Stories about Missouri

Missouri Supreme Court upholds Medicaid expansion amendment

On July 22, the Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a constitutional amendment enacting Medicaid expansion was constitutional. The decision reversed a lower court’s ruling that found the amendment approved by voters last August to be unconstitutional because it did not include a revenue source for the state to pay for the Medicaid expansion. The Supreme Court ruled that the amendment “does not remove the General Assembly’s discretion in appropriating money to MO HealthNet,” and therefore, “the circuit court erred in declaring article IV, section 36(c) constitutionally invalid.”

The Supreme Court concluded that the Department of Social Services and Missouri HealthNet, who are responsible for the administration of Medicaid in Missouri, are required to use the funds appropriated by the legislature on all eligible recipients under the adopted amendment. The amendment, which was approved by a margin of 53.27% to 46.73%, expanded Medicaid eligibility in Missouri to adults that are 19 years of age or older and younger than 65 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level or below under the Affordable Care Act.

Stephanie Doyle, Melinda Hille, and Autumn Stultz—three individuals who qualify for Medicaid under the expanded eligibility—filed the lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court. On June 23, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled that the amendment was unconstitutional because it did not include a way for the state to pay for the Medicaid expansion. He wrote, “If the court allows them to spend other state revenues by initiative such action would deprive the General Assembly of its constitutional right to appropriate revenues in all other non-initiative circumstances.”

Amy Blouin of the Missouri Budget Project said, “As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Missourians across the state will finally be able to realize the health and economic benefits of Medicaid expansion. State after state has shown that in addition to providing insurance to those eligible, expansion is a fiscal and economic boon to state economies and budgets.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Dan Hegeman (R), who opposed the amendment, said, “The legal gymnastics employed by the court to get their desired political outcome sets a dangerous precedent and greatly diminishes the power of Missourians’ elected representatives.”

Since the Supreme Court has upheld Medicaid expansion, the state must file paperwork with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to set up the enrollment process for newly eligible individuals. Governor Mike Parson (R) previously withdrew the state’s paperwork in May after the state legislature passed the state’s budget without expanding funding for Medicaid.

The amendment faced legal challenges before the vote last August. In May 2020, two separate lawsuits were filed against Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) challenging the constitutionality of the citizen-initiated ballot measure by Americans for Prosperity-Missouri and United for Missouri. Both lawsuits argued that the initiative was unconstitutional because it appropriated state funds without creating a new source of revenue. In June 2020, Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled in favor of the initiative keeping it on the ballot. Judge Green argued that the ballot measure does not require the state legislature to appropriate money for Medicaid expansion, and therefore, it does not need to provide a funding source. Missouri Western District Court of Appeals upheld Judge Green’s decision to keep the initiative on the August ballot after United for Missouri and Americans for Prosperity-Missouri appealed the decision.

Missouri joins 38 states and Washington, D.C., in expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Missouri legislature passes 2022 constitutional amendment to expand treasurer’s investment options

On May 4, 2021, the Missouri State Senate voted 32-0 to pass a constitutional amendment expanding the types of securities and financial instruments the state treasurer can invest state funds into. It will appear on the ballot for the election on Nov. 8, 2022. The constitutional amendment would add municipal securities that receive one of the five highest ratings from a nationally recognized rating agency to the list of securities into which state funds can be invested. The constitutional amendment would also allow the legislature to pass laws allowing the treasurer to invest in other financial instruments and securities that are deemed reasonable and prudent.

The Missouri House of Representatives previously passed the amendment on March 11, 2021, by a vote of 156-1. State Rep. Aaron Griesheimer (R-61) was the amendment’s lead sponsor. 

In Missouri, the state treasurer is responsible for determining how much state revenue is not needed for operating expenses and invests those remaining funds with the goal of accumulating interest income for the state. The current state treasurer is Scott Fitzpatrick (R), who was appointed to the position by Gov. Mike Parson and elected to his first full term in 2020. 

Since 1985, Missouri voters have approved 69% (51 of 74) of legislatively referred constitutional amendments. The state legislature is expected to adjourn its 2021 session on May 14 and could refer additional amendments to the 2022 ballot during next year’s legislative session.

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Missouri House of Representatives unanimously expels Rick Roeber

The Missouri House of Representatives voted unanimously on April 21 to expel Rep. Rick Roeber (R). On April 19, the House Ethics committee released a 13-page report following its investigation into allegations that Roeber had abused his children. The Committee found the testimony and allegations of Roeber’s now-adult children to be credible and recommended Roeber’s expulsion.

Ethics Chair Travis Fitzwater (R) and House Speaker Rob Vescovo (R) issued a joint statement, saying: “Our caucus and our institution have a zero tolerance policy for anyone who would endanger the well-being of a child, and it’s clear that Rick Roeber’s heinous actions make him not only unfit for office, but should also make him the subject of a thorough investigation by law enforcement.”

Roeber was first elected to represent District 34 in November 2020. The seat had been vacant since July 2019, following the death of former Rep. Rebecca Roeber (R), Rick Roeber’s wife.

