Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Alleged McDonald County sex cult leader bound over for trial following preliminary hearing

A 9 a.m. May 13 arraignment is scheduled for former Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church pastor Raymond Lambert, who was bound over for trial Monday following a preliminary hearing before Judge John LePage in McDonald County Circuit Court.

Lambert, 69, is charged with the forcible rape of a 10-year-old, as well as four counts of statutory sodomy.

The prosecution is being conducted by the McDonald County Prosecuting Attorney's office and a special prosecutor from the Missouri Attorney General's office.

Arkansas truck driver sues Carthage doctor for malpractice, alleges botched gastric bypass surgery

An Arkansas truck driver and his wife filed a malpractice suit against Dr. David Hargroder today in Jasper County Circuit Court, claiming that he botched a gastric bypass surgery and falsely claimed that he was board certified.

In the petition, Randy M. Manning, 51, Little Rock, Arkansas, claims Hargroder's surgery caused him to lose his health and business. His wife, Theressa J. Manning, 55, claims lack of consortium with her husband.

Also listed as defendants are MGB Surgery, Carthage; Mercy Clinic Joplin, and three John Does.

The details are spelled out in the petition:

Randy M. Manning is a truck driver who used to own a trucking business named Randy M. Manning LLC that operated several trucks, including but not limited to 13 dump trucks, four semi-trucks and three plow trucks. 

Manning lost his health, his entire business, and many of his personal items as a result of his inability to work, which was proximately caused by Defendants’ acts and omissions complained of herein. 

Manning struggled with a weight problem for many years of his life. After numerous attempts of dieting and/or exercise failed, Plaintiffs began investigating gastric bypass surgery as a possible solution to Randy M. Manning’s weight problem and related health problems. 

In late 2017 or early 2018, Theressa J. Manning reached out to the Valley Health Metabolic and Bariatric Program in Winchester, VA to find out if her husband was a candidate for gastric bypass surgery. 

Mrs. Manning was told by a representative of the Valley Health Metabolic and Bariatric Program that Manning was not a candidate for surgery because patients must weight under 400 pounds at the time of gastric bypass surgery. At the time, Randy M. Manning weighed in excess of 400 pounds. 

In the summer of 2018, while attending a semi-truck show, Plaintiffs learned about Dr. Hargroder and how he performed surgery on some fellow truck drivers. 

In an effort to maximize profits, Dr. Hargroder markets to and targets truck drivers as potential patients, including but not limited to setting up booths and displays at truck shows. Theressa J. Manning called Dr. Hargroder’s office, and Plaintiffs were provided some information about Dr. Hargroder and the procedure he performs, the mini-gastric bypass (sometimes referred to herein as “MGB”). 

Dr. Hargroder did not have a 400-pound weight limit in performing the MGB In an effort to attract patients and maximize profits, Dr. Hargroder represented to the public and Plaintiffs that he is “America’s Weight Loss Doctor.” 

Dr. Hargroder also represented to the public in general, Plaintiffs, and their primary care physician, Dr. Tracy Johnston, that he was “Board Certified and Specializing in General & Bariatric Surgery.” 

Dr. Hargroder’s representation that he was board certified was false. Dr. Hargroder knew his representation that he was board certified was false at the time it was made. Dr. Hargroder intended to induce Plaintiffs to consent to the MGB procedure in misrepresenting that he was board certified. Dr. Hargroder knew his misrepresentation of board certification is a material fact the public relies upon in determining whether to consent to surgery, including Plaintiffs. 

Upon information and belief, MGB– Surgery and Mercy Clinic knew or should have known Dr. Hargroder failed to inform Plaintiffs that he was not board certified. Upon information and belief, MGB– Surgery and Mercy Clinic failed to take any action to correct Dr. Hargroder’s misrepresentation because it was in their financial interest to conceal this information. 

Plaintiffs relied upon Dr. Hargroder’s misrepresentation that he was board certified in consenting to the MGB procedure. Plaintiffs would not have consented to Dr. Hargroder performing the MGB procedure had they known he was not board certified. Plaintiffs were unaware that Dr. Hargroder was not board certified until they were informed of this information by another physician after the MGB procedure.

 As part of the pre-operative process, Dr. Hargroder requires each patient’s primary care physician to consent in writing to the MGB procedure to be performed by Dr. Hargroder. In an effort to induce Plaintiffs to consent to the MGB procedure and maximize profits, on December 4, 2018, Dr. Hargroder sent a consent form to Plaintiffs’ primary care physician, Dr. Tracy Johnston, in which he intentionally, knowingly, and falsely represented that he was “Board Certified and Specializing in General and Bariatric Surgery.” 

Relying on the truth of this material representation, Dr. Johnston signed the consent form. She would not have consented to the MGB procedure by Dr. Hargroder or signed the consent form had she known Dr. Hargroder was in fact not board certified. 

Dr. Hargroder’s representation in Exhibit B that he was board certified was false. Dr. Hargroder knew his representation in Exhibit B that he was board certified was false at the time it was made. Dr. Hargroder intended to induce Plaintiffs and Dr. Johnston to consent to the MGB procedure by misrepresenting that he was board certified in Exhibit B. 

Dr. Hargroder knew his misrepresentation of board certification in Exhibit B is a material fact the public relies upon in determining whether to consent to surgery, including Plaintiffs and Dr. Johnston. 

Upon information and belief, MGB– Surgery and Mercy Clinic knew or should have known Dr. Hargroder failed to inform Plaintiffs and Dr. Johnston that he was not board certified. Upon information and belief, MGB– Surgery and Mercy Clinic failed to take any action to correct Dr. Hargroder’s misrepresentation because it was in their financial interest to conceal this information.

Plaintiffs and Dr. Johnston relied upon Dr. Hargroder’s misrepresentation in Exhibit B that he was board certified in consenting to the MGB procedure. Plaintiffs and Dr. Johnston would not have consented to Dr. Hargroder performing the MGB procedure had they known he was not board certified as represented in Exhibit B. Plaintiffs and Dr. Johnston were unaware that Dr. Hargroder was not board certified until they were informed of this information after the MGB procedure. Plaintiffs would not have consented to the MGB procedure by Dr. Hargroder or signed any consent form if Dr. Johnston refused to consent to the MGB procedure. 

