Rob Schaaf

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Missouri’s failure to set up a statewide prescription drug monitoring program during the 2016 legislative session will continue to affect other states. 

Each of the eight states bordering Missouri already has a program that notifies doctors when their patients have been prescribed dangerous amounts of addictive painkillers from multiple providers. Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, says without a program of its own, Missouri is negatively affecting the efforts of others to stop drug dealers and prevent addiction.

Margaux Harris, 7, granddaughter of Rep. Mike Lair, throws papers in the air shortly after members of the House did the same to mark the end of the legislative session.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For the most part, the dwindling moments of the 2016 session of the Missouri General Assembly were familiar: Paper got tossed. Press conferences transpired. And lawmakers get to spend the next few months far away from Jefferson City (with the exception, of course, of the legislators that represent that town).

But the last week of session did provide some notable insights and surprises: From the passage of a wide-ranging gun bill to the somewhat surprising resignation of a state senator, there was plenty of news to keep bespectacled reporters busy.

FDA | file photo

Prescriptions for opioids like hydrocodone and Vicodin that have been dispensed have quadrupled since 1999. Because these drugs are highly addictive, 49 states have implemented a drug monitoring program to ensure doctors don’t over-prescribe their patients. 

Just one state lags behind: Missouri.

St. Louis County Councilman Sam Page is a strong supporting of a prescription drug monitoring program.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

With a statewide prescription drug monitoring program likely to run into intractable legislative opposition, the St. Louis County Council decided not to wait.

The council gave final approval without opposition to legislation that would set up a database tracking when certain prescription drugs are dispensed. It’s aimed at stopping someone from getting narcotics at multiple pharmacies.

Sam Sextro lights candles across the street from the Edward Jones Dome while mourning the city's loss of the Rams. Sextro and a friend, who ran a St. Louis University High Rams fan club, met outside the stadium Wednesday for a "final tailgate."
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Stan Kroenke ended his self-imposed exile from the media yesterday, he wasn’t bringing good tidings to St. Louis sports fans.

The taciturn billionaire owner of the St. Louis Rams had plunged the region into a yearlong whirlwind after unveiling plans to build a lavish stadium in Inglewood, Calif. And NFL owners overwhelmingly approved his vision during a special meeting in Houston.

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Updated 5:17 p.m., Dec. 18 -- Dueling versions of legislation would each create a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri, the only state that doesn't have one.

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, announced Thursday that she would again be sponsoring the House version of the bill, which was pre-filed Friday.  It would give doctors and pharmacists easy access to recent drug purchases by patients as a way to combat doctor shopping.

HOK | 360 Architecture

There are few fans in St. Louis quite like Ram Man.

Ram Man — whose real name is Karl Sides — wears a hat molded in the shape of a snarling beast with spiraling horns. His jersey is adorned with patches celebrating the St. Louis Rams' achievements. And his unique admiration was worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But it will take more than extraordinary fan loyalty to keep an NFL team in St. Louis.

The five GOP contenders for governor: Peter Kinder, Eric Greitens, Catherine Hanaway, Bob Dixon and John Brunner
St. Louis Public Radio file photos

It’s fair to say that Missouri state Sen. Rob Schaaf has been a thorn in Gov. Jay Nixon’s side over the proposed riverfront stadium in St. Louis.

The St. Joseph Republican was one of the first members of the legislature to raise serious alarm about Nixon issuing state bonds for the $1 billion project without a legislative or statewide vote. More than 20 senators and some key House leaders have threatened to kill any state appropriation to pay off the stadium bonds if Nixon follows through.

The Missouri General Assembly placed most of this year's amendments on the ballot.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

If there was one big lesson that John Lamping learned during his tenure in the Missouri Senate, it was that it’s very difficult to pass a bill – but very simple to kill one. 

Case in point: The former GOP lawmaker proposed two-year ban on lawmakers going into lobbying, something that’s taken hold in other states and throughout the U.S. Congress. But Lamping’s proposal never got off the ground.

Gov. Jay Nixon says legislators blew their chance to have a say on bonding for a stadium in St. Louis.
File photo by Bill Greenblatt I UPI

Gov. Jay Nixon is facing explicit warnings from key legislators that they won’t approve payments on bonds for a new football stadium on St. Louis’ riverfront if they aren’t first approved by a legislative or public vote.

But the Democratic governor is dismissing the threats as too little, too late – pointing to inaction during the past legislative session.

Attorney General Chris Koster parts ways with the Missouri Democratic Party on the issue of campaign donation limits. His position on the issue may make already difficult road to capping donations impossible if he becomes governor.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Sen. Rob Schaaf probably wouldn’t be classified as bleeding heart liberal.

Throughout his tenure in the Missouri General Assembly, the St. Joseph Republican took sometimes-provocative conservative positions in battles over Medicaid expansion and unemployment benefits. He's encountered rightward plaudits and gubernatorial jeers for his latest stance against a St. Louis stadium funding plan.

