The Missouri Times reports that the Missouri Highway Patrol has expanded its state crime laboratory. The 8,000-square foot addition will be entirely devoted to DNA testing.
Two hot legislative items for next year will be COVID liability and Medicaid expansion. The governor withdrew his expansion of the current special session to include exemption of liability for COVID contraction in certain situations. Senator Ed Emery had filed the bill, but it became stuck in committee. According to the Missouri Times, the protections included:
. . . health care workers providing necessary care during the ongoing state of emergency; manufacturers producing, designing, and selling goods directly related to the pandemic; and premises such as schools, churches, businesses, and nonprofits. The goal was to protect these entities from being held accountable for transmission or exposure claims on their premises or through their operations during the pandemic. ( https://themissouritimes.com/parson-reverses-on-covid-liability- protections-asks-lawmakers-to-consider-during-regular-session/ )
Emery ended his committee hearing with the hope that the legislation can be pursued during regular session.
Of course, the other hot item for consideration in 2021 will be Medicaid expansion. As you recall, this was passed during the August 2020 election and is now required to be implemented by the state. I am certain a multitude of bills will be filed on this subject, and it will most likely be a subject of contention throughout the 2021 session. However, there will eventually emerge an end product.
Legislature Gives Final Approval to Spending Bill for Coronavirus Relief Efforts (HB 14)
A special session called by Gov. Mike Parson to allocate nearly $1.3 billion in supplemental spending has concluded. This week the Senate gave final approval to the spending bill that started in the House. The legislation will provide access to Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, which is intended to provide additional resources to respond to COVID-19.
The bill, which was originally passed by the House in November, received strong bipartisan support in both chambers. The largest item in the nearly $1.3 billion spending plan is $764 million for the state’s efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Other items of note in the spending plan include $140 million for testing, tracing, reporting and other expenses related to mitigating the virus, $96.8 million to transfer child support debt intercepted from federal stimulus payments to custodial parents who are due the money, and $75.7 million for school food service programs that have been extended through the end of December. Other areas of approved expenditures include:
· $34 million for assistance to businesses/employees participating in the Shared Work Program.
· $19.6 million for homeless prevention grants.
· $5.1 million in additional funds for ongoing long-term behavioral health effects in both adults and children caused by natural disasters in our state in 2018 and 2019.
· $93 million for ongoing pharmacy expenses in the Medicaid program due to increased utilization during the pandemic.
With the approval of the legislature, the bill now heads back to the House for the Speaker’s signature, and then onto the governor’s desk. A technical session is scheduled for Friday morning at 10 a.m. for the Speaker’s signature and sine die for the year. Passage of the bill marks the end of the legislature’s work during the special session.
The governor had called for the session to be expanded to include legislation to provide liability protections for health care providers, manufacturers, businesses, schools, churches, and nonprofit organizations, among others. While the Senate had started work on the bill this week, Gov. Parson asked the legislature to table discussion on the bill for now. The legislature will now take up the issue of COVID-19 liability protection when the regular session begins in January.
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.