Testimony involving stimulus dollars under the federal “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021”, alternatives to Medicaid expansion and workers compensation for firefighters and first responders will highlight this week in the Missouri Legislature in Jefferson City.

State Rep. Doug Richey (R-Excelsior Springs) speaks on the Missouri House floor in Jefferson City on March 18, 2020 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

The 2021 session has about a month to go. The last day of session will be Friday, May 14.

A brand-new Missouri House Subcommittee on Federal Stimulus Spending will meet for the first time Monday morning in Jefferson City. They’ll gavel-in at 11 a.m. Committee Chairman State Rep. Doug Richey (R-Excelsior Springs) is humbled by the appointment.

“It is a committee that will be doing some very important work in terms of vetting both the priorities and the need for these federal stimulus dollars that are yet to even be received,” Richey says.

The subcommittee will hear testimony on Monday about capital improvement needs that could be eligible for federal stimulus funds under the Rescue plan. President Joe Biden (D) signed the bill, and House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith (R-Carthage) has said that he expects Missouri to receive billions of dollars in federal funding.

“There will be opportunity for several one-time appropriations for capital improvements and deferred maintenance that we know exist throughout the state,” says Richey.

He tells Missourinet that examples include universities, public safety, mental health and hospitals and state buildings.

Chairman Richey is emphasizing the importance of due diligence. He tweeted Saturday that “the American Rescue Plan isn’t funded by tax payer dollars, it’s funded by tax payer indebtedness.”

The Medicaid expansion issue will also come up again this week in the Legislature.

The Missouri House Budget Committee is expected to vote Tuesday on a budget blueprint from Chairman Smith, a plan which directs dollars slated for Medicaid expansion for other programs, including MO HealthNet. That’s the state Medicaid program.

Smith outlined the plan last week. House Bill 21, an eight-page bill, is just over $1 billion. $894 million of that would come from federal funds.

Funding includes $26 million for programs like respite care, adult day care and home-delivered meals. Chairman Smith testifies the funding also includes $88.2 million for funding long-term care services for care in nursing facilities. HB 21 also includes $18 million for k-12 public school transportation, and $2 million for adult high schools. It also includes $11.6 million for treatment for alcohol and drug abuse, and $2.2 million for youth community programs. It also provides about $1 million in additional funding for the State Public Defender System.

State Rep. Robert Sauls (D-Independence) speaks on the Missouri House floor in Jefferson City on March 31, 2021 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

House Democrats on the Budget Committee are expected to oppose the plan, saying that 53 percent of Missouri voters approved Medicaid expansion in August. Regardless of the committee vote, the issue will almost certainly be debated again on the House floor soon.

The Missouri House Public Safety Committee will meet Tuesday morning to hear legislation from State Rep. Robert Sauls (D-Independence), which involves workers compensation for firefighters and first responders.

“This is a bill that protects those who protect us. The firefighter cancer presumption bill creates a presumption that if a firefighter develops cancer, he or she got it as a result of the hazardous toxins of which he or she was regularly exposed. There is also a component to PTSD for first responders. I am proud of this bill and it is far overdue,” Sauls tells Missourinet.

Sauls’ House Bill 863 would allow Missouri firefighters and first responders to receive workers compensation for diseases of the heart or cardiovascular system, any infectious diseases, diseases of the body systems or organs from carcinoma, and diseases of the lungs or respiratory tract.

Across the Capitol Rotunda in the Missouri Senate, the chamber is expected to take up legislation involving mechanical contractors early this week. Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) tells Missourinet he expects his Senate Bill 11 to hit the floor on Monday.

Schatz’s bill is called the “Missouri Statewide Mechanical Contractor Licensing Act.” Under the bill, the statewide mechanical license for mechanical contractors would be regulated by the Division of Professional Registration, within the state Department of Commerce and Insurance. The bill creates the Office of Mechanical Contractors, within the division.

Pro Tem Schatz also says education reform legislation could go to the Senate floor this week.

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full four-minute interview with Missouri House Subcommittee on Federal Stimulus Spending Chairman Rep. Doug Richey (R-Excelsior Springs), which was recorded on April 9, 2021:

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