Gas Tax to Increase but Refunds Will Be Available (SB 262)
On October 1, Missouri’s gas tax will increase for the first time in 25 years, but Missourians who don’t want to pay the increase have an option.
The tax will increase by 2.5 cents October first, with more incremental increases every July 1 until it reaches a total increase of 12.5 cents in 2025. The Department of Transportation estimates the increase, when fully implemented, will generate another $460 million annually for the state’s roads and bridges.
Those who don’t want to pay the increase will be able to apply for a refund. The Department of Revenue will provide a form for applicants to fill out. A final version is expected to be available, either digitally or by paper copy, by the time applications can be accepted between July 1 and September 30 of next year.
Fuel purchased in Missouri for vehicles weighing less than 26,000 pounds is eligible for a refund. The initial increase, which begins October 1, has been estimated at about $1 a month for the average Missouri driver. Once it’s fully phased in the increase will be approximately $60 per year, depending on how much fuel each driver consumes.
The House Transportation Committee Chairwoman said the department has been running about $800 million behind what it needs for road work, per year. The increase will cover a significant portion of that gap, and will also put Missouri in position to draw federal dollars from an anticipated infrastructure bill.
The gas tax increase became law when Governor Mike Parson signed Senate Bill 262, which passed out of the House with a final vote of 104-52.
Providing Free Hygiene Products to Female Inmates (SB 53)
Women incarcerated in Missouri prisons and jails will now have access to feminine hygiene products free of charge, under legislation that became law in July.
Senate Bill 53, signed into law by Governor Mike Parson on July 14, included language that requires city and county jails to join the state’s prisons in providing those products to female inmates at no cost. Many facilities had already been doing this. The law will codify that practice and extend it to those who weren’t.
Research in 2018 showed more than 80 percent of women in Missouri’s two female prisons were making their own hygiene products, and those they were given for free were ineffectual. These homemade products were often resulting in infections or other complications.
One of the key supporters of the bill said the measure was a way to provide dignity to incarcerated women, while saving the state money.
He said, “These women were receiving additional medical treatment at the cost of the Missouri taxpayer when they did fashion their own products in order to save money.”
The fiscal year 2022 budget includes $240,000 to pay for providing those products to women in county and city jails and detention centers.
Pfizer COVID-19 Booster Shots Now Available for Eligible Missourians
Missourians who received the Pfizer vaccine can now receive a booster shot at least six months after their initial series. Following federal guidance issued from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has amended the state’s standing order for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine administration for those who are eligible for a booster shot.
According to CDC guidance:
People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster;
People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster;
People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster; and
People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting (e.g. frontline medical workers, teachers, and first responders) may receive a booster.
The list of medical conditions categorized as high-risk by the CDC is available at the following link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html. Missourians with an underlying medical condition are encouraged to speak with their healthcare provider about whether a booster shot is right for them.
Federal health experts are still reviewing data from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) and will decide when recipients may be eligible for a booster shot. Missouri providers will be ready to administer Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots when they are recommended.
Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots will be administered anywhere the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available. Individuals do not need to get their booster shot at the same location they received their initial series. Those seeking a booster shot can visit MOStopsCovid.com to find a nearby provider and schedule an appointment or locate a walk-in clinic.
Individuals can also get the flu shot at the same time they receive the COVID-19 booster shot. Flu vaccines are now becoming available through various providers throughout the state, and it is recommended annually for everyone 6 months and older.
Research shows that all COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States continue to be highly effective at preventing severe illness and death. Individuals should only get a booster shot when it is recommended, not earlier.
How Missourians can get a free COVID-19 vaccine:
Check for vaccine appointments at Vaccines.gov, where you can search for availability by vaccine type (e.g., Pfizer).
Call the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 1-800-232-0233 (or TTY 1-888-720-7489). Help is available in multiple languages.
Locate local vaccination events in Missouri at MOStopsCovid.com.
Seniors and homebound adults can make arrangements using information at MOStopsCovid.com/seniors
Missouri DHSS COVID-19 Public Hotline
Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Please let me know If you have other concerns and suggestions. If you would like to schedule a specific time to meet locally, please call my office at 573-751-1487, or email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org.