Missouri Minute: State Supreme Court hears ballot case; first marijuana growing facility opens

Good morning, MBA readers,

In a decision that delivers new civil rights to an estimated 8 million workers across more than 25 states, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that LGBT workers are protected from discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. In Missouri, this will change how courts deal with discrimination suits, as past cases alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity have been dismissed. State lawmakers have never passed legislation preventing workplace discrimination over sexual orientation or gender identity, though anti-discrimination bills have been proposed each year for more than two decades. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt signed an amicus brief arguing that the Supreme Court should rule against the employees who brought the case, instead letting state legislatures decide nondiscrimination laws, but the high court ultimately sided in favor of the workers. Missouri State Rep. Greg Razer, one of the state’s few openly gay lawmakers, called it “a historic day in the march towards LGBTQ equality.”

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Civil rights groups take mail-in ballot case to Missouri Supreme Court
The Missouri Supreme Court heard a case Monday regarding authorization for all Missourians to vote absentee without a notarized ballot due to the coronavirus. A recent law extends that right to those with existing high-risk conditions or voters 65 and older. (Associated Press)

Missourians receiving unemployment benefits required to resume job hunt
The Missouri Department of Labor will reinstate requirements for unemployment recipients to document their search for new employment. These rules were waived in March with the onset of the pandemic. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Amid lifting of state restrictions, some metro areas retain COVID-19 measures
With statewide coronavirus restrictions being lifted Tuesday, parts of the state including Columbia, Kansas City and St. Louis will remain under some health and occupancy restrictions. In Boone County, those include social distancing guidelines and stipulations that businesses operate at half of their occupancy levels. (Columbia MissourianKMIZ)

Hospital association contributes $1.3 million to Medicaid expansion campaign
The Missouri Hospital Association has donated a total of $1.3 million to Missourians for Healthcare, a committee supporting the expansion. The hospital association believes expansion will bring in new funds to balance losses experienced from funding programs required by the Affordable Care Act. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Galloway speaks on Medicaid expansion
State Auditor Nicole Galloway, Missouri’s leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate, advocated for Medicaid expansion during the Missouri Democratic Party’s convention over the weekend. (Missourinet)

Summer camps set to resume
Camps for kids are back on in St. Louis, with new safety measures and some concerns. Campers will undergo daily temperature screenings, and masks will be required for all over the age of 9. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

South St. Louis hospital employees wary of new owners
As a hedge fund bids to purchase St. Alexius Hospital, employees are concerned about how the hospital would change with for-profit ownership. The 190-bed facility focuses on providing services to low-income patients. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Silver Dollar City sees strong turnout upon reopening
The Branson attraction reopened to guests with season passes on Saturday, with a reopening to the general public on Monday. Guests are required to make advance reservations and wear masks in the park, as well as undergo temperature checks upon arriving. (Springfield News-Leader)

Shake Shack opens second St. Louis location
A new location of the national burger chain has opened in Ladue. Shake Shack was founded by St. Louis native Danny Meyer. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Fireworks vendors expect coronavirus to change sales trends
With the anticipation that many large events will be canceled, fireworks vendors in southeast Missouri have seen an early increase in sales from customers looking to have their own private shows at home. (Southeast Missourian)

Springfield City Council exploring options for use of relief funds
The city has $913,000 in remaining COVID-19 relief funds. Suggested uses include economic development and offering services to the homeless. (Springfield News-Leader)

Big Lots forms partnership with Instacart
The nationwide retail store will begin using Instacart delivery services in all of its locations, including 23 stores in Missouri. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Say that again

“Let’s not wait another 22 years for the Court to say the same about housing and public accommodations. Now is the time for Missouri legislators to come together and pass MONA — ending this conversation for all time.

That’s State Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, commenting on the U.S. Supreme Court decision to officially extend workplace protections to LGBT workers under the Civil Rights Act, The Kansas City Star reports. Razer is one of the only openly gay lawmakers in Missouri, and he brought attention to the fact that MONA, or the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, has been filed annually in the state legislature for 22 years and has failed to pass each time. The new Supreme Court decision will now fundamentally change how Missouri courts handle discrimination lawsuits by gay and transgender workers, as state courts largely ruled that these workers were not protected under existing anti-discrimination law.

Go figure


That’s the approximate number of workers two St. Louis County casinos will lay off next month, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights and River City Casino in Lemay, which are both owned by Penn National Gaming, made the announcement as they prepared to open Tuesday, after remaining closed for three months due to the coronavirus. They are opening over two weeks after nearby competitors in St. Charles County and the city of St. Louis, as St. Louis County kept restrictions in place longer than other areas in Missouri, but they are not the only casinos to announce layoffs. Ameristar St. Charles announced that it will lay off anywhere from 25% to 60% of its staff next month.

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Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Hospital thanked annual fundraiser Big Slick for its efforts to raise money for the hospital this year. The charitable event normally takes place over the course of several days in Kansas City, featuring events attended by celebrities, but everything was done virtually this year due to the coronavirus. The virtual fundraisers still drew some big names, including regular co-hosts David Koechner, Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet and Jason Sudeikis, and they raised $2 million for the hospital, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. The amount doesn’t beat last year’s total, but it does still rank among some of the most successful fundraising efforts since Big Slick began 10 years ago, highlighting the fact that virtual events can still be valuable while people stay home due to health concerns.

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BeLeaf Medical

This Earth City-based medical marijuana company on Thursday became the first in Missouri to open a commercial growing facility, the Springfield News-Leader reports. BeLeaf Medical, which was founded four years ago, was previously approved for CBD cultivation. Now, with 10 state medical marijuana licenses — including three for cultivation, two for infused products and five for dispensaries — BeLeaf will try to expand further into the cannabis market. Kevin Riggs, the company’s president, said he hopes to have marijuana in dispensaries by the end of the third quarter or start of the fourth quarter of this year.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.


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