The Democratic Insider: June 18, 2021

15 mins read
Missouri Democrats

On June 19, 1865 — nearly nine decades after our Nation’s founding, and more than 2 years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation — enslaved Americans in Galveston, Texas, finally received word that they were free from bondage.  As those who were formerly enslaved were recognized for the first time as citizens, Black Americans came to commemorate Juneteenth with celebrations across the country, building new lives and a new tradition that we honor today.  

In its celebration of freedom, Juneteenth is a day that should be recognized by all Americans. Yesterday, in front of many of the activists, lawmakers, and scholars who made it possible, President Biden proudly consecrated Juneteenth as our newest national holiday.

Read the White House Proclamation: A Proclamation on Juneteenth Day of Observance, 2021 | The White House

Vice President Kamala Harris, already a host of many firsts, is now the first sitting vice president of America to march in an LGBTQ+ Pride parade. 

IN THE NEWS:

Special Session for FRA approval and attacks on access to birth control expected soon

Gov. Mike Parson is expected to call a special legislative session for the final weeks of June so the General Assembly can renew a health care provider tax that generates the bulk of funding for the state’s Medicaid program. Lawmakers typically renew the tax, known as the Federal Reimbursement Allowance, without controversy, but this year’s effort derailed when some conservative Republican senators insisted on adding unrelated language limiting women’s access to birth control.

Health care providers voluntarily pay the FRA because it allows the state to leverage more federal Medicaid funding. The current tax is set to expire Sept. 30. However, because newly enacted legislation typically doesn’t take effect until 90 days after a legislative session, lawmakers must pass a renewal bill no later than July 3 to ensure it is in effect by Oct. 1 so that collection of the tax isn’t interrupted.

If lawmakers wait until after July 3 to pass a renewal bill, then an emergency clause allowing the bill to take effect immediately upon being signed into law by the governor would need to be added. Normally that wouldn’t be an issue, but since an emergency clause requires the support of two-thirds supermajorities in both legislative chambers, it isn’t certain under the circumstances whether there are sufficient votes to meet that threshold.

In order to mollify the conservatives, the renewal bill is expected to contain language restricting birth control access for Medicaid recipients. As of the morning of June 17, a start date for the session hadn’t yet been announced.

A Supreme Court win for the Affordable Care Act

For years Republicans have worked to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), risking a loss of health insurance coverage for over 30 million Americans. Today the Supreme Court rejected their latest attempt 7-2. The ACA is here to stay! You can read more about today’s breaking news here and here.

Department of Justice says state cannot nullify federal gun laws

The U.S. Department of Justice on June 15 warned Gov. Mike Parson that Missouri has no authority to nullify federal laws, despite legislation he recently signed purporting to declare federal gun laws invalid and unenforceable in the state and punishing local police who assist federal officials, The Associated Press reported the next day.

The warning came in a letter from Justice Department officials and informed Parson that under the Supremacy Clause of U.S. Constitution, federal law trumps conflicting state law. The letter also told Parson federal agents will continue to enforce federal gun laws and regulations in Missouri.

Parson, a Republican, signed the measure into law on June 12 at a gun range in Lee’s Summit. House Bill 85 unconstitutionally attempts to nullify federal laws relating to the taxation, registration or tracking of firearms, as well as laws prohibiting the possession, ownership, use or transfer of specific types of firearms. Nullification is a discredited 19th century doctrine asserting that individual states can reject federal laws they don’t like. Since the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled nullification is unconstitutional, a lawsuit challenging HB 85 is expected.

HB 85 also empowers those arrested for, or even convicted of, a federal gun crime to sue any local police department whose officers assisted in their arrests. Those departments would be subject to a minimum $50,000 civil fine per occurrence, with the money going to the criminal offender, who also would be entitled to attorney fees. Opponents criticized this provision for literally defunding police to enrich criminals. Supporters said it’s intended to discourage local police from cooperating with federal law enforcement.

The bill passed on party-line votes of 111-42 in the House of Representatives and 22-10 in the Senate, with majority Republicans in support and Democrats opposed.

Attorney general claims he cannot investigate governor’s office 

In a highly questionable legal position with potential consequences for open government, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has declared he can’t investigate Gov. Mike Parson’s office for alleged violations of the state Sunshine Law since he sometimes represents the office in other cases. The Missouri Independent, an online news organization focusing on state government, first reported on Schmitt’s novel interpretation on June 11.

The attorney general is primarily responsible for enforcing the Sunshine Law, which requires most government meetings and records to be open to the public with limited exceptions. If the attorney general refuses to handle a case, those who believe a government official or agency has violated the law must pursue it at their own expense.