After contacting Dr. Hargroder’s office, over the course of the next several weeks, Plaintiffs went through the pre-operative procedures required by Defendants. Randy M. Manning’s MGB procedure was scheduled for December 27, 2018. 

The MGB procedure was scheduled without Plaintiffs having ever seen Dr. Hargroder or any other health care provider associated with Defendants. Before the MGB procedure, Plaintiffs met with Dr. Hargroder to discuss the upcoming surgery. Dr. Hargroder informed Plaintiffs the MGB procedure would last 35 to 40 minutes. 

According to the medical records, Dr. Hargroder documented Randy M. Manning’s “predicted weight” as 240 pounds based on a loss of 70 percent of excess weight following the MGB procedure. 

On December 27, 2018, Dr. Hargroder performed the MGB procedure on Randy M. Manning and upon information and belief approximately four other patients at Mercy Hospital Carthage. Randy M. Manning’s preoperative weight was 441 pounds. 

The MGB procedure lasted close to two hours. After the surgery, Dr. Hargroder informed Theressa J. Manning that the surgery lasted longer than he anticipated because he had a difficult time seeing inside Randy M. Manning’s body during surgery. 

Dr. Hargroder told Theressa J. Manning that he had never seen belly fat as dense as Randy M. Manning’s fat, and that it was like cutting into “pig fat.” 

On December 29, 2018, Randy M. Manning had an abdominal x-ray with contrast at Mercy Hospital Carthage following severe nausea, vomiting and tachycardia. Dr. Hargroder, a radiology technician, and Theressa J. Manning saw a leak on the x-ray monitor. 

The radiology report documented findings consistent with an anastomotic leak. Dr. Hargroder made arrangements to transfer Randy M. Manning to Mercy Hospital Joplin for emergency surgery to repair the leak. 

Randy M. Manning was taken to the operating suite and underwent diagnostic laparoscopy. The operative report specifically describes no evidence for leak, but Dr. Hargroder indicated in the operative report that he “over sewed” the anastomosis and stomach staple line, and a drain was placed. 

Manning aspirated prior to surgery and remained on a ventilator until the following day, December 30, 2018. Randy M. Manning was discharged from Mercy Hospital Joplin on January 4, 2019 to a local hotel. 

On January 7, 2019, Randy M. Manning was readmitted to Mercy Hospital Joplin with abdominal pain and dry heaving. His white blood cell count was 30. Manning developed bilious drainage and evidence of gastric obstruction on imaging studies. 

On January 8, 2019, Randy M. Manning was taken back to the operating suite by Dr. Hargroder for diagnostic laparoscopic exam. A perforation of the afferent limb of the small bowel at the Billroth II anastomosis was encountered and repaired, and two drains were placed over the repair. A percutaneous drainage catheter was placed within the excluded stomach to attempt to relieve distention. 

Manning’s postoperative course was rocky, with peritonitis, sepsis, acute renal failure, prolonged hospitalization and enterocutaneous fistula. Randy M. Manning was ultimately discharged from Mercy Joplin on February 8, 2019 to a local hotel with IV antibiotics. Postoperative images demonstrated persistent distention of the distal stomach. 

On February 19, 2019, Randy M. Manning was readmitted to Mercy Hospital Carthage for labs and an x-ray. The x-ray showed distention of Randy M. Manning’s excluded stomach with fluid. On February 20, 2019, Randy M. Manning was taken to the operating suite for esophagogastroduodenoscopy, jejunostomy feeding tube revision, and drainage of his stomach. 

On February 21, 2019, Manning was discharged from Mercy Hospital Carthage to a local hotel with pain pills and nausea medication. On February 22, 2019, Randy M. Manning was released to return home, which at that time was in Virginia. 

Manning continued to have abdominal pain, nausea without vomiting, and dry heaves. Dr. Tracy Johnston made an appointment for Plaintiffs to see Troy Glembot, MD, MBA,CPE, FACS, FASMBS, who is Medical Director of the Valley Health Metabolic and Bariatric Program, on April 5, 2019. 

On April 5, 2019, Manning went to the Valley Health Metabolic and Bariatric Program in Winchester, VA to get a second opinion. Troy Glembot, MD, FACS, FASMCS, who is Medical Director of the Valley Health Metabolic and Bariatric Program, documented part of his discussion with Plaintiffs, including: “We had a long discussion about his overall course. Multiple records from his hospitalization were reviewed as were operative notes. We specifically discussed the fact that the mini loop gastric bypass is NOT an endorsed procedure by the ASMBS [American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons], that according to the ABS website (https://www.absurgery.org) his surgeon is NOT board certified by the American Board of Surgery and that the management of his complications has been unique.” 

Since that time Randy M. Manning has undergone additional surgical procedures with hospitalizations to correct problems caused by the MGB performed by Dr. Hargroder, including: a) b) c) laparoscopic gastrostomy tube placement and lysis of adhesions; conversion of MGB to Roux-en-Y bypass with partial gastrectomy and upper endoscopy; laparoscopic subtotal gastrectomy of atonic, denervated gastric remnant with Roux-en-Y, EGD and lysis of adhesions; and d) exploratory laparotomy and gastrojejunostomy revision with repair of gastric perforation.

The lawsuit alleges negligence and the Mannings, who are asking for a jury trial, are represented by attorney Thomas G. Buchanon, Little Rock.



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Supreme Court grants 60-day extension for Rowan Ford's killer's lawyers to respond to request to set execution date

A Missouri Supreme Court decision on whether to set an execution date for Chris Collings, who raped and murdered 9-year-old Rowan Ford of Stella in 2007 won't be coming anytime soon.

The court granted a 60-day extension of time to Collings' public defender attorneys who said they needed more time to respond to Attorney General Andrew Bailey's request to set an execution date.

The delay has nothing to do with the Collings case, according to the motion, which was filed Friday. Both lawyers who are working on Collings case are bogged down with other capital cases, including the filing of a clemency petition to Gov. Mike Parson for David Hosier, who is scheduled to be executed June 11.

With the extension, the new deadline for responding to the execution request is July 1.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Joplin R-8 Board to act on renewal of Freeman telemedicine agreement, meet in closed session

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education will take action on the renewal of a telemedicine agreement with Freeman during a 2:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting in the Memorial Administration Building.

The agreement is the only item on the open meeting agenda.

