Missouri General Assembly | KCUR

Missouri General Assembly

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The Missouri Senate conservative caucus formed just last year, but its six senators are already shaping the direction of Jefferson City politics. The caucus was among the staunchest supporters of a sweeping anti-abortion bill, which is being challenged in court. They also broke with their party to oppose one of Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s key workforce development proposals (though it eventually passed). 

And the caucus could get some concessions in the 2020 session using their threat to filibuster as a bargaining chip, though it also could further the division within the Republican Party if they kill priorities like a prescription drug monitoring program. 

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

For the second time in two years, Planned Parenthood is challenging Missouri’s denial of its claims for Medicaid payments.

The first time Missouri cut off the organization’s Medicaid funding was in fiscal 2019, after the legislature enacted an appropriations bill denying it reimbursement under the program.

Now Planned Parenthood’s Overland Park affiliates are challenging the state’s cutoff of their fiscal 2020 funding. An administrative law judge ruled against them last month and Planned Parenthood wants a Jackson County judge to overturn the ruling.

The Missouri General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session began with procedure and ceremony: lawmakers reading the Bill of Rights, new legislators being sworn in and hundreds of bills being formally introduced.

But even though Wednesday’s opening was fairly mundane, legislators from both parties are expecting fierce debates in the coming weeks over state legislative redistricting and gun violence — issues that could play a big role in the impending 2020 elections.

The 2020 session of the Missouri General Assembly, which convenes Wednesday, promises the usual array of legislative wrangling and partisan bickering — all with an election looming in November.

In this episode of Statehouse Blend Missouri, we bring you a preview, which first aired on KCUR's Up to Date on Jan. 6. Host Steve Kraske spoke with Brian Hauswirth, news director of Missourinet, and Jaclyn Driscoll, the statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.

Segment 1: Previewing the next session of the Missouri General Assembly

Today's guests run down some of the issues that lawmakers could tackle during this upcoming legislative session. They also explored how this year's presidential election might influence how this myraid of issues plays out.

Gun control, Medicaid and redistricting are expected to be the most contentious issues Missouri lawmakers will take up this legislative session. 

House and Senate members return to the state Capitol on Wednesday, and the governor is to deliver his State of the State address a week later on Jan. 15. 

Democrats in both chambers say gun control and urban violence will be at the top of their list of priorities. 

Editor's note: This story is part of a collaborative-reporting initiative supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. All stories can be found here

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that police had to abide by the Bill of Rights when they seize property from people, Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Baldwin, thought he finally had the momentum to reform civil asset forfeiture and end what he calls “policing for profit.”

He thought he would be able to stop Missouri police from pulling over motorists, seizing cash without a crime and keeping the money for departmental expenditures.

Illustration by Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

In the spring of 1989, Missouri lawmakers were motivated to figure out how climate change would affect the state’s economy, political future and social capital. 

A year after California started looking into climate change, the Missouri General Assembly created a commission of 14 experts and politicians to study the issue and come up with solutions. The result was more than 100 policy suggestions, covering everything from the use of solar and wind energy to transportation and teaching about climate change.

Three decades later, experts say Missouri hasn’t achieved its goals. 

Pro Sports Leagues Pitch Gambling To Missouri Legislators

Nov 10, 2019

Missouri legislators heard from Major League Baseball, the NBA and the PGA on Thursday about their leagues’ role if legalized sports betting comes to the state.

The General Assembly is expected to consider legalizing sports betting in the 2020 legislative session. 

Among the details that need to be worked out is whether lawmakers will consider a sports gambling proposal that includes college sports as well as professional sports, mobile phone betting and in-game wagering on a particular play during an event. 

Segment 1: Republicans in Missouri say gun control is not the answer to gun violence.

Missouri Senate website

Former Missouri state lawmaker and educator Yvonne S. Wilson died Monday. The 90-year-old Democrat from Kansas City was remembered by many as a community advocate, especially for children. 

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Missouri's methods of reimbursing community providers who care for people with developmental disabilities are complex, confusing and conflict with federal Medicaid rules. That’s because providers are reimbursed at vastly different rates for the same level of care.

It’s a situation that’s also leading to low pay for the providers’ workers and exacerbating the state’s already high turnover. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put the state on a five-year corrective action plan earlier this year. So to address the issue, the Division of Developmental Disabilities will request $58.1 million from Missouri lawmakers next year on top of the $20 million extra it received this year. Many providers say it’s long overdue.

Segment 1: A new state system to determine Medicaid eligibility is under fire.

In Missouri this year, Medicaid enrollment numbers have dropped at more than twice the national rate, topping 7%. This means 120,000 people, including tens of thousands of children, have been dropped from the program. We heard answers as to why this is happening and how the state can and should respond.

As Jean Peters Baker spoke to a packed room at the Missouri Democratic Party’s Truman Dinner last weekend, she acknowledged the obvious: The past few years have been bruising for a party that used to dominate state politics.

