Weekly Update from the Missouri Catholic Conference                                       January 17, 2020  
Inside this issue
  Governor Parson Delivers State of the State Address  
This week, Governor Mike Parson delivered the annual gubernatorial address to Missouri legislators outlining his priorities for the next fiscal year. You can find the transcript of his address at the bottom of this Columbia Missourian article. He emphasized economic development successes over the last year, including plans by Bunge North America to move its headquarters from New York to St. Louis, and indicating he will continue to focus on workforce development and improving Missouri's aging infrastructure.  

The governor also released his proposed budget for FY 2021 this week. The proposal presumes that the general assembly will pass legislation that would require internet vendors to collect sales tax on sales of products purchased online in Missouri. The governor proposes using the additional funds from the internet sales tax to set up a rainy-day fund for emergencies and to use towards paying off outstanding public debts. The governor's budget proposal will be debated in the House Budget committee and the Senate Appropriations committee over the next few months before the end of session.  

He also raised concerns about a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid that is currently underway, stating that expanding the program will require funds be taken from other government programs, or result in a tax increase. The Missouri bishops have come out in support of the Medicaid expansion initiative, because of the significant number of Missouri citizens who cannot afford health insurance and because of the importance of the program to the healthcare delivery system. The expansion would likely result in as many as 250,000 additional citizens obtaining health care coverage who currently do not have it. More information about the benefits and costs of expanding Medicaid are available on the MCC website.


  Abortion Facility Report Shows Another Drop in Missouri Abortions  
According to a preliminary report from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Missouri's abortion rate dropped significantly in 2019. The Abortion Facility Report, which is required to be provided to the Missouri General Assembly, included data from January 1 through November 15, 2019. According to the report, 1,354 abortions were conducted at Reproductive Health Services in St. Louis, the state's only active abortion clinic, in 2019. This number represents a 54 percent decrease from the 2018 total of 2,910 abortions and would be the lowest number in Missouri since Roe v. Wade was decided. DHSS has indicated that the report will be updated with data for the full 2019 calendar year on April 15, 2020.

A copy of the 2019 Abortion Facility Report can be found here.


  Missouri Supreme Court Blocks Key Part of Voter Photo ID Law  
On Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court permanently blocked a central portion of a voter identification law that it said had required a "misleading" and "contradictory" sworn statement from people lacking a photo ID. The 5-2 ruling upholds a decision by a lower court judge, who had blocked the affidavit requirement from being used in the 2018 general election. It has remained on hold since then.

Missouri's law allowed voters who lack a valid government-issued photo identification to cast a regular ballot if they presented another form of ID, such as a bank statement, and signed a sworn statement affirming their identity. The sworn statement also included a section acknowledging that they didn't have an approved ID for voting. The law further stated that voters who lack a photo ID could cast a provisional ballot, which would count later if they returned with a photo ID or their signatures matched the ones on file with election authorities.

The Supreme Court said the sworn statement was inaccurate because it required people to state that they didn't possess a valid form of ID for voting, while simultaneously requiring them to show a non-photo ID that would allow them to vote. The voter identification law was passed by the General Assembly in 2016. The state law was accompanied by a constitutional amendment that authorized the implementation of a photo ID law.


  USCCB Calls for Building the "Beloved Community," Inspired by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  
As we celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, the United States Catholic Conference (USCCB) calls for the building of the "beloved community" inspired by Rev. King. In the statement, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says:

"As our nation prepares to commemorate the life and witness of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are grateful for his courageous stand in solidarity with all who suffer injustice and his witness of love and nonviolence in the struggle for social change. But we are once again painfully aware that we are still far off from his dream for America, the 'beloved community' for which he gave his life."

To read the full statement, visit the USCCB website. The Missouri Catholic Conference office will be closed on Monday, January 20, in observance of the holiday.



  Upcoming: March(es) for Life & Pro-life Novena  
Next week, thousands of pro-life supporters will be marching for the unborn in the 2020 March for Life in Washington D.C. And around the nation, thousands more will join in on the "9 Days for Life" novena, an opportunity for recollection and reparation in observation of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. If you're not attending the March for Life, and even for those who are, please consider participating in this pro-life novena. Visit the 9 Days for Life website to sign up to receive a text or email with each day's suggested prayers and actions. 

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the Midwest March for Life, happening here in Jefferson City on Saturday, February 1st. The event promises an exciting lineup of speakers, including Mr. David Bereit and our own Governor Mike Parson. Visit the Midwest March for Life website for details!


  Missouri Bishop Gifts Pope Francis Chiefs Jersey  
Missouri's beloved Kansas City Chiefs -- and the team's star, Patrick Mahomes -- have had one great season this year. (And it's not over.)

Bishop Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph spread that KC love to Rome this week when he presented Pope Francis with his very own signed Mahomes jersey. We're told that the Pope is more of a futbol fan, but he still looked pleased with the gift. And if the pope has smiled upon Mahomes, that must mean good things for this weekend's game. Go Chiefs!