A Few Things On the Horizon

When the General Assembly returns to work next week, debate over the proposed state budget for fiscal year 2016 is likely to grab most of the attention. However, other important issues will surface in the coming weeks.

Senator Jeanie Riddle (R-Fulton) has SB 302 in position for debate by the full Senate. This legislation seeks to ensure women considering out-of-state abortions receive the same information about abortion alternatives and related issues as is currently provided under Missouri law to women considering an abortion in Missouri. Meanwhile, HB 190 sponsored by State Representative Kathy Swan (R-Cape Girardeau), which would require annual state inspections of abortion clinics, has passed the Missouri House and awaits action in the Missouri Senate. The MCC will be working to pass both bills in the closing weeks of this year’s session.

The welfare reform legislation – SB 24 sponsored by Senator David Sater (R-Mt. Vernon) – needs final action by the General Assembly. A conference committee is trying to work out the differences between Senate and House versions of the bill. The MCC has sent out an action alert asking network members to contact their state Senator and Representative urging that no less than 48 months be allowed for benefits under the temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) program. If you have not contacted your state legislators yet, read the alert and send them the pre-composed message.

Although the General Assembly has shown little appetite for a major reform and expansion of Medicaid, smaller steps are under consideration. SB 322, sponsored by Senator Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles), would increase the amount of assets a disabled person could have and still qualify for Medicaid health coverage. The asset limit for these individuals has not been raised in many years. The legislation gradually raises the asset limits so that by fiscal year 2019, the asset limit for individuals will be $5,000 and the limit for married couples will be $10,000. In addition, the legislation includes a cost of living adjustment that is to be made annually. The MCC supports the legislation and is hoping the measure can be expanded to include the indigent elderly.  Senate Bill 322 should soon make its way to the Missouri House and prospects for final passage are good.

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