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Strong Turnout for Issue-Packed MASWM Fall Meeting

At least 57 b MASWM members and other workshop staff, supporters and volunteers participated in the MASWM Fall 2020 Meeting via Zoom.

Topics that included federal and state legislative issues highlighted the Sept. 28 MASWM Autumn Conference.

Held by Zoom videoconferencing with 57 participants, a major focus included both good and challenging news on state and federal government, commission reports and other trends. Fortunately, MASWM’s legislative consultant, committee chairs and volunteers provided updates and roadmaps for the future.

Grant Funds Delayed

Legislative Consultant Lynne Schlosser opened with a topic of concern to many managers: CARES Act funding. One round of grant funds were expected in early September but have been delayed, and communications with several state offices have yet to completely clear up the question. Schlosser said State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick and Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe are both looking into the issue.

DESE Workshop Director Dan Gier also noted that the first round of grant funds appear to be held in the state administrative office, where they are wrestling with expenses in a format they are not used to.

“Typically administrative offices are used to seeing vendor receipts from an in-house purchase order,” Gier said. “When  shops had to go to say Dollar General to get Lysol, you won’t have that typical vendor receipts.”

On Phase II, several managers have questioned how they can generate receipts for expenses between now and Dec. 31. Gier suggested creating an in-house invoice that can be submitted and backed with receipts later.

Post Election

Longer term but equally important, Schlosser is preparing for work after the November election when nearly one-third of state legislators will be new faces due to term limits. This will require extensive communications to familiarize new legislators with Missouri’s unique workshop environment. She said that will be especially important this year as the state faces major budget cuts due to issues such as COVID and Medicaid expansion. Overall, she said the 2021 legislative session does not appear to be especially threatening, but educating new legislators will remain a priority.

“There are a lot of reasons for concern, but I agree with Cody Smith (chairman of the House Budget Committee) that workshops will likely receive full funding because if employees are not employed, it costs the state more in other services. We’ve been doing a good job of education over the years.”

National Question

Tracy Gritsenko of A Team Missouri noted that a national challenge involves the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), which recently issued a report with a one-sided perspective on workshops nationally. Missouri’s group is working with A Team USA to craft responses.

This was completely expected,” noted Gritsenko, who attended last year’s USCCR hearings in Washington, D.C. “It was completely one- sided in how they collected information. When 95 percent of those testifying were against 14c, it’s no surprise what the results are.”

She noted that A Team Missouri will be posting information on their website ( and Facebook page ( Managers and interested people are urged to like and follow the Dignity Facebook page, especially.

Gritsenko and others noted one positive in this is that the “Missouri Model” of workshops is receiving attention. “We’ve had a lot of questions from other states on how this was set up,” she noted. “They can’t get their head around the idea that we’ve done it without federal funding!” A short “frequently asked questions” document about workshops is being prepared to help with presenting these ideas to those who are unfamiliar with workshop operations and services.

Full Schedule

Legislative Chair Kit Brewer addressed work relating to the USCCR, including efforts with members of the Missouri Congressional Delegation. “It’s a busy time,” he noted. “But several have noted the Missouri Model and how it’s supported by many in congress.”

Brewer also noted work with Missouri legislators, including a critical funding issue for monthly state payments that, by definition, are after the fact. “We’re reminding legislators that when we passed that new mechanism, the conversation centered on how most expenses were upfront costs for preparing the workplace. If there was a snowstorm and the employee didn’t arrive, the money had nevertheless already been spent upfront. Of course, no one had envisioned a COVID, but the concept is the same.”

MASWM Rules Changes

Ad Hoc By-Laws Committee Chair Heather Pugh noted work will continue on changes that will impact how officers are selected. The membership approved the initial Phase I changes, which effectively merged MESA into MASWM. That move occurred when a legal option clarified that MASWM is able to lobby without endangering its 501c3 status. The Phase II changes, which may be voted on in January, will clarify several board membership issues that involve member selection. The committee will continue meeting weekly to further develop these latter proposals.

“We’re working toward a true balance,” Pugh said. “We want to make sure we have good representation across the board.”

Other reports included a tentative schedule for 2021 by Conference Committee Chair Melonie Nevels. The annual Legislative Conference is set for Jan. 24, 25 and 26 in Jefferson City, although whether that, too, will be conducted by Zoom is likely to be determined by future events. Nevels has worked extensively to arrange venue contracts that will provide MASWM maximum flexibility.

President Rob Libera opened the meeting with several announcements, including a welcome for three new managers: Courtney Sanders, Current River Sheltered Workshop, Doniphan; Stephen Colley, Oregon County Workshop, Alton; and Troy Compardo, Boone Center Industries, St. Peters and Moscow Mills.

The Autumn Meeting was followed by a training session Wednesday, Sept. 30, which will be covered in a separate article.

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MASWM The Missouri Association of Sheltered Workshop Managers
If you have questions, please contact:
President Rob Libera – (636) 227-5666 or
or Legislative Chair Kit Brewer – (314) 647-3300 or