As the Missouri General Assembly gets underway with the 2020 Legislative Session, I wanted to take a moment to share with you my thoughts on the progress we made in 2019 and what it will take to continue this momentum in the New Year.
In my first session, I was honored to sponsor and pass meaningful legislation to help Missourians living with Sickle Cell Disease access the medication they need to treat the chronic and debilitating pain associated with that condition. Sickle cell is a condition that predominantly affects the black community.
I also sponsored and passed legislation to help Missourians with disabilities and their families save and invest money through Missouri ABLE accounts, without losing eligibility for certain public benefits programs, like Medicaid or Social Security.
Meanwhile, working with my Democratic and Republican colleagues, we passed important legislation for working families in 2019. We directed millions of new dollars to our colleges and universities to help the workforce of the future earn the skills they need to get a good-paying job. I was able to secure a quarter million dollars in the budget for our local YouthBuild initiative to help disadvantaged young people in our community. Additionally, we made a record investment in Missouri’s public schools to help provide kids with the best education possible.
We also helped to make our streets safer by strengthening protections for witnesses who are cooperating with prosecutors to put away violent offenders. We gave local communities more tools to help tackle blight and nuisance properties. We passed legislation to help victims of domestic violence move out of their apartment without unnecessary red tape. We continued to improve our Criminal Justice system by expanding opportunities for reformed citizens to expunge their records, while rolling back several minimum sentencing laws that often targeted the poor and communities of color.
Looking ahead to the 2020 Legislative Session, as a member of the interim Senate Committee on Public Safety, I will continue to focus on addressing the epidemic of gun violence that is claiming lives throughout our community. Just last year, my Democratic colleagues and I had to stop a bill that would have allowed more guns on college campuses and city buses. It is time we pass common sense reforms that protect law abiding citizens’ lives and rights, while preventing gun violence. We can do this by requiring universal background checks, closing loopholes so domestic abusers cannot buy guns, and establishing Red Flag laws. These initiatives have broad public support, including mine.
I am humbled to continue to serve the people of Missouri and the 14th District as their state senator. We have achieved so much, but have so much left to do. II am here to serve you, and it is an honor to do so.
State Senator Brian Williams (D-Ferguson) represents Missouri’s 14th Senatorial District.