People gather at Capitol for Independence Rally

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JEFFERSON CITY – Activists made one last push to try to convince Gov. Eric Greitens to sign HCB 3 into law at the Independence Rally Tuesday.

The bill, which was passed with bipartisan support, would restore funding to disability services. The bill would also help provide services to Missouri veterans and senior citizens.

Hundreds gathered at the Statehouse and listened to lawmakers and people affected by a disability speak on behalf of the bill. After the hour-long rally hosted by the Centers for Independent Living, activists marched to the governor's office to try to send a message to Greitens.

"He needs to sign this bill. And if there's any bill that's important to get signed during this legislative session, this is one of the most important bills to be signed," Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville, said.

Walker also said he thinks Greitens will sign the bill.

Lawmakers proposed the bill in response to cuts made in the fiscal-year 2018 budget to disability services. Currently, the composite score necessary to qualify for disability benefits from the state is 21. If HCB 3 does not become law, the score necessary would be increased to 24, which means fewer people would be eligible for benefits. A person's score is based on his or her income level and severity of his or her disability.

HCB 3 was one of two proposals to restore funding. The other proposal would have eliminated a renters tax credit for seniors and people with disabilities. That savings to the state would have paid for the restored funding; however, that bill did not pass either chamber.

"To pretend that we can't afford it right now is, I do say, a false choice, and to pretend that the only place we can find that funding is from the backs of other seniors and folks with disabilities," Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, said.

Greitens has not said whether he will sign the bill.