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Wieland calls for new Senate Republican leadership as FRA fallout continues

  

The fallout over the FRA program in the Senate continues: Sen. Paul Wieland, in a letter to his Republican colleagues, advocated for new leadership ahead of next year. 

The final week of session derailed when a bill extending the FRA was brought up, and legislators were promised a clean bill. However, Wieland had often attempted to attach a provision to prohibit the use of funds for drugs or devices “that may cause the destruction of, or prevent the implantation of, an unborn child.” 

The legislative session ended without an FRA extension or Wieland’s provision. GOP leadership, particularly Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, was derided for “broken promises” throughout the session — including when it came to passing a clean FRA. 

“What we witnessed in the last week of session was unprecedented. The very people that we entrusted to lead our caucus and the Senate not only lied to the minority leader, but actively worked with Democrats to defeat a position we had agreed upon in our caucus,” Wieland said in his letter. 

Wieland, who represents SD 22 in Jefferson County, said in a statement to The Missouri Times he had not intended for his letter to be made public, but one of its recipients “has apparently released it.” 

“I apologize for being foolish enough to keep Senator Rowden apprised of my every move during the last week, only to have him be the true adversary I was fighting. I also apologize to the caucus for nominating Senator Schatz to be the Pro-Tem three years ago. At that time, I believed Dave was an honorable man and cared about the caucus more than his personal agenda,” Wieland said in his letter.

“Without a change in leadership, I have zero confidence that next year will be any better. I see no purpose in caucusing with leaders who have made it clear that appeasing the Democrats is more important than working to further the Majority caucus’s goals.” 

Schatz said he’s reached out to Wieland to “discuss his concerns.” 

“Sen. Wieland is a principled and valued member of our caucus,” Schatz said in a statement to The Missouri Times. “I am confident, even despite occasional disagreements, that our caucus will continue forward stronger than ever — uniting around our shared conservative principles.”

It’s almost certain lawmakers will need to come back to Jefferson City for special sessions during the interim to tackle a bevy of issues including the FRA. Rep. Sarah Unsicker has asked the governor to call an extraordinary session to take up reauthorization; a group of Republicans asked for a special session that includes anti-abortion language. 

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

The multi-billion-dollar program needs to be reauthorized by Sept. 30.