Sen. Jay Wasson’s Legislative Column for the Week of May 9, 2016

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Final Gavel Falls on 2016 Legislative Session

The 2016 legislative session officially came to a close at 6 p.m. today. As I prepare to travel home for the interim, I can look back on the last five months and be proud of the work we’ve accomplished. In total, the Legislature gave its seal of approval to approximately 100 bills this session. The governor has the option of signing these measures into law, allowing them to become law through no action or vetoing them. We will have the chance to override any vetoed measures later this year.

For years now, Missouri legislators have attempted to pass various ethics reform measures but have been unable to find a majority consensus on the best approach. This session, however, there was a renewed energy in the effort to raise ethical standards in Missouri, and we were able to send three substantive ethics reform bills to the governor.

House Bill 1979, which applies to all current and future legislators, imposes a six-month “cooling off” period before members of the General Assembly, former statewide elected officials and former holders of an office that required Senate confirmation can register as lobbyists. House Bill 1983 specifies that no statewide elected official or member of the General Assembly shall serve as a paid political consultant. Finally, House Bill 2203 requires former public officials to dissolve their candidate campaign committees before registering as lobbyists and restricts former lawmakers from converting campaign funds into personal gains.

While many state legislators were left feeling frustrated that these reforms didn’t go further, especially in terms of campaign contribution limits, the good news is we have accomplished much more than simply talking about ethics reform — we have achieved real progress. All three measures have been signed into law.

The last few bills I wish to highlight all have to do with improving health care in the Show-Me State. Passed by the Legislature earlier today, House Bill 1816 modifies and creates numerous health care provisions ranging from physician licensure requirements to prescription refills. Among the topics covered under HB 1816 are five of the measures I sponsored this session, including:

  • Senate Bill 835, which makes the State Board of Nursing the administrative agency responsible for implementing the Nursing Education Incentive Program;
  • Senate Bill 985, which establishes a new version of the existing Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) to allow registered nurses and licensed practical/vocational nurses to have one multistate license, with the privilege to practice in their home state and other NLC states;
  • Senate Bill 836, which provides that the statutory prohibition of the unlawful practice of optometry shall not apply to students enrolled in an accredited school of optometry and practicing under the personal direction of instructors;
  • Senate Bill 973, which allows pharmacists, upon your request, to use his or her judgment to fill your prescription up to a 90-day quantity; and
  • Senate Bill 868, which extends the sunset provision for coverage of early refills of prescription eye drops from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2020.

House Bill 1565 raises the MO HealthNet asset limit for benefit recipients who are blind, aged or disabled. Specifically, beginning in Fiscal Year 2018, the asset limit for these individuals will increase from no greater than $1,000 to $2,000 and from no greater than $2,000 to $4,000 for married couples. The measure excludes medical savings accounts and independent living accounts from the asset limit calculations. House Bill 1565 seeks to address the fact that Missouri currently has the lowest asset limits in the country for disabled, blind and aged Medicaid recipients. State lawmakers approved the measure on Tuesday.

Another measure awaiting the governor’s signature is House Bill 1568, which will permit physicians to prescribe naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, to any individual to administer, in good faith, to another individual suffering from an opiate-induced drug overdose. Current Missouri law requires a prescription to purchase naloxone. The drug may be injected or inhaled. House Bill 1568 easily cleared the Legislature, passing 29-0 in the Senate and 147-2 in the House.

Finally, House Bill 2029 prohibits insurance companies from requiring patients to first try cheaper generic drugs before agreeing to cover more expensive brand medications. This will make it much easier for patients in Missouri to receive the exact treatment recommended by their physician. The measure was approved by the Legislature earlier today.

Even though session is now over, I’ll continue working on the issues facing our state and, most especially, the citizens of the 20th District. As always, it has been an honor representing you. If you have any questions or comments about this or any other matter regarding your state government, please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-1503; you are also welcome to e-mail me at

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