- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard said he plans to bring up his priorities - including right-to-work and voter photo ID - before anything else gets done as the Legislature heads into its final week.

That sets the stage for a dramatic final week as those two contentious measures likely will encounter strong Democratic opposition as lawmakers work toward a May 15 deadline to pass bills. Richard said his Republican priorities will come before a bill reauthorizing service provider taxes that help fund Medicaid in the state.

“There’s priorities on both sides of the aisle, and if mine don’t make it, nobody else’s will either,” Richard said.

Republican majorities in other states have pushed through right-to-work and voter ID measures in recent years. Right to work, which prohibits fees from being collected from non-union members at businesses where the union has negotiated a security clause, was passed in Michigan and Indiana in 2012 and in Wisconsin earlier this year.

In Missouri, a right-to-work measure cleared the House earlier this session but has not yet been debated in the Senate.

The House has also approved a voter ID measure that would make the state one of the most restrictive in the country in terms of the type of photo identification voters would be required to have at the polls. Democrats have decried that as a partisan measure targeted at disenfranchising traditionally Democratic-leaning demographics.

Richard also accused Democratic senators of trying to slow things down during a rare Friday session in which no votes were taken. Democratic senators said they have a responsibility to vet bills and that their discussion focused on the content of a bill with several tax-related provisions.

“This time of year - this is when bad things sneak into bills,” Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny said. “We do things too fast sometimes.”

Keaveny said Republicans could have easily brought up and passed the federal reimbursement allowance - the tax paid by hospitals, ambulances, nursing homes and other service providers that accounts for a large chunk of the state’s Medicaid program. The tax is set to expire in September.

Both Democrats and Republicans agree that tax needs to be extended, and each blamed the other party for the delay. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said without an extension the Medicaid program would lose more than $3.58 billion.

“It has to pass, otherwise we will be the first state in the country to go back to the drawing board, completely, on Medicaid,” he said. “Democrats stood up and wouldn’t let us get to a vote.”

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide