Lawmakers have returned to Jefferson City and begun the new year’s regular Missouri legislative session.
So, what do they want to get done?
Senate Republicans are focused on:
- Placing all workplace illness and injury claims within the workers’ comp system,
- Lowering the state’s income tax, and
- Making the tax code more business-friendly.
House Speaker Tim Jones (R, Eureka) also wants to restore caps on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, which were struck down last year by the Missouri Supreme Court.
"Unless we take action, we will see millions and millions of dollars in the health care industry diverted away from care, diverted away from health care jobs, and instead those precious dollars will be needed for legal defense costs," Jones says.
Democrats in both chambers, including Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus (D, Callaway County) will push for Medicaid expansion.
“Expansion of Medicaid is not only necessary, but it’s also going to be good for the state," Justus says. "It is going to be a job creator that is unprecedented, and so it’s something that we’re looking forward to continuing [to] have the conversation with our Republican colleagues.”
Republicans in both chambers are expected to ignore calls to expand Medicaid. Justus is a long-time Senator from Kansas City -- however, the 10th District she represents was moved eastward during redistricting and now encompasses six counties in central, east central and northeastern Missouri. Justus owns a home in Callaway County, which is within the new boundaries of the 10th Senate District.
House Democrats, meanwhile, are criticizing GOP leaders for allowing a Republican from the Bootheel to be sworn into office on the legislative session’s opening day. Kent Hampton of Dunklin County won a narrow race in November against Democrat Tom Todd. The election is being contested, however, after it was found that voters in three precincts received the wrong ballots on Election Day. Minority Floor Leader Jacob Hummel (D, St. Louis) and other House Democrats have filed a letter of protest.
“We did not agree that he should have been seated," Hummel said. "All of the courts (so far) have said that we need to have some form of another election, whether it be in two precincts (or) three…I think the appeal is to whether or not there should be a total re-vote of that election.”
If Hampton eventually loses it would further erode the Republicans’ 2/3rds majority in the Missouri House.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport