Kraus leads opposition to PDMP as Schaaf receives desired changes
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Sen. Rob Schaaf may have famously ended his long, deep opposition to Rep. Holly Rehder’s prescription drug monitoring plan (PDMP) bill, but that did not mean the rest of the Senate would step aside so easily.
Yet after four hours of vigorous debate, a load of amendments from opponents of the legislation, and some heavy lifting by Sen. Dave Schatz, the Senate voted the bill out of the chamber 22-9.
Schaaf stood aside from his typical filibuster, but he did still take nearly two hours on the floor to ensure the substitute with his language was worded as precisely as he liked. When it met his satisfaction, he withdrew from the debate entirely.
A group of senators led by Sen. Will Kraus coalesced to put up a formidable wall of their own. The culmination of their efforts surprised Schatz, who said he believed there would be opposition. He just did not know to what extent.
“I knew there may be some challenges out there,” Schatz said. “Obviously we had worked out an agreement with one of the chief roadblocks on this issue, but I also realize there was probably some orchestration as to try other methods to derail this bill, but not from that chief architect, obviously.”
What resulted in the four-hour debate was a rare chance to see negotiations occur on the floor in real time as senators left the chamber relatively rarely for a stalled debate. While members of Kraus’ group, including himself, offered amendments, Schatz could often be seen working out ways to get the bills passed with those members on the floor.
In one instance, Schatz had an opportunity to close debate while Sen. Bill Eigel, one of the opposing senators, worked up an amendment. Schatz, however, did not close debate on good faith, even when the bill came back as a “poison pill.” However, the opposing senators did not press the issue and the amendment failed.
Schatz also worked with Kraus on one of his amendments, putting a six-year sunset clause on the bill after Kraus initially offered a four-year sunset clause.
Kraus also threatened a longer filibuster when Schatz did not see eye-to-eye with him on another amendment. Kraus wanted a 180-day limit for personal prescription drug purchase/prescription data put into the PDMP to go onto the bill, meaning all data would be purged after being on the PDMP for roughly six months. Schatz tried to push that to two-years even after Kraus said on the floor that he would offer a new amendment to change it to 90 days and filibuster. Kraus began to protest, but Schatz quickly accepted the 180-day limit.
While Schatz worked, other senators expressed their displeasure with the course of debate. Sen. Jamilah Nasheed openly admonished Schatz for not closing when he could have, a moment which came late in the debate. Sen. Bob Dixon also had choice words for Kraus, who had repeatedly said he was attempting to “protect people’s liberty” with his amendments.
“I’ve heard enough about people’s liberty being taken away,” Dixon said. “I am tired of hearing these arguments over and over again, they just don’t hold any water for me.”
He admonished debate for going long on a holy day – Maundy Thursday – and said that while he did not believe the Senate should “railroad” legislation through the body, members should not try to railroad the rest of the Senate either.
“This body is supposed to be about consensus, not holding people hostage,” Dixon said.
Eventually that consensus came through, though not necessarily in a form Rehder and Schatz have totally accepted. Schatz said he appreciated the mandatory use provision Schaaf recommended and added onto the bill, and he said he could maybe even live with the data purge. But he sounded optimistic, even though he assumes the House will reject at least some of the Senate’s changes, sending the bill back to conference. If it does go to conference, six of the 10 conferees will need to agree on language for the bill before it can go back to both chambers.
Rehder also said she would need to check with stakeholders “in the trenches” to determine if the changes made to this bill could be tolerated.
But for her, it also means her passion project in the Missouri Legislature is one step closer to becoming law.
“I’m so thankful to Sen. Schatz and the Senate for passing this important legislation,” she said in a statement. “We have been the only state without a PDMP since 2012. This will play a major role in reducing addiction in our state and help improve patient outcomes in healthcare.”
Schatz himself was also enthusiastic about the bill’s passage.
“This is something that will hopefully be effective in addressing the opioid epidemic that truly has occurred in this state and continues to occur,” he said.
“The state has waited long enough to have a PDMP in place.”