It seems that every decade or two we face a challenge that tests our mettle as a nation. It forces people to talk to one another and put their polarized political beliefs aside. Reach out to a family member, a parishioner, a neighbor, a friend or even an acquaintance who you think could be negatively impacted by our current events.
If you know someone who is elderly, provide them some supportive words, a helping hand or just let them know you are there for them. We should all be able to set aside our “never-this” or “only-that” attitudes aside long enough to get back to these core principles and values.
It is those behaviors that have made our nation the strongest, most self-reliant and resilient in the world.
Missouri House Approves Key Pieces of Legislation before Annual Break
House members returned to the State Capitol this week with the goal of approving the Fiscal Year 2021 state operating budget, but altered their plans as a result of the evolving COVID-19 health situation and the potential impact it will have on the state’s economy.
The week began with a marathon Sunday Budget Committee hearing where members of the committee worked until the early hours of Monday to craft a spending plan. The budget bills were set to come to the floor for approval on Wednesday and Thursday, but Tuesday afternoon leadership announced that their primary short term goal is to “maintain an amendable budget” so they can “account for potential fluctuation in revenue and address any new needs facing Missouri.”
With work on the budget postponed, legislators turned their attention to a supplemental budget bill that will provide critical funding to help the state address the spread of the coronavirus.
Legislators also approved an important piece of legislation that will generate close to $1 billion in revenues for the state budget. The goal is to have a full budget to the Senate in a time frame that will allow for its passage before the constitutional deadline of May 8.
House Members Approve Supplemental Budget with Funding for Coronavirus Efforts (HB2014)
The House has approved a supplemental budget bill that will provide the state with extra spending authority for the remainder of the current fiscal year. The legislation authorizes an additional $412.8 million in spending for items ranging from early childhood education to services for seniors to enhanced access to care for uninsured children.
“By passing this bill out today we are appropriating dollars that will keep state government functioning through the end of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30 of 2020,” said the House Budget Committee Chairman, who sponsors the bill.
The legislation also includes an increase of $33 million in federal funds to be appropriated for aid across the state to assist with the response to the coronavirus outbreak. The funds will be utilized according to two pieces of legislation at the federal level. The additional dollars will likely be used for testing equipment, personal protective equipment, as well as items like food assistance, emergency paid leave and emergency unemployment insurance.
“I think we are doing the best we can to prepare ourselves for what we think we will need based upon conservations, this is combined with what we think we will get from the federal government,” said the sponsor.
The appropriation will supplement the more than $7 million in funds the governor has already activated with his state of emergency declaration. In total the state would have more than $40 million to utilize in its efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus through the end of the current fiscal year.
In regard to the funding for coronavirus mitigation efforts, the House Budget Committee Chairman added, “I have faith in this body that we will come back and do our duty when we are called upon by the citizens of this state. We cannot solve a global pandemic in this room today. We cannot end the problem. We do not have all the solutions because we don’t know what we’re up against. We’ve heard from health care providers. We’ve heard from people all over the state. We don’t know what the scope of this is yet. But what I do know is that as we start to understand it more, if we are not doing enough today, we will be back in this room having this conversation again and we will do everything within our power to meet those needs.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
House Approves Legislation to Continue Federal Reimbursement Allowance Taxes (HB 2456)
Heading into the break, lawmakers approved an important piece of legislation that provides vital funding for the state’s Medicaid program. In total the bill will generate close to $1 billion in revenue for the state operating budget.
The bill will extend until 2021 the Ground Ambulance, Nursing Facility, Medicaid Managed Care Organization, Hospital, Pharmacy, and Intermediate Care Facility for the Intellectually Disabled Reimbursement Allowance taxes. These taxes are part of the Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA) program that was first enacted into law in 1992. Under the program, hospitals and other medical providers provide funds to the state. Missouri’s Medicaid program then uses these funds to draw down matching federal dollars, and providers are reimbursed through appropriations from the federal funds.
Governor Parson Announces April 7 Municipal Elections Postponed until June 2
In accordance with his executive order declaring a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 and in response to a request from Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Gov. Mike Parson has signed an executive order that postpones all elections schedule for April 7 until June 2. The governor’s order allows the ballots already printed for the April 7 election to be used on the postponed date of June 2.
Voters who have reached the age of 18 by April 7 will be allowed to cast a ballot.
Gov. Parson said, “Given the growing concern surrounding COVID-19 and the large number of people elections attract, postponing Missouri’s municipal elections is a necessary step to help combat the spread of the virus and protect the health and safety of Missouri voters.”
Governor Parson Shares Guidelines to Combat Spread of COVID-19
As the state of Missouri works to mitigate the spread and impact of the coronavirus, Gov. Mike Parson is encouraging Missourians to follow guidelines based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as federal guidance from the Trump Administration.
Gov. Parson also noted the state has taken several steps to encourage social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Missouri, including the restriction or suspension of visitors at Missouri’s veterans homes, correctional facilities, and mental health facilities. Public tours and events in the State Capitol have also been shut down.
Those with questions regarding COVID-19 can also call the DHSS hotline at 877-435-8411.
In addition, a number of healthcare facilities are establishing satellite testing facilities which enable individuals who have been referred by their physician to be tested without entering the facility.