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Missouri Capitol deserted as lawmakers gone for spring break

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

Peace and quiet have descended on the Missouri Capitol as lawmakers are on spring break.

House Republicans are touting quick action on such things as ethics reform, a stricter abortion requirement for parental notification, and getting the state budget through the chamber. But Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, laments the Medicaid spending hike they passed for the current fiscal year.

"If we don't find a way to control Medicaid costs, Medicaid is going to bankrupt this state, there's no two ways about it," he told reporters Thursday.  "Medicaid spending is up 26 percent over the last 7 years, (and) we've had explosive enrollment growth despite the fact that eligibility limits are the exact same…every year I've been here the governor has been back asking this legislature for more money to fund Medicaid in the middle of the year."

  The House passed a supplemental budget bill on Thursday that adds $489 million to the current year's state budget, with most of that increase going to Medicaid programs.

Minority Floor Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, says the first half of the 2016 regular session has mostly been a waste of time.

"Here we are, it's spring break, and we have spent more time talking about selling the naming rights to our highways than we have actually had any discussion on how to pay for our shortfall in transportation funding," he said.

When it returns, the Senate will take up next year's state budget, along with the supplemental bill.  The upper chamber is also scheduled to debate the latest effort to require photo ID for voting, which could result in another showdown between Senate Democrats and Republicans.

The House will likely consider the proposal to allow business owners to opt out of working on same-sex weddings.

The 2016 legislative session ends in mid-May.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.