Missouri Legislature

Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Missouri voters approved expanding Medicaid by about 7 percentage points in August, and now it’s up to the Legislature to put a program in place during its 2021 session, which begins next month.

But, the Republican-dominated Legislature vocally opposed expanding the public health option for low-income Missourians, and lawmakers are expected to introduce measures to limit who can access coverage in an effort to keep costs lower.

Hospitals across Missouri will soon receive help from a Texas-based company the state is hiring to provide additional workers and hospital beds.

Gov. Mike Parson announced Wednesday that the state has hired Vizient to provide temporary workers and additional beds for hospitals in Missouri overrun with coronavirus patients. He said Vizient will provide up to 760 temporary workers across the state.

“When fully deployed, this will add nearly 600 total beds to our statewide bed capacity, including some critical care beds,” Parson said.

Updated at 3:35 p.m. Dec. 2, with additional comments from legislators

The Missouri Senate passed a nearly $1.3 billion supplemental spending bill Wednesday that gives the state access to federal coronavirus relief funds.

The legislation, which passed the House last month, now heads to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk. He’s expected to sign it before the deadline to use the funds at the end of the year.

The Missouri Senate is postponing its portion of the special legislative session related to COVID-19 liability and federal funding because of positive coronavirus cases in the chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, tweeted on Monday that the decision is “in the best interest of protecting members, staff, and the public.”

Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said that on top of the special legislative session, the Senate was supposed to hold orientation for new members, which also has been postponed.

david_shane / Flickr

The State of Missouri is issuing new guidance for schools related to COVID-19.  Governor Mike Parson announced Thursday that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education now advises that close contacts of a person with COVID-19 in a school setting don’t have to quarantine if all individuals were wearing masks.

The guidance applies in school districts and charter schools that have mask mandates in place and when all parties were wearing their masks correctly at the time of exposure.

The Missouri House gave final approval Tuesday to a $1.2 billion supplemental budget bill, most of which comes from the federal government.

The legislation gives the governor appropriation authority to ensure the state has access to additional coronavirus relief funds.

Missouri lawmakers began a special session on Thursday to authorize Gov. Mike Parson to spend federal money aimed at fighting the coronavirus.

But some Republicans want to do more than just approve Parson’s supplemental budget request. They also want to pass legislation to curb lawsuits against businesses that are related to the virus.

11 Questions That Could Shape Missouri’s Election

Nov 2, 2020

The entire world is anxiously awaiting the results of the contest between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. But there’s more to Tuesday’s election than just the presidential race, especially in Missouri.

Tuesday will determine whether Republicans keep control of the executive branch or cede it back to Democrats. It will show whether Trump malaise hit hard enough to turn historically Republican parts of the state blue.

There’s a lot at stake. So here are some questions about what will affect the outcome.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is calling lawmakers back to Jefferson City for a second special legislative session to deal with a supplemental budget.

“It’s more of a technical session,” Parson said at his press briefing on Wednesday. “It should be very short. They should be in and out quickly.”

The session will begin on Thursday, Nov. 5, just two days after the election. The main priority is ensuring the state has access to additional federal funding for coronavirus response and recovery.

Gov. Mike Parson and Randall Williams, the state’s public health director, said Thursday that Missouri is ready to administer a COVID-19 vaccine when one is approved.

Williams said the vaccine would be administered in three phases. He said that in the first phase, the state expects to have a “finite amount" and will only administer the vaccine to those most vulnerable. They include include nursing home residents, long-term care facility staff and other health care workers.

Missourians decided in 2018 to try something different when it came to drawing state House and Senate district maps.

They chose to empower a demographer to come up with plans that emphasized partisan fairness and competitiveness, which proponents say will encourage more competition in General Assembly contests.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson returned to his normal schedule this week, emerging from isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus to tout the state’s economic recovery on Wednesday.

Parson announced he would be releasing $133 million back into the state’s budget after the funds were originally withheld due to the state’s grim economic outlook as the coronavirus left thousands jobless.

In a surprising move, the Missouri House abruptly ended the special legislative session on violent crime, failing to consider several proposals from Gov. Mike Parson after passing two others.

“I am as shocked as you all are, probably, about what just happened regarding this special session,” said Minority Leader Crystal Quade in a press conference right after lawmakers gaveled out Wednesday.

Quade, D-Springfield, said it’s shocking that, despite Republican supermajorities in both chambers, Parson got “very little” completed in the special session.

Updated Sept. 1 with bills moving to a Senate vote

A Missouri Senate committee has advanced the tough-on-crime legislation lawmakers have been working on throughout the special legislative session.

The measures were sent over from the House last week and moved through the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Those measures include the creation of a witness protection fund and the elimination of residency requirements for St. Louis police.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, emphasized the importance of masks in fighting the pandemic after a roundtable discussion Tuesday with Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and health officials in Jefferson City.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican,” Birx said. “You need to wear a mask and socially distance.”