It seems surreal I was sworn in over four years ago to represent our community in the Missouri Senate. I remember that day vividly, and the gravity and historical significance of being the first Black male senator to be elected since 1998 still keeps me grounded and focused. I also never lose sight that I am the first Black man to represent St. Louis County and am among only 22 African Americans who have had a desk in the Senate chamber. The responsibility is great, and the honor is extraordinary. Being your voice in Jefferson City is one of the most rewarding challenges of my life. Thank you for entrusting me to build on this legacy and inspire the next generation to aim high.
Investing In Our Community:
Over $96 Million for Economic Development and Investments
Making our community a better place to live, work and raise a family is my top priority. With the governor’s approval, the budget for Fiscal Year 2023 allocates over $96 million for North St. Louis County projects. Thanks to all who helped me advocate for this unprecedented funding and reach one of the goals I set when I ran for office.
A Few of the Projects Include:
University of Missouri-St. Louis
The University of Missouri-St Louis will receive $40 million in funding to construct the “Campus of the Future,” a 35-acre multi-purpose business and workforce district which will produce high-paying, in-demand jobs and provide other critical services.
Research and Development
As a founding member of the new Legislative Tech Caucus, I was proud to amend my Senate BIll 688 on to the passed House Bill 2400. Authorizing tax credits on qualified research expenses will help small businesses develop new, innovative products.
Jamestown Mall Re-Development
Funding to abate, demolish and repurpose the 142-acre Jamestown Mall area into viable real estate for businesses.
Grants for Innovative Manufacturing
Funding grants for the innovative
manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients and semiconductors.
Funding to construct a regional training facility in St. Louis County for law enforcement and fire department
Funding for transit assistance and public transit agencies to provide regularly scheduled and wide-ranging transit services.
Funding to support the MET Center in Wellston, which stimulates the economic self-sufficiency of individuals in low-income communities through skills training programs.
Funding to help establish a center for understanding and treating childhood trauma, offering innovative services for children that have suffered abuse and helping to cultivate healthy families.
Funding for Operation Restart/Youth Build Works to help underserved youth, ages 18-24, obtain life skills and good jobs.
Police Reform Legislation
One of my proudest accomplishments as a senator is the passage of comprehensive police reform legislation. Signed into law in 2021, Senate Bill 53 & 60 banned the use of chokeholds, established one of the country’s strongest use-of-force databases and shortened the time to request a record expungement after a person completes their sentence. During debate on the measure, I was able to add a provision that helps free the wrongfully convicted, which was instrumental in the release of Kevin Strickland, an innocent man who served 40 years in prison.
Holocaust Education Week
Legislation I sponsored this year to
designate a Holocaust Education Week and develop a curriculum framework for a pilot program in schools was amended onto the passed Senate Bill 681. With the governor’s signature, the pilot program will begin next year in 25 schools, with the hopes of expanding it to all school districts by 2025. Helping our children understand the significance of “never again” is an integral part of putting an end to systemic racism.
Sickle Cell Patients
During my first legislative session,
I was proud to pass legislation to
exclude patients receiving treatment
for sickle cell disease from initial opioid prescription limitations. At the time, Missouri law limited certain opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply. While that limit was intended to mitigate the opioid epidemic plaguing our communities, it often left those suffering from chronic pain, like sickle cell disease, without their needed medications. Thanks to help from my constituents and colleagues, my Senate Bill 450 was amended onto Senate Bill 514 and signed by the governor in July of 2019.
Another success from 2019 was
modifying the ABLE Act through my
sponsored Senate Bill 426. ABLE
accounts are tax-free savings accounts for Missourians with special needs. This money can be used to pay for disability-related services, without the threat of losing federal needs-based benefits. My bill was added to Senate Bill 230, which became law in 2019, adding another layer of protection for some of our state’s most vulnerable people.
I believe it’s our responsibility to create a better future for our youth and an economy where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Throughout the last four legislative sessions, I worked to find opportunities to fund initiatives that would create change, transform our communities and build a brighter tomorrow.
I want to thank you for your continued support.
It is an honor and privilege to represent each of you in the Missouri Senate.