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FRA renewal clears legislature while Senate promises to work on ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood proposal

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Legislation renewing the FRA tax for three years cleared a major legislative hurdle Wednesday afternoon after it was TAFP’d by the House. But a House bill, meant to “defund” Planned Parenthood died as the special session concluded. 

The governor, who had given lawmakers a July 1 deadline to pass a renewal package during an extraordinary session, is expected to sign off on the FRA proposal before the end of the day. 

The FRA renewal began in the Senate and includes a prohibition on abortifacients from being covered under Medicaid. Still, House Minority Floor Leader Crystal Quade told reporters following the vote that she considered the bill a “clean FRA” after attempts to add language further restricting Medicaid funding of abortion providers and affiliates to the FRA failed. 

A bipartisan group of women in the Senate brokered a deal to change the language regarding abortifacients after concerns were raised that women who use Medicaid could be prevented from accessing birth control or emergency contraceptives — particularly in the case of a sexual assault — because of the way the drugs and devices were listed out. Quade praised the coalition of women in the upper chamber who worked on that language. 

“We are proud of the work done by the House today to approve the FRA renewal so the vital programs that assist many of Missouri’s most valuable citizens can continue to be funded,” said House Speaker Rob Vescovo, Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher, and Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann. 

SB 1 was TAFP’d by the House in a 140-13 vote without much fanfare. GOP Reps. Hardy Billington, Mary Elizabeth Coleman, Bishop Davidson, Michael Davis, Bruce DeGroot, David Gregory, Tony Lovasco, Mike McGirl, Shane Roden, Chris Sander, Curtis Trent, Sara Walsh, and Richard West cast the votes against the proposal. 

The House also passed a bill Wednesday that bars public funding from going toward abortion facilities, affiliates, or associates. (HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS/TIM BOMMEL)

The Senate adjourned sine die without taking up HB 2 which bars public funding from going toward abortion facilities, affiliates, or associates. From Rep. Nick Schroer — who was the architect behind the stymied 2019 law banning abortions after eight weeks —it also declares the federal government cannot coerce Missouri into administering or enacting any regulatory program that directly or indirectly funds abortions — a measure supporters said was meant to warn the federal government Missouri would not recognize a repeal of the Hyde Amendment.

It was third read and passed by the House 109-45.

In a joint statement, Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz and Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden said the special session needed to be completed by Friday in order for the FRA renewal to be in effect by the end of September.

The Republican leaders said they would work with the governor and the House “in the weeks and months to come” to work on making sure the proposals laid out in HB 2 are put in place. They also announced the formation of the Interim Committee on Medicaid Accountability and Taxpayer Protection which will make recommendations for the MO HealthNet program and continue “protection of unborn life” in the state.

The FRA program taxes providers — covering hospitals, nursing homes, ambulances, pharmacies, and facilities for the intellectually disabled — which is then matched by federal dollars at a higher rate, reimbursing providers and leaving the state with extra money by reducing the burden on the state’s Medicaid program, known as MO HealthNet

Parson had warned he would have to withhold a “detrimental” $722 million from across state government, including education and foster care services. He said failure to reauthorize the FRA would lead to a loss of $591 million in Fiscal Year 2022 and $788 million in Fiscal Year 2023. 

In what was another effort by the legislature during the special session to seemingly push the boundaries of the call, Schroer sought to amend his bill to include a prohibition on businesses from requiring employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or any other emergency use authorization vaccine. Schroer specifically pointed to health care workers, saying he’s talked to individuals in that industry who say they are “wanting a choice in what they’re putting into their bodies.” 

The amendment resulted in heated debate, including among GOP lawmakers. Rep. Rudy Veit slammed the proposal as anti-conservative.

“We’re imposing our thoughts and goals on employers thinking we’re smarter than they are,” Veit said. “We’re letting government come in and take control. Today it’s this. What is it tomorrow?” 

“I think protecting the health care workers in the state of Missouri from taking a vaccine that is not FDA approved is a pretty pro-life move,” said Rep. Justin Hill. 

Before a voice vote on the amendment, Schroer pulled it back, saying it would give lawmakers more time to work with health care workers on legislation.

Cameron Gerber contributed to this report. This story has been updated.