The board will then vote to go into closed session, with items listed on the agenda including personnel issues, real estate, litigation and employee negotiations.

Missouri bill would loosen child labor law by removing work permit requirements

By Clara Bates

A push to eliminate Missouri’s requirement for children under 16 to obtain official work permits before they can begin a job could be debated by the House this week.

In order to work in Missouri, 14 and 15 year olds must obtain a certificate issued by their school, with information from their prospective employer about the details of the job as well as parental consent and age verification.

The child’s school, or if they are homeschooled, a parent, must review that information to ensure it’s in line with state laws that restrict the kind of work children can do and their hours. Once the school issues the certificate, a copy is filed with the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Children under 14 are generally not permitted to work and those 16 and older aren’t subject to the same restrictions.

The bill, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Dave Hinman of O’Fallon and a similar one sponsored by state Sen. Nick Schroer of Defiance, would eliminate the formal work permit process. Instead of being overseen by schools and the state labor agency, the only requirement would be that a parent sign a permission slip for the child’s employer.

Proponents have characterized schools’ role in the process as unnecessary and outdated, and said parents should have the largest role.

“With discussions with our superintendent and other folks around here,” Hinman said in an interview with The Independent this week, “we felt it was better that the parents make that decision instead of schools being the ones that sign off on it.”

Hinman’s bill was voted out of committee in March, and he hopes the full House will debate it before session ends — perhaps as early as this week. The Senate version of the bill was heard in committee earlier this month and hasn’t been voted out yet.

The bill is about “empowering employers and youth,” Schroer said in a committee hearing earlier this month.

“While easing the regulations, this legislation also prioritizes parental involvement by mandating signed permission slips…ensuring that parents are informed and involved in their child’s work activities” Schroer said.

Arkansas passed a similar law last year eliminating youth employment permits, though it didn’t include the parental permission slip piece. It faced opposition from child advocacy groups and others, who worried it would remove a layer of oversight protecting child workers in a time when child labor violations have gained attention nationally for being on the rise.

Proponents have insisted that the bill won’t affect child labor violations because businesses will still be required to comply with state and federal law.

In Missouri, the legislation has flown largely under the radar: No one testified in opposition during hearings on the bill the last two years. A handful of individuals submitted written opposition.

John Fliter, an associate professor of political science at Kansas State University, who studies child labor, said in an interview with The Independent that certificates are an important safeguard for children.

“We need to be careful because at the same time that [some states are] doing this, weakening restrictions, we’re seeing an increase in child labor violations and some really bad cases over the last few years,” he said.

The certificates, Fliter added, produce a record of employers acknowledging they will follow the law, and allow schools to play a “supervisory role” and ensure children are “not working to the detriment of their education.”

State Sen. Doug Beck, a Democrat from Affton, asked during a committee hearing earlier this month how the state could be sure employers were still doing things like age verification if the government wouldn’t be allowed to require permits to oversee the process.

“Where’s the enforcement on this bill exactly?” Beck asked. “…Where’s the accountability?”

“I think the accountability is with the parents and the business owners,” Schroer replied.

Schools’ role

Earlier versions of the House bill included language to extend the hours in the day children are allowed to work, but that’s since been removed because the sponsor found out it conflicts with federal law.

Children under 16 are legally required to be off work by 7 p.m. during the school year.

The reason Hinman initially filed the bill was because he wanted to push that time back, after he was approached by a restaurant owner in his district who was struggling with staffing those later hours.

“I’d like to see that time adjusted hopefully, up till eight o’clock, nine o’clock. Just to give a little bit more time for those businesses,” he said.

Now, the bill includes a provision that those restrictions apply “unless a later time is allowed by federal law,” which Hinman said is intended so Missouri can automatically change its law if the federal government does.

When he started looking into these laws, Hinman found it “an odd thing that the school district did that,” referring to the certification requirements, which led him to look at a bill filed last year and incorporate some of its language.

Youth work permits aren’t federally mandated but the majority of states require them.

Thirty-four states require youth work permits. The details vary, including whether they’re issued by a state agency or schools and what ages are included.

State Rep. Holly Jones, a Republican from Eureka, said in the committee hearing that she “hates” that schools are the ones who sign off on certificates.

“I really don’t love the schools having so much power over families and students,” she said.

A similar bill last year, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig, a Manchester Republican, didn’t gain momentum, clearing a Senate committee but never being debated by the full chamber.

A Washington Post investigation last year found the Florida-based conservative think tank, Foundation for Government Accountability, and its lobbying arm, the Opportunity Solutions Project, has been behind the push to roll back certain child labor protections in state legislatures.

“States should be allowing their teenagers to decide, with their parents, to get a job — not the government,” an issue paper published by Foundation for Government Accountability last year said. The paper characterized the issue as pitting “parents vs. educators and regulators.”

That group played an important role in Arkansas’ elimination of work certificates, the Post reported, and in Missouri, a lobbyist for Opportunity Solutions Project, James Harris, sent Koenig’s staff draft legislation last year before he filed it. Hinman said Harris didn’t approach him with the language.

Harris was the first one to testify in the committee hearings this year. In the House hearing, he said his first job as a teen helped him when he was a “law breaker” youth.

“I look back at that job and I learned so much,” Harris said.

“…Part of this is to help businesses be able to have more of a workforce for people to work,” Harris said during a later discussion about how pushing back the 7 p.m. restriction could cause businesses to worry about breaking federal law and not bolster their workforce.

Neither Harris nor the Foundation for Government Accountability responded to interview requests.

Other support has come from business groups including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Retailers and Missouri Grocers Association.

The legislation was voted out of committee on party lines. Democrats opposed it.

Hinson said in an interview with The Independent that while he’s not optimistic it will pass this year — with just three weeks left in session — he is hopeful it will come to the floor and that discussion will help improve the bill for next year.

“I would love to have the opportunity to have a full discussion with everybody on the floor, both sides of the aisle and see what the thoughts are so next year if we need to make corrections to the bill, that we can make it an even better bill,” Hinman said. “…[The legislation] is one of my priorities.”

‘One more set of eyes’

Maura Browning, spokesperson for Missouri’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said the agency can’t comment on pending legislation.

But speaking broadly about how the state oversees child work requirements, labor department officials said they rely on the current licensing practice and see it as a tool to help ensure kids don’t enter hazardous work or take on excessive hours.

