Missouri Minute: Cities relax mask rules after new CDC guidance; legislators hit home stretch

Hello, MBA readers,

Gov. Mike Parson has withdrawn documents that would expand Medicaid eligibility to an estimated 275,000 Missourians. The move goes against a constitutional amendment approved by voters last year, and it follows Missouri lawmakers’ refusal to provide funding for Medicaid expansion in the fiscal year that starts July 1. The issue now looks to be headed for a court battle. In more long-awaited news, federal health officials have released new guidelines regarding COVID-19 precautions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated adults will no longer be required to wear masks or socially distance outdoors or in most indoor situations. Cities across Missouri moved to update their local policies in response. And, as the Missouri Legislature enters the final hours of its annual session Friday, key proposals remain up in the air. Among the prominent issues that remain unresolved are a bill that would allow the collection of tax on online sales by out-of-state vendors and a measure shielding businesses from liability related to COVID-19.


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Cities move to relax mask rules as CDC changes guidance
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said adults who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can resume all outdoor activities and most indoor activities without masks or social distancing. Kansas City planned to rescind pandemic restrictions midday Friday, while the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County had an announcement planned for Friday. (Associated Press)

Key issues unresolved as legislative session ends Friday
With just hours remaining in the Missouri Legislature’s annual session, major items still awaiting decisions include a bill that would authorize online sales tax for out-of-state vendors and a measure to waive the forced repayment of excessive unemployment benefits. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Amdocs acquires Canadian technology consultancy
The Chesterfield-based software and technology service provider has purchased Sourced Group for $75 million. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Kansas City-area colleges to receive pandemic funding
They will receive $176 million from the American Rescue Plan, with at least half of the funding going directly to students in the form of grants. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Medical marijuana ownership disclosure faces veto threat
A proposal to require disclosure of more ownership information by medical marijuana businesses is being threatened by a possible veto from Gov. Mike Parson. (Missouri Independent)

St. Louis County Library to open new branch
The library will debut a $6.5 million branch in Eureka on June 2, the first full-service branch in the suburb. (St. Louis Business Journal)


Say that again

“We’re here, there’s going to be more Asian community, more Asian population growth, and we can have a positive impact on America as a whole.”

That’s Chris Benson, a Kansas City advertising executive and member of the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Kansas City. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, due partly to political rhetoric connecting those communities with the coronavirus. That rhetoric also has negatively impacted Asian-owned businesses: The most common place for instances of anti-Asian discrimination has been places of businesses, according to a group that tracks those incidents. However, Benson and others say they have noticed increased awareness and support of Asian Americans in response to occurrences of hate and violence.


Go figure

4%

Only 4% of employers who responded to a recent survey believe their workers want to return on a full-time basis, but 28% plan a full return to the office. Littler, a global labor and employment law firm with offices in Kansas City and St. Louis, published the report based on a survey of nearly 1,200 attorneys, executives and human resources professionals. It showed that only 55% of responding companies said they would provide a hybrid workplace environment for employees despite 71% saying they believe their employees would prefer a hybrid model. Those numbers represent a disconnect between employees and employers over what workplaces will look like in the future, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. Experts say that how companies approach the return to work will have a significant impact on morale and productivity in workplaces.


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The Missouri Foundation for Health was among the health care advocacy groups to respond Thursday when Gov. Mike Parson said he will not push ahead with Medicaid expansion, which Missouri voters approved last year. Parson has said before that he does not support the amendment to Missouri’s constitution mandating expanded access to the health care program, but the governor vowed he would uphold the will of the people. The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature, however, did not fund the program in the state budget, although supporters of the amendment have said Parson could have found money elsewhere to fund it. The expansion would have made approximately 275,000 additional Missouri residents eligible for Medicaid coverage. With Parson’s decision, a court battle over the issue is expected.


Hello, my name is

Monique Levy

Levy has been named the new CEO of the Saint Louis Fashion Fund, a nonprofit that promotes businesses and growth within the St. Louis fashion industry. Levy previously served as director of development and operations for Gateway to Hope, a women’s health care nonprofit, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. The Saint Louis Fashion Fund had been looking for a permanent chief executive since 2019, when Kathleen Bibbins stepped down. Levy will be asked to keep pace with the Fashion Fund’s goal of nearly doubling the size of the fashion industry in St. Louis, to $6 billion in 2030 from an estimated $3.3 billion currently.


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