This year, there have been 40 state legislative vacancies in 22 states. Twenty-seven (27) of those vacancies have been filled. So far in 2021, only one other state legislator—Luke Simons (R-N.D.)—has been removed from office. The North Dakota House of Representatives had expelled Simons on March 4 by a vote of 69-25.

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St. Louis holds municipal general election

The nonpartisan general election for St. Louis, Mo., was on April 6. The primary was held on March 2, and the filing deadline to run passed on Jan. 4.

Candidates competed for mayor, board of aldermen, and city comptroller. In the mayoral election, Tishaura Jones defeated Cara Spencer, earning 52% of the vote to Spencer’s 48%. Jones is the first Black woman to be elected mayor of St. Louis.

In the city comptroller election, incumbent Darlene Green won re-election without facing opposition.

In the board of aldermen elections, incumbents ran for 15 out of the 16 seats on the ballot and won re-election to 12 of those seats. The following races did not re-elect an incumbent:

• In Ward 5, challenger James Page defeated incumbent Tammika Hubbard by a margin of 53% to 47%.

• In Ward 12, challenger Bill Stephens defeated incumbent Vicky Grass by a margin of 52% to 48%.

• In Ward 13, challenger Anne Schweitzer defeated incumbent Beth Murphy by a margin of 63% to 37%.

• In Ward 17—the sole race without an incumbent running—the race remained too close to call as of April 7.

Saint Louis is the 57th largest city by population in the U.S. 

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St. Louis voters approved five sewer district charter amendments, a bond issue, and an earnings tax renewal

According to unofficial election results, voters in St. Louis and St. Louis County approved five sewer district charter amendments, a bond issue, and an earnings tax renewal.

St. Louis Proposition E, which renewed the city’s 1% earnings tax, was approved with 79.4% of voters favoring the earnings tax and 20.6% voting against it.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Proposition 1 was approved with 59.2% favoring it and 40.8% opposing it. Proposition 1 removed obsolete positions and titles; added gender, sexual orientation, familial status, ancestry or national origin, and disability to the list of protected classes; and replaced “affiliated with” with “a member of” with respect to the existing requirement that no two trustees appointed from the city or county be “affiliated with” the same political party.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Proposition 2 was approved with 57.03% favoring it and 42.97% opposing it. Proposition 2 amended the charter to require an affirmative vote by two members of the Board of Trustees appointed from the city and two members appointed from the county to pass any ordinance, resolution, regulation, rule, or order; except that with at least five board members present and unanimous consent, an affirmative vote of any four board members shall be sufficient for passage. 

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Proposition 3 was approved with 64.2% favoring it and 35.8% opposing it. Proposition 3 amended the charter to change the governance of the Rate Commission and the process of presenting the Rate Commission Report to the Board of Trustees.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Proposition 4 was approved with 61.5% favoring it and 38.5% opposing it. Proposition 4 amended the charter to compensate trustees $25 per day of attendance at a public meeting of the board and to compensate Civil Service Commission members $25 per day of attendance at a meeting of the commission, not exceeding $625 per fiscal year.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Proposition 5 was approved with 59.7% favoring it and 40.3% opposing it. Proposition 5 amended the charter to allow the district to engage the same independent auditing firm for more than five consecutive years if the district lets a competitive bid for auditing services and the lead or concurrent audit partner does not perform auditing services for the district for more than five consecutive years.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Proposition Y was approved with 81.6% favoring it and 18.4% opposing it. Proposition Y authorized the district to issue up to $500 million in bonds with bond revenue going to fund designing, constructing, improving, renovating, repairing, replacing, and equipping new and existing MSD sewer and drainage facilities and systems.

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Kansas City and St. Louis voters approve 1% earnings tax renewal measures

According to unofficial election results, St. Louis Proposition E, which renewed the city’s 1% earnings tax, was approved with 79.4% of voters favoring the earnings tax and 20.6% voting against it. Kansas City voters also approved Question 1 to renew the city’s 1% earnings tax with 75.9% of voters supporting it and 24.17% opposing it. 

St. Louis officials estimated the earnings tax would generate $159 million in the fiscal year 2021 (excluding the deferral of $16.2 million in earnings tax revenue from 2020). According to the ordinance that the City Council of Kansas City passed to refer the question to the ballot, the earnings tax generates 44% of the city’s budget or approximately $270 million annually. 

Both cities last renewed the earnings tax in 2016. Kansas City approved it with 77% of voters favoring its renewal, and St. Louis approved it with 72% of the vote.

A 2010 statewide ballot initiative, Proposition A, required voters in Kansas City and St. Louis to renew the tax every five years. If one of the cities does not approve the earnings tax, the tax would be incrementally phased out in that city over 10 years and could not be reinstated.