The required form is just one page. In it, the child’s prospective employer must provide the specific job duties, hours and an acknowledgment they will abide by state law. Schools verify a child’s age and can review their grades.

Todd Smith, who directs the Division of Labor Standards within the state labor department, said schools help identify when the descriptions employers submit should be flagged as hazardous.

Kids under 16 aren’t allowed to do certain jobs, like operating a meat slicer or handling any hot oil or grease.

“We will enforce whatever the legislature passes, obviously, but in a perfect world, I think it’s important to have that education piece to share with employers,” Smith said in an interview with The Independent.

Missouri issued over 10,000 youth employment licenses last year.

Patrick Watkins, who works as the wage and hour section manager in the state labor department, said going through the school “gives us one more set of eyes to look at those hazardous job descriptions.”

Watkins added that in the current process the employer “agrees that they understand our restrictions, but more importantly, they have to fill in exactly what job duties the child will be performing and we catch a lot of hazardous titles just in that reveal alone.”

Child advocacy and social justice organizations reached by The Independent said they are not taking a position on the bill because they are deciding to stay out of the issue or are simply not up to speed on the legislation.

Joplin man charged after allegedly assaulting woman, sending SnapChat videos of them having sex

A Joplin man was charged today with assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

According to the probable cause statement, Cesar Eliu Guzman (DOB 1999) assaulted a Joplin woman April 19 in front of an infant. He allegedly threw a candle in a glass container at her feet and when it didn't shatter, he picked it up again and threw it at a cooking pot causing it to shatter. The woman managed to Facetime a friend.

Guzman chased the woman through the home with a baseball bat, threatening to "bruise" her and the baby, the probable cause statement said, with Guzman videoing the incident with a cell phone.

She fled to their bedroom to escape Guzman, according to the probable cause statement, but he followed {her} to the bedroom, placed his right hand on her neck and strangled her. The strangling was captured on FaceTime with the witness telling Joplin Police Department investigators the woman was making "choking" sounds.

Two days later, the statement said, Guzman showed the woman on his cell phone that he had "sent videos of them having intercourse to multiple people.

Five hours later, the witness who was on the other end of the FaceTime conversation two days earlier received the videos along with a text message.

Bond for Guzman was set at $100,000 cash only.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

New York Jets select Joplin High School's Isaiah Davis in NFL Draft


The New York Jets selected former Joplin High School running back Isaiah Davis today in the fifth round of the annual NFL draft.

Davis, who played his collegiate football for national champion South Dakota State, was a standout during his years at Joplin High School.

The Jets posted the following release on the team website:

With their second of three picks (No. 173 overall) in the fifth round, the Jets selected South Dakota State running back Isaiah Davis.

The Jets acquired the pick from the San Francisco 49ers, moving back from No. 129 (Round 4) for a pair of picks in Round 5 – No. 173 and No. 176.

Davis (6-2, 218), 22, played 46 games (36 starts) over four seasons for the Jackrabbits and rushed for 4,548 yards and 50 touchdowns. Over the last two seasons, he ran for 3,029 yards (1,451 in 2022, 1,578 in 2023) and 23 scores. He was twice named First-Team All-MVFC (2022, 23) and was honored as a First-Team All-American in 2023.

"I can't put it into words man," Davis said about the moment the Jets called. "My hands started shaking and it was an unbelievable feeling. I am so excited to be a Jet and be in New York. It is really a dream come true."

A hard-nosed runner, Davis seemingly got stronger each season, with 12 of his 24 career 100-yard rushing games coming in the FCS playoffs. The Jackrabbits' won back-to-back national championships in 2022 and '23 and in their eight postseason games over the last two seasons, he averaged 127.8 yards rushing and scored 12 total touchdowns.

"I am a versatile and downhill back," Davis said. "I feel like I can run well between the tackles and running power and getting downhill. That is what I am most used to doing, but I personally am going to find a way to impact the game. I am excited about what I have accomplished and all I have worked for this past year, and now I am going to bring it all to the Jets."

As a freshman, Davis dominated from the moment he stepped on campus in Brookings. In 2020, he ran for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns in 10 games and earned Freshman All-American honors. He received offers from teams at the FBS level as a sophomore but remained committed to building a championship culture at SDSU.

"I didn't want to chase the money at the end of the day," Davis said. "The money is going to come when it comes but I was looking to win a championship and we ended up going back-to-back. When I went to SDSU, I made a commitment to my brothers and coaches to try and win a national championship and that's what I did."

The Jets addressed offense with each of their first five picks in the draft – T Olu Fashanu (Rd. 1, No. 11 overall), WR Machai Corley (Rd. 1, No. 65), RB Braelon Allen (Rd. 4, No. 134), QB Jordan Travis (Rd. 5, No. 171) and Davis.

Davis and Allen join a running back room that features star tailback Breece Hall and 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 143) Israel Abanikanda. Prior to the draft, Davis did his training in Texas where he met Hall.

"He seems like a really chill and genuine dude," Davis said. "He is really hard worker. It will be great to learn from someone like him who has excelled really well. I am looking forward to it."

Preliminary hearing Monday for alleged Mac County cult leader, accused of forcible rape of 10-year-old girl

The preliminary hearing for a former McDonald County pastor who was alleged to be the ringleader of a sex cult in 2006 is scheduled to be held 1 p.m. Monday in McDonald County Circuit Court.

Raymond Lambert II, 69, whose address is listed as Washburn in court files, is charged with forcible rape of a 10-year-old in the summer of 2013 and four counts of statutory sodomy. 

The prosecution is being conducted by the McDonald County Prosecuting Attorney's office and a special prosecutor from the Missouri Attorney General's office.

(Photo- Raymond Lambert, front, is shown during a court hearing in 2006.)

The allegations against Lambert include the following:

-Rape- Lambert allegedly forced the 10-year-old girl to have sex with him in a shed in the summer of 2013 after pushing her against the wall and grabbing her hair.

-Statutory sodomy- According to the complaint, between 2002 and 2004, Lambert reached into the pants of an underage boy and performed a sex act.

-Statutory sodomy- Lambert allegedly compelled an underage girl to perform an oral sex act on him while he touched her genitalia between 2002 and 2004

-Statutory sodomy- The complaint says Lambert committed the same crime mentioned in the previous paragraph with the girl on another occasion between 2002 and 2004.

