Missouri lawmakers are still working toward an off-session fix that would restore funds to some low-income and elderly residents, but action on those cuts seems less likely as days pass.
That was the assessment of state Sen. Scott Sifton, who was in Joplin recently to speak to area Democrats.
Sen. Ron Richard, Senate president pro tem, said the effort continues and he hopes to know soon if there can be a special session to consider a plan being developed by a committee of Senate and House members.
Richard said crafting legislation for a possible special session has been the focus of the committee working for the past several weeks.
“They’re trying to figure out the language and learn if Gov. (Eric) Greitens agrees, because he’ll have to call the special session,” he said.
Sifton, of Affton, praised Richard’s efforts to restore the funds, adding “we agree more than we disagree.”
After budget cuts by the governor, lawmakers at the end of the session in May approved the last of several attempts aimed at restoring funds for about 8,000 Missouri residents receiving state help for in-home and nursing home services.
That measure was vetoed by Greitens, but Richard said he is hopeful the governor will find a new proposal acceptable.
The bill vetoed by the governor would have used balances from other state funds; a House bill had proposed ending property tax credits for low-income elderly renters and using proceeds from those programs.
Sifton said he opposed that plan because “I have a district full of seniors who want to support local schools but are worried about their taxes.”
Two special sessions were held after lawmakers ended their regular session in mid-May. Lawmakers convene for the 2018 session in early January.
Sifton was keynote speaker at the Eleanor Roosevelt Days banquet a week ago at Missouri Southern State University.
Former state Rep. Charlie Norr, of Springfield, also attended. He has announced plans to seek the 30th District Senate seat.
Those attending also heard a video greeting from U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Sifton emphasized the importance of McCaskill’s re-election, urging local Democrats “to campaign hard” for her. Just days after the event, Attorney General Josh Hawley officially announced he would be a Republican challenger.
Sifton said Republicans and Democrats “must work together, because we all see and worry about the same things.”
He said Democrats must do a better job of pushing their ideas forward.
“We must resist, but not apologize for, what we believe and for being Democrats,” he said. “In 2016, our theme was ‘boy, is that guy nuts,’ and now he (Donald Trump) is president. Our theme can’t be that the other guy is bad, but what our party is offering the people.”
More GOP candidates
Two more GOP candidates have announced they will seek local House of Representatives seats to be vacated at the end of the year because of term limits.
Dirk Deaton, of Noel, will run for the 159th seat now occupied by Bill Lant. Deaton is president of the Newton County Republican Club and co-founder of the Noel Betterment Association.
Robert Stokes, of Carl Junction, has said he plans to run for the 162nd District post held by Charlie Davis, of Webb City. A former director of development for Pitsco Inc., he now owns Stokes Educational Services.
Other seats are being vacated by Republican Reps. Bill White, of Joplin; Bill Reiboldt, of Neosho; and Mike Kelley, of Lamar.
Lane Roberts has announced for the seat held by White, and Ben Baker and Raleigh Ritter plan to seek Reiboldt’s seat.
White and Davis have announced plans to seek the Senate seat held by Richard, who also is term-limited.
Susan Redden is a former reporter for The Joplin Globe.