Missouri Minute: Parson announces legislative special session; Walmart issues mask mandate

Good morning, MBA readers,

Gov. Mike Parson has called a July 27 special session for Missouri lawmakers to address violent crime in the state. Pointing to homicide rates in Kansas City and St. Louis that are up more than 30% over last year, Parson is looking to bolster support for police at a time when other states and cities are seeking to place limits on law enforcement in the wake of national protests. In a bit of welcome news for international students in Missouri and across the U.S., the Trump administration has rescinded an order that would have forced the students to return home if they did not take in-person classes this fall. Trump’s original order prompted lawsuits and widespread pushback from universities. Plus, as more local governments adopt mask orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the world’s largest retailer is following suit. Walmart will become the largest company to require masks be worn in all of its stores, adopting a tactic that a new federal report cites as helping prevent a COVID-19 outbreak at a Springfield hair salon.


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Parson announces legislative special session
Gov. Mike Parson will convene the Missouri General Assembly later this month to address violent crime in the state, especially in urban areas like Kansas City and St. Louis. This comes after the announcement that 200 federal agents will be sent to Kansas City to assist in reducing violent crime. (St. Louis Post-DispatchKansas City Star)

Walmart issues mask mandate
The world’s largest retailer is now the biggest company to mandate that customers wear masks while in stores, beginning on Monday. Kroger and Kohls have followed suit with similar mandates also starting next week. (Reuters)

International students welcome reversal of visa changes
Students at the University of Missouri and elsewhere celebrated news that the Trump administration rescinded a rule that would have required international students to return home if they were enrolled only in online classes this fall. The administration faced multiple lawsuits and opposition from universities nationwide. (Columbia Missourian)

St. Louis company makes another acquisition
Core & Main, which distributes water, sewer and fire protection products, has acquired its 11th company in three years. The $3.4 billion company acquired New Jersey-based Water Works Supply Co. (St. Louis Business Journal)

FTC approves acquisition of animal health company
Elanco Animal Health’s $7.6 billion purchase of Bayer Animal Health received approval from the Federal Trade Commission. The two companies employ roughly 650 people in the Kansas City area. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis residents could receive funds for rent, mortgages
Residents of the city can apply for a new $5.4 million federal program aimed to aid those struggling to make rent or mortgage payments due to the coronavirus. The program is funded by federal aid granted to the city for coronavirus relief. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Clay County adopts mask order
The final county in the Kansas City area without a mask order has announced that it will require masks inside all public places beginning on Sunday. (Kansas City Star)

State layoffs affect child social work managers
Of roughly 500 state jobs to be cut, 200 will come within the Missouri Department of Social Services, affecting 96 positions in the Children’s Division. Some experts expect more reports of child abuse once schools resume in-person classes, bringing a large caseload to a decreased number of staff members. (Kansas City Star)

CDC cites Springfield Great Clips as evidence of mask effectiveness
A new report from federal health officials cites an incident at a Springfield Great Clips as a case study for masks preventing the spread of COVID-19. Two hairstylists who wore masks before they found out they had the coronavirus served 139 customers who also wore masks, and none of the customers contracted the virus. (Springfield Business Journal)

Some St. Louis restaurants add automatic gratuity
Select businesses have begun adding an automatic 20% tip to all checks and have increased wages for employees to entice them to come back to work. Some employees were making more money from unemployment benefits than they previously made going to work. (KSDK)

Hallmark debtor files for bankruptcy
The Paper Store, a Massachusetts-based retailer, is a vendor for Kansas City-based Hallmark Cards. Bankruptcy filings show that Hallmark is its largest unsecured creditor at about $1.3 million. (Kansas City Business Journal)

KC PrideFest canceled for 2020
The festival had originally been postponed until October, but the Kansas City Diversity Coalition canceled the event. The group cited concerns about the coronavirus and internal conflict within the coalition as reasons for cancellation. (Kansas City Star)

Billboards over African American cemetery in St. Louis suburb to be removed
DDI Media, a St. Louis-based company that owns several signs overlooking a Berkeley cemetery, has reached a settlement in a lawsuit and will remove the signs. The signs were deemed disrespectful to those who were buried there. (Associated Press)


Say that again

“These women are protecting and providing for us in times of need, but yet they’re being paid unfairly. So for the same work, you know, women putting their lives on the line, we really need to be treating everyone fairly.”

That’s Wendy Doyle, CEO of the Women’s Foundation, speaking about how the coronavirus pandemic is exposing inequality in the health care industry. In Missouri, the average salary for male registered nurses is about $62,000, while the average salary for female registered nurses is about $48,000 — a 23% difference, according to data compiled by mySidewalk. And the disparity doesn’t just exist for nurses. Female physicians, paramedics and lab technicians all made less than their male counterparts. Doyle said that with the onset of the pandemic, these women are being asked to risk their own health while not being fairly compensated.


Go figure

25,000

That’s the number of workers American Airlines plans to furlough this fall, continuing a trend within airline industry, the Wall Street Journal reports. United Airlines said it would furlough nearly half its U.S. staff, and Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said passenger traffic would need to triple in order for the company to avoid its own rounds of layoffs. Delta has been urging employees to accept severance and early retirement packages, CNBC reports.


Hello, my name is

Utility Associates

This Georgia-based company has been selected to provide body cameras for police officers in St. Louis, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The city purchased enough body cameras in a five-year, $5.78 million deal for 800 officers. The 600-person patrol division will be the first to wear cameras. The move comes as protests over police use of force continue across the nation, raising questions about police accountability. Details about how long footage will be held and when officers will be required to record interactions are still being decided. About 200 police cars will also be equipped with dashboard cameras as part of the deal.


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


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