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Tishaura Jones, Cara Spencer advance from St. Louis mayoral primary

Tishaura Jones and Cara Spencer advanced from the St. Louis mayoral primary on March 2 and will run against each other in the general election on April 6. Jones received 25,374 votes, while Spencer received 20,649 votes. Lewis Reed and Andrew Jones, the other two candidates in the primary, received 17,162 and 6,422 votes, respectively.

This election was the first one that used approval voting in the city’s history. Candidates of all political affiliations ran in the election without partisan labels and voters could choose any number of candidates to vote for. This voting method was approved by voters in November 2020 as Proposition D.

Mayor Lyda Krewson (D) is not running for re-election. Both Tishaura Jones and Spencer are affiliated with the Democratic Party. The last 10 mayors of St. Louis have all been Democrats. The last time a Republican held the mayor’s office was Aloys Kaufmann, who served as mayor from 1943 to 1949.

St. Louis to use new mayoral primary system for first time on March 2

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

On March 2, St. Louis, Missouri, will hold a mayoral primary using an electoral system called approval voting for the first time in the city’s history. Candidates of all political affiliations will appear on the ballot without partisan labels and voters may choose any number of candidates to vote for. The two candidates receiving the most votes will advance to the general election on April 6. Voters approved the method through the passage of Proposition D in November 2020.

Mayor Lyda Krewson (D) is not running for re-election. Four candidates are running in the primary: 2017 mayoral candidate Andrew Jones, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, Aldermen President Lewis Reed, and Alderwoman Cara Spencer. Each has a partisan affiliation: A. Jones ran as a Republican in 2017, and the other three candidates have previously run for office as Democrats.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch endorsed both Spencer and Reed. T. Jones was endorsed by Saint Louis County Executive Sam Page, Democracy for America, and the state council of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Spencer was endorsed by former Mayor Vincent Schoemehl Jr. and former Aldermanic President James Shrewsbury.

Through Feb. 22, Spencer raised the most money of all the candidates ($356,000), followed by T. Jones ($333,000), Reed ($271,000), and A. Jones ($20,000).

Candidates have each made crime a key priority in this campaign. A. Jones said that the city’s violent crime problem made it harder for the city to attract new businesses and retain existing ones, so addressing crime would improve safety while also improving the city’s business climate. T. Jones said she supported restructuring the police department’s budget to reallocate funding for mental health services, job training programs, and treating substance abuse. Reed’s campaign website called for a focus on violent crime, using a strategy called focused deterrence with groups most likely to commit violent crimes. Spencer, citing her background in mathematics and modeling, said she would implement a data-driven strategy for crime reduction in the city. 

The city of St. Louis utilizes a strong mayor and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body and the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive.

Justice on Missouri’s highest court schedules retirement

Missouri Supreme Court Justice Laura Denvir Stith announced on February 2, 2021, that she would retire from the court effective March 8. Stith stated she planned to do pro bono work following her retirement from the court.

Justice Stith joined the Missouri Supreme Court in 2001. She was appointed to the court by Governor Bob Holden (D). Stith was retained by voters in 2002, and again in 2014 for a term that would have expired on December 31, 2026.

Stith’s replacement will be Governor Mike Parson’s (R) first nominee to the seven-member supreme court. Before Stith’s retirement, a Democratic governor appointed four justices on the court and a Republican governor appointed three justices. After Gov. Parson appoints Stith’s replacement, the composition of the court will flip to four justices appointed by a Republican governor and three appointed by a Democratic governor.

Before serving on the state supreme court, Stith served as a judge with the Missouri Court of Appeals from 1994 to 2001. She worked as a private practice attorney from 1980 to 1994. Stith worked as a law clerk for Robert E. Seiler with the Missouri Supreme Court from 1978 to 1979.

Stith earned a B.A. in political science and social psychology from Tufts University in 1975 and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1978.

The Missouri Appellate Judicial Commission selects supreme court judges according to the Missouri Plan. When a seat on the court becomes vacant, the commission submits three names to the governor to determine the replacement. After one year on the court, an appointed judge must run in the next general election to retain the seat. After their first retention election, supreme court justices serve 12-year terms and must win their retention elections to remain on the court.

The current chief justice of the court is George Draper, who was appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon (D) in 2012.

The remaining five active justices of the court are:

Zel Fischer – Appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt (R) in 2008

Paul C. Wilson – Appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon (D) in 2012

Mary Rhodes Russell – Appointed by Gov. Bob Holden (D) in 2004

Patricia Breckenridge – Appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt (R) in 2007

Wesley Brent Powell – Appointed by Gov. Eric Greitens (R) in 2017

As of February 5, 2021, there are seven supreme court vacancies in six of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected.

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Filing deadline passes for special election in Missouri state House district

Candidates interested in running in the special election for District 45 of the Missouri House of Representatives had until January 27, 2021, to file. David Smith (D) is facing Glenn Nielsen (L) in the general election scheduled for April 6, 2021.

The seat became vacant after Kip Kendrick (D) resigned to become state Senator Greg Razer’s (D) chief of staff. Kendrick had represented the district since 2015.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 114-48 majority in the Missouri House. Missouri has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of January, 25 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

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