. Leaders have a priority list of legislation that they will address as early as next week, should an outbreak occur, and an early adjournment is required. The state budget, changes to the Kansas Emergency Management Act, and economic recovery items top that list.

Kansas State of the State Address
Governor Kelly's State of the State Address will be Tuesday, January 13, 7:00 p.m. You can catch the broadcast live from the Governor's Facebook page or on public television stations: KTWU, KPTS, Smoky Hills Public Broadcasting.

Kansas Legislature Live Streaming Upgrades
This year, all committee rooms and both the House and Senate chambers won't only broadcast in audio but will now have both audio and visual streaming available to the public. This approach allows you to listen to lawmakers introduce legislation, debate bills, and follow issues that are important to you. To access live streams of legislative proceedings, visit www.kslegislature.org and click on "Audio/Video" in the upper right hand corner.

Tax collections Up again in December
Total tax collections during the last month of 2020 were up $64.5 million - 9.1 percent - in December, with $770.2 million collected. Compared to the same month the previous year, this was a 1.8 percent increase.


Kansas Legislative Calendar

January 11Session Begins @ 2:00 p.m.
January 12State of the State Address @ 7:00 p.m.
January 29Kansas Day
February 12Last Day for Bill Introductions
March 5Turnaround Day (last day to consider non-exempt bills in house of origin)
March 31Last Day to Consider Non-exempt Bills
April 9Drop Dead Day & First Adjournment
May 3Veto Session Begins

Stradinger named Aligned board chair 

Aligned 
is pleased to announced that our Board of Directors elected Mike Stradinger to a three-year term as board chair. Outgoing Chair Kate Banks of Ferrell Capital handed over the reins at the organization's last quarterly meeting. 

As CEO of Holland 1916, headquartered in North Kansas City, Missouri, Mike leads a team of 100 employees that manufacture durable metal nameplates, data plates and panelsmembrane switches and touchscreensSaaS, PaaS, RFID tags and hardware.

"Business is the primary consumer of what educators are producing - students.  So we need to be involved in the process, and we have for too long been silent," said Stradinger. 

We are thrilled to have Mike's continued leadership at Aligned and extremely grateful to Kate Banks who, as board chair for the past three years, led our organization through a tremendous period of achievement and growth. Kate will remain an active member of the Aligned board of directors. 
Emerging from the Zoom cocoon

With attention on safety first, we are carefully transitioning back into the hallways of the Missouri Capitol and Kansas Statehouse. Whether we meet folks in person or virtually, we will be actively pushing our priorities and working to improve education in both states. Although we still face a climate of uncertainty, we do expect any action to be fast-paced. Therefore, we encourage you to reach out whenever you have questions. 

Stayed tune for further updates. We will provide a weekly recap each Friday throughout the remainder of session. 

Here's to a healthy and productive 2021!

All the best,




Torree Pederson
Torree@WeAreAligned.org
(913) 484-4202

Linda Rallo
Linda@WeAreAligned.org
(314) 330-8442