Sep 14, 2017 – Weekly Capitol Update

ATTEMPT TO RESTORE SERVICES FOR DISABLED BLOCKED

Majority House Republicans on Sept. 13 defeated a Democratic effort to preserve in-home care and nursing home services for an estimated 8,000 disabled or elderly Missourians. Republican legislative leaders instead announced plans to further study the issue in hopes of developing a plan for funding the services that could be presented to lawmakers in a possible special legislative session later this year.

When he presented his proposed state budget for the current fiscal year in February, Republican Gov. Eric Greitens recommended eliminating funding for in-home care and nursing home services for more than 20,000 Missourians. The legislature restored the bulk of the funding using general revenue, but services for 8,000 Missourians remained unfunded.

In the closing minutes of the 2017 legislature session, lawmakers gave final approval to HCB 3, which sought to redirect more than $34 million that is sitting unused in special state accounts and use it to pay for in-home and nursing home services. Greitens, however, vetoed the bill in June.

During the legislature’s annual veto session, House Democrats moved to override the veto, but the motion failed on a vote of 49-106. Only five Republicans joined unanimous Democrats in supporting an override, with dozens of Republicans who previously voted for HCB 3 switching their positions.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, plan to appoint a bipartisan, bicameral task force in the coming days to develop a funding solution for restoring the services, although it remains unclear what form that solution might take.

Neither the House nor the Senate attempted to override any other Greitens other vetoes. The last veto session without a single override was in 2011, although the legislature overrode then-Gov. Jay Nixon on a congressional redistricting bill earlier that year during the regular legislative session. The last year without any overrides at all was 2010.

 

SENATOR CENSURED, REPRESENTATIVE FACES ETHICS INQUIRY

The Senate on Sept. 13 voted 28-2 to formally censure state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal for an August Facebook post in which she hoped for President Donald Trump’s assassination. On the same day, the House of Representatives opened an ethics investigation into state Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola, for his Facebook post hoping for the lynching of vandals who threw paint on a Confederate memorial in Springfield.

Chappelle-Nadal immediately removed her post and later apologized and said her comments were wrong. Love issued a statement saying he was “deeply sorry for the extremely poor choice of words” but has defiantly refused to delete his post. Both lawmakers have resisted calls for their resignations. 

Republicans had been pushing for Chappelle-Nadal to be expelled from the Senate due to her comments, but that movement started to fizzle out when Love, one of their own, likewise referenced political murder. Republicans then said Love should face the same punishment as Chappelle-Nadal.

While the Senate swiftly censured Chappelle-Nadal, the House took no immediate action against Love and instead referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee for consideration. Both chambers are Republican-controlled.

 

HOUSE REPUBLICANS SELECT HAAHR AS SPEAKER-DESIGNEE

House Republicans on Sept. 12 selected House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr of Springfield as their choice to become the next House speaker should Republicans retain control of the chamber following the 2018 general elections. State Reps. Holly Rehder of Sikeston and Robert Cornejo of St. Peters also sought the Republican nomination for the post.

For the last decade, House Republicans have chosen a speaker-designee more than a year in advance of an expected vacancy in the post. However, the actual election of the next House speaker won’t take place until January 2019 and will involve all House members including Democrats.

At least 35 House Republicans who participated in the selection of Haahr – nearly one-third of the GOP caucus – won’t be able to vote in the next speaker’s election as they are being forced out by term limits. The number of departing Republicans likely will increase as some incumbents who are eligible to seek re-election choose not to or are defeated.