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Legislative Science Notes

Several state general assemblies in the Midwest, including Missouri’s, meet from January to May each spring, with bills pre-filed starting in December. While the legislators are actively filing, debating, and voting on legislation, MOST Policy Initiative will be drafting short ‘science notes’ to describe the science behind policy issues.

What is a science note?

Science notes are short (1-3 page) memos that describe scientific principles related to policies or legislation. Each science note features non-biased scientific data and summaries of studies that have been conducted that may relate to proposed legislation.

Legislators and legislative staff are the primary intended audience for the science notes, but they will be made publicly available on the MOST website.

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Absentee Voting

Some states, including Missouri, require voters to provide a valid excuse in order to receive an absentee ballot in the mail as an alternative to in-person voting. Other states allow voters to request a ballot without any excuse, or automatically mail all voters a ballot.

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Accommodations for Breastfeeding Mothers in Missouri Schools

The decision to initiate and continue breastfeeding often depends on several factors, including:

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Adult Basic Education - Workforce Diplomas

Approximately 9.3% of Missourians over the age of twenty-five do not have a high school diploma or equivalency.

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Advanced Practice Registered Nursing Scope of Practice

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are nurses with advanced degrees who practice as certified nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, certified registered nurse anesthetists, or certified clinical nurse specialists.

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Alternative High School Graduation Pathways

Colleges, employers, and communities expect that students who earn high school diplomas will be prepared for success after graduation, whether in higher education, the workforce or civic life.

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Anhydrous Ammonia

Anhydrous ammonia is a chemical commonly used as nitrogen fertilizer, that when handled improperly, can be dangerous.

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Ballot Signature Verification & Curing

States vary widely in their requirements and protocols for verifying that ballot signatures match signatures in a voter’s registration file. Some states require that voters be notified when their ballot fails the signature verification process so that they may remedy (or “cure”) their ballot.

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Barriers to Rural Gas Station Development

There are many barriers that may prevent the establishment of gas stations, including regulations and costs associated with implementing new equipment, particularly in rural areas with low traffic volume and population density.

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Biospecimen Confidentiality

Research involving human participants can include the collection of biospecimens, such as blood or tissue, that can be analyzed for diagnostic purposes or evaluation of clinical treatments.

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Broadband and Telemedicine

Telemedicine is any kind of electronic exchange of medical information, including patient portals to access health records, phone and video visits, or remote monitoring of patients.

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Broadband Availability Mapping

Maps displaying broadband availability, adoption, and speed are useful to policymakers, broadband providers, and grantmaking organizations because they help identify areas of need, inform priorities, and direct broadband deployment funds. However, current broadband availability data collection methodologies possess several drawbacks that result in inaccurate and out of date maps.

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Broadband Deployment

Broadband, typically referring to high speed internet, is linked to many economic benefits, including attracting business, increasing incomes, and expanding opportunities for education and telemedicine.

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Career and Technical Education in Missouri

Career and technical education (CTE) programs during high school can provide students with academic knowledge (e.g., career-oriented courses, dual enrollment), technical skills & certifications (e.g., industry-recognized credentials), as well as real-world work experience (e.g., career academies, internships, youth apprenticeships).

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Charter School Accountability

Accountability in public education describes how states and communities ensure that schools are effectively using public dollars to meet their students’ needs.

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Charter School Expansion

The number of public charter schools in Missouri has almost doubled since 2008.

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Childcare Facilities and License Exemptions

Childcare facilities are a necessity; such facilities provide a safe and healthy environment for children of working parents, in addition to having an important role in child development; however, different types of facilities statewide are subject to varying levels of rules and regulations.

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College Credit Based on AP Scores

The Advanced Placement (AP) Program allows high school students to take college-level courses with the potential to earn college credit based on their performance on a standardized AP exam. Missouri currently allows institutions to determine their own policies regarding credit and placement for students with AP scores. During the 2021 legislative session, HB 1208 was proposed to require in-state public institutions of higher education to grant undergraduate course credit for scores of 3 or higher.

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Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) as an intensive animal feeding operation (AFO) in which over 1000 animal units are confined for over 45 days a year.

