The legislative session is right around the corner. The 2022 legislative session gavels in on Wednesday, January 5 at noon. Bill pre-filing began on December 1 and we have seen a record number of bills pre-filed. As is typical, pre-filed bills include issues that did not cross the finish line during the previous session and include new issues that have surfaced since the last legislative session ended in May. Pre-filed bills include COVID related issues such as vaccine mandates to education reform to transportation including bills that would repeal the fuel tax passed last year.
Many are predicting that the 2022 legislative session will be one of the most controversial sessions yet, with not much getting across the finish line. 2022 is an election year and as is typical in most election years, very little legislation gets across the finish line. However, this year will not be a typical election year and there are many issues that will put additional strain on the legislative process.
Every 10 years the legislative and congressional district maps are re-drawn based on the census. The release of census numbers were initially delayed which delayed the redistricting process for the state. The Governor did not call a special session to deal with redistricting during the interim; therefore, this issue will need to be one of the first issues the legislature deals with. Redistricting will be controversial, and we anticipate will take up valuable floor time and test the degree of legislative in-fighting among the Republican Caucus and the Republican “Conservative” Caucus.
As you will recall, Medicaid expansion was passed by a vote of the people during the November 2020 General Election. The Republican legislature did not put funding in the FY2022 budged passed last session claiming the ballot language passed by the vote of the people did not include a funding mechanism for expansion; therefore, the legislature was not required to fund the expansion. The courts ruled last summer/early fall that the state was required to provide health coverage to the newly expanded Medicaid population; however, since the state did not include funding for Medicaid expansion in the budget passed during the 2021 legislative session, the state will need to act quickly to appropriate money to pay for Medicaid expansion before MO HealthNet runs out of money. As a result, a supplemental budget bill will need to be passed within the first several weeks of the legislative session. It is anticipated that MO HealthNet will run out of money in February without this supplemental appropriation which would impact all Medicaid services, not just the population covered by the expansion. This will be controversial as the Conservatives in the Republican legislature are adamantly opposed to expanding Medicaid.
Two bills calling for the repeal of the newly enacted fuel tax were among the first to be prefiled. SB782, sponsored by Senator Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove) and HB1594 sponsored by Representative Sara Walsh (R-Ashland) both seek to eliminate the provisions of SB262 from last session. Both are also running for Congress. Walsh is running in congressional District 4 to replace Vickie Hartzler who is running for U.S. Senate. Moon is running in Congressional District 7 to replace Rep. Billy Long who is also running for U.S. Senate. SB262 mandated an increase on the fuel tax in Missouri for the first time in nearly 30 years. Supporters of the tax at the time said the increase was needed to provide funds for maintenance and construction of the current aging system. Opponents continue to tout their opposition to any tax increases combined with federal stimulus dollars for infrastructure will cover some of the costs and projects the tax was intended to cover. At this time, we believe the repeal of this tax will make some headway through the legislative process but likely not pass.
We will begin sending our weekly legislative updates to the ASA membership once the legislative session begins. If you have any questions during the 2022 legislative session, please do not hesitate to reach out. Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group.