Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

January 6, 2006

Legislators kick off 2nd session of the 93rd General Assembly

Medicaid and health care, eminent domain, energy policy and education are among key issues lawmakers from the House and Senate will address in the 2006 legislative session, which officially began Wednesday, Jan. 4. Leadership in both chambers held press conferences and addressed their goals and priorities for the upcoming session.

Senators gathered in the upper chamber to welcome their newest member, Sen. Jack Goodman (R-Mt. Vernon), an MU alum and former state representative who was elected in a special election to replace the late Larry Gene Taylor. Another senator, Jon Dolan (R-Lake St. Louis) has announced he plans to step down, and an election to fill that seat is set for April.

Senate President Pro-Tem Mike Gibbons (R-Kirkwood) shared a vision of building on last year’s session, with a focus on health care, education and taking steps to protect Missouri’s children. Noting that the state’s economy is growing at twice the pace of what was expected last year, Gibbons said “while we are not out of the woods yet, this improving economy means we’re getting closer to a balanced budget that will allow us to maintain programs while we continue substantial reforms, so that we can provide services Missourians need and deserve without a tax increase.”

Gibbons focused much of his speech on health care and the continued efforts to reform Medicaid. He urged lawmakers to review the Medicaid Reform Commission report and to look for ways to emphasize preventing illness rather than only treating patients when they are sick, and also said the state must make sure it is taking full advantage of technology to keep medical records in order.

In the House, Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) introduced two new members, Rep. Jane Bogetto (D-Kirkwood) and Rep. Jason Smith (R-Salem). In his speech to the chamber, Jetton also reflected on the accomplishments of last year’s session and outlined a set of goals for this year, which includes providing energy assistance to the elderly, reforming the disabled employees health assistance program, addressing the issue of eminent domain, increasing penalties for child sex offenders and making health care coverage more affordable through insurance reform.

At an afternoon news conference, Jetton was asked about the outlook for higher education. The Speaker said that higher education was one of the areas that the House wanted to protect last year, and that despite cuts in many areas of the budget, they were able to hold higher education at level funding. The emphasis will continue this year, he said.

Following comments by the House majority leadership, the House Democrats conducted a press conference to reflect on their goals for the year. House Minority Leader Jeff Harris (D-Columbia) outlined the “Move Missouri Forward” plan, which emphasizes economic security and quality of life, increased safety, and a more efficient, responsive and accountable state government. The agenda consists of seven major goals: restoring government integrity, job creation, consumer protection, disaster preparedness, health care access, school improvement and protecting children and families.

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