Legislative activity was mostly focused on committee hearings this week as bills have not yet moved far enough through the process to merit floor debate in the Senate chamber. That will likely change next week as committees have begun voting on bills and sending legislation onto the full Senate for its consideration.
This week, I was pleased to present Senate Bill 41 to the Governmental Accountability Committee. This measure makes several changes to laws relating to pharmacists. Most importantly, the bill removes a requirement that pharmacists get specific authority from a physician before administering vaccines. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration waived this rule as part of the emergency orders in place at the time. This waiver allowed pharmacists to administer many vaccines without having to go through a lot of bureaucratic hurdles. This is just one small area that our local pharmacists can help increase access to health care.
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During the Trump administration’s emergency order period, pharmacists proved they were more than capable of this additional task, and I want them to be able to continue. By repealing the vaccine administration protocol rules, SB 41 will greatly improve access to basic preventive medical care in rural areas. Those of us who live in small towns and rural areas often have to drive great distances to see a doctor, but most Missourians live within miles of a pharmacy.
This is my first year serving on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and it’s been an interesting experience so far. This week, the committee held two hearings. During the first meeting, the state budget director provided an update on the governor’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget requests.
During our second hearing, we took a close look at the appropriations requests for the Department of Corrections. In addition to seeking additional pay for staff who work overnight at prison facilities, the department wants funding to provide critical human resources services for prison employees.
When I talk to Corrections Department employees, I’m just as likely to hear about the mental and emotional stress they endure as I am complaints about their wages. I was pleased to hear the department ask for mental health resources for the folks who do these difficult jobs. In the coming weeks the Appropriations Committee will look at budgets for each department of state government and review their requests line by line.
I do not serve on the committee that reviews the governor’s appointments to Missouri’s various boards and commissions, but as a state senator I am asked to sponsor nominees as they appear before the Senate’s Gubernatorial Appointments Committee. Obviously, I also have a vote when they come before the full Senate.
Recently, I’ve had the honor of standing alongside several residents of the 27th Senatorial District during their confirmation hearings. Congratulations to Kathryn Johnson Swan for her confirmation as a member of Missouri’s Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, Dr. Andrew Jacob Moore for his confirmation to Southeast Missouri State University’s Board of Governors and James Ray Watkins for his confirmed appointment to the Seismic Safety Commission. I applaud each of these individuals for their service to our state. The governor recently appointed three more residents of the 27th District to boards and commissions, and I look forward to helping these individuals make their way through the confirmation process.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Holly Thompson Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101, send an email to Holly.Rehder@senate.mo.gov or visit www.senate.mo.gov/Rehder.