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Consensus Revenue Estimates: Missouri Process and Common Practices

Like the majority of states, Missouri uses a consensus approach for estimating the state’s revenues in the upcoming fiscal year. This approach involves the governor and both chambers of the legislature agreeing to a common estimate of the state’s revenue.

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Contraceptive Accessibility

Several types of drugs and devices, available both over-the-counter (OTC) and by prescription, exist to prevent implantation and fertilization of an egg, and reduce the chance for unwanted pregnancies.

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COVID-19 Delta Variant and Vaccine Efficacy

The recent emergence and surge of the Delta variant has increased the number of infections nationwide, including in Missouri.

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COVID-19, Mental Health & Substance Abuse

SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness, has infected at least 325,000 Missourians and led to over 4,500 deaths in the state as of December 2020.

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Cursive Writing

The ability to produce (write) or interpret (read) written text is central to human communication.

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Dairy and Non-dairy Milk

Although dairy milk production has risen over the last several years, dairy milk retail sales are dropping as Americans increasingly consume alternatives to traditional dairy products, such as dairy-free cheese and yogurt, and dairy alternative beverages. Missouri has special requirements for meat product alternatives that do not come from livestock or poultry. However, it does not have legislation pertaining to the use of milk terminology on non-dairy products.

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Decriminalization of Minor Traffic Violations

Traffic violations can range from minor infractions (e.g., speeding, illegal parking) to serious crimes (e.g., DWI, hit and run) and may result in arrest and subsequent jail time. Fines from traffic violations generate general operating revenue for local governments and municipalities.  Traffic violations can lead to a cycle of debt and incarceration for motorists of low socio-economic status. Currently, 22 states and Washington, D.C., have reduced minor traffic violations from criminal offenses to non-criminal offenses or civil infractions to decrease the associated costs related to court appearances, jail operation, and probation supervision.

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Definitions of Race and Ethnicity in the United States

Race and ethnicity are distinct social constructs that are typically based on physical (race, skin color) features and cultural (ethnicity) characteristics, including national origin and ancestry.

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Differential College Tuition Based on Degree Program

The cost of college instruction (tuition) and fees at public postsecondary institutions varies based on state, school and student characteristics.

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Discussing Race and Racism in Public K-12 Schools

During the 2021 legislative session, several Missouri bills (HB 952, SB 586, HA1 to HA3 to HB 1141) were introduced with the intention of prohibiting schools from teaching “curriculum implementing critical race theory” and/or teaching “divisive concepts.”

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Education Opportunity Gaps

An individual’s access to early education, school resources, advanced classes, and experienced teachers may affect educational achievements such as test scores, graduation rates, and future income levels.

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Eminent Domain for Utility Purposes

HB 2033 (2020) restricts eminent domain for transmission line projects by allowing only rural electric cooperatives and some other electric corporations to use eminent domain for above-ground power line projects.

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End-of-Life Care Homes

Hospice care is an interdisciplinary end-of-life healthcare approach that focuses on quality of life when a patient is terminally ill and a cure is no longer possible.

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Energy Assistance in Missouri

Energy assistance for households unable to afford utility bills or at-risk of having utilities shut off primarily comes from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides aid for bills, and the Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program (LIWAP), which helps make households more energy efficient. Missourians may also find relief from state, local and private funders that provide additional assistance.

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Establishing a Minimum Biodiesel Fuel in Missouri

HB529 creates the Missouri-Made Fuels Act, where all diesel fuel sold or offered for sale in the state shall contain at least 5% biodiesel fuel oil by volume (for April 1, 2023, until March 31, 2024), leading to 10% (for April 1, 2024, until March 31, 2026), and 20% (after April 1, 2026).

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FAFSA Application Completion

Higher education costs (e.g., tuition & fees, housing) can create barriers to college enrollment and graduation, especially among low-income and first-generation college students.

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Farmers' Market Nutrition Program

The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) provides fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to participants of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and aims to expand the awareness, use of, and sales of farmers’ markets.

