The Missouri Democratic Party’s new acting chair is focusing on the August Medicaid expansion ballot measure and the November elections.
Former State Rep. Clem Smith, D-Velda Village Hills, was elected to the Missouri House in 2010. He served eight years in the House, from 2011-2018, before being forced out by term limits. Smith became acting chair of the party on Thursday.
He says access to health care is critical. He’s pushing for Amendment Two, which will be on your August 4th ballot.
“We believe the state has an appetite for it (Medicaid expansion),” Smith says. “I think the governor saw that too. We saw some jockeying of dates for that ballot initiative being moved to August.”
Medicaid, which is officially known as MO HealthNet, is a federal and state program that assists with medical costs for residents who have limited incomes.
Medicaid expansion supporters, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, say it will create more than 16,000 new jobs annually during its first five years. Supporters also predict it will increase personal income by $1.1 billion annually.
House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, opposes Medicaid expansion, saying it would take dollars out of the classroom. He notes it requires a ten percent match, for the 90 percent draw down. House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, says Medicaid expansion will blow a hole in the state operating budget.
As for Clem Smith, he’s confident that Missourians will approve Medicaid expansion at the ballot box next month. He says some GOP lawmakers who oppose Medicaid expansion also supported right-to-work, which Missourians rejected during a 2018 referendum.
“We saw that with the right-to-work that went through (signed into law by then-Governor Eric Greitens in 2017),” says Smith. “The people came and spoke and said we don’t want that, after members of the Legislature voted for it.”
67 percent of Missourians voted against right-to-work, at the August 2018 referendum.
Smith is also focusing on the November elections. He’s hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden (D) will carry Missouri this fall. The last Democratic presidential nominee to carry Missouri was Bill Clinton, who won here in both 1992 and 1996.
Smith is also focusing on the gubernatorial race and the statewide races. State Auditor Nicole Galloway, the presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee, is currently the only Democratic statewide officeholder. Smith also wants to see Democrats pick up seats in the Missouri Senate and Missouri House.
Republicans currently have supermajorities in both chambers. They control the Senate 23-8, with three vacancies. The GOP controls the House 113-48, with two vacancies.
Smith is also encouraging residents to fill out the U.S. Census, which takes place every ten years. He tells Missourinet the census is a nonpartisan issue.
“That’s very important because that determines the federal dollars that are coming into our state, how they’re allocated,” Smith says.
Each year, billions of dollars in federal funding goes to hospitals, fire departments and schools based on census data. The Census results also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Missouri now has eight House seats, and has lost two since 1980. That happened in 1981 and again in 2011, when the districts of then U.S. Reps. Wendell Bailey, R-Willow Springs, and Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, disappeared.
Smith replaces former Missouri Democratic Party Chair Jean Peters Baker, who is the Jackson County Prosecutor.
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and Missouri Democratic Party acting chair Clem Smith, D-Velda Village Hills. It was recorded on July 6, 2020:
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