COLUMBIA, Mo. — A fight over allowing guns on public transportation temporarily derailed debate on the Missouri budget Wednesday before being struck down in the Senate.
Republican Sen. Bob Onder, of Lake St. Louis, tried to amend the budget to strip public transportation funding unless buses and trains allowed people with concealed carry permits to ride.
But top Republican Sen. Dave Schatz struck the proposal down, saying it would violate rules against enacting policies through the budget.
That prompted Onder’s unsuccessful attempts to strip all $1.7 million in statewide public transportation funding, and another effort to eliminate funding only for public transportation in Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield.
Onder said his efforts were not retaliatory, but intended to “send a message.”
“If you want to violate our constituents’ 2nd Amendment rights, their legitimate rights to self-protection, then you can forgo public money,” Onder said.
Both proposals were voted down by the Senate.
The fight delayed work on the rest of the state’s roughly $34 billion budget.
Senators eventually approved $48 million to spare Missourians who mistakenly received unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic from repaying the money.
A fight is also expected over whether to set aside money to pay to expand access to Medicaid health care.
Voters last year expanded who is eligible to receive Medicaid coverage in Missouri under the terms of the 2010 federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama.
That law provides a higher-than-usual federal funding share for states that expand Medicaid coverage to adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level, about $17,600 for an individual or $30,000 for a family of three.
Missouri’s Medicaid program currently does not cover most adults without children, and its income eligibility threshold for parents is one of the lowest in the nation at about one-fifth of the poverty level.
The new eligibility rules will take effect in July.
But the Republican-led Legislature, which has long-resisted expanding Medicaid, now is fighting over whether to pay for more people’s health care.
The House passed a version of the budget that doesn’t include any funding for Medicaid expansion.
Some Republican senators have proposed including at least some money for the program. It’s unclear whether that funding will make it into the final budget.