Missouri Minute: Biden issues disaster declaration after storms; UM System curators reject mask orders

Hello, MBA readers,

The Missouri legislative session just began last week, but legislators are already facing looming deadlines. Gov. Mike Parson’s administration wants lawmakers to approve a $5.3 billion spending bill by Feb. 1 that would provide funds for the state’s Medicaid program, distribute pandemic relief to schools and raise wages for state employees. The governor wants to establish a $15 hourly minimum and a 5.5% pay increase for all state workers to counteract high employee turnover. In higher education, the University of Missouri System curators rejected two mask mandate proposals on Tuesday, meaning the statewide university system will have no mask order in place as students return to campuses amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. The curators questioned whether a mandate would limit virus transmission, and whether it would be more effective than a continued masking recommendation. And, following the tornadoes that devastated parts of Missouri and multiple other states last month, President Joe Biden has officially issued a federal disaster declaration for Missouri. State and local officials estimate that federal assistance could now be available for more than $27 million in infrastructure repairs and response expenses.

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Biden issues Missouri disaster declaration after stormsFollowing deadly tornadoes that hit Missouri and four other states last month, President Joe Biden has officially approved Missouri’s request for a disaster declaration, allowing seven southern counties to receive federal aid. (Associated Press)Fair housing groups OK Jefferson Bank saleThe groups initially opposed Illinois-based First Mid Bank’s acquisition of St. Louis-based Jefferson Bank over concerns that First Mid had failed to serve Black communities. But the banks have agreed to lending programs and financial education for certain low-income communities. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)UM System curators reject temporary mask mandatesUniversity of Missouri System curators voted down two separate proposals for mask orders on the campuses of the statewide university system as COVID-19 case counts spike. (Columbia Missourian)Rezilient Health strikes deal with benefits providerThe St. Louis-based telehealth startup reached an agreement to offer its services through employee benefits broker SimparaHR. (St. Louis Business Journal)Menufy to increase staff after headquarters moveFollowing a move into a larger Kansas City-area office, the restaurant technology startup will add 20-30 employees to its local base of about 150 people. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Say that again

“It got to the point where I looked into possibly seeing if staying home and being a stay-at-home mom was cheaper.”

That’s Morgan Reed, one of many parents in Kansas City who have struggled to find child care since the pandemic began, WDAF reports. Reed had such difficulty finding child care that she briefly considered leaving the workforce. The Kansas City Chamber of Commerce says 40% of child care businesses across the city have closed since COVID-19 first hit, posing problems for working parents. Because the facilities that are open don’t want to be overwhelmed with too many children, parents have to spend months — if not longer — on waiting lists to secure care for their children.

Go figure

$5.3 billion 

That’s the amount of money in a Missouri spending bill that would help fund Medicaid expansion, deliver federal pandemic aid to schools and raise wages for state employees, the Missouri Independent reports. Gov. Mike Parson’s administration is pushing for passage of the bill by Feb. 1 to avoid the state’s Medicaid program running out of funds and to ensure no dip in pay for state employees who have been receiving federal pandemic stipends that run out this month. Lawmakers held a hearing about the spending bill on Monday but said they are not certain about its timeline for advancing.

Hello, my name is


This Chinese electronics manufacturer is partnering with Disruptel, a St. Louis startup developing technology designed to let viewers interact more directly with their televisions, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. With the deal, Disruptel will move from research and development into distribution with one of the largest television manufacturers in the world. TCL ranked No. 3 globally for TV sales in 2020. The Chinese company will integrate Disruptel’s software into its new smart TVs, which it says will enable voice commands, allow viewers to ask questions about what they are watching and facilitate the purchase of products that appear on screen.

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