(The Center Square) – As the Missouri legislature moves into the final week of its session, the activity at the state capitol is increasing.
Here’s a roundup of a wide range of items from Missouri:
Coaching Lawmakers: University of Missouri football coach Eliah Drinkwitz lobbied legislators on Thursday to pass a bill allowing college athletes to be compensated for use of their name and likeness.
Rep. Kurtis Gregory, R-Marshal, a former MU football player, said the proposed legislation would persuade Missouri athletes not to play for Southeastern Conference schools where compensation is allowed, such as Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and Florida.
“We need to get the blue chip recruits to the University Missouri,” said Gregory, a former offensive lineman who earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in general agriculture and also played with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. “It’s a great school. We need to lock down the borders of this state and keep Missouri players in state. We locked down the borders in 2007 and 2008 and look what happened – we won a lot of football games.”
House Speaker Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, is opposing the bill while student-athletes still receive a full scholarship.
Decreasing vaccinations lead to Guard pullout: Citing reduced demand for the COVID-19 vaccine at mass vaccination sites, Gov. Mike Parson announced on Thursday the Missouri National Guard will end supporting the initiative by June 1. State-supported teams provided more than 382,000 vaccinations, about 10% of all vaccinations administered in Missouri.
“Missouri is in a good place on the vaccine front, and that is thanks in large part to tireless efforts of our National Guard members to get vaccines into the arms of Missourians,” Parson said in a statement.
The Missouri vaccination dashboard shows more than 4 million vaccine doses have been administered to date and 1.8 million Missourians have been fully vaccinated. Approximately 50% of Missourians 18 and older have received at least one dose.
HIV medication regulation sent to governor: An amendment to a bill allowing HIV prevention medication to be dispensed by pharmacists without a prescription was passed on Thursday by the General Assembly. House Bill 476, an omnibus professional registration package, passed 155-0. It was originally sponsored by Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters, and Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City.
“While we have not yet found the cure to HIV, medical innovations like PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) can help end this epidemic in our lifetime,” Christofanelli said in a statement. “I am proud to see Missouri lead on this important public health issue.”
If the bill is signed by Parson, Missouri would become the second state in the nation after California to allow the medication to be dispensed without a prescription. The medication can prevent patients from becoming HIV positive if taken within 72 hours of potential exposure.
“This common-sense legislation will positively impact people’s lives, improve public health, and save taxpayer money,” Razer said in a statement.
Limbaugh Trumps Cronkite: The House Representatives added an amendment to a bill on Thursday to designate Jan. 12 as “Rush Limbaugh Day.”
The conservative radio broadcaster was born on Jan. 12 in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Limbaugh, who received the Medal of Freedom from former President Donald Trump during the 2020 State of the Union address, died earlier this year. He is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. KMOX Radio in St. Louis dropped the Limbaugh show this week after carrying the syndicated program for more than 25 years.
A Democrat attempt to add Jan. 13 as “Walter Cronkite Day” failed. Cronkite, who anchored the CBS Evening News for 19 years, was born in St. Joseph. Cronkite died in 2009.
Political consultant indicted: David Barklage, a prominent Republican political consultant and lobbyist from Cape Girardeau, was indicted on a felony tax charge this week in US. District Court in St. Louis. He allegedly failed to report $443,633 in income from 2012 through 2014, resulting in a tax liability of $151,843.
Barklage’s lawyers, the Wampler & Passanise Law Office, provided a statement to the Associated Press stating Barklage “maintains his innocence throughout this process. We look forward to reviewing the Federal Government’s evidence regarding Mr. Barklage’s personal taxes.”