Statutory sodomy- Lambert committed the same crime with a different underage girl in 1995, according to the complaint.

Felony charges against Lambert were filed in 2006, but were dismissed according to the McDonald County prosecuting attorney due to witnesses being reluctant to testify, though an attorney for the witnesses said that was not the case.

A McDonald County grand jury indicted Lambert in February 2008, charging him with four counts of child molestation, three counts of statutory sodomy and one count of child abuse in connection with ritual sex abuse of children.

Janice Durbin, who was McDonald County prosecuting attorney at the time, dismissed charges against Lambert June 10, 2008, again citing reluctance of witnesses.

At the time the charges were filed against him, Lambert was minister of the Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church. Lambert and the church were located in what media described as a "compound" in rural McDonald County. Approximately 100 attended the church, which was termed a "cult" at that time and was not connected to any official Baptist organization.

May 2 show cause hearing set for Newton County Commissioners

A 12 noon May 2 hearing has been scheduled in Newton County Circuit Court so county commissioners Alan Cook (pictured), Daniel Swem and David Osborn can show cause why they shouldn't be held in contempt for allegedly violating a June 15, 2022 ruling that ordered the commissioners to stop their efforts to control the discretionary money in the offices of Newton County Recorder Jennifer Childers and Treasurer Gina Rodriguez.

Online court records indicate the commissioners were served notice of the meeting Thursday.

The hearing will be conducted by 15th Circuit Court Judge Dennis Rolf, who made the 2022 ruling.

In the motion for contempt, which was filed April 11 in Newton County Circuit Court, Carthage attorney Bill Lasley, representing Childers, alleged Cook has been the ringleader in what he indicated were violations of the ruling.

More details about the contempt motion can be found in the link below.

The Turner Report: War between Newton County officials escalates, may have contributed to Jim Otey's retirement announcement (rturner229.blogspot.com)

Friday, April 26, 2024

Carthage City Council woman fails in attempt to suspend city attorney who is leaving May 10 anyway

It's just money.

During the April 23 Carthage City Council meeting, council member Lori Leece asked what on the face of it would appear to be an important question.

The council was about to approve spending $25,000 so St. Louis attorney Paul Taylor could conduct an investigation of Mayor Dan Rife, which would lead to an impeachment, because that's what the City Council wants and that's Paul Taylor's specialty.

The contract the council would vote on a few moments later, however, called not only for the $25,000 for the investigation, but also for expenses.

Leece asked what those expenses would be.

Seemed like a good question.

Impeachment ringleader Tiffany Cossey, using the tone of voice that showed her irritation that someone felt the need to ask how much of the taxpayers' money was going to be spent, dismissed the question with that kind of tone you use when a child is getting unruly.

It might be for mileage, Cossey said, or it might be for lodging if they had to have any overnight stays.

Mileage and lodging can add up quickly, but it's just taxpayer money.

Of course, the council could save a lot of taxpayer money by just trying to get along with Rife and then work to vote him out of office next April, but that's not going to happen.

The council voted 7-2 with Cossey, Jana Schramm, Terri Heckmaster, Alan Snow, Derek Peterson, Dustin Edge and Tom Barlow approving the contract and Leece and Chris Taylor voting "no."

Cossey wasn't finished. 

Following what from all intents and purposes appears to have been a heated closed session, Cossey, who has already led what may have been an unsuccessful effort to fire City Administrator Greg Dagnan (it depends on your definition of the word "and") and who has Rife in her sights went after City Attorney Greg Dally.

During the closed session, Cossey accused Dally of sending a text message to a law enforcement officer with the information that a Carthage business owner, who had spoken at a previous meeting, had an outstanding warrant. Cossey claimed Dally targeted the woman because of what she said at the council meeting. Dally denied that was his intent, even though he acknowledged sending the text.

The information about the business owner was public information that is available through the state of Missouri's case.net system.

When the council returned to open session, Cossey offered a motion to ask the mayor to suspend Dally, even though Dally's last day as city attorney is May 10. The motion passed by a 6-3 vote with Cossey, Schramm, Heckmaster, Snow, Peterson and Edge voting yes and Leece, Taylor and Barlow voting against the measure.

It didn't matter. Rife wasn't going to suspend Dally.

That didn't stop Cossey from continuing her rampage.

Cossey, the perpetual motion machine, next made a motion to write a letter to the Missouri Bar Association notifying it of what she termed as Dally's unethical behavior. Schramm quickly parroted a second.

Barlow tried to stop where this was heading by noting that taking a step like that should at least involve an investigation.

Leece, once again displaying the patience of a saint, said her heart was broken both for the woman who thought she had been targeted and for someone whose career and life could be affected by the outcome of the vote.

Cossey pushed onward, claiming this was just the latest instance of targeting in the city and this time, the vote went against her.

Only Schramm and Peterson voted with Cossey, while Leece, Taylor, Barlow, Edge and Snow voted "no" and Heckmaster abstained.

The council will meet in another special session 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Carthage Water and Electric Plant community room.



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Joplin company manager charged with stealing nearly $13,000 from employer

The Newton County Prosecuting Attorney's office filed a felony stealing charge today against a Joplin man who allegedly took $12,972 by making unauthorized charges on his employer's credit card.

Richard R. Carriger II (DOB 1986), manager for Midland Paper, stole the money over a five-month period between October 2023 and March 2024, according to the probable cause statement.

According to Midland Paper invoice records Carriger used the company’s credit card to purchase items from 10/05/2023 through 03/05/2024. Unauthorized uses of the company’s credit card were valued at $12,972. 

Mr. Carriger was interviewed by me on 03/12/2024. Mr. Carriger was advised of his Miranda rights and agreed to speak with me. During this interview Mr. Carriger admitted to using the company credit card to purchase personal items. He also admitted that he purchased items for the business and his residence using the company credit card. 

Mr. Carriger states that he originally purchased multiple items but later cancelled the order knowing it was wrong. Mr. Carriger admitted to using the company credit card to purchase gift cards, totaling $4,275. 

Mr. Carriger allowed me to come to his residence which is also located in Joplin, Newton County, Missouri. I recovered the Ryobi power washer, portable heater, and a Ryobi chainsaw at his residence which he willingly gave me. These items were purchased using the company’s credit card.

