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01 September 2011

Lichtenegger: Update Regarding Special & Veto Sessions

Special Session currently is planned for September 6 -9. The purpose of the special session, which was called by Governor Nixon, will be to pass a number of important bills. Most importantly, the legislature will consider a major job creation proposal that will help revamp our state’s economic incentives and create tens of thousands of new, family-supporting jobs. The bill, which has received broad support from both Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate, will be an important step in getting Missouri’s economy moving again. The major provisions of the innovative jobs package are incentives that will help create high-tech jobs, attract amateur sporting events, spur the creation of data centers throughout the state, and bring tens of thousands of new jobs to the state by making the St. Louis Airport an international cargo hub for trade.

In addition to creating these new incentives, the state will overhaul the existing incentive programs that we currently use. These changes could create a savings over 1.5 billion dollars over the next fifteen years that can be used for other important priorities such as education. The jobs package will also create new accountability measures that will include periodic review of these programs and sunset dates that will end the programs if not renewed by the legislature.

While this major jobs package will help jumpstart our state’s economy and create the kind of jobs our state so desperately needs right now, we will also consider a number of other important bills during the special session.

The following is the list of what will take place here at the Capitol during those dates:
  • Tuesday, September 6: TECHNICAL DAY ONLY. There will be no Committee meetings or House floor activity on these dates. The following House Bills will be filed and First Read: The first three are House Bills: 1) St. Louis City Police Department Local Control, 2) Election Law issues (to address the issues in the Election Law bill that the Governor vetoed), and 3) Tax Amnesty. The fourth bill will be the omnibus Tax Credit Reform/Economic Development/Job Creation bill that we understand will be filed in the Senate.
  • Wednesday, September 7: TECHNICAL DAY ONLY. The three afore-mentioned House Bills will be Second Read and referred to the following committees: 1) Local Control to Urban Affairs, 2) Election Law Issues to Elections and 3) Tax Amnesty to Ways & Means.
  • Thursday, September 8: COMMITTTEE MEETINGS. The three afore-mentioned committees will meet to review the bills described and will most likely “Do Pass” (vote) them out of the committees to which they were assigned. Additionally, it is anticipated that if/when these bills are voted out of the Committees, they will be immediately referred to the Rules Committee for further action.
  • Friday, September 9: FLOOR DEBATE. Perfection and Third Reading of the three afore-mentioned bills is scheduled for this day. All members of the House should be in attendance.
Because of the overwhelming support that the three afore-mentioned House bills had during the Regular Session, the House leadership has informed the Senate that they expect to send them the three House Bills by Friday, September 9th. Based upon our discussions and agreements reached with Senate leadership, we have been told to expect to receive the Senate’s Tax Credit Reform/Economic Development/Job Creation bill by the close of the House Journal (recorded minutes of House proceedings) on Friday, September 9th.

The Missouri Constitution requires that, each year, the legislature convene a ‘Veto Session’ in September. The purpose of the session is for the legislature to consider overriding any bills that were vetoed by the Governor. However, there has been no announcement of any planned overrides.

Constituent Corner

I want you updated regarding the state’s Medicaid home health care assessments. The August 31 meeting between the House Budget Transparency Committee and the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) regarding the SynCare debacle revealed a variety of facts and underlying issues. The MO House legislators will continue to hold DHSS and the Office of Administration (OA-who processes the bid contracts) responsible for ensuring that seniors and disabled Missourians receive needed home care. Many components of the May 19 transition to the third party home health care assessments were revealed during the two-hour meeting. But before I list some of those, I want you to know the public statement release this morning by DHSS Director Margaret Donnelly:

“Effective immediately, the Department of Health and Senior Services will begin to transition the duties previously performed by SynCare to DHSS. It is clear that the company is not able to meet the terms and conditions of their contract. The Department remains committed to ensuring that Missourians receive the services they need in a timely and efficient manner.”

Listed below are several facts that emerged during the August 31 meeting:
  • The initial reason for the department switching to a third party assessor was a perceived conflict of interest, a desire for consistency in assessments and the estimated savings for the state of $3.5 million / year.
  • DHSS has been paying SynCare 50% of the total monthly service invoice (according to the contract) and recently hired temporary staff and re-directed other DHSS staff persons to conduct needed assessments.
  • DHSS has yet to collect any of the $5,000 per month penalty from SynCare for not completing 95% of reassessments within the contractual timeframe. SynCare was apparently not able to meet this timeframe due to the non-functioning web-tool software used to process and communicates assessments. The software is a new, untried electronic system. This allegedly contributed to the back log of information.
  • The state’s bid process-conducted by the Office of Administration- returned 11 bids from companies none of which had experience in third party home-health care assessments! The $6.8 SynCare contract was awarded primarily because they were the lowest bidder.
  • DHSS announced a new bid because the old bid produced responses that indicated a need for different regulation requirements for the call center.
There are many more bits of information associated with this situation, much of which is complex and involved, please call my office if you have questions or need clarification.

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