But Schaaf parts ways with his party on campaign donation limits.

A rendering of the proposed riverfront stadium
Courtesy of HOK

After being stuffed in the General Assembly, skeptics of a proposed riverfront stadium in St. Louis are taking their fight to court.

Six lawmakers filed a suit Wednesday in Cole County Circuit Court to, among other things, prevent Gov. Jay Nixon from “extending” state bonds paying off the Edward Jones Dome to fund the new stadium. Office of Administration Director Doug Nelson contended earlier this year that Nixon had such authority, which spurred unsuccessful bills to force either a legislative or statewide vote on the matter.

Sens. Rob Schaaf

On this episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies break a bit of ground by welcoming two guests for one show – state Sen. Rob Schaaf and former Sen. Jim Lembke. 

Schaaf is a Republican from St. Joseph, Mo. He's a physician who has played a key role in health care policy over the past few years.

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

Former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond was tapped by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce to get Medicaid expansion across the finish line. 

He didn’t succeed. Despite the attempts of several Republicans in the House and Senate to pass some form of expansion this year, Bond told St. Louis Public Radio on Monday that “we were just a few filibustering senators short of getting it done.”

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate and Missouri House have both passed bills to ban sales of electronic nicotine delivery devices to minors.

House Bill 1690 and Senate Bill 841 would both limit the sales of these devices, sometimes called e-cigarettes, to consumers 18 years old and older, and both versions would not subject the devices to  regulation or taxation as tobacco products. 

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

State Sen. Rob Schaaf is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to health-care policy. But some believe that this staunch opponent of Medicaid expansion holds the key to ending the legislative impasse over it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: During any given session of the Missouri General Assembly, hundreds of proposals fall by the wayside. But state Sen. Joe Keaveny was especially dismayed by the demise of a one-cent sales tax increase for transportation.

The St. Louis Democrat even went so far to call the defeat of state Sen. Mike Kehoe’s constitutional amendment “tragic.”

/Via Flickr/ KOMU news, Manu Bhandari

A group of Republicans in the Missouri Senate has blocked a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a one-cent sales tax to help fund the state’s transportation needs.

The tax would require voter approval and would expire after 10 years unless voters renew it. Five percent of revenues raised would be designated for cities and another five percent for counties to pay for local transportation needs.  Those factors were not enough to sway several Republicans, including Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, who conducted a filibuster Tuesday night.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation has stalled in the Missouri Senate that would allow investor-owned electric companies to charge consumers for infrastructure improvements.

Opponents argued that Ameren Missouri, Empire District and Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) make enough money to pay for improvements without levying an Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge (ISRS) on their customers.  Several Senators are blocking the measure, including Republican Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph.

(via Flickr/CarbonNYC)

Two bills that would create a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri received a hearing Thursday before a State Senate committee.

One of the bills, though, is structured in a way that’s designed to block the proposal from ever becoming reality.  Physician and State Senator Rob Schaaf (R, St. Joseph) is an outspoken critic of prescription drug monitoring.  He says it would violate citizens’ privacy rights.

“But I have agreed to carry (Senate Bill 146), given that it goes to a vote of the people, and that nothing will be construed to require a pharmacist or prescriber to obtain information about a patient from the database,” Schaaf told the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Health.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

The nation’s drug czar was in Fenton Wednesday highlighting the fact that Missouri does not have a prescription drug monitoring program.

It’s the only state in the US without a tracking system or that hasn’t passed legislation to create one.

National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske says it’s a good way to identify patients who are "doctor shopping."

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated 5-17-2012, 2:31 p.m.

Missouri Senator Jane Cunningham (R, Chesterfield) has been released from a Jefferson City hospital and is resting at her Capital-area residence.

She left the State Capitol Wednesday afternoon after becoming light-headed during debate on an education bill.  Her Chief of Staff, Kit Crancer, did not disclose the nature of her illness.  He described it as a serious but non-life threatening situation.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

St. Louis to demolish plywood shacks near Mississippi River

Demolition will begin Friday at a row of plywood shacks near the Mississippi River in St. Louis where 10 homeless people have been evacuated. 

It is the first of three riverfront encampments the city ordered shut down. St. Louis Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff has said that he hopes to have all three encampments cleared out by May 18 after reports of violent crime and rat infestation.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A State Senate committee heard testimony today on legislation designed to block Governor Jay Nixon (D) from creating a health insurance exchange.

The proposed exchange is part of the national health care law signed by President Obama nearly two years ago.  All states are required to have an online exchange where customers can buy health coverage, and any state that doesn’t have one by the year 2014 will have one created for them by Washington.  The bill sponsored by State Senator Rob Schaaf (R, St. Joseph) would block the Governor and any agency under his authority from creating an exchange by executive order.