Monitoring prescription drugs: Missouri is the only state without a prescription-drug monitoring program. After years of helping thwart the idea, state Sen. Rob Schaaf says he hopes to be part of the solution.
This week the Senate gave initial approval to a bill sponsored by Schaaf, a St. Joseph Republican, that aims to prevent “doctor shoppers” from going to numerous doctors to get multiple prescriptions.
Schaaf has previously blocked passage of a drug monitoring program, arguing that keeping a database of people’s medical information is an invasion of privacy. He says his version has more safeguards, and even though he still doesn’t like the idea, he’d prefer it to a bill making its way through the Missouri House.
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“I’ve come to the conclusion,” he said, “that if we don’t pass something that protects our liberty, we might be forced to pass something that won’t.”
Longtime advocates of a drug-monitoring program panned Schaaf’s legislation. The Missouri Medical Association called it a “fake” monitoring program that “is bad for Missouri patients.”
Lieutenant governor’s office: The Missouri Capitol office of Lt. Gov. Mike Parson looks brand new.
The state has replaced the hardwood flooring, repaired cracked plaster, removed old wiring, replaced old carpeting and installed a new sink and refrigerator. They’ve also ponied up for a leather couch for the waiting room.
The price tag, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is $54,000.
Parson’s spokesman defended the spending, even during a tough state budget cycle, saying the office hadn’t been refurbished during the 12 years Peter Kinder was lieutenant governor.
Lincoln Days: Missouri Republicans are in Springfield this weekend for the annual Lincoln Days event.
The annual conference comes at a particularly celebratory time for the Missouri Republican Party. GOP candidates captured nearly every statewide office last year, and for the first time in eight years the party holds legislative majorities and the governor’s mansion.
Thus, in the first two months of the 2017 legislative session, they easily approved a GOP priority that’s languished for decades: a right-to-work law allowing employees in unionized workplaces to not pay unions for the cost of being represented.
Gov. Eric Greitens plans Saturday to hold a meet-and-greet event and then participate in a panel with several of his Cabinet members.
“Missourians delivered Republicans a historic, statewide sweep,” said Missouri GOP chairman Todd Graves, “opening the door to more jobs, safer communities and a government that seeks to put freedom back in the hands of its citizens.”
2020 election season starts...now? One Johnson County man isn’t even waiting until after the 2018 election to announce that he’s running for office in 2020.
Don McGuire, a Democrat from Overland Park, said this week that he plans to take on Republican Jim Denning, the state Senate majority leader, when his seat comes up for re-election.
“It’s not a stunt,” McGuire said. “I want to get a head start.”
McGuire pointed to Denning’s recent vote not to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of HB 2178, legislation that would have raised income tax rates and ended a tax exemption for roughly 330,000 small-business owners.
Denning has campaigned to end the business tax exemption, but said this week that he had issues with the income tax portions of the bill being retroactive to the start of the year.
McGuire ran against Denning in 2016 and lost by roughly 2,000 votes out of more than 36,000 cast.
Brownback’s defense: Brownback stood by his decision this week to announce that he would veto the tax legislation at a dinner held by Kansas Chamber of Commerce, a group that regularly lobbies the Legislature.
“It was a speech I was going to be giving,” Brownback said. “It was a group that I’ve worked with that I think is keenly interested on growing the economy of the state, which is what our tax package has been about.”
The crowd applauded him when he made the announcement.
“I thought that was a perfectly appropriate and I thought it was an excellent group to speak in front of,” Brownback said.
More vetoes? The leader of the Kansas Senate said this week that she expects to see more tax-plan vetoes.
“Clearly the governor wants to hold onto his small-business proposal,” said Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican.
Brownback’s veto and the failed override effort have thrown lawmakers another curve ball as they head into a break through the end of the month.
“You have to keep moving forward,” said Rep. Steven Johnson, an Assaria Republican who leads the House tax committee. “You can’t just say no. We have to hear, ‘No, but.’ ”
Other tax plans could make it to the House or Senate floor once the Legislature returns in early March, including the governor’s proposal, which would raise cigarette, tobacco and alcohol taxes.