Under the Dome – April 26

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.

Jefferson City politicians get busy kowtowing to GOP fringe group

With just weeks left in the legislative session and hardly anything to show for it, the week Under the Dome began with a threat from the ultra-right “Freedom” Caucus: Pass our priorities, or we will block everything.

Freedom Caucus member Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, on the Missouri Senate Floor. Photo by Eric Lee/St. Louis Public Radio.

Rank-and-file GOP members seemed to fall right in line, passing measures that that will hurt everyday Missourians by taking away health care options and stripping away voter’s rights.

“An act of petty vengeance” that hurts most vulnerable

On Wednesday, the Missouri House sent Gov. Mike Parson a bill that would make Missouri the fourth state to ban Medicaid reimbursements. The bill ends Medicaid reimbursements to any health centers affiliated with abortion providers.

Supporters bulled their way through opposition even though it’s clear that the state’s health care safety net cannot support the thousands of Medicaid patients who would be displaced from Planned Parenthood for procedures like contraceptive care, STI testing, cancer screenings and wellness checks. 

Protesters march through the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Photo by Jill Toyoshiba/Kansas City Star.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, a Springfield Democrat running for governor, called the legislation “an act of petty vengeance” that will have a “devastating impact on women.”

Undermining the will of the people, destroying majority rule

And on Thursday, the Missouri House advanced a measure we’ve been watching closely – SJR74, the joint resolution that would strip Missourians of their rights and put more power into the pockets of politicians.

The bill, which now moves to the Senate, would end majority rule in Missouri, potentially requiring more than 70% of a statewide vote for any constitutional amendment to pass. The House shamefully added so-called ballot candy to SJR74, a move meant to trick voters.

Missourians from across the state gather at the capitol for Voting Rights Lobby Day in support of majority rule.

The version the House passed prioritizes measures such as not allowing non-U.S. citizens to vote and forbidding foreign countries from funding amendments, which are both already federal law. It buries the actual measure that would eradicate the simple majority vote requirement to amend the Missouri Constitution.

As Marilyn McLeod, president of the League of Women Voters of Missouri, told KOMU-TV, “If this passes, it really will be taking away people’s right to express their concerns to the legislature, and the only reason people resort to the initiative petition process is because they feel their voice isn’t being heard.”