After Parson’s office broke with longstanding past practice and refused to make public the resignation letters of two high-ranking state officials who recently stepped down without explanation, the Missouri Independent filed a complaint with Schmitt, whose office claimed the attorney-client relationship with the governor’s office creates a conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating. This view likewise breaks with that of previous attorneys general who have pursued Sunshine Law investigations against previous governors.

If correct, Schmitt’s new interpretation raises the question of whether his office can bring any Sunshine cases involving the state government since by default the attorney general represents all state agencies and officials in lawsuits. In addition, following Schmitt’s logic, the attorney general arguably could never investigate state agencies or officials for any reason – including criminal offenses – due to the attorney-client relationship. Such a position would severely weaken accountability in state government.

According to the Missouri Independent, Schmitt’s office didn’t respond to questions regarding the scope of his new policy and whether it applies to other state agencies and circumstances. Schmitt became attorney general in 2019 when Parson appointed him to the post to fill a vacancy. Both men are Republicans.

A Supreme Court win for the Affordable Care Act

For years Republicans have worked to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), risking a loss of health insurance coverage for over 30 million Americans. Today the Supreme Court rejected their latest attempt 7-2. The ACA is here to stay! You can read more about today’s breaking news here and here.

Department of Justice says state cannot nullify federal gun laws

The U.S. Department of Justice on June 15 warned Gov. Mike Parson that Missouri has no authority to nullify federal laws, despite legislation he recently signed purporting to declare federal gun laws invalid and unenforceable in the state and punishing local police who assist federal officials, The Associated Press reported the next day.

The warning came in a letter from Justice Department officials and informed Parson that under the Supremacy Clause of U.S. Constitution, federal law trumps conflicting state law. The letter also told Parson federal agents will continue to enforce federal gun laws and regulations in Missouri.

Parson, a Republican, signed the measure into law on June 12 at a gun range in Lee’s Summit. House Bill 85 unconstitutionally attempts to nullify federal laws relating to the taxation, registration or tracking of firearms, as well as laws prohibiting the possession, ownership, use or transfer of specific types of firearms. Nullification is a discredited 19th century doctrine asserting that individual states can reject federal laws they don’t like. Since the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled nullification is unconstitutional, a lawsuit challenging HB 85 is expected.

HB 85 also empowers those arrested for, or even convicted of, a federal gun crime to sue any local police department whose officers assisted in their arrests. Those departments would be subject to a minimum $50,000 civil fine per occurrence, with the money going to the criminal offender, who also would be entitled to attorney fees. Opponents criticized this provision for literally defunding police to enrich criminals. Supporters said it’s intended to discourage local police from cooperating with federal law enforcement.

The bill passed on party-line votes of 111-42 in the House of Representatives and 22-10 in the Senate, with majority Republicans in support and Democrats opposed.

Attorney general claims he cannot investigate governor’s office 

In a highly questionable legal position with potential consequences for open government, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has declared he can’t investigate Gov. Mike Parson’s office for alleged violations of the state Sunshine Law since he sometimes represents the office in other cases. The Missouri Independent, an online news organization focusing on state government, first reported on Schmitt’s novel interpretation on June 11.

The attorney general is primarily responsible for enforcing the Sunshine Law, which requires most government meetings and records to be open to the public with limited exceptions. If the attorney general refuses to handle a case, those who believe a government official or agency has violated the law must pursue it at their own expense.

After Parson’s office broke with longstanding past practice and refused to make public the resignation letters of two high-ranking state officials who recently stepped down without explanation, the Missouri Independent filed a complaint with Schmitt, whose office claimed the attorney-client relationship with the governor’s office creates a conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating. This view likewise breaks with that of previous attorneys general who have pursued Sunshine Law investigations against previous governors.

If correct, Schmitt’s new interpretation raises the question of whether his office can bring any Sunshine cases involving the state government since by default the attorney general represents all state agencies and officials in lawsuits. In addition, following Schmitt’s logic, the attorney general arguably could never investigate state agencies or officials for any reason – including criminal offenses – due to the attorney-client relationship. Such a position would severely weaken accountability in state government.

According to the Missouri Independent, Schmitt’s office didn’t respond to questions regarding the scope of his new policy and whether it applies to other state agencies and circumstances. Schmitt became attorney general in 2019 when Parson appointed him to the post to fill a vacancy. Both men are Republicans.


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The Missouri Democratic Party holds the distinction of being the oldest political party in the United States established west of the Mississippi River. For the last century, we’ve led the fight for working families. Today, we’re organizing in communities across Missouri to protect and build on our progress.

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