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Federal & State Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs allow students with financial need to receive federal or state financial aid for participating in approved work experiences.

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Feminine Hygiene Products and Prisons

The Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) offers free, yet nonabsorbent, sanitary napkins to incarcerated menstruating individuals, while adequate alternatives must be purchased.

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Film and Digital Media Tax Credits

When states have incentives for film and television production, there is a possibility to boost the economy by job creation and generating revenue. However, long-term economic outcomes of investing in film production remain unclear and therefore, may pose unforeseen risks with taxpayer dollars.

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Firearms and Police Safety

Firearms-related injuries and deaths pose a serious risk for law enforcement officers (LEOs) in the line of duty.

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Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Lands

Missouri law restricts aliens and foreign businesses from acquiring by grant, purchase, devise or descent, agricultural land in the state and law caps are in place for foreign ownership of agricultural land at 1% of the state’s total agricultural acreage. HB1136 specifies that no alien or foreign business can acquire agricultural land in the state of Missouri. Missouri is joining the other 33 states that have placed or are introducing laws that place constraints or prohibit foreign individuals or businesses to acquire or hold agricultural land.

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GPA Requirements for A+ Scholarships

The Missouri A+ Schools Program includes both school improvement (A+ school designations) and college access (A+ scholarships) components (RSMo 160.545). One requirement for A+ scholarship eligibility is graduating from an A+ high school with at least a 2.5 grade point average. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected student mental health, learning and college enrollment behaviors. House Bills 1067 & 1141 would change the GPA eligibility requirements for the A+ Scholarship program so that students can use their highest available GPA from 2019-20 or 2020-21 to meet the 2.5 eligibility standard.

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Greenhouse gas emissions of livestock feeding practices

Different livestock feeding practices generate varying levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, specifically carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. There are limitations and benefits associated with each feeding practice. Cows and other ruminants account for about four percent of all GHG emissions produced in the United States, and proper animal grazing management systems can help mitigate these emissions.

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HIV Pre- and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis Dispensation

In Missouri, over 12,000 people live with HIV, and over 500 new HIV infections are diagnosed each year.

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Homelessness in Missouri

Homelessness is a multifaceted issue that affects over a half-million Americans on a single night in the US and is associated with adverse social, health, and economic outcomes.

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Homestead Tax Relief

Homestead tax relief reduces the financial burden associated with the property taxes paid on one’s place of residence, but does not cover commercial, investment, vacation or vacant properties.

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Infant Mortality

Infant mortality is a nationwide public health issue and a key indicator of population health and quality of health care.

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Inspection of Farm Grounds and Facilities in Missouri

House Bill 574 would limit who can conduct on-farm inspections of animal agricultural operations within the state to only those who are authorized by the federal or Missouri law to keep the commercial supply of these products safe.

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Interdistrict Open Enrollment

Interdistrict choice allows students to attend a public school outside of their resident district.

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Internet Speed

Internet speed is the measure of how fast data is transferred.

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Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

In order to practice medicine in Missouri, physicians must apply for and be granted a license by the Missouri Board of Registration for the Healing Arts.

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Juvenile Sentencing and Public Safety

Under SB 1, a child between the ages of 12 and 18 years may be tried in a court of general jurisdiction and prosecuted under general law for the offenses of unlawful use of weapons and armed criminal action, among other provisions.

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K-12 Governance Structures

States and districts who have restructured K-12 education to increase local control of budget decisions have not reported significant improvements to student performance.

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Kratom Consumer Protection Act

Kratom is a plant in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia, where its leaves have been traditionally ingested for their mild stimulant and pain-relieving properties.

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Landscape of Obesity in Missouri

Obesity is the result of causal, behavioral factors such as physical inactivity and poor dietary habits.

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Male Homelessness

Homelessness is defined as when an individual lacks a fixed nighttime residency. While any individual can experience homelessness, it is commonly reported that the homeless population mostly consists of single males.

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Maternal Mortality and Health Disparities

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines maternal mortality as a pregnancy-related death of a woman while pregnant or within one-year postpartum for any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy.

