September 14, 2014

Senate overrides veto of abortion waiting period bill (AUDIO)

The legislature has overturned Governor Nixon’s veto of a new anti-abortion bill. But the action has led to an early end to the veto session.

The House and Senate oveturned dozens of Nixon vetoes before calling it a session early this morning. Senate Republicans shut things down first after using a seldom-utilized parliamentary move to end debate on the bill extending the 24-hour abortion waiting period to 72 house. Irate Democrats spread the word after the vote that nothing else was going to come to a vote in the Senate.

Democrats had launched a filibuster attacking the bill as unnecessary and dangerous.

One of the leaders of the effort, Scott Sifton of St. Louis, had argued that tripling the waiting time for an abortion can be a life-or-death issue for mothers.

AUDIO: Sifton :21

Senate Minority leader Jolie Justus says Republicans have passed so many bills limiting access to abortions that it’s a wonder Missouri has even one clinic left.

The bill got just enough votes for the override. Senate leaders adjourned with a handful of vetoed bills overriden by the House waiting for action after Justus told them the debate cutoff so antagonized Democrats, who had control of the floor after the override, that they would block votes on any of those other bills.


Missouri lawmaker’s challenge of contraceptive mandate continues

A case filed by a Missouri lawmaker challenging the requirement that his state-sponsored insurance plan provide birth control coverage has been heard in a federal appeals court in St. Louis.

Representative Paul Wieland (courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Representative Paul Wieland (courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Timothy Belz is an attorney for the Thomas Moore Society, a public interest law firm in Chicago, and represents Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, and his wife Teresa. Belz says Wieland and his wife used to opt out of contraceptive coverage. Belz says under the federal health care reform plan, contraceptive coverage must be provided, so the state’s health insurance company quit allowing people to opt out.

Belz says the decision by the Supreme Court this summer that private companies such as Hobby Lobby that have religious objections can opt out of the contraceptive requirement of federal health care law bolsters the Wielands’ argument.

“If, as in Hobby Lobby, a for-profit, commercial enterprise does not have to provide contraceptive coverage for its employees, then certainly mom and dad don’t have to provide it for their daughters,” says Belz. “Mom and dad are to Hobby Lobby like their girls are to Hobby Lobby’s employees. That’s the parallel.”

The Wielands have three daughters, ages 13, 19 and 20.

A federal district judge in November dismissed the Wieland’s lawsuit saying that the couple lacked standing to bring it.

The three-judge panel that heard the case on Monday could issue a ruling at any time.

Gov. Nixon, sponsor make arguments for, against e-cigarette bill veto

Governor Jay Nixon has called together health professionals to speak in support of his veto of electronic cigarette legislation passed in the spring (SB 841).

Governor Jay Nixon (right of center) conducts a roundtable of medical professionals and pushes for his veto of e-cigarette legislation to be sustained.

Governor Jay Nixon (right of center) conducts a roundtable of medical professionals and pushes for his veto of e-cigarette legislation to be sustained.

The bill he vetoed would ban the sale in Missouri of electronic cigarettes to people younger than 18, but would also exempt those devices from state tobacco taxes and regulations.

Nixon argues that federal regulations are in development that would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. He says that means the only lasting impact of the bill would be that those devices would not be regulated like tobacco products, which is what he believes was the goal of the tobacco companies that own the e-cigarette makers.

“We shouldn’t in this one fell swoop, under the guise of saying we’re protecting kids at the very time that the FDA is coming in to do that anyway, provide this blanket shield to any sort of proper regulation of these type of products,” says Nixon.

See Governor Nixon’s veto message for the e-cigarette legislation, Senate Bill 841

Nixon’s veto is one that lawmakers could attempt to override when they return to Jefferson City for the veto session next week. The House handler of that bill, Representative Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, says he expects there will be such an attempt.

“We’ll bring it up and I would, barring something happening between now and next week, would expect it to be overridden,” says Rowden.

Rowden argues now, as he did during debate on the bill in the session, that e-cigarettes contain no tobacco and therefore shouldn’t be regulated as tobacco products.

Representative Caleb Rowden (courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Caleb Rowden (courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

He says the Governor’s position is not “intellectually strong.”

“It’s really just laced in politics and rhetoric,” says Rowden. “He’s smarter than that. You’ve been in statewide office for 24 years, you should be able to do the research to know what the makeup of an e-cigarette is and either they haven’t done that research, or they’ve done it and they don’t care to operate in fact.”

Doctor Kevin Everett with the University of Missouri School of Medicine says e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and so they should be regulated like tobacco products.

“The companies that I’ve witnessed, no company has chosen to become a [smoking] cessation device and go through the process that’s required for that,” says Everett. “We don’t know if people can quit using these and stay quit. They remain addicted to nicotine which puts them at risk to go back to smoking tobacco.”

Rowden says as more is learned about e-cigarettes and their impact, new regulations can be created specific to those but that would not treat them as tobacco products.

“Probably we’ll end up creating a new sort of section [of law], a new definition for what these are. I think at some point they’ll probably take on a big enough share of the market that they’ll have to be treated like that.”


Home health care workers want more (AUDIO)

Missouri’s home healthcare workers want Governor Jay Nixon (D) to get involved in their negotiations for higher salaries.

The union for people that perform in-home care services says it has been negotiating with the Quality Home Care Council  since November and has resolved non-economic issues.  But the going is tough as it tries to increase the average salary of $8.60 an hour to $11.00.

Home Care attendant Elizabeth Travis of Columbia says the agencies the caregivers work for get $15.56 from Medicaid for each hour the attendants work. She wants Nixon to pressure the council to pressure the local agencies.

AUDIO: Travis :23

Travis says the workers want a standardized, higher, wage statewide. She says the average home care attendant earns $1100-$1400 a month, and wants to live with the same dignity that they try to give to their clients


Most Missouri children have their school shots (AUDIO)

Most of the school children starting classes in Missouri have gotten their required immunizations.  But many have not. Most of the children got their first immunizations before they were three years old. Some have had booster shots before the opening of their schools.

State Health Department figures say better than eight in ten children get immunizations for diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus immunizations early on.  More than nine out of ten have their anti-polio shots as well as those for measles and mumps.  The same for hepatitis B and chickenpox.

The state school immunization law allows people with religious objections or with health conditions to be exempt.

Health Department spokesman Ryan Hobart says there are some shots that people might want to get even if they’re not required.  College students, he notes, might want to get anti-meningitis shots, especially if they will be living in dormitories.  A new state law effective next July will require students living in dormitories at state institutions of higher education to have those shots.

The Health Department web page lists the immunizations that are required and when they should be administered: