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Discussion: What Can We Expect In The Next Session Of The Missouri Legislature?

(via Flickr / jimbowen0306)
Missouri State Capitol.

The next session of the Missouri Legislature opens Wednesday, January 8, and with it an uptick in political activity in the state.

Terry Jones, Founders’ Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Administration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis joined St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum in studio with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss what to expect during the 2014 session.

Among the issues to keep an eye on this session will be the school transfer issue, Medicaid expansion and transportation tax.

While several bills addressing school transfers have already been proposed by state senators, the question is whether or not the debate gets so broad in scope that common ground can’t be found.

“There’s always this clash between educators, administrators and the quote unquote education establishment, as they are derisively called, and proponents of quote unquote school choice, of vouchers, of changing teacher tenure or voucher-like programs,” Rosenbaum said.

The Senate seems dedicated to passing a bill, but it may get stymied in the House, added Mannies. For more on what to expect in the legislative session, read Jo Mannie’s article on the topic.

As for Medicaid expansion, Jones said any bill approving expansion would be unlikely to pass due to strong Republican views in opposition to anything connected to the Affordable Care Act, and Mannies and Rosenbaum agreed.

Republican opposition is both economic and philosophical, Mannies said. First of all, they don't believe the federal government can sustain support for the expansion and don't want to be on the hook for paying for it down the road. And second of all, they don't believe the government should be involved in health care.

"They [Republicans] see health care as their Bunker Hill, and they're going to fight to push back the gains that have been made by the  Democrats getting the Affordable Care Act passed," Mannies said. 

The proposed transportation tax, which would add one percent to sales tax statewide for ten years, has both bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. People agree that the transportation infrastructure needs overhauled, Jones said, but they disagree about how to pay for it and where to implement it.

And underlying the debates will be the upcoming elections and the fact that the House is one vote short of being veto proof, because Governor Nixon has not called for special elections to fill empty seats, Mannies said.

Other topics discussed during the show included:

  • Nixon’s priorities during his last term as governor
  • Rex Sinquefield’s push to end teacher tenure
  • The likelihood of a gun control or gun rights bill
  • The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, which would protect gay rights in the workforce
  • The upcoming budget fight between the governor and the legislature
  • Criminal code revision
  • Voter ID legislation
  • Tax cuts
  • The possibility of abortion legislation
  • The likelihood of campaign finance and lobbying reform

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

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