As of 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13, cases in Missouri total 4,388, while deaths in Missouri from COVID-19 total 114.
I. LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
• 2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION UPDATE: On April 13, Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) announced that House and Senate Leaders have tentatively scheduled to return to their regular session on Monday April 27th. The leadership plans to release a full statement with further details in the next 24 hours. The 2020 Missouri regular session is set to end on May 15th. The state operating budget spending authority for fiscal year 2021 that begins on July 1st, 2020 must be passed by 6:00 pm on May 8th.
II. EXECUTIVE BRANCH
• SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET BILL SIGNED AND FEDERAL FUNDING WORK GROUP: On April 10, Governor Mike Parson (R) signed the supplemental budget (House Bill 2014) passed by the Missouri General Assembly on April 8. With passage of the $6.2 billion supplemental budget, Governor Parson has established an informal working group to help make recommendations on the best use of anticipated federal funding of more than $5 billion.
“We want to make sure every dollar counts for Missourians,” Governor Parson said.
State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick (R) will lead the group, working cooperatively with key Senate and House budget committee members, the Office of Administration’s Budget and Planning Division, the Governor’s Office, and members of Missouri’s U.S. Congressional Delegation. Serving as an advisory body, the group will study and analyze the federal relief available to Missouri, its citizens, and businesses under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and identify the best practices and procedures to apply that relief.
With this funding, the state hopes to buy more personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care providers, law enforcement, and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. The funding will also help provide alternate medical locations outside of traditional hospitals and staff these locations with health care professionals, according to a news release. In addition, some of the funding will be used to assist local governments with the expenses incurred from battling COVID-19. The state is also hopeful that the funding will help mitigate losses to Missouri’s education institutions.
• EXECUTIVE ORDER 2020-04 (EMERGENCY POWER’S) On March 18, Governor Mike Parson (R) signed Executive Order 20-04 invoking emergency powers to authorize executive agencies to waive or suspend certain regulations and statutes that interfere with Missouri’s response to the spread of COVID-19. “These are tangible and necessary steps we can take to ease any regulatory burdens that interfere with our ability to respond to COVID-19,” Governor Parson said. A complete list of the waivers and suspensions are found here: https://www.sos.mo.gov/suspended
• EXECUTIVE ORDER 2020-08 (ELECTRONIC NOTARY) On 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. The Secretary of State’s Office announced April 10, the following is the current list of approved software providers to conduct electronic notary in Missouri. (The Secretary of State’s Office will update this list of approved software providers as additional approvals are granted.) Current approved providers include:
Specifics regarding the order are posted on the website of Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) at https://www.sos.mo.gov/ElectronicNotary.
• MODOT – “REDUCED TRAFFIC” Missouri Department of Transportation – The coronavirus “stay at home” orders have dramatically reduced traffic allowing for easier access to fix pot holes but is making it harder for the long-term road and bridge repair projects. A sharp drop across the country in fuel taxes, tolls and other user fees have forced states to put projects on hold and hope the federal government provides funding. States are seeking $50 billion over the next year and a half to avoid a construction slowdown. Missouri has already put 18 projects at a price tag of $46 million on hold and could be at risk to put another 299 projects at a value of $785 million on hold if funding is not provided soon.
• DOR (2nd QUARTER INCOME TAX DATE EXTENSION) Missouri Department of Revenue – The department announced on Monday, April 13, the June 15 deadline for estimated tax payments has been moved to July 15. This mirrors the federal guidance issued last week by the Internal Revenue Service.
• DESE (PUBLIC SCHOOLS CLOSED FOR REMAINDER OF YEAR) Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – On April 9, the Governor announced that Missouri schools shall remain closed through the school year. DESE and school superintendents made the recommendation to the Governor. At this time, there has been no formal decision on summer school. The Governor did indicate that the state would do everything it could to ensure some type of graduation process.
• DSS (SNAP BENEFITS) Missouri Department of Social Services – Many Missourians are ordering groceries online for pickup or delivery, even though grocery stores have remained open during the COVID-19 crisis. However, shoppers who have SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits are prohibited from using them for online grocery purchases. Six states have been approved for a US Department of Agriculture pilot program allowing grocery shoppers to pay with SNAP online. Missouri’s Department of Social Services will soon apply to be included in the program. The program would help many at-risk persons and single parents accompanied by children from visiting the grocery store. Grocery employees could be safer, too. In 2017, more than 750,000 Missourians had SNAP benefits each month, a number that is predicted by some to reach or exceed 1 million. Under the program, only eligible food can be bought using SNAP benefits. Delivery fees and other related charges are not covered by SNAP benefits, according to the USDA.
• DOLIR (UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS AND FEDERAL SUPPLEMENTAL PAYMENTS UPDATE) Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations – Division of Employment Security reported a total of 91,049 initial claims for the week ending April 4, 2020, the most recent week for which claims information is available, as compared to the previous week’s initial claims of 104,230 for the week ending March 28. More than 76,800 of the 91,049 initial claims were COVID-19 related, compared to the 89,303 COVID-19 related claims reported for the week ending March 28. The DES will be issuing the $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments as early as this week. The FPUC provides that those eligible for at least one dollar of unemployment compensation benefits during the week will receive an additional $600 per week as a federal supplement, retroactively to the week beginning March 29. The last payable week for the $600 supplement will be the week ending July 25, 2020.