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Medical Residency

Medical residency consists of 3-7 years of training in a healthcare setting after completion of medical school, and is a prerequisite for full licensure as a physician.

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Mental Health Parity

Historically, health insurance plans have classified mental or behavioral health benefits, such as substance abuse counseling or access to antidepressant medication, separately from other medical or surgical benefits, such as routine physician visits or access to antibiotics.

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Middle School Career Readiness Training

There is significant variation between middle school career readiness training (including elective or online programs) and standards between states in the US.

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Missouri Electricity Bill Reduction Assistance Act

The Missouri Electricity Bill Reduction Assistance Act (HB734 and similar to SB202) enables a financial process known as securitization.

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Missouri School Counselors

School counselors support the academic, career and social/emotional development of students in elementary and secondary schools.

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Missouri Tax Overview

Outside of federal dollars, state and local budgets are primarily funded by taxes on what a household or business earns (e.g., income tax), buys (e.g., sales tax) and owns (e.g., property tax).

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Mobile Payment Systems and Campaign Finance

Mobile payment systems allow financial transactions using mobile devices.

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Motor Vehicle Safety Inspections and Title Transfer Requirements

According to Fatality Analysis Reporting System data, in 2019 about 2.1% of fatal crashes in the U.S. happened as a result of an identifiable pre-existing motor vehicle defect.

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Needle Exchange Programs

From 2001 to 2015, the number of opioid-related hospitalizations and emergency room visits in Missouri more than doubled, indicating that the use of injection drugs such as heroin and fentanyl has risen drastically.

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Nuclear Energy

The Missouri Nuclear Clean Power Act (HB 1784 in the 2020 regular session) allows electrical corporations to charge ratepayers for the cost of building clean baseload generating facilities (specifically new nuclear-fueled facilities) or renewable source generating facilities (including wind, hydropower, solar power, landfill methane, biomass, or any other renewable source of power that does not produce significant carbon emissions).

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Online Education

Online education, from K-12 to higher education settings, includes many forms of teaching that can supplement or substitute in-person classes.

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Opioid and Heroin Awareness Month

Opioids (e.g., heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, etc.) are drugs that activate opioid receptors in the brain and body.

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Performance-based Funding for Higher Education

Performance-based funding may disproportionately benefit larger, high-resource institutions.

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Pertaining to Feral Swine

According to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the U.S. feral swine population of 6 million causes billions of dollars in property and agricultural damage, damages to natural resources and more every year.

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Pesticide Use Training and Certification

Pesticides are substances primarily used in agriculture to control pests, including insects, weeds, fungus, bacteria, and more.

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Police Accountability Measures

Senate Bill 60 aims to enhance law enforcement accountability through a variety of measures including restricting use of force, requiring public reports on deadly use of force, eliminating no knock warrants, requiring de-escalation training, changing officer certification requirements, restricting acquisition of certain military surplus equipment.

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Postsecondary Tuition Rates for Undocumented Students

Missouri currently prohibits postsecondary institutions from offering in-state tuition rates to undocumented students who graduate from Missouri high schools.

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Prescribed Burning Act

Prescribed burns are the intentional and strategic application of fires on landscape (e.g., prairies, forests, agricultural lands).

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Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are electronic databases that track prescriptions of controlled substances.

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Prescription Drug Step Therapy

Step therapy, which requires those seeking prescription medication to try less expensive drugs before more expensive options are approved, is sometimes imposed by health insurers as a cost control strategy.

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Prison Nursery Programs

Prison nursery programs (PNPs) provide incarcerated mothers with educational training in child development and parenting skills, while also giving them an opportunity to bond with their newborns. Eight states currently have PNPs; their policies and practices vary from state to state. The Missouri Department of Corrections currently has procedures for incarcerated pregnant women, including prenatal care, counseling, delivery, and follow-up care. Missouri currently does not offer a PNP for incarcerated pregnant women. 

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Property Tax Exemptions for Disabled and Retired Veterans (Version 2)

Residential property tax exemptions are commonly used to reduce the tax burden for specific populations, often based on age, disability, income and/or military service.

