Road improvements, protecting children, prescription drug monitoring among key issues
Jefferson City – Missouri House Democrats secured passage of bills to provide long-overdue funding for road and bridge improvements, create a statewide program to combat prescription drug abuse, establish regulation of religious boarding schools and make progress on law enforcement reform, among other issues in the recently ended legislative session.
“House Democrats are proud of our work providing critical support on a range of legislative accomplishments,” said House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield). “We finally joined the rest of the country and passed a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). We leveled the playing field between local businesses and online retailers, and provided the transportation infrastructure funding needed for our economy to thrive.
“We banned chokeholds by police, stopped the harmful and bigoted attacks on innocent trans children and delivered long-overdue protection to kids living in residential facilities,” Quade said. “House Democrats were decisive in determining the outcomes of these and many, many other issues.”
The biggest disappointment from this year’s session, which ended May 14, was the Republican majority’s refusal to fully fund Medicaid and Gov. Mike Parson’s decision to break his previous promises to implement a constitutionally mandated expansion of the program that will take effect July 1. In addition to the societal benefits of providing health care access to 275,000 Missourians who currently have none, expansion would provide an economic boost to the state by infusing about $1.4 billion in federal health care spending for the upcoming fiscal year, plus an additional $1.5 billion from the latest federal coronavirus relief package.
“Missourians voted for Medicaid expansion, and the state constitution mandates it,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Richard Brown (D-Kansas City). “It might require a court order, but this is happening whether Republicans like it or not.”
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
The legislature made progress on criminal justice reform by prohibiting most uses of dangerous respiratory chokeholds by police, requiring departments to track and report use-of-force incidents and giving prosecutors more authority to overturn past wrongful convictions.
RIGHT TO PROTEST
House Democrats also were successful in blocking a proposal that sought to infringe on the constitutional rights of protesters by making it a felony to block a roadway.
GIVING GUN OFFENDERS THE RIGHT TO SUE
One of the most controversial bills passed this year was a Republican measure that seeks to defund police to enrich criminals by allowing federal gun offenders to sue local departments whose officers assist federal agents in investigating gun crimes. Those departments could be hit with a minimum $50,000 civil fine per occurrence, with the proceeds going to the criminal offender. The same bill also attempts to declare many federal gun laws unenforceable in Missouri, an unconstitutional change that will almost certainly wind up in court.