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Missouri Legislative Session 2018 – February 16th Update

Posted on 02/16/18

Wednesday, January 3rd, the members of the  Missouri General Assembly called themselves into session. Many issues face them this year including a looming budget deficit and many Missourians still without access to prescription drug assistance through the MO Rx Program or Home and Community Based Services through the Missouri Medicaid Program, known as MO HealthNet.

Check this webpage on Fridays for weekly updates.  AARP Missouri is working for you in Jeff City!

Senate CARE Act Bill Referred to Committee

Senate Bill 991, sponsored by Senator Scott Sifton (D-St. Louis County) was referred to the Senate Seniors, Families and Children Committee this week.

The CARE Act is legislation that would allow family caregivers to be notified when their loved one is discharged from the hospital and also require training for complex medical tasks.

Missouri has nearly 800,000 family caregivers who are providing $8.2 Billion worth of care to their loved ones every year – costs that could accrue to Medicaid if not for those caregivers.

The Missouri Hospital Association has come out in favor of the version of the CARE Act that is moving through the General Assembly. In the 36 other states that have passed the CARE Act, hospitals were the main opposition, but now many see the CARE Act as one reason that readmissions are declining.

Many senators across the aisle have expressed their support for passing the CARE Act in Missouri and we are working with Senator David Sater’s (R-Cassville) office to schedule a hearing on this important legislation.

Click here to contact YOUR State Senator TODAY and urge them to support the CARE Act!

Senators Agree to Continue Negotiations on Utilities Legislation

The Missouri Senate this week passed Senate Bill 564, a piece of anti-consumer, pro-monopoly utility legislation sponsored by Senator Ed Emery (R- Lamar).  The legislation was filibustered by a bipartisan group of five       senators – Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-St. Louis County), Senator Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff), Senator Gary Romine (R-Farmington), Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph), and Senator Jill Schupp (D-St. Louis County) – throughout the last two weeks.

Last week, these five senators were threatened with a previous question motion – a motion that ends debate in the senate – on not only this legislation, but every anti-consumer piece of legislation currently sitting on the    Senate Calendar.

This week, it became clear that there were never the votes to move the previous question, also called the PQ, on the entire package of pro-utility legislation.

On Thursday, the senators finally reached an agreement to let the legislation move forward as long as negotiations on the bill continue during consideration by the House of Representatives. Previously, Representatives in the House had express their desire to quickly pass identical legislation to what moved out of the Senate as a way to prevent further consideration by the five pro-consumer senators.

Call YOUR State Representative TODAY at 1-844-288-1085 and urge them to oppose legislation that would raise rates on residential customers.

Deep Cuts to Revenue Pass Senate Committee

This week, the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed Senate Bill 617, sponsored by Senator Bill Eigel (R-St. Charles), a bill that is estimated to cut state revenues by nearly $600 million.

The bill has several positive provisions, including the Marketplace Fairness Act that would require online retailers to collect the same sales taxes as brick-and-mortar retailers in Missouri. It would fix the corporate income tax loopholes, passed with incomplete information, that has cost the state nearly $150 million in lost revenue. Thanks to a last minute amendment by Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis), it would also implement an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for the first time in Missouri, which is considered to be one of the most effective anti-poverty programs a government can pass.

Those positive measures are overshadowed, however, by the negative impact to services that    Missourians rely on.  Also included in SB 617 is a provision to cut the corporate income tax by 2%, costing the state nearly $100 million.  It also cuts the top rate for personal income taxes, costing the state over $1 Billion per year.

In times when the General Assembly is considering cutting the Circuit Breaker Tax Credit for Missouri seniors, effectively raising taxes on over 100,000 older Missourians, and taking prescription drug assistance under MO Rx from lower-income Missourians on Medicare, lowering revenues should not be under consideration.

This post is updated weekly during the legislative session. Please check back on Friday afternoons for the latest news.

The post Missouri Legislative Session 2018 – February 16th Update appeared first on AARP States.

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