The state operating budget and prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) legislation will likely take center stage in the Missouri Legislature in Jefferson City this week.

Missouri House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, testifies before a House committee in Jefferson City on February 24, 2021 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Governor Mike Parson (R) has proposed a $34.1 billion state operating budget. House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith (R-Carthage) tells Missourinet that he hopes to see the House give initial and final approval to the operating budget this week. The state Constitution requires Missouri lawmakers to approve a balanced budget, by early May.

Once the budget goes to the House floor this week, there will likely be a floor debate on the issue of Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid is formally known as MO HealthNet, and it’s a federal and state program that assists with medical costs for residents with limited incomes. 53 percent of Missouri voters approved Medicaid expansion in August, although it failed in 105 of the state’s 114 counties. Amendment Two expands Medicaid for residents between the ages of 19 and 64 with an income level at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

Last week the House Budget Committee voted against funding Medicaid expansion. Chairman Smith issued a statement, which says the expansion would help able bodied adults, many who choose not to work. He’s filed a bill to use that money to support seniors in nursing homes, to provide care for the developmentally disabled and to expand mental health programs. Smith also wants to use some of the money for additional public defenders.

During his January State of the State Address, Governor Parson pledged to move forward with implementation of Medicaid expansion, because voters approved it.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) and other House Democrats have called a Statehouse news conference for Monday afternoon at 1 to address the issue. Leader Quade and House Democrats say Missouri voters have spoken. She describes the Budget Committee’s decision as an irresponsible attempt by House Republicans to defund Missouri’s Medicaid program.

State Sen. Holly Rehder (R-Scott City) speaks on the Missouri Senate floor in Jefferson City on March 9, 2021 (file photo courtesy of Harrison Sweazea at Senate Communications)

Across the Capitol Rotunda in the Missouri Senate, PDMP should hit the Senate floor this week. State Sen. Holly Rehder (R-Scott City) has filed PDMP for the ninth straight year. Rehder filed it for the eight years she served in the House. She was elected to the Missouri Senate in November, and has filed Senate Bill 63.

Senator Rehder delivered a passionate speech on the Missouri House floor in May, revealing to colleagues that her late mother and late sister were both sexually assaulted multiple times and that they turned to prescription drugs for their pain.

“I look forward to having that (Senate floor debate) conversation, obviously this is something that (State) Senator Rehder is very passionate about. When she was in the House, I carried that legislation myself (and) tried to find a resolution for that,” Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) told Missourinet last week.

A PDMP is an electronic database that collects data on controlled substance prescriptions within a state. Missouri is the only state in the nation without a PDMP.

Rehder and other supporters say Missouri’s medical professionals must have knowledge of what their patients are on, prior to prescribing more medication. Bill opponents such as State Sen. Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove) worry about potential data breaches involving your prescription information.

While both the Missouri House and Senate approved PDMP in 2020, they approved different versions of the bill.

Pro Tem Schatz says education reform bills will also likely be debated on the floor this week. He also expects some long nights between now and May.

“Not sure exactly the floor schedule, but would anticipate working longer hours from now till session ends,” Schatz tells Missourinet.

Another interesting issue that will be discussed in a Missouri House committee this week involves reducing the Missouri House’s size.

State Rep. Travis Fitzwater (R-Holts Summit) is proposing a constitutional amendment that would reduce the Missouri House from 163 to 136 members. Fitzwater will present his proposal Wednesday afternoon to the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee.

Fitzwater’s proposed House Joint Resolution 34 is similar to his 2019 proposal, which failed. Missouri currently has 197 lawmakers, although there is one House vacancy. Fitzwater says it’s the seventh-largest Legislature in the nation, and that Missouri has more state lawmakers than any of its bordering states.

Missourians ratified a constitutional amendment in 1966, which locked in the number of House seats at 163.

The Missouri House and Senate will both gavel-in Monday afternoon at 4 in Jefferson City.

Copyright © 2021 · Missourinet