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GOP, Dems reflect on accomplishments and shortcomings.

Elected officials at the State Capitol will take an extended break.

Missouri’s 97th legislative session ended Friday night, with both parties failing to put priority items on the Governor’s desk.

Republican lawmakers entered the session earlier this year with right-to-work laws as a top priority. The bill, introduced in the House of Representatives, failed to make it past the state Senate. It failed by four votes in that chamber.

Democrats lamented the failure of the legislature to pass Medicaid expansion, an item Governor Jay Nixon touted much of last year.

Republicans, however, seemed much happier at the end of the legislative session than Missouri Democrats.

“This session was highlighted by an historic veto override for historic tax reduction and reform legislation that will finally allow Missouri families and businesses to keep more of their hard earned dollars,” House Speaker Tim Jones said. The House voted to override Governor Nixon’s veto of SB 509, a tax rate reduction bill Republicans tried passing last year.

Democrats focused more less on who received the money from the tax reduction, and more on what wouldn’t receive money because of it.

“The first time in dozens of years that we’ve actually begun to put money into the foundation formula to finally fund our public schools, and then we cut 800 million dollars in a couple years,” House Minority Leader Jake Hummel said.

Hummel also said it was only a matter of time before the state expanded Medicaid. The issue was Democrats’ top priority for the session. Hummel said pressure from hospitals and Missourians who no longer qualify for Medicaid would eventually push lawmakers to expand it.

“At some point, this is just going to happen. It’s about time that we stop pretending that it’s not and playing these political games,” Hummel said.

But Speaker Jones cited multiple pieces of legislation related to health sponsored by Republicans, such as Rep. Caleb Jones’ (R- California) bill to allow doctors to prescribe cannabinoid oil to patients with epilepsy.

“I would challenge those who criticized us so much over the last two years to focus on these true healthcare reforms that will bring positive solutions to actual Missourians,” Jones said.

Both parties were unsure whether a special session would be needed for the bills awaiting Governor Nixon’s signature. That would happen if Nixon vetoed any of the legislation. The veto session is scheduled for September.

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