JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson’s decision to call a special session for lawmakers to address a vehicle sales tax issue drew instant fire from Democrats who want to tackle a bevy of interests instead.
Many Democrats pointed to the large amount of children who have been dropped from state health insurance recently as a more pressing issue to be taken up by the legislature.
House Speaker Elijah Haahr, a Republican, pointed to changes to the Affordable Care Act, an improved economy, new technology, and a lack of verification from the previous administration as to causes for the decline. Democrats, however, have criticized the MO HealthNet software, improperly distributed renewal notifications, and call center wait times.
“Roughly 100,000 Missouri children have lost their state health care coverage, but the Parson administration says there’s no problem,” House Minority Leader Crystal Quade said Wednesday following Parson’s announcement of a special session to tackle vehicle sales tax issues.
Democratic Sen. Lauren Arthur echoed those sentiments on social media: “100,000 children in Missouri have lost their health care coverage since 2017 — enrollment is down almost 13 [percent] in Clay County. And, the urgent priority is … a fix to an auto sales tax issue?!”
Parson’s office said the special session, beginning on Sept. 9, would solely tackle a June decision from the Missouri Supreme Court which determined state statute allows the sale proceeds of only one vehicle to be credited against the purchase price of a new vehicle in computing sales tax.
“The enforcement of this decision would create a financial burden on Missouri taxpayers and unnecessary government red tape that we can proactively prevent,” Parson, a Republican, said.
Aside from Medicaid issues, Quade also suggested Parson could have used a special session to tackle gun violence.
“Missouri’s irresponsible and weak gun laws have contributed to a sharp spike in gun violence and recently enabled a heavily armed man to cause a panic at a Springfield Wal-Mart, yet Governor Parson does nothing,” she said. “There are several issues that demand immediate legislative attention and would justify the cost of a special session. Creating another unnecessary tax break for a handful of people isn’t one of them.”
A 20-year-old man was arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat. He walked into the Wal-Mart with armor and carrying a long rifle and ammo just days after 22 people died during a mass shooting at a Texas Wal-Mart.
Mark Osmack, a former state Senate U.S. congressional candidate, also suggested gun violence is a more pertinent issue. He pointed to reports showing 10 children have been fatally shot in St. Louis just this summer.
“There is a perception the governor is a ‘good guy.’ Under him, 10 children have been murdered this summer alone in St. Louis. His response? To call a special session addressing used car taxes,” Osmack told The Missouri Times. “He has health insurance, but he has overseen a Missouri legislature that removes thousands of Missouri kids from Medicaid. His priorities have forsaken the 10 kids killed, seemingly because they’re expendable. They’ve been forsaken … for the priority of used car taxes.”
State Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat who has launched a 2020 gubernatorial bid, did recently request Parson call a special election — but regarding recommendations made earlier this year by a school safety task force. Particularly, Galloway urged Parson to fund and ensure every school has an armed officer.
“There is no greater priority than the safety of our kids,” Galloway said following Parson’s announcement. “The bipartisan School Safety Task Force provided concrete recommendations in July on ways to protect Missouri schools. As parents bring their children back to school, this issue remains urgent.”
The special session will begin Sept. 9, running concurrently with veto session — meaning lawmakers will already be back in Jefferson City.
Alisha Shurr contributed to this report.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the newspaper in 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City. Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S. and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.