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PDMP legislation caught up in Senate, House bickering

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The final week of session saw a complete breakdown in trust between the Missouri Senate and House — and the strife carried over to a prescription drug monitoring legislation that seemed near the finish line. 

The stripping of compromise language, coupled with “House shenanigans” the upper chamber discovered Thursday night, resulted in a brouhaha by the Senate Conservative Caucus on the final day of session.  

Senators debated the legislation for a few hours Friday before it was eventually laid over — with only a few hours left in the legislative session. It was not brought back up before the legislative session came to a close. 

“I am committed to continuing the fight to remove the stigma of addiction and to pass policies that help our families navigate these very difficult waters,” Rep. Holly Rehder said. “I will also continue working to ensure that we arm medical professionals with the tools they need to combat this epidemic.”

Lawmakers spent the week scrambling to work out a deal on Rehder’s HB 1693, that at its core, would establish a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). It’s been a labor of love for Rehder, who is in her final term in the House. Missouri is the lone state without a statewide program although smaller-scale versions do cover much of the state. 

The Senate passed the PDMP bill in early March, before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the Capitol — albeit, with compromise language supported by the Conservative Caucus. The concession included provisions related to fentanyl trafficking; that provision was stripped out during conference this week. 

“This bill should pass under the same arrangements set on it in February when the compromise was reached,” Sen. Bill Eigel said as the filibuster kicked off with Rehder looking on from the Senate gallery. “Why should the Senate bail the Missouri House of Representatives out when they chose to play political games in the first place?” 

The bill passed the House Wednesday in a 94-59 vote. 

Tensions were already high in the Capitol Friday following after the Senate made the rare move to reconsider a transportation omnibus bill late Thursday night that already been truly agreed to and finally passed (TAFP’d). After its passage, lawmakers discovered a provision hidden in a House amendment that would have been detrimental to the Grain Belt project as well as other co-ops, railroads, cities, and municipalities. 

Senators unanimously voted to reconsider the bill, and by Friday morning, it was clear Sen. Justin Brown’s legislation was dead. 

“We expect a level of integrity and mutual trust between the chambers,” Sen. Denny Hoskins, who held court on the PDMP filibuster, said Thursday night. “When shenanigans like this are exposed, trust is eroded.”