You can expect a debate about Medicaid expansion on the Missouri Senate floor in Jefferson City later this week.

Missouri Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo (D-Independence) and other Democratic lawmakers tour a vaccination center at Cerner in North Kansas City in March 2021 (file photo courtesy of Leader Rizzo’s Twitter page)

The Senate is expected to debate the proposed $34.1 billion state operating budget this week. Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) tells Missourinet Sullivan affiliate KTUI that it will take some floor time.

“The budget will be the floor probably on Wednesday, and we will work our way through that. And so that’s normally a fairly long process with a lot of conversation debate,” Pro Tem Schatz says.

Earlier this month, the Missouri House voted to give final approval to a $34.1 billion budget, one that does not contain funding for Medicaid expansion.

In August, 53 percent of Missouri voters approved Medicaid expansion, although it failed in 105 of the state’s 114 counties. The opposition to Medicaid expansion in the Missouri House primarily came from rural GOP lawmakers who represent districts that voted against Medicaid expansion.

Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo (D-Independence) tells Missourinet that the issue will be debated this week, on the Senate floor.

“I fully anticipate that a vote to fund Medicaid expansion will happen on the floor when it comes up for debate,” Leader Rizzo says.

Medicaid is officially known as MO HealthNet, and it’s a federal and state program that assists with medical costs for residents with limited incomes. Medicaid expansion supporters say Amendment Two, the August ballot measure, would help the working poor. They note it would expand Medicaid for residents between the ages of 19 and 64 with an income level at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

Medicaid expansion supporters also say that Missouri voters have spoken, in August.

House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith (R-Carthage) and other opponents say Medicaid expansion would help able bodied adults. Smith wants to use $342 million of funding to instead support seniors in nursing homes and to provide care for the developmentally disabled.

Smith’s alternative plan includes $88 million for long-term care in nursing facilities, $15.5 million for k-12 school transportation, $2 million for adult high schools, $11.6 million for the Department of Mental Health (DMH) for alcohol and drug abuse treatment, $53 million to DMH for adult community programs and $30 million for programs like respite care, adult day care and home-delivered meals.

The state Constitution requires Missouri lawmakers to approve a balanced budget, by early May.

State Rep. Chris Sander (R-Lone Jack) testifies before a Missouri House committee in Jefferson City on March 24, 2021 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications}

There are just three weeks left in Missouri’s 2021 legislative session, which means floor time in both chambers is critical.

Other bills we’re watching this week in the Legislature involve bipartisan drunk driving legislation and Daylight Saving Time legislation.

The Missouri Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee meets Tuesday morning at 8:30 to hear testimony from State Rep. Bob Bromley (R-Carl Junction), about his DWI legislation. The Missouri House has voted 149-3 to give final approval to the bill, which requires that any person who’s pleaded guilty or been convicted of driving while intoxicated to complete a victim impact program approved by the court.

And the Missouri Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee meets Tuesday morning to hear testimony from State Rep. Chris Sander (R-Lone Jack) regarding daylight saving time.

Sander’s bill establishes the “Daylight Savings as New Standard Time Pact,” which would exempt all of Missouri from federal Daylight Saving Time provisions. Under the bill, when a majority of states bordering Missouri have passed legislation entering those states into the pact, each state will switch clocks to Daylight Saving for the final time, and Daylight Saving Time will be eliminated.

The Missouri House has voted 126-16 to give final approval to the Sander legislation.

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