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Public Safety Funding

Police officers are primarily responsible for public safety, including crime prevention and investigation. However, in recent years, police officers have taken on many additional duties that may be outside of their traditional scope of practice and require additional training. Recently, various cities and municipalities have restructured their public safety budgets to include increases for  mental health and community-based services.

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Public School Teacher Retirement Plans

Most public school teachers in the United States are enrolled in state or local pension plans. Missouri law (RSMo Section 169) requires all public school teachers to be enrolled in one of three pension plans, depending on where they teach.

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Racial Discrimination Based on Hair Texture/Style

School and workplace policies that regulate hair textures and styles disproportionately affect Black children and adults, and may lead to negative educational, economic and health outcomes.

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Raw Milk Products

Raw milk is the direct product collected from animals that has not been pasteurized.

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Recovery High Schools

Recovery high schools are diploma-granting secondary schools that exclusively serve students recovering from substance abuse and dependency.

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Recreational Vehicles & Safety Regulations

A potential increase of recreational vehicle (RV) use during the pandemic has raised some safety concerns over how drivers should be prepared.

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Restraint & Seclusion in Schools

There is no federal or Missouri law explicitly regulating the use of seclusion and/or restraint as a behavioral intervention in schools.

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Retaining Institutional Knowledge in the State Legislature

In 1992, Missouri voters approved lifetime term-limits for General Assembly members, limiting members to serving a maximum of eight years in each chamber.

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Reusable Feminine Hygiene Products

Feminine hygiene products are considered luxury items, not necessities, and are not exempted from sales tax.

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Right to Repair (R2R) in Agriculture

The Right to Repair (R2R) in agriculture is the ability of farmers and farm operators to fix their own farm equipment without facing legal repercussions from manufacturers.

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Right to Repair Electronics

Right to Repair (R2R) laws generally refer to the right of the consumer to have access to the tools, parts, documentation, and software that are required to fix the products they own, from smartphones to tractors.

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Rural Physician Grant Program

Missouri counties with the greatest healthcare needs (i.e., areas with the highest prevalence of health conditions and a relatively low abundance of providers) are predominantly rural and located south of the Missouri River.

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School Innovation Waivers

Missouri public schools and districts are subject to federal (e.g., 20 USC Ch. 70) and state (Mo. Rev. Stat. 160-171) education standards and oversight.

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School Nurse Seizure Action Plans

Epilepsy is the most common brain disorder worldwide.

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Soil Health

Soil health management systems provide a range of benefits to farmers and the community, such as drought and flood resilience, stormwater management, and water quality. Common soil health practices are reduced-till farming, planting cover crops and rotating crops. No-till farming (continuous or rotational no-till) in Missouri covers about 4.6 million acres, while cover crops were planted on an estimated 1 million acres in the fall of 2020 and used on over 6,000 Missouri farms.

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Specialized vs. Generalized Post-Secondary Education

Although the specific missions of career/technical colleges, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities vary, higher education institutions are typically expected to provide some level of both general education and career training.

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State-level broadband policies

State-level broadband policies can determine where high-speed internet service is available, and who actually adopts broadband internet upon its deployment.

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Statewide College Promise Programs

College promise programs direct scholarship dollars to a specific state, region or institution with the goal of increasing higher education attainment and encouraging local economic development. The design of promise programs impacts which students are able to access scholarship funds, as well as college enrollment, completion and workforce development within a region.

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Tax Credit for Grocery Stores in Food Deserts

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food deserts as areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited.

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Tax Credit for Urban Agriculture in Food Deserts

SB82 allows a taxpayer to claim a tax credit against the taxpayer's state tax liability and authorizes a tax credit equal to fifty percent of a taxpayer's expenses incurred in the construction or development of an urban farm located in a food desert.

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Tax Credit Scholarships

House Bill 349 (and Senate Bills 23, 25, 55, 251) would establish a Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program; House Bill 540 (and Senate Bill 30) would establish the Show Me a Brighter Future Scholarship Fund.

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Tax Credits

Federal, state and local tax revenue fund a range of public goods and services, including education, healthcare, and infrastructure.

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