MASCA Legislative Report 5/7
Top News of the Week
P-D: How the new health care fight resembles 2010 - and how it doesn't; Perspectives from McCaskill, Blunt, Clay P-D: Senators tee off on Greitens' nonprofit as dark-money disclosure effort fizzles The Missouri Times: Senate delivers circuit breaker along with budget KRES/KWIX: Sen. Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown) says obstructionist senators have no respect for the rest of the body The Missouri Times: Senators present list of bills they will not filibuster KWMU: Missouri Senate moves at a snail's pace as 2017 session ticks away
Missourinet: Greitens not ruling out special session to handle REAL ID, other issues KWMU: Critics of managed care sound off on shift AP: New Medicaid system set to take effect today for 240,000 Missourians
Operations of the Senate
The Senate did not bring up a single bill for debate until Thursday of this week due to filibuster tactics deployed by a bi-partisan group of Senators revolting against leadership on a variety of issues, including ethics (dark money). However, the Senate did approve the budget and came together to pass a controversial budget related bill for senior citizens with a 28-5 vote. It was a good sign to see Senators who have fought tooth and nail to start working together, including Senate President Pro-Tem Ron Richard (R-Joplin) and Senator Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City). Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) was unsuccessful in passing his amendment that would have required non-profit organizations to disclose their donors, an issue that has vaulted into a top priority for Schaaf after Governor Eric Greitens’ non-profit “A New Missouri” launched attack ads against Schaaf a few weeks ago, urging people to contact Schaaf on his personal cell phone. Sen. Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis) led the charge against Schaaf’s non-profit disclosure amendment, although the advocacy groups behind the opposition ranged from the NRA to the ACLU.
Aside from the budget, the legislature has now sent a total of nine bills to the Governor; the legislature sends an average of 150 bills to the Governor every year. While we are hopeful that the pace of the Senate will pick up next week, a combination of inner-party fighting and term limits have forced us into unchartered territory with a high level of uncertainty on how things will play out over the next week.
The Missouri Constitution requires the legislature to adjourn by 6PM on Friday (May 12th), and all pending legislation that has not made it to the Governor’s desk will have to be refiled as new bills next year.
It is also possible that the Governor will call a special session to address priority issues that were not passed, but the legislature will be limited to debating the specific issues outlined in the Governor’s call for a special session.
Professional Funds Sweep
More than $30M of the budget approved by the House this year was dependent on the Senate’s passage of a bill that would end a tax credit program known as “circuit breaker” for low income seniors who are renting their home. The Senate Democrats filibustered the Circuit Breaker bill last month until 5AM, prompting round two of debate this week as they tried to balance the state’s $27 billion budget. Rather than eliminate the rent program for seniors, the Senate decided to fund the program temporarily by sweeping unused balances in various state departments and agencies.
However, an amendment offered by Sen. Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City) late Thursday evening would have allowed the state to pull unused balances from the Board of Healing Arts, which includes professional fees paid by physicians. We worked quickly with Sen. Bob Onder, MD (R-Lake St. Louis) and Sen. Denny Hoskins, CPA (R-Warrensburg) to add an additional amendment that removed the state’s ability to sweep funds from physician and other professional service funds. Essentially, we did not think private physician licensing fees should be used to supplement other areas of government that the legislature failed to fund during the budget process.
As referenced in this spreadsheet, there is over $3.8 billion in unused funds sitting in various departments and agencies across the state.