Medicaid Expansion Push Coming in 2020?
Signs are emerging that there will be a significant effort made to expand Medicaid through the initiative petition process.
· Last week Dr. Heidi Miller filed two initiative petitions which would allow anyone making less than 133% of the poverty level to receive healthcare. (Right now it’s 18% of poverty level). Miller is a physician who has argued for Medicaid expansion for years.
· Also last week, a new campaign committee was formed, Healthcare for Missouri, with the purpose of supporting Medicaid expansion on the 2020 ballot.
· Richard Von Glahn is the treasurer of the new committee. He’s the policy director for Jobs with Justice.
What It Means
Progressive groups in Missouri are outnumbered in the Republican super-majorities in the legislature. As a work-around they’ve found success winning using initiative petitions. Last year they’ve scored victories for a higher minimum, limiting campaign contributions and legalizing medical marijuana by taking their issue directly to Missouri voters.
But there’s a HUGE disparity between Medicaid expansion proponents and opponents about the cost. Some advocates insist it will have a positive impact on state revenues; many conservatives have watched the current program’s cost climb ever-higher, and view it as a doomsday budget buster.
That means the next turning point in this fight will be the fiscal note…
Page: Grand Jury Subpoenas Stenger Records
Post Dispatch reports that “a federal grand jury issued a subpoena to St. Louis County on Thursday, County Council Chairman Sam Page said on Sunday, suggesting that the U.S. government is looking into the activities of St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s administration. Page said he read the three-page subpoena on Friday during a meeting with St. Louis County Counselor Peter Krane. Page said the subpoena ordered the county to produce Stenger's call history, texts and emails with current and former county employees related to contracts awarded by any county department or agency. It also requested the same material for about seven senior members of Stenger's staff….”
What It Means
This potentially creates chaos in the governance of Missouri’s largest county, but it definitely weakens Stenger in his on-going war with the County Council. And social media was buzzing about what it means for the effort to combine the City and the County. According to the initiative petition, the county executive was to become the first mayor of the combine entity. But Tony Messenger writes that we’ll be seeing a new draft filed TODAY.
For those gaming out various scenarios, if the county executive position becomes vacant, the County Council appoints the county executive.
Driving the Week
It’s budget week on the House floor.
But now folks start counting the weeks until the end of session… 8. There’s a lot in the pipeline that some people want to pass – and other people want to stop…
· Parson’s agenda: Fast Track grant, Missouri works expansion, bridge repair bonding program.
· Education reform: charter school expansion, education saving accounts.
· Abortion: heartbeat bill.
· Tort reform: joinder venue. bridge repair bonding.
· Gaming: video lottery machines, sports gaming changes, sports wagering.
· Plus… Title IX fight, prescription drug monitoring program, LIHTC re-start, and maybe the anti-CLEAN?
· Bob Watson reports (see it here) that “within the next month — and certainly before the end of the legislative session — the Missouri Capitol will have another hearing room. Last month, the Legislature's Joint Committee on Legislative Research approved converting about 2,000 square feet of the former Legislative Research office on the Capitol's first floor into a hearing room — at least for the rest of this session… "We could set the space as it is now with up to 40 members of a committee," [House Chief Clerk Dana Rademan Miller] explained, "and (public) seating for 99." That would make the new space the largest hearing room in the Capitol — slightly larger than House Hearing Room 3, which has 96 chairs for the public seating, as well as space for the 35-member House Budget Committee and its staff… Miller said last week officials were finalizing orders for the project — like chairs for the lawmakers and public, and carpet squares to cover the tile floor. She expects the room to be ready for the Conference Committee hearings on the budget in late April or early May, if not before…”
· Governing Magazine reports on an effort to help the MMJ with their banking needs. Medical marijuana is legal in an additional 22 states, meaning that more than half the country permits some form of the drug. And yet, most growers and sellers can’t get a bank account for their business. Because the drug is still illegal under federal law, any bank that handles marijuana money can be charged with money laundering. This forces the industry to deal with large amounts of cash, making the businesses targets for violent crime and making it difficult for states to track and collect the tax revenue they're owed. But, there appears to be more momentum than ever before for addressing this issue. This month, the SAFE Banking Act was introduced in Congress. It would prevent federal banking regulators from punishing banks for working with legal cannabis businesses.
· Press release: The 21st Circuit Judicial Commission announces the following information relating to the applicants for the circuit judge vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Maura B. McShane… Monique D. Abby, Seth A. Albin, Thomas C. Albus, Kenneth M. Brison, William A. Catlett, Bonnie L. Clair, Heather R. Cunningham, Daniel E. Diemer, Jason D. Dodson, Daniel P. Finney III, Mondonna L. Ghasedi, Joseph L. Green, Peter W. Gullborg, Matthew H. Hearne, Robert M. Heggie, Terri Johnson, John R. Lasater, Virginia W. Lay, Karen T. Louis, Brandi Miller, Diane M. Monahan, Ryan L. Munro, Stuart L. O’Brien, Susan M. Petersen, Krista S. Peyton, Michael R. Roby, Thomas L. Sandifer, Ian C. Simmons, Dean A. Stark, Richard M. Stewart, Colleen Joern Vetter, and D. Kimberly Whittle.
· Springfield News-Leader reports on a felon running for mayor of Ava (pop. 2,896). Pretty fun read. See it here. “"I am gonna beat your sorry ass. Piece of (expletive.) Understand, David, I am coming for you. Tic toc you sumbitch. Tic toc. (Expletive)” Then the final message in the chain: ".... My apologies for comments I may have made last night. It will not happen again."
Black & Veatch Family of Companies seeks Director of Government Affairs. “Supervises and provides strategic direction for the Government Affairs team, under general direction of the General Counsel. Responsible for setting strategy and conducting a global government relations program nationally and in targeted countries, states, and municipalities in support of business development and sales efforts, project execution, payment issues, and Black & Veatch’s global growth strategies. Responsible for overseeing compliance with the company Political Participation Policy, and sets strategy and direction for the Black & Veatch Political Action Committee. Oversees adherence to budget and schedule.” See the ad here.
Mark Pederson filed an initiative petition to greatly deregulate and loosen the legal constraints on the MMJ industry. See it here. Pederson is the founder of Cannabis Patient Action Network.
Friends of SPS - $10,000 from Mercy Hospital.
Friends Of SJSD - $24,500 from News-Press & Gazette Co.
Unite STL - $125,000 from CHIPP Political Account.
American Property Casualty Insurance Association Political Account - $32,996 from American Property Casualty Insurance Association.
MO Opportunity PAC - $25,000 from Jeffrey L Cook.
Freedom Incorporated - $53,363 from Michael Ketchmark.
Civil PAC - $20,000 from Public School Allies.
Brad Galbraith added Excellence In Education National, Inc., DBA Excellence In Education In Action.
Brent Hemphill and Nikki Strong added Independent Colleges & Universities of Missouri.
Aaron Baker and Hannah Beers added Regulatory Consulting Group.
Happy birthdays to Sen. Doug Libla and Jason Holsman, Saundra McDowell, Erica Engelby, Robert Cornejo, and Mark Matthiesen.