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04 February 2012

Newman: House Continues Push On Bills Promoting Discrimination, Voter Suppression


The Progressive Caucus was fast on our feet and sent a letter Thursday afternoon to the Komen Foundation, as did over 50 members of Congress. We asked them to reverse their decision on allowing breast cancer screening grants to Planned Parenthoods across the country. See our media coverage here and here on

As you may know, with the strong outcry nationwide online and via the media, Koman decided late morning Friday to reverse their decision. However we are monitoring the developments and want to assure that Missouri clinics will indeed receive grant funding for these vital life-saving screenings, regardless. Stay tuned...

This past week in the Capitol felt like the movie, “Groundhog Day” where days keep repeating themselves. Wednesday we debated the same issues on the House floor as last year – the “Pro-Discrimination” and “Voter Suppression” bills.


The House Majority allowed about 45 minutes of floor debate on HB1219 before the bill was abruptly laid over (allowing it to go back on the calendar for another day). I am proud to be serving with members of the Black Caucus who were among those recognized on the floor and allowed to speak against the bill before debate was cut off.

Earlier on Monday the Black Caucus held a press conference in the famous Thomas Hart Benton House Lounge denouncing the blatant attempt to roll back civil rights protections in HB1219 - read more here.

The Minority Caucus has taken an official position opposing both bills which means that we are in solidarity and will all vote NO. Why?

HB1219 severely weakens protections provided to MO whistleblowers, weakens the MO Human Rights Act and would reverse decades of civil rights progress for minorities and women.

Democratic members of the Senate ended a 15-hour filibuster Wednesday on SB592 (the identical Senate Discrimination bill) weakening Missouri’s anti-discrimination laws after the GOP sponsor agreed to eliminate a provision of the bill that sought to require judges to rule in favor of employers in most workplace discrimination lawsuits. The Senate granted preliminary approval to the amended bill, SB592, on a voice vote shortly after the filibuster ended at around 1:20 a.m. on Feb. 2.

All of the states’ major civil rights groups oppose HB1219 and SB592, which are almost identical to the bill vetoed in 2011 by Gov. Nixon.


Immediately following HB1219, House Leadership allowed for 30 minutes of debate before also cutting it off and laying the bill over. Even though the Minority was prepared to argue at length, the debate quickly evolved into a Secretary of State campaign stunt. GOP legislators inquired of Rep. Kander, a DEM candidate for Secretary of State without allowing him to adequately respond. The bill sponsor, Rep. Shane Schoeller is a GOP candidate for Secretary of State.

Since both bills are professed to be on the priority list of the House Speaker we expect to see them again soon. Since Republicans hold overwhelming majorities in both legislative chambers, both a discrimination and voter suppression bill are ultimately expected to be sent to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk who has indicated he will veto both again this year.

Denise Leiberman, senior attorney with the national Advancement Project and Missouri’s premier voting rights expert was excellent on Thursday's KSDK’s “’I’m Just Sayin” feature. She said it exactly how it is. Watch it here.


Missouri Department of Economic Development Director Jason Hall resigned Wednesday evening after the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee refused to advance his nomination to the full Senate for confirmation. Since Nixon appointed Hall to the post on Dec. 30 when the General Assembly wasn’t yet in session, Hall was able to take office immediately. In order to keep the job, however, the Senate had to approve the appointment by Feb. 2.

Although Hall’s selection had been endorsed by the state’s major business groups, some senators questioned whether he had the necessary experience for the job. An attorney, Hall had served as executive director of the Missouri Technology Corporation, a state-sponsored agency that promotes the growth and science and technology companies, until taking the economic development post.

Nixon has named Chris Pieper, a deputy counsel in the governor’s office, as interim department director until a permanent replacement is selected. Hall was the third economic development director since Nixon took office in January 2009.


Legislators and staff pose in our red on the 3rd floor stairs outside the House Chamber in the Capitol on Wednesday.

Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. Legislators and staff supported Go Red Day on Feb. 1. a few days ahead of the National Go Red Day. The movement harnesses the energy, passion and power women have to band together and collectively wipe out heart disease. By wearing red and promoting the Red Dress symbol (we’re all wearing the tiny pins), we are united in the life-saving awareness-to-action movement. Together, we will continue to urge women to protect their hearts, as heart disease is the #1 killer of women.

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