Republicans up and down the ballot generally prevailed in the past three election cycles — leaving Democrats on the outside looking in when it comes to policy and leadership. But Baker, chairwoman of the Missouri Democratic Party, said this isn’t a time to sulk. Instead, Democrats should use the 2020 election cycle as a prime opportunity for a comeback.

Pixabay

Elyshya Miller’s son was 13 when she gave him the talk: racial profiling and what to do if the police approach him. 

It was a common occurrence, Miller said, because for about 15 years, her family was the only black family in her Blue Springs subdivision. 

Office of Missouri Governor

Before Kenneth Wilson became a Missouri House member, he worked his way up the ranks in the Platte County Sheriff’s Office. It was there, he said, his view of crime went from “bad guys go to jail” to seeing dads lose their jobs because they were jailed for not being able to pay child support.

And that’s when Wilson, a Republican from Smithville, thought there must be another way. 

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Vaccinations not only protect your health, they protect the health of the community by slowing or stopping the spread of illness.

But Missouri now has some of the lowest measles vaccination rates in the nation, and that’s especially troubling for families with children who can’t get the shots for medical reasons.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

They may have each spent only a single session in their respective statehouses, but Kansas Rep. Rui Xu and Missouri Rep. Matt Sain have already learned some important lessons about how state government works, why it sometimes doesn't, and what their responsibilities are to the people back home.

Those lessons are colored by the fact that both lawmakers are in the minority party (Sain is in the superminority), but they're still worth paying attention to. Politics is cyclical, after all, and today's legislative rules will affect the way future politicians do their jobs.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

For the second straight legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly didn't pass any pro-gun legislation, while one bill backed by anti-gun groups saw a sliver of success.

Does that mean legislators’ stance on guns is shifting? It depends on whom you ask.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3

Counties across Missouri hoped this was the year that the Department of Corrections would make headway on the $20-$30 million they’re owed for housing inmates who eventually go to state prisons.

But legislators allocated only $1.75 million more to address the backlog. Missouri's practice of reimbursing counties in this way is unique in the United States, and local sheriffs and county leaders say it’s time for a better solution.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3 file photo

In this very special episode of KCUR’s Statehouse Blend Missouri podcast, we joined forces with St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking podcast to round up the 2019 session of the Missouri General Assembly.

Why Missouri’s The Last Holdout On A Statewide Rx Monitoring Program

May 20, 2019
Lydia Zuraw/KHN Illustration / Getty Images

Missouri retained its lonely title as the only state without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program — for the seventh year in a row — after the legislative session ended Friday.

Gov. Mike Parson just finished up his first legislative session as governor. And by any objective measure, it was a good one for the GOP chief executive.

He wanted the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve his ideas around workforce development and transportation spending, and those lawmakers followed through. He was also able to deal with warring factions within his party, most notably six conservative senators that at times held up his priorities.

State Rep. Bruce Franks will step down from his St. Louis-based seat, citing a need to deal with his anxiety and depression.

The Democrat said he still wants to make his mark on St. Louis’ politics, even though he’ll no longer be in elected office. He’s also hoping his spotlight on mental health will resonate.

After a week that featured titanic battles over high-profile legislation, Missouri lawmakers are heading into the final day with a lot on their plate.

The unfinished business set for Friday includes final passage of abortion legislation that’s made national headlines, as well as a bill to overhaul the low-income housing tax-credit program.

How Missouri's Senate Passed a Restrictive Abortion Bill Overnight

May 16, 2019

Abortion opponents in Missouri have cleared the biggest hurdle to restrict access to most abortions — Senate approval. A bill passed in the Senate early Thursday morning bans abortion as early as eight weeks into a pregnancy. But the bill also saw some last-minute changes, under threat of a filibuster.


Segment 1: The impact of the Missouri Senate Conservative Caucus on the finals days of the 2019 session.

They've been called the "Chaos Caucus" and their latest efforts have involved  attempting blocks of a tax break bill for General Motors and a prescription-drug monitoring program. Statehouse reporters offered insight on these senators and how other Republicans view these fellow members of the GOP.

Updated at 6 a.m. May 16 with Senate passage — Missouri is a step closer to having some of the strictest limits on abortion in the country.

The measure approved by the state Senate early Thursday bans abortion after a heartbeat can be detected, usually around six to eight weeks. There is no exception for rape or incest and there are also complete bans on abortion if a fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome, or based on race or gender.

A nearly 28-hour filibuster of what is usually a simple procedural step ended Tuesday night with a big win for Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

Over the objection of a group of six Republicans, the state Senate approved a major economic development package that extended a tax credit for General Motors, which is considering a $750 million expansion of its plant in Wentzville. Also included is a program to fund training for adults in “high-need” jobs, and a deal-closing fund that allows for up-front tax breaks to companies considering expansion.

Bigstock

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt says a proposed deal to reduce public defender workloads doesn’t protect the interests of the public, and he wants permission to intervene in the case.

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