Parson says radioactive waste is federal problem, not Missouri legislature’s

(The Center Square) – Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson will not call a special session as requested Tuesday by House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, to allocate money for the Radioactive Waste Investigation Fund.

Quade, a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for governor, wrote Parson to call a special session that could run concurrently with the upcoming veto session on Sept. 13.

“Efforts to address the legacy of radioactive waste in the St. Louis region enjoy strong bipartisan support, with a coalition of lawmakers from both parties actively working on this issue for several years,” Quade wrote. “A special session limited to providing the funding (the Missouri Department of Natural Resources) needs to launch this vital program would not be controversial and wrap up quickly. And given the unprecedented budget surplus the state continues to enjoy, the relatively modest amount of money needed for the program is available.”

Jonathan Shiflett, Deputy Communications Director for Parson, said the governor has no plans to call a special session at this time.

“Governor Parson is concerned for the impacted communities, but this issue was caused by the federal government and should be fixed by the federal government,” Shiflett wrote in an email to The Center Square. “Governor Parson supports recent efforts by Senator Hawley to do just that and hold the federal government accountable.”

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, joined a bipartisan group of state and federal legislators in St. Charles last month to pledge federal money to clean up hazardous waste in the region and provide compensation for all suffering illnesses from exposure.

“It’s time to tell the truth – and the truth is – if the federal government created this disaster, and they did, the federal government should clean it,” Hawley said on July 13.

Last week, Hawley’s legislation to extend health care coverage and compensation to people exposed to radiation from weapons testing and manufacturing passed out of the Senate on an 86-11 vote.

Senate Bill 872, signed into law by Parson in one of his first acts as governor after the resignation of Eric Greitens in 2018. It established the Radioactive Waste Investigation Fund to be used by the Department of Natural Resources. Its purpose is to investigate concerns of exposure to radioactive waste and allows up to $150,000 to be transferred from the Hazardous Waste Fund.

“The problems related with this waste have festered for nearly 80 years,” Quade wrote. “It is well past time for us to begin the long process of finally resolving them for the sake of all Missourians.”

Parson called a special session in 2020 to focus on crime, in 2021 to extend a routine tax on hospitals to continue funding Medicaid and one in 2022 for a $760 million tax cut. Late in this year’s legislative session, he threatened to call the legislature back to Jefferson City if they didn’t send him bills preventing transgender girls from competing in women’s sports and prohibitions for minors seeking of medication and procedures for gender transitions.

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