Gov. Nixon Responds To Republican Legislative Agenda

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JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon said Thursday his stance on issues addressed by Republicans on Tuesday has not changed.

Nixon, a Democrat, told reporters he still believes Missouri should expand Medicaid to include anyone with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, something he said would add thousands of Missourians working in low-paying jobs. He called expanding Medicaid "the right thing to do" and said it would lead to a healthier Missouri.

The governor said historical precedent gives him the power to appoint a new lieutenant governor if that office is ever vacant. Republican Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder has said he will seek his party's nomination to succeed retiring U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson. House and senate Republicans insist a special election would have to be called in this event and have proposed legislation requiring an election. The laws governing the replacement of the lieutenant governor aren't clear. The Missouri Constitution allows the governor to fill any vacant public office "unless otherwise provided by law." However, current Missouri law states the governor may fill any vacancy except the lieutenant governor, a state representative or senator, or a sheriff.

Senate President Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, told KOMU 8 News historical precedent does not give Gov. Nixon the authority to appoint a lieutenant governor. Dempsey said his main objection to expanding Medicaid is the federal government's ability to meet its responsibilities to the states.

Dempsey and Nixon agreed on the need for improvements in mental health services in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Conn. and Aurora, Colo. Nixon said families and law enforcers should be given more direct access to mental health resources. Dempsey did not offer any specific policy recommendations, but said senators would support mental health issues during the budgeting process.