In last month’s update we mentioned the controversy in the Capitol regarding the FRA tax, which is a critical funding source for hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, and ambulance services that care for Medicaid patients. The funding was set to expire unless legislators agreed to an extension, We are happy to report that during a special legislative session that concluded on June 30, the General Assembly sent their approval to the Governor for his signature. The passage of the measure ended a showdown between legislators that had lasted since the beginning of the regular legislative session in January. The passage of the renewal of the FRA also averted the Governor from making major budget withholds or vetoes he had threatened prior to the start of the special session. Upon the passage of the renewal, with just hours remaining in the fiscal year, Parson promptly signed the measure. Senators and Representatives agreed to a three-year extension of the tax, meaning that the controversial topic will be put to rest for the next couple years.
Also making news regarding Medicaid dollars is the continuing battle over Medicaid expansion in the state. As you will recall, Missouri voters approved expansion of the health care program in August 2020, which would cover an additional 270,000 people who are at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty level. However, the Republican controlled legislature opted not to enact the expansion, saying that voters did not approve a funding mechanism for the expansion. The measure quickly landed in Cole County Circuit Court, where judge Jon Beetem issued a ruling in favor of the state’s argument, that without a funding mechanism, the state is under no obligation to expand the program. The case then moved to the Missouri Supreme Court, where arguments were heard on July 13. As of the writing of this report, no decision has been handed down from the high court, but we expect that to happen soon.
Governor Mike Parson recently completed signing the remaining bills from the 2021 legislative session, signing the final round of bills on July 14. A full report of the Governor’s actions were sent in an emailed report to the membership in mid-July. As a recap, Parson signed numerous bills throughout June and July at events in Jefferson City and around the state. All signed bills will become law on August 28 unless they contained an emergency clause or a specific date for enactment. Of particular interest to ASA is SB262, which we have supported over several legislative sessions. The bill adds much-needed funding for road and bridge projects in the state, by allowing an additional tax of 12.5 cents per gallon on fuel purchases to be phased in over a five-year period. The Governor held several ceremonial signings of the bill across the state in mid-July.
Parson also issued several vetoes of bills recently passed, including SB226, which is a tax related measure which changed the threshold for sales tax filing periods, and allowed for certain property tax and income tax credits. He also vetoed HB661, a transportation related bill that dealt with a vehicle towing committee, a fee increase for obtaining certain records from the Highway Patrol and repealing vehicle emissions testing in certain areas. Legislators will have the opportunity to override any veto issued by the Governor at the constitutionally mandated veto session on September 15.
We anticipate the Capitol will be relatively quiet over the next month and leading up to the September 15 veto session. We will continue to keep you updated on political news in Jefferson City and around the state as it happens. Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group