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Busy Ending to January -- News, Notes and Events

Oh, and one week til Iowa
Legislative Session Already Getting Weird

As we all expected, the Republican super-majority in the Missouri General Assembly is using it's power to chip away at the remaining rights of the people including a repeal of "Clean Missouri" (overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2018), changes to the initiative petition process, and a state budget opening proposal that would continue to erode higher education.

What was less expected was a bizarre bill by Representative Ben Baker (R-Neosho) that would aim to ban books from public libraries that were deemed inappropriate for young people.  Willful violation of the proposed law would result in librarians being fined up to $500 or jailed for up to a year in addition to the library losing public funding.  Independent non-profit PEN America, a group working to defend free expression through the advancement of literature and human rights, called it "a shockingly transparent attempt to legalize book banning."  You can read an article by the Washington Post and the full text of the bill here.  Congratulations to Missouri House Republicans for lasting a whole two weeks into the year before making our state a national joke.

Response to State of the State Address
 
During and after unelected Governor Mike Parson’s State of the State address which he gave in the middle of the afternoon to a room of lobbyists and lawmakers rather than for the general public, in which he talked a big game while also contradicting himself, MDP live streamed Minority Leader Crystal Quade’s response on Facebook. Check out the livestreamed speech, infographics rapid response (which took place on Facebook and Twitter), and coverage of our response. Be sure to check out and amplify Auditor Nicole Galloway’s video response too (all via the Missouri Democratic Party).

Presidential Candidate Surrogate Forum TONIGHT

Hosted by Heartland Alliance for Progress

Representatives of these candidates have confirmed or said they will try to have someone participate:
 
Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, Warren, and Yang.
 
The meeting will be at OUR NEW EVENT LOCATION, 106 Southwest Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64108. Whether you've already chosen a favorite and not yet gone to work for them because you don't know how to get involved, you just want more information, or simply want to hang out with people you like and respect, come get involved! The Missouri Presidential Primary is just weeks away, on March 10!
HAP meets the last Monday of the month. We may be moving again in the next few months, so please check the HAP Facebook page @HAPKC, or email, to confirm where we'll be.
 
Chief Justice Calls for Reform to Public Defender System
(via Rep. Jerome Barnes)
 
During the annual State of the Judiciary address on Jan. 22, Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice George Draper III urged lawmakers to improve funding for the State Public Defender System and warned that failure to do so increases the risk of guilty defendants remaining at large and innocent defendants unable to get on with their lives.
 
“Speaking from the perspective of both a former trial judge and a former prosecutor, I can tell you the system simply does not work without a sufficiently funded and staffed Public Defender System,” Draper told a joint session of the Missouri General Assembly.
 
The Public Defender System has been in crisis for a decade or more, with caseloads so large that its ability to provide clients with a constitutionally adequate defense is often in question. Despite some funding increases in recent years, the problem of excessive caseloads persists and turnover among public defenders remains high.
 
The chief justice also asked for additional funding to modernize and improve court automation and on-line records access, as well as better pay for judicial branch support staff. Draper has served on the Supreme Court since October 2011 but just began a two-year term as chief justice, a post that rotates among the court’s members, in July.
 
Medicaid Expansion Update Meeting and Campaign Session
 
Last Fall, the JCDC took a rare action in endorsing the petition initiative to expand Medicaid in light of the inaction of the Missouri General Assembly.  If this is something you are passionate about, leadership behind this campaign will be hosting a session early next month that can bet attended in person in Jefferson City.  Sign up here.

Upcoming Meetings and Important Dates:

  • Heartland Alliance for Progress: January meeting and program featuring surrogates from Presidential campaigns. January 27th, 5:15-7:00pm. New location: 106 Southwest Blvd KCMO.
  • Jackson County Democratic Committee: Quarterly business meeting, February 20, 7pm at the Eastern Jackson County Courthouse (308 W Kansas Ave, Independence).
  • Filing Opens: The first day to file for County Committee seats, Jackson County Sheriff, County Prosecutor, State Representative, State Senate and all Statewide offices (except Auditor) is February 25. County offices must be declared at the county courthouse in Kansas City, state offices in the Secretary of State's offices in Jefferson City.
  • 12th Annual Wiggins Fund Event: March 5, 6:00pm. All details coming soon including guest speakers and location.
  • Candidate Filing Closes: March 31, 5pm
  • Delegate Selection: "Mass meetings" held in your local ward or township. April 6.  Much more information to come on this first step toward selecting national delegates for Presidential candidates.
  • Congressional Convention: April 30. Time and location TBD.
  • MDP Second Quarter Meeting: May 9, Jefferson City
  • Missouri Democrats State Convention: June 20