Hurry Up…and Wait!
Following weeks of stalled floor discussions, cancelled hearings and weather-induced closings, nearly all of the chairs of standing Senate committees hurried to schedule hearings this week, and numerous advocates filled the halls, only to have to wait to testify. When I arrived in Jefferson City on Tuesday, I was optimistic that this would be the week the daily journal would finally match the robust Senate calendar, but that didn’t quite pan out. For several days now, the calendar has listed almost 200 bills for second reading, including eight of my proposals. If you recall from civics class, all bills must be second-read before they are referred to committee and can progress through the process. It appears my optimism will also have to wait another week.
One thing that didn’t have to wait was my presentation of Senate Bill 779 in a hearing on Feb. 23. This act grants the Department of Social Services the authority to suspend, revoke or cancel an agreement with any provider, or their affiliate, that has committed Medicaid fraud or abuse in another state. This was one of the legislative actions that came from the committee I served on this summer, the Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Accountability and Taxpayer Protection. I hope the department’s ability to use other state’s information about Medicaid providers will further protect the sanctity of life in Missouri.
I’m also pleased to report my proposal to extend Medicaid coverage to postpartum women for one year has been combined with another bill and placed on the Senate formal calendar for perfection. The costs associated with Senate Bills 698 & 639 are covered under the federal American Rescue Plan for five years. Giving low-income families a little more of a safety net will reduce our state’s high maternal mortality rates and improve health outcomes for thousands of Missourians.
Missouri Chapters Celebrate National FFA Week Feb. 19-26
Approximately 300 navy blazer-clad members of Missouri FFA traveled to Jefferson City on Feb. 23 to attend a rally and meet with legislators. The governor, lieutenant governor and several department heads led a tractor parade to the Capitol to ceremoniously proclaim National FFA Week in the Show-Me State. Missouri’s chapters have 25,920 members who try to live up to the organization’s motto, “Growing Leaders. Building Communities. Strengthening Agriculture.” Our state’s agricultural future is in great hands!
Policymakers must vote for hundreds of bills each session, ranging in topics from accounting to zoology, so we are heavily reliant on advocates and members of our community to educate us with information related to proposed legislation. Several of these organizations held rallies this week and dropped by my office to offer their expertise.
On Feb. 23, APTA Missouri, a chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association, held their lobby day, and several members testified at hearings in the House.
Christie Cohoon, Bridget Webb, Beth Sitterly, Sen. Gannon, Taylor Helfrich and Kathy Whaley discuss the benefits and issues relating to physical therapy.
The Missouri Farm Bureau hosted its annual legislative briefing on Feb. 22-23, and members from Iron and Washington counties stopped by to share resources.
Tony and Jan Harbison, Sen. Gannon and Jim Reed discuss the importance of agriculture and the challenges of farming.