On the Floor
On May 14, the 2021 legislative session came to a close. The week was incredibly busy with a flurry of legislative activity. Early in the week, the Legislature managed to pass a bill establishing a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) by approving Senate Bill 63. This legislation creates a joint taskforce to oversee the creation of a PDMP, which is designed to provide health care providers with information about a patient’s prescription drug history in the hopes of curbing opioid abuse. Missouri is the last state in the country to pass a statewide PDMP, however, a program out of St. Louis County currently covers a large portion of the state. The statewide PDMP created under SB 63 would replace the St. Louis County PDMP, as well as require certain privacy safeguards such as preventing law enforcement from accessing patient information.
The Legislature also passed House Bill 697, which makes changes to the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Act. PACE programs allow local government entities to raise money through the issuance of bonds or other sources of capital to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for eligible property owners. By helping negotiate more agreeable language that ultimately passed, I believe the program will now be more beneficial to my constituents.
While we were able to pass some important bills earlier in the week, progress was slowed by the end of the week. On Thursday, May 13, the Senate spent many hours discussing House Bill 85, commonly referred to as the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.” This legislation seeks to nullify federal gun laws, and penalize police officers if they enforce federal gun laws in Missouri. Not only do I believe this legislation is unconstitutional, but it puts our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position of enforcing the law or being penalized for simply doing their jobs.
The General Assembly also failed to extend the state’s federal reimbursement allowance (FRA) program, which is set to expire later this year. The FRA is an important funding mechanism for our state’s Medicaid program, MO HealthNet. By not extending the FRA during this session, we face the real possibility of losing billions of dollars for MO HealthNet. There is a possibility an extra session will be called to address this issue.
The 4th Senatorial District ultimately had a good legislative session, and I hope to share more information about it with you all in the coming weeks in our annual End-of-Session report.
Bills and Committees
Senator May’s Legislation:
My Senate Bill 317 was sent to the House and passed out of House’s Judiciary Committee. It was then referred to the House Rules – Administrative Oversight Committee, where it was unable to be heard before the end of session. Had this bill made it across the legislative finish line, it would have incorporated due process into hearings determining whether or not it is appropriate to suspend a business, occupational or other license for individuals who have extenuating circumstances in meeting their child-support obligations.
Governor Withdraws Plans to Expand Medicaid
On March 13, the governor announced the state was withdrawing its plan to expand the state’s Medicaid program citing the General Assembly’s failure to include additional funding for the program. In Aug. 2020, Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment expanding MO HealthNet eligibility to individuals between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level, but during the budget process, the General Assembly refused to include additional funding for expansion. The governor’s decision will likely prevent Missourians who would be eligible under the constitution from enrolling in the program. A court challenge on this issue is likely.
Governor Announces Missouri to End of Federal Unemployment Assistance
On May 11, the governor announced Missouri was ending participation in all federal pandemic-related unemployment assistance programs, beginning on June 12. This means Missourians receiving unemployment assistance will soon stop receiving additional money provided by a variety of COVID relief bills passed by Congress.
As of May 14, 2021, the Missouri COVID-19 Dashboard reports an average of 276 new COVID-19 cases per day over the past week.
As of May 13, the City of St. Louis Health Department has reported a total of 22,085 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the City of St. Louis.