December 20, 2014

Proposal heard to give state legislature stopping power on federal programs

Legislation has been heard in the House Committee on Downsizing State Government that is motivated by common complaints of Republicans when it comes to federal dollars coming to Missouri. The proposal would require state agencies to get approval from the state legislature before administering, implementing or expanding any federal program.

Representative Dave Hinson (photo courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Representative Dave Hinson (photo courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Its sponsor, Representative Dave Hinson (R-St. Clair) says Medicaid expansion is a perfect example of the type of program he’s concerned with.

“The federal government says they’ll pay for 100 percent of it for the first three years, but do we know if they’re going to be able to do that. If the sequestering goes through there’s going to be a cut so we’re going to automatically with the current Medicaid rolls see a reduction in payments.”

Some Democrats think the bill is purely political.  Representative Brandon Ellington (D-Kansas City) called it a “bad bill.”

“It seems like it’s not for the betterment of the citizens of Missouri in any way, shape or form, where you’re talking about the legislative body becoming a hinderance to federal assistance and federal programs.”

Other Democrats called the bill “workable.” Representative Jeff Roorda (D-Barnhardt) says it can be made better, but he shares concerns that were raised by both Republicans and Democrats in the committee.

“How you handle particularly disaster relief. I think it also begs the question how you handle any sort of federal aid that is introduced and moving quickly when we’re not in session. There’s seven months out of the year that we’re out of session.” Hinson says the bill is not for short-term situations, such as emergencies.

“If it’s going to be a long-term effect, where it could be hundreds of millions of dollars over several years that are going to be paid out in a certain program … it’s not going to pop up where you have to do it in a 60 day time period.

The Committee has not voted on the proposal and is expected to offer a substitute.