Under the Dome – April 12

Under the Dome graphic with Missouri State Capitol Dome in background

Welcome back to Under the Dome, your weekly update on the goings-on of the Missouri state legislature.

Grandstanding at the cost of health care for everyday Missourians

We’re all for standing on principles, but the Missouri legislature this week proved it prefers grandstanding that directly hurts Missourians.

This week the Missouri Senate joined the House in voting to block health care provider Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid payments on the charge that its affiliates perform abortions (no such procedures are provided in Missouri because it is prohibited under current state law).

Photo by Jeff Roberson / Associated Press

According to Planned Parenthood of Great Plains, roughly one in five patients in Missouri are on Medicaid, meaning the organization’s survival would be in jeopardy if signed into law.

State Rep. Wendy Hausman, R-St. Peters, is one of the dozens of Republican co-sponsors of the bill and admits it’s a symbolic gesture of rebuke. The cost of that symbol, though, is the services that Planned Parenthood does provide in Missouri, including STI testing, cancer screenings, wellness checks and other services.

Missouri’s teacher shortage isn’t getting any better. Will lawmakers act on a plan to fix it?

Meanwhile, Jefferson City politicians continue to ignore real problems, like the chronic teacher shortage crisis, which was said to be at a point of crisis two years ago.

A report from KCUR in Kansas City found little has been done to solve the problem. A recent report found that numerous teaching positions were either vacant or filled by individuals who were not fully certified.

A teacher leads a class of first grade students at Ingels Elementary School in south Kansas City. Photo by Jodi Fortino / KCUR 89.3.

The need is especially acute in areas classified as “critical,” which includes elementary classrooms, early childhood education and special education.

About 3,325 of those positions are vacant.

Paul Katnik, who oversaw the report as the head of DESE’s Office of Educator Quality, said the teacher shortage started before the pandemic, but has accelerated in the years since. “I can’t think of any reason why uneducated kids in our state is good for anybody so it should be something that’s on all of our radar,” he said.

Candidates rush to be the most extreme in the GOP primary race for Secretary of State

From education to health care to crumbling roads, candidates in the GOP primary race seem to be in competition to out-extreme each other. The candidates include a person who made deadlines for burning books with a flamethrower, a top lawmaker who faces an ethics investigation and a state senator aligned with the hard-right Missouri Freedom Caucus.

As Republican strategist Gregg Keller shared with the Kansas City Star, “Being branded in a Republican primary as a moderate today is really the kiss of death.”

ICYMI, there was a bit of good news this week, from Tony Messenger’s excellent column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about why ballot candy should leave a bad taste in our mouths; to this P-D piece that highlight’s a Kansas City’s dad’s embrace of his transgender daughter despite bigoted views he once held.