JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson is calling on the Missouri Legislature to call themselves to a special session to address the issue of how to restore funding to the in-home service cuts to more than 8,000 senior, disabled and veterans, but he also is asking the Senate to deal with Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal at the same time.
In a conference held late Thursday morning, Lt. Gov. Parson called on the Legislature to come together in conjunction with the upcoming veto session to address both issues.
“As Missouri’s official advocate for over 1.3 million seniors and over 480,000 veterans, I am urging the General Assembly to find an alternative funding source and restore the cuts so we may keep Missouri friendly to veterans, seniors, and those with disabilities,” he said.
Roughly 8,000 Missourians will lose access to in-home and specialty nursing services after the eligibility requirements were tightened in the Governor’s budget this past spring. To correct that, the Legislature tried to sweep roughly $35 million from other state accounts to shore up the fund and pay for those services, but Governor Eric Greitens vetoed that bill, HCB 3, at the end of June.
“I understand difficult choices have to be made considering state revenue and programs, however, I feel it is critical to restoring the funding to those who call Missouri home and cannot care for themselves,” Parson said. “Without this funding, those most at risk Missourians will lose access to services they depend on, therefore reducing their quality of life.”
He also said he wished to provide an update on the situation involving Sen. Chappelle-Nadal following her comment on Facebook in which she stated she hoped President Donald Trump would be assassinated. Parson penned a letter in August that was sent to the senators, calling on them to expel the embattled senator, calling her comments and conduct “unbecoming” of a state senator.
“Since the senator made those remarks, we have heard from tens of thousands of Missouri citizens asking for her to resign or to be expelled from the Missouri Senate,” Parson said. “To all of those who have reached out to my office, I hear you loud and clear.”
Parson said that he had spoken with most senators, and they nearly all agree that some sort of action needs to be taken against Chappelle-Nadal. He said the senator’s attempt to “hide behind weak apologies” does not sway their stance.
“I am requesting and hoping that the legislative body calls themselves in and take action with these two very important matters,” he said. “I strongly urge all Missourians to contact their State Representative and Senator on these issues, and make their voices heard as thousands have already done.”
“I have no desire to sit in the same chamber with an elected official who called for the assassination of the President of the United States, but if my colleagues are comfortable with this, that is their decision to make.”
However, the Lt. Gov.’s call did not include a call for a session to discipline Rep. Warren Love, who has recently come under fire for his comments on social media in which he stated that vandals who defaced a Confederate monument in the Springfield National Cemetery should be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”
“In reference to Representative Warren Love, I have made a statement strongly condemning his unacceptable remarks, and agree that he needs to face the consequences of his actions,” Parson stated. “However, it is up to members of the House of Representatives to decide what the next course of action should be. As President of the Senate, I will continue to hold the Missouri Senate to a high standard of conduct.”
When asked why the Governor isn’t calling the Legislature into session, Parson said that since it is a disciplinary action in the Senate, it’s up to the Senate to deal with it.
As for what source of funding might be suggested to shore up the cuts, Parson stated that the House and the Senate should work together to find the answer.
“Both Republicans and Democrats should come up with the resources to reinstate those cuts, and I believe they will come up with a plan for that and that they will do it,” he responded. “I think they have a plan. They’re working on a plan now. I’ve met with leadership in the House and Senate, and I believe there is the possibility of a plan put together.”
But the question is whether the legislature is willing to deal with both issues, as some lawmakers are reluctant to vote for a special session on either the cuts or Sen. Chappelle-Nadal.
“These two issues are critical to all Missourians and the future of our state,” Parson said.
But when asked by reporters if the two issues were tied together, an all or nothing scenario, the Lt. Gov. said he felt both should be dealt with in a special session.
“I think the legislature should call themselves in to deal with both issues,” he told the press. “I don’t think you get one or the other, I think you need to deal with both.”
Senate leadership is expected to talk with the members of the caucus either Friday or even Monday, and Sen. Ron Richard has reportedly stated that he will offer a resolution to expel Chappelle-Nadal next week. Whether the 23 votes needed will be there is unknown. Richard also said that he would ask Gov. Greitens to call the Legislature into a special session.
Speaker Todd Richardson put out the following statement after the Lt. Gov.’s press conference:
“My colleagues in the House made it a top priority during our regular session to find a viable solution that would allow state assistance to continue for disabled Missourians who need in-home and nursing care. We continue to be ready and willing to develop a fiscally responsible answer to this serious problem. We are currently working closely with the Senate to determine our available options to address this issue as soon as possible.”
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.