Letters to the Editor, April 9, 2014

Disappointment over Senate vote 

The National Council of Jewish Women – St. Louis Section wants to express our profound disappointment in the Missouri Senate’s action taken last week on Senate Bill 712. This bill would have provided protections in the workplace allowing victims of domestic violence (DV) to take time off without pay for necessary court appearances in order to ensure their (and their families’) safety. An amendment proposed by Sen. Gary Romine would have removed the enforcement provision for employers for non-compliance, and the Senate vote (22-10) basically enshrined employer protections over providing protections for these DV victims.

At the Senate committee hearing on this bill, moving testimony was heard from victims and DV agencies, who spoke passionately about the need for these workplace protections. And yet, 22 Republican senators chose to vote to remove the employer penalties section of the bill. We applaud the actions of Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, and all nine Democratic senators in standing with DV victims. Sen. Gina Walsh, sponsor of SB712, withdrew the bill from further consideration after the amendment was passed as this amendment made the legislation completely ineffective. 

We at NCJW have worked over the past several years on this legislation, the Victims’ Employment Safety and Security Act (VESSA). We are deeply disappointed that 22 Missouri Senators could not support this bill to provide workplace protections for DV victims. We expected better from these elected representatives.

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Darien Arnstein; President-Elect, NCJW – St. Louis Section

Medicaid expansion deserves consideration

In a March 25 editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,  my state senator, John Lamping, was quoted as saying about Medicaid expansion, “This is done. It’s not happening. Go find something else to do.” Not only is this condescending, but it highlights his dismissive attitude toward many of his constituents and the democratic process itself. 

Recently, I was in Jefferson City with a coalition of Missouri citizens who support Medicaid expansion. We met with members of the house and senate, from both parties who, while they may not have agreed with everything in the current bills, at least were willing to listen to us and entertain the notion of moving this legislation forward. When we met with Lamping to express our disappointment with his recent statements, he claims to have been misquoted and then tried to blame his entire party. I understand that he will never vote yes on Medicaid expansion. What I fail to understand is why he wishes to completely disregard the democratic process itself. 

I am sorry that Lamping feels that advocating on behalf of vulnerable Missouri citizens is a waste of time. 

I urge Sen. Lamping’s other constituents to contact his office and let him know that Medicaid expansion is right for Missouri. 

Jennifer Bernstein, Creve Coeur