As of 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8, cases in Missouri total 3,327, while deaths in Missouri from COVID-19 total 58.
I. LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, the General Assembly returned to Jefferson City to take up and pass the $6.2B supplemental budget. The supplemental budget addresses spending needs for the current fiscal year which ends on June 30, 2020. The supplemental budget incorporates the federal funding in the COVID-19 stimulus bills. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the spending guidance on the federal funds and this information should be forthcoming shortly. The specific amendments include:
• Additional $300,000,000 federal funds to DESE for distributions to free public schools under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Ninety percent of these dollars will be distributed to local education agencies;
• Additional $200,000,000 federal funds to Higher Education and Workforce Development for distribution to institutions of higher education under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act;
• Additional $1,071,000,000 federal funds to Office of Administration for distribution to units of local government for necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency as provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act;
• Additional $20,000,000 federal funds to Department of Economic Development for the Community Development Block Grant Program. This funding will allow the Department of Economic Development to provide assistance to those impacted by COVID-19 through activities such as acquiring quarantine/treatment facilities, providing testing and diagnosis at fixed or mobile locations, and delivering meals to quarantined individuals;
• Additional $11,434,267 federal funds to allow the Department of Public Safety to distribute Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding grants to be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19;
• Additional $1,500,000 general revenue to support the operations of the Missouri Gaming Commission as it has seen an unanticipated loss of revenue due to the suspension of riverboat casino operations effective March 17th which was ordered in response to the COVID-19 crisis;
• Additional $75,000 Missouri Disaster Fund to allow the State Emergency Management Agency to hire part-time employees to expedite procurement and distribution of health and safety equipment associated with the COVID-19 crisis;
• Additional $150,000,000 general revenue and $861,800,000 federal fund on an open-ended basis for the State Emergency Management Agency to provide all necessary support and assistance to state and local government agencies responding to the COVID-19 crisis, including acquisition and distribution of necessary health and safety equipment;
• The committee allocated $90 million of the federal funds be dedicated to nursing home facilities across Missouri to address staffing and operational changes brought on by COVID-19;
• Additional $5,075,000 federal funds to Department of Mental Health for behavioral health services and coronavirus relief assistance for Missourians;
• Additional $900,000 federal funds to Department of Mental Health for suicide prevention programs;
• Additional $33,001,534 federal funds to Department of Health and Senior Services to address Coronavirus preparedness and response available through the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act;
• Additional $4,500,000 federal funds to Department of Health and Senior Services to support rural hospitals;
• Additional $528,000 federal funds to Department of Social Services for domestic violence prevention programs such as emergency shelter, family violence counseling, legal advocacy and assistance, children’s counseling, translation services, and case management services;
• Additional $350,000,000 federal fund to Department of Social Services due to a Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) adjustment (this will be a 6.2% FMAP increase through the duration of the national emergency declaration);
• Additional $11,000,000 General Revenue to Office of Chief Executive to support emergency duties of the Missouri National Guard;
• Additional $47,569,470 federal funds and $20,570,910 General Revenue to provide a pandemic stipend for state employees working in a facility with a positive COVID-19 case; and,
• Additional $7,415,585 federal funds to Missouri Western University for necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
• The Senate Appropriations Committee convened Tuesday afternoon to discuss HB 2456, sponsored by Representative Cody Smith (R-Carthage). The bill extends the expiration date on various federal reimbursement allowances from September 30, 2020 to September 30, 2021. Programs extended include ground ambulance, nursing facility, Medicaid managed care organization, hospital, pharmacy, and intermediate care facility for the intellectually disabled. The Senate passed the bill 27-2 and it is now Truly Agreed to and Finally Passed. We expect the Governor to sign the bill on Thursday, April 9.
• Due to all the current uncertainty related to the Coronavirus pandemic, leadership in the House and Senate plan to continue to monitor the health status of the citizens of Missouri and have not made any commitments to when they will return to the Capitol for the remainder of the 2020 regular legislative session set to adjourn on May 15th. The fiscal year 2021 state operating budget begins on July 1, 2020, so the legislature will need to return to finalize the spending plan for the months ahead. It has been mentioned in the media that the Governor may call the legislature into a special session in June if they cannot return before the end of the regular session. In addition to the state FY21 budget, it has been mentioned that a special session may also include topics related to the state’s COVID response and other legislative priorities agreed upon by both legislative chambers. We will report as soon as we receive any details on what lies ahead with the remainder of the 2020 session.
II. EXECUTIVE BRANCH
• Executive Order 20-08: On Monday, April 6, Governor Mike Parson (R) issued Executive Order 20-08, valid until May 15 unless extended, which suspends a state requirement that a notary public must conduct the notarization of official documents while the signor personally appears in front of him or her. The order allows for the use of audio-video technology to complete the personal appearance requirement, protecting the health and safety of notaries public across Missouri. Any document notarized via a live video conference in compliance with the Governor’s order shall have the same force, effect, and validity as any other notarized document. The person whose signature is to be notarized must show a valid photo ID during the video conference. Both the notary public and the person seeking document notarization must be physically situated in the state of Missouri. The notary public shall keep record of the exact time and software used to conduct the notarial act. Rules governing the e-Notary requirements for both electronic and paper documents are administered by the Secretary of State’s Office. Fees allowed for notarization under the executive order shall be the same as those allowed for other notarial acts, except a fee charged for the use of a remote online notary platform or service shall not be considered a fee for the notarization. Questions about the electronic notary process, information about electronic notary registration instructions, and approved software to conduct electronic notary may be found by emailing email@example.com. Specifics regarding the order are posted on the website of Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) at https://www.sos.mo.gov/ElectronicNotary.
• Effective immediately, Governor Mike Parson (R) has approved temporary waivers that will allow a collaborating physician and physician assistants (PAs) and/or assistant physicians (APs) to practice beyond 75 miles of one another. A physician can collaborate with either of these professionals regardless of where the providers are located. The waiver, put in place in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, will be in effect until the expiration of the Governor’s Executive Order 20-02. These waivers increase the ability of healthcare professionals to provide care to patients and reduces travel for both patients and providers, helping reduce the spread of the virus. This will allow highly skilled and educated health professionals to provide care to Missouri communities including using telehealth when they need it most.
• Missouri’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ (DOLIR) Division of Employment Security (DES) on April 6 received its first operational guidance related to the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. The FPUC does not include any provisions or benefits for eligible self-employed workers. The FPUC provides that those eligible for at least one dollar ($1 US) of unemployment compensation benefits during the week will receive an additional $600 per week as a federal supplement. The last payable week for the $600 supplement will be the week ending July 25, 2020. Missouri’s regular unemployment insurance program continues to be in effect.
• Under Missouri unemployment law, most people who are currently employed and quit are not eligible for unemployment benefits. If an employer offers sick leave and/or other leave options to address COVID-19 in lieu of layoffs, then a person who quits on his/her own volition would not qualify for unemployment benefits. Unemployed workers are encouraged to file their unemployment claims online at https://uinteract.labor.mo.gov/benefits/home as soon as they are separated from their employer. For convenience, the UInteract website is available 24/7 and mobile-friendly. For more information, visit https://labor.mo.gov/news/press-releases/missouri-implements-600-federal-pandemic-unemployment-compensation-program.
• Governor Parson has also announced that he has directed DOLIR to file an emergency rule that will help ensure first-responders who contract COVID-19 are covered through workers’ compensation.
• The Missouri Department of Agriculture and the State Milk Board this week issued a letter to grocery retailers, requesting the support of retailers to remove customer limits on milk.