The case was investigated by the Joplin Police Department.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Nancy Hughes: Fix it, God

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Teaching my four-year-old grandson to tie his shoes was quite a challenge. He struggled for several minutes but eventually got “one rabbit in the hole” before his attention turned to “Max and Ruby” on television and the lesson ended. But it brought back memories of another shoe-tying experience as a school nurse many years ago.


I was in my office when the mom of one of our first graders came in, obviously frustrated. She looked at me and demanded, “Nurse Nancy, I have a problem and YOU need to fix it now.” Notice that she was the one with the problem but I was the one she had decided needed to fix it. So I replied, “Well, Mrs. Smith, what’s the problem?” And she said “It’s my daughter Megan. She refuses to learn to tie her shoes.”

When I asked what she had done to help her daughter so far, she replied “Well, I show her how to do it but she screams and refuses to even try. She throws her shoes at me, crosses her arms, and yells at me to get out of her room.” I couldn’t resist asking: “And what do you do then?” She seemed surprised at my question. “I get out, of course!” she replied.

To me the problem could be fixed within about 10 minutes, I told her. She was very excited and said “How? Tell me how!” (Can I mention that it was the middle of January and we were having some pretty nasty weather?) I continued “I would put Megan’s shoes on the front porch and put Megan on the front porch. Then I would tell her she can come in when she ties her shoes and I would shut and lock the door.”

Honestly, does that not make sense to you? Made sense to me. But Mrs. Smith didn’t think so because she began yelling “I can’t believe you would ever suggest anything like that! YOU don’t have a heart!” I thought to myself: “And YOU don’t have a brain.” (Yes, it was a thought for which I later repented.)

As I reflected on the shoe-tying incident, I realized that it was often a mirror image of how I act when faced with a tough situation. I react in two ways: first, I pray about what is going on but if I don’t like God’s answer to my heart, I move on to my second reaction: “Fix it, God!” without listening and obeying His will.


Maybe He whispers “You can do it, Nancy” or “Wait, Nancy” or “Keep on doing what you are doing and be patient, Nancy” but that’s not what I want to hear. Too often, I know what God wants me to do . . . I just don’t want to do it. Instead, I want HIM to instantly get rid of the trial by either removing or solving the situation or changing the person that I have a conflict with or . . . you get the picture?

We must learn to seek His face first, in all situations. And when we do that, we have to be willing to listen to His answer . . . and to obey. Oh, the lessons I have learned when trials have come and I have focused on the Lord, listened to His voice, and obeyed. Resist the urge to cry “Fix it!” to God and instead trust Him to guide you in His Word through whatever situation you may be facing . . . including shoes that refuse to be tied.

Father, help me to seek your will and obey. Please guide and direct me through each trial so I may grow and mature in my walk with you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .


What is your immediate reaction when faced with a trial?

Do you want it “fixed” instantly or do you ask God to show you His will?


When a trial confronts you, meet it head-on with a short prayer of “Your will, your way, Father.”

Journal a list of previous trials you have had and how God answered your prayers each time. Then praise Him for His faithfulness.


James 1:2-4 (NIV) “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Psalm 55:22 (NIV) “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

Proverbs 3:5-8 (NIV) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”

(For more of Nancy Hughes' writing, check out her blog, Encouragement from the War Room.) 

Public Service Commission approves surcharge increase for Spire customers

(From Missouri Public Service Commission)

The Missouri Public Service Commission has approved a request filed by Spire Missouri, Inc. (Spire Missouri) to change the Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge (ISRS) on the bills of its natural gas customers. The ISRS first appeared on Spire West customer bills in April 2004 and on Spire East customer bills in June 2004.

This ISRS adjustment reflects infrastructure replacement investments made by the natural gas company during the period of September 1, 2023 through February 29, 2024. These costs for natural gas pipeline replacements and relocations are not currently included in Spire Missouri’s rates.


The current ISRS for residential customers of Spire East is $0.75 a month. As a result of this case, the ISRS will increase to $1.43 a month. For Spire West residential customers, the current ISRS is $1.79 a month. 

 As a result of this case, the ISRS will increase to $3.22 a month. Spire Missouri has been authorized to file tariffs reflecting the Commission’s decision. Those tariffs will include a proposed effective date for the ISRS change.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Was it a Carthage City Council meeting or a Looney Tunes revival?

Carthage City Council's version of a Warner Brothers cartoon continued tonight with City Administrator Greg Dagnan in the role of Bugs Bunny and council member Tiffany Cossey personifying Elmer Fudd, except for the part about being "vewwy, vewwy quiet."

Cossey's quest to fire Dagnan continued as she made a motion for a special council meeting Monday, April 29 to change a city ordinance so she can get rid of Dagnan.

The council, by a 7-2 vote, fired Dagnan April 11, except it couldn't fire Dagnan because the city administrator can only be hired or fired by the council AND the mayor and Mayor Dan Rife wasn't having anything to do with it.

Though Cossey insisted the word AND meant AND when the hiring takes place, but means something totally different when it came to firing, Dagnan was still employed as of tonight.

So part of the special meeting will be so Cossey can see to it that the wascally city administrator can finally be shown the door with no ifs, ANDS or buts.

With so many special meetings recently, though, you have to wonder how long will be before none of them are really special.

During the council comment time, Cossey and fellow council members Alan Snow, Derek Peterson and Dustin Edge provided numbers of how many people contacted them since the last meeting and whether those people supported the firing of Dagnan and the impeachment of Rife.

All of them said there were far more people who approved their actions since the election.

Council member Lori Leece wondered why she was the only one who was questioning if it was worthwhile to upset the whole town and cost a lot of money to hire a lawyer to conduct the impeachment.

Cossey snapped back at her. "Are you finished?" and ended by explaining, "I am carrying out the will of my constituents."

Tonight's meeting also included an emotional goodbye from City Attorney Nate Dally, who noted that being Carthage's city attorney "meant more to me than just another job." This was "my hometown."

He offered praise for the heads of city departments he had worked with and said he was not leaving with bitterness, but that it was a huge relief.

His last day is May 10.

That's all, folks.

Former Carthage parks director arraigned in trial court, pleads not guilty to stealing, money laundering

Former Carthage parks director Mark Peterson waived the reading of the charges and pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in the trial division of Jasper County Circuit Court Monday.

Peterson is charged with three counts of stealing and two counts of money laundering.

According to the probable cause statement, Peterson stole more than $140,000 from the city between 2020 and 2022.

Peterson was taking money from the operation of the municipal golf course and depositing it into multiple bank accounts labeled as "Mark Peterson DBA Pete's Pro Shop," the statement said.

Peterson's next hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 8.

Change of plea hearing set for Joplin man on child pornography charge

A change of plea hearing has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. May 6 in U. S. District Court in Springfield for Shawn Jay Moore, 58, who is charged with receiving and distributing child pornography.

According to a detention motion filed December 28 Moore allegedly uploaded 14 files depicting child pornography onto an online dating website.

The defendant was later interviewed and confessed to downloading child pornography from the internet on a daily basis.

According to the detention motion, Moore also "has an extensive history of alcohol abuse manifested in six convictions for driving while intoxicated."

Tulsa man sentenced to 10 years for role in meth conspiracy in Jasper, Newton counties, SW MO

(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

A Tulsa, Oklahoma, man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine in southwest Missouri after law enforcement officers seized approximately 29 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately $57,000, and several firearms.

Jeffrey L. Hughley, 39, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 10 years in federal prison without parole.

On Nov. 6, 2023, Hughley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

Hughley admitted that he was a courier during the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Barry, Stone, Polk, Lawrence, Greene, Jasper, Newton, and Christian Counties from Nov. 1, 2020, to April 28, 2022. Hughley delivered more than 4.5 kilograms of pure methamphetamine to co-defendant Brian E. Hall, 46, of Aurora, Mo.

Hughley was arrested on April 28, 2022, when he drove to Hall’s residence. Law enforcement officers searched his black Toyota Camry and found 10 garbage bags in the trunk that contained a total of 22 pounds of pure methamphetamine. Officers also found a loaded Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol in the floorboard of the front passenger seat.

Hughley was arrested after law enforcement officers had executed a search warrant at Hall’s residence as part of an ongoing methamphetamine investigation. Officers seized seven pounds of methamphetamine from Hall’s residence, as well as a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol, approximately $57,000 in cash, and drug paraphernalia used for the packaging and sale of methamphetamine.

A co-conspirator told investigators that Hughley had delivered large quantities of methamphetamine to Hall’s residence on at least four occasions. Each time he dropped off methamphetamine, he also picked up cash from Hall to return to an individual in Oklahoma. The co-conspirator told investigators that Hughley was supposed to pick up $57,000 from Hall on the night of his arrest.

According to court documents, Hughley made multiple trips to multiple states to distribute methamphetamine for which he was paid thousands of dollars. In April 2022, Hughley purchased a drone for $5,730 for a leader of the drug-trafficking organization. Hughley and a co-conspirator discussed using the drone to smuggle contraband into a prison facility.

Hughley operated a business, God’s Gifted Athletes, where he provided strength training to young athletes in his community. The government’s sentencing memorandum noted the devastating impact of methamphetamine use on youth and families. According to the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, children whose parents use methamphetamine have an increased risk of exposure to parental violence, placement into foster care, and living in environments that do not have adequate resources to meet their basic needs.

The amount of methamphetamine Hughley trafficked to Barry County in only four trips (while in possession of a firearm) was enough to supply four doses (0.25 grams per dose) of methamphetamine to every man, woman, and child in the community.

Hughley is the second defendant sentenced in this federal indictment, in which 20 defendants have been charged. Hall pleaded guilty on March 22, 2023, and awaits sentencing.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica R. Eatmon. It was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team, the Barry County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, the Stone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, COMET (the Combined Ozark Multi-Jurisdictional Enforcement Team), the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, the Polk County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, the Ottawa County, Ok., Sheriff’s Department, the Bolivar, Mo., Police Department, the Cassville, Mo., Police Department, the Kimberling City, Mo., Police Department, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Jason Smith: The dangerous consequences of Biden’s failed foreign policy agenda

(From Eighth District Congressman Jason Smith)

On April 13, the Iranian regime carried out a massive, unprecedented attack against Israel using drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. I’m glad the attack was largely thwarted, but I can’t imagine how terrifying it must have been for Israeli families. I will continue to keep them in my prayers during these dangerous times.

While the Iranian regime has previously relied on its network of terror groups to attack Israel, this was the first time it has carried out a strike from its own soil against our most important ally in the Middle East. And it’s no coincidence that the attack occurred at a time when Israel’s support from the Biden administration is waning and after years of failed policies that have emboldened Iran.

There is no question in my mind that this attack would not have happened if former President Donald Trump was in office. Under Trump, the U.S. was feared by our enemies and respected by our allies. The Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign against Iran was incredibly effective, whether it was scrapping the Iran Nuclear Deal, hitting Iran in its pocketbook with tough sanctions, or greenlighting a precision air strike to take out Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani – the leader of the regime’s worldwide terrorist efforts. Unfortunately, Biden scrapped Trump’s maximum pressure campaign and replaced it with policies that have only emboldened Iran.

It’s not just Biden’s policies that have emboldened Iran. It’s also his weak rhetoric and unacceptable criticism of Israel’s handling of its war against evil terrorists. Biden’s so-called warning to Iran just a day before the attack was a single message: "Don’t." And in the days following the attack, Biden and world leaders urged Israel to just “take the win” and not retaliate because the strikes caused minimal damage. They have no business dictating the terms of Israel’s response to a direct attack on their nation. And on the evening of April 18, Israel responded appropriately to Iran’s attack by taking out military targets in an effort to defend itself and discourage the regime from carrying out another attack.

What Israel needs right now more than ever is strong support from its allies. But since the October 7th terrorist attack, Washington Democrats have become increasingly critical of Israel and its war against the terrorists who carried out the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust. The Left has called on Israel to agree to an immediate ceasefire without conditions for having their hostages returned home. They’ve demanded the U.S. cutoff military aid to Israel. They’ve called on Israel to host new elections in an effort to oust its prime minister. It’s absolutely unacceptable.


House Republicans are fighting back. In direct response to the April 13 attack, we advanced numerous measures to support Israel and hold the evil Iranian regime and its terror proxies accountable. We passed a bill to revoke the tax-exempt status of terrorist-supporting organizations, an effort I’ve helped lead as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. We also advanced a resolution condemning Iran's attack and reaffirming support for Israel. In addition, the House passed several bills aimed at strengthening sanctions on Iran, the number one state-sponsor of terror in the world.

Israel is one of our strongest allies and closest friends. Whether it’s providing weapons, aid, or intelligence, the U.S. must ensure Israel has the resources it needs to defend itself and keep its people safe. I will ALWAYS stand with Israel, and I will continue pushing this administration to do what’s right and abandon its policies that are emboldening Iran.

Senate battle over taxes that fund Missouri Medicaid leaves state budget in limbo

By Rudi Keller

On Jan. 18, the ninth day of the 2024 legislative session, a bill essential to balancing the state budget was placed first in line on the Senate’s calendar for debate.

(Photo- Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, speaks during a budget debate in April 2023- Rudi Keller/Missouri Independent)

On the same day, a bill expanding an education scholarship program was also put on the calendar, second in line.

Last week, the education bill narrowly passed the Missouri House on its way to Gov. Mike Parson for his signature.


The bill that would balance the budget by renewing roughly $4 billion worth of medical provider taxes that fund Medicaid hasn’t received as much as a minute of debate.

At a news conference last week, Sen. Doug Beck, an Affton Democrat, said the delays are frustrating.

“It’s completely ridiculous that we’re perfecting the Senate bill on gold and silver on a Thursday when we could have all week long been talking about the” taxes, he said.

While the Medicaid taxes, known as the federal reimbursement allowance, have gotten scant attention inside the Senate, there’s been plenty of talk outside the chambers.

Senate members of the Missouri Freedom Caucus, six of the 24 Republicans in the chamber, have promised to filibuster renewal of the taxes until two other legislative items are finished. Both are Senate-passed bills awaiting votes in the House.

The first is a bill banning Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid program. The second is a proposed constitutional amendment to alter how a majority is determined for voter-initiated constitutional amendments.

But even if those bills pass, the Freedom Caucus has also said it will demand the federal reimbursement allowance legislation include an expiration date before they will consider letting it come up for a vote. And at that point, other amendments — such as Medicaid work requirements — may also become mandatory for the Freedom Caucus to and their filibuster.

“We’re going to continue to fight for a sunset, and maybe there’s some other provisions that fit on this bill,” said Sen. Bill Eigel, a Weldon Spring Republican running for governor.

The budget, which must be completed by May10, can’t be finished in committee until the provider taxes are secured for the future, said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Lincoln Hough, a Springfield Republican running for lieutenant governor.


“I don’t really deal in ultimatums,” Hough said. “I deal with the constitutional necessity of passing a budget in the state, not trying to leverage someone to get something else done.”

Hough scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to discuss changes to the House-passed budget spending $50.7 billion. Senate floor debate on the budget is expected the following week.

“We’re running up against the end, and FRA and the budget, and all of these things, are in front of us that I think will take center stage in the coming days,” Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden said last week.

Democrats, who hold the minority in both legislative chambers, said they’re tired of waiting for Republicans to bury their factional warfare.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade opened her Thursday press conference with criticism of the House GOP for not moving independently of the Senate. Quade filed the only bill in the House to extend the taxes, but it has not been referred to a committee.

“If we do not get this passed,” Quade said, “everything else we’re doing when it comes to the budget or funding mechanisms, is just smoke and mirrors.”

What is the Federal Reimbursement Allowance?

Since 1992, Missouri has taxed hospitals – and later nursing homes, ambulance providers and pharmacies – to support the Medicaid program. The money becomes part of the state’s share of the federally sponsored program.

This year, Missouri must provide 34.69% of the cost of most Medicaid services. An exception is the group covered by a 2020 ballot initiative that used a provision of the Affordable Care Act to cover adults aged 18 to 64. The federal government pays 90% of the cost for that group.

The budget proposed by Parson in January pegs the general revenue cost for the entire Medicaid program at 21.7% of the projected $17.8 billion total. The remainder of the state’s share, $1.7 billion in Parson’s budget, comes from reimbursement allowances and other funds.

There is no general revenue in the $3 billion budget line covering the cost of the adult expansion group. Instead, much of the state’s share comes from money banked as a bonus federal share of the regular Medicaid program as an incentive to expand coverage.

The provider taxes are slated to supply $50 million toward the cost of Medicaid expansion in the coming year’s budget, drawing $450 million in federal funds. There’s another $950 million from the provider taxes used across 16 lines of the Medicaid budget, drawing at least $1.8 billion in federal funds.

The taxes have been renewed 16 times during regular legislative sessions. That regular process was disrupted in 2021, when first an effort to ban payments for some contraceptive medications, and later the question of banning Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider, forced lawmakers to have to return for a special session to extend the taxes.

The taxes expire Sept. 30 without passage of a renewal bill.

If reimbursement allowance funds aren’t available, the Medicaid budget will have to be rewritten and cuts made to make up the shortfall, Hough said.

He’s ready to debate the bill at any time, he told reporters.

“I’m waiting on the floor leader just say, ‘Hey, let’s go to the FRA and let’s get this thing done,’” Hough said. “I think she’s got competing interests with our small band of merry men out there on the floor all the time that you know, constantly slow things down and want to say we haven’t gotten anything done.’

Consequences of failure

Missouri has accumulated a surplus that stood at $6.4 billion at the end of March.

Eigel said he’s not concerned that the state can fund its obligations without the provider taxes.

“We have more than enough money with or without the FRA to meet the obligations of the state,” Eigel said.

Sen. Rick Brattin, speaking at a news conference Thursday, said the goals the Freedom Caucus is working towards are more attainable if members are willing to push against the\ constitutional deadline for passing the budget.

“We can get a lot of things done and I think that’s what we have to leverage to ensure we’re able to protect the Constitution, to make sure that abortion isn’t in our Constitution and to fight against that,” Brattin said. “We’re going to do everything by every means possible.”

Senate Democrats are ready to help pass the provider taxes without the Freedom Caucus demands and to get the budget through on time, Minority Leader John Rizzo of Independence said.

He thinks the deadlines will be met, he said.

“You’re gonna probably see a lot of other bills fall by the wayside because they’re unable to move on FRA and on a budget pretty quickly,” Rizzo said. “I don’t think it’s time to panic quite yet.”