During his time as a state legislator, Republican Governor Mike Parson worked to gut puppy mill regulations, nullifying a ballot initiative passed by Missouri voters to benefit an out-of-state oil executive that later became a major donor to Parson’s campaign. Now, after Missourians voted to pass Medicaid expansion in August 2020, Parson’s willingness to gut voter-approved initiatives is coming under new scrutiny as the Governor of Missouri in 2021 will be tasked with expanding health care as mandated by the voters.

In 2011, then-state Senator Parson introduced SB113, a bill that aimed to repeal Proposition B, which added voter-approved regulations to puppy mills. Parson argued that the democratically passed regulations were too strict and insinuated that Missourians, a majority of whom voted for Proposition B, were too uneducated on the issue.

Parson’s bill mirrored efforts undertaken by Forrest Lucas, a multi-millionaire opposed to any kind of animal safety regulation for personal financial benefit, during the campaign against Proposition B. After using his elected office to gut the will of Missouri voters and make legislative changes that would benefit Forrest Lucas financially, Parson received nearly $200,000 in political donations from Lucas.

In August 2020, Missourians voted on a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid despite persistent, aggressive opposition from the state’s Republican officials, including Governor Parson, who has opposed Medicaid expansion for years. Democratic leaders in the state, including gubernatorial candidate Nicole Galloway and House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, have warned that Parson cannot be “trusted” to faithfully implement Medicaid expansion, and Governor Parson has expressed doubts about whether or not it is feasible.

Parson opposed the will of Missouri voters in 2011 with puppy mill regulations, and Galloway has warned that Parson is supporting a 2020 ballot initiative seeking to overturn a redistricting reform plan approved by voters in 2018. If Parson wins in November, these anti-democratic moves are a warning sign of what may come on Medicaid expansion.

Contact Chai Karve at